First (drumroll, please!), the holidays have arrived at Classroom to Capitol!
At the end of this week, everyone who has commented on one of The Networked Nonprofit posts will be entered, at random, in a drawing (chosen blindly by my wonderful husband) to win a free copy of the book. I’ll even pay to ship it to you!
So, read away, leave your thoughts, and get ready for a present! You are all a gift to me!
What I like best about The Networked Nonprofit, co-written by authors whose own blogs I read regularly, is their clear view of social media as a set of tools to help in our common quest for social change, rather than gadgets to be worshipped in their own right.
They urge nonprofit practitioners to use social media to change the way we think, not just the way we communicate, and that has me thinking (see–it works!) about how organizations that embrace social media as part of their strategy are more likely to also possess some of the attributes (or, at least, be open to them) that make organizations successful at advocacy, too.
Some of this is certainly “chicken and the egg”–are organizations already predisposed to hold these ways of looking at the world, and their work, or does engaging their communities via social media bring about these transformations? The answer, I think, is probably some of both, but I’m most interested in the idea that integrating social media into an organization’s repertoire could better position its Board of Directors, executive staff, and entire set of stakeholders to approach advocacy, too.
There were several points in the book when Kanter and Fine describe, and even sort of define, ‘networked nonprofits’, and it sounds a lot like how I talk about organizations that are advocacy-oriented vs. those that are more in the “band-aid business”.
Obviously, advocacy and social media don’t correlate 1:1 in the nonprofit world: there are organizations excelling at advocacy through “old-fashioned” grassroots organizing and time-consuming relationship-building with policymakers, and there are organizations that are using social media incredibly effectively, but only to raise money, recruit volunteers, or promote their own work, not to change the policy environment that impacts their constituents.
Still, there’s enough overlap that it’s making me think a bit differently about how I approach nonprofits on both of these fronts, and about how tackling one could reduce the gap to be hurdled for the other.
What about your organization? If you’re involved in advocacy but not using social media, what’s holding you back from using these tools? If you’re fully on the Facebook, Twitter, and Foursquare bandwagons, but not doing advocacy, why not? And if you’re doing neither, what aspects of your organization do you see as the biggest obstacles?