Technology News

Content Curation: The Art and Science of Spotting Awesome

Beth's Blog -

Flickr Photo by Soyignatius

Content curation – the process of finding, organizing, and  sharing topical, relevant content for your audience that supports your nonprofit’s engagement or campaign goals (or your professional learning) begins with “Spotting the Awesome.”   I love that phrase coined by my friends at Upwell.   Do you or your organization have formal guidelines for “spotting the awesome”  like Upwell (see below) or is it more of  ”we know it when we see it?”

UpWell Content Curation Guidelines - The Mobilisation Lab

Effective content curation can help your nonprofit engage your audiences and help spread your organization’s content beyond current supporters because it can trigger sharing and conversation.   Content curation is not about spewing out links on Twitter or Facebook as you find them.   It is about discovering great stuff amid the noise, annotating it, organizing it, and adding your wisdom or perspective and sharing a collection of curated links in a context or time that adds value.

If you are finding yourself looking through a lot of unrelated or useless stuff or the content you are sharing is not resonating with your audience,  news discovery tools can help.   News discovery tools help you spend less time looking at a bunch of junk as master curator Robin Good points out.    Also, it lets you step away from the echo chamber and find useful and unique gems that have not been over shared all over the place.   This is what builds thought leadership and attention.

To  support your curation efforts,  you need two different tools – news discovery to help you find content and curation tools to organize and share it.  News discovery tools select and aggregate content based on keyword searches, but give a higher signal to noise ratio than general keywords searches or general news sites.   Take Crowdtangle as an example.  It is a content discovery tool that helps tune your Facebook newsfeed based on keywords.  (It is in beta now) Discovery tools help you find relevant content in your interest area.

Robin Good has assembled a curated collection of news discovery tools over at ZEEF, a curation platform.    But remember, good curation is not about the tools, but how you use them along with your curation skills.

Awesome finding is about scanning what’s happening internally and externally, what people are talking about or sharing online related to your goals (or what they should be talking about) — then decide which of those things to share and add to your curated collection.  But how do you build your  radar and hone your discovery skills?  Here’s some advice based on the content curation skills identified by Robin Good.

1.   Trusted Sources:     You will be spending half hour or more a day a personally selected circle of trusted sources in related, complementary, or similar topics.     You will need a newsreader where you organize the feeds of different blogs, websites, and resources organized by folders and topics.    You will also find sources and follow sources through social media, but be sure to keep them tuned and uncluttered and use the list features.   Depending on your niche area, you may also be following curated general news sites or a news site devoted to a specific topic area, for example business, education, technology, or more specific to your nonprofit’s program area.

It good to take the time to think thoughtfully about your sources and organize a way to follow them systematically.   It is also a good idea to take some time every few months to review and organize.     The number of feeds in your reader can grow like weeds and new sources come along that are worth following.

2.  Vet: This is the process of verifying original source for quality and integrity (by reading all of the original content) and exercising a critical role in deciding what to share or publish and what to leave out.    Part of the verification process of  reviewing similar sites or articles, reviewing expert curated lists, and using your critical thinking skills.

3.  Filter: Most of the time you spend “spotting the awesome” will be vetting and filtering out most of the incoming content stream.  That means you won’t be sharing or vetting most of the incoming stuff.    Here’s where having a formal criteria of what and why you share is important.

4.  Searches: When you spot the awesome, spend time looking for more content and context to add to it.  This can help enrich and make the original resource more valuable.  Look for additional references, quotes, reviews, citations or stories that can help complement the existing view.

5.  Scouts: Is always look for new, credible and interesting content sources.   Always looks to discover new ways, tools and networks where useful sources can be found including images, videos, or documentaries.

6.  Hacks Filters/Searches:  Use filters and specific persistent searches to help find  highly relevant and useful content to curate.

How do you spot the awesome in your content curation activities?  What content discovery tools do you use?

Top 6 Tips for Taking Your Cause Mobile

Beth's Blog -

Note from Beth: My colleague, Darian Rodriguez Heyman has launched a new company, BetterWorld Wireless.  You not only get a great mobile wireless plan, but through their nonprofit giving partners, a person in need will receive a mobile device loaded with content to help break the cycle of poverty and empower their life.   I’ve signed up and love the fact my my mobile broadband hotspot is helping someone in need!   Check out their devices and plans.  It’s easy to switch.

Top 6 Tips for Taking Your Cause Mobile Guest Blog by Darian Rodriguez Heyman

Whether compared to adoption of the wheel, the car, or even fire, the mobile phone is the most popular tool in human history.  But the real question is, how can your nonprofit leverage this device for social change?

Just as most nonprofits initially resisted getting on board with social media, they’re also apprehensive to spend the time and resources to devise and implement a mobile strategy.  But with over 28% of web traffic now coming from mobile devices, the truth is the mobile age isn’t coming, it’s here.

As part of the launch of my new company, BetterWorld Wireless, I recently wrote a blog sharing tips on devising an overall mobile strategy, with a focus on first and foremost clearly articulating and prioritizing objectives.  But now let’s dive into practical considerations and tips that can actually help nonprofits execute on their goals.

One of the first question nonprofits inevitably ask when diving into the mobile waters is, “should I build a mobile website or a mobile app?”

The good news is the answer is simple: start by making your website mobile-friendly, and only then should you consider building an app.

Kleiner Perkins released a report projecting that mobile web traffic will eclipse desktop traffic this year.  So whether you like it or not, and whether your website is ready for it or not, potential donors, volunteers, and other supporters are likely already looking at your online presence via tiny little screens while they’re on the go.  So meet them where they’re at by implementing the following six tips to take your cause mobile:

  1. Benchmark Current Traffic: Before doing anything else, use a free tool like Google Analytics to figure out what portion of your traffic comes from mobile devices.  The higher the figure, the bigger the priority.
  2. Be Responsive: Many website templates provided by development platforms like WordPress.org are “responsive,” meaning they detect what kind of device is being used to access the site, and then serve up content in an appropriate display.  This is crucial and now that the technology is commonly available and even free, there’s no reason to not respond to your visitors’ needs.
  3. Remember the 2 Second Rule: The MTV Generation has no patience.  Case in point: if your website takes more than 2-3 seconds to load on a computer, or especially a phone, you can expect to lose about half your visitors.  So keep it concise, punchy, and avoid big files, but in general images and short videos are a great way to draw people in.
  4. K.I.S.S.: If you try and say ten things about your cause, you say nothing.  Especially with mobile visitors, keeping your message and ask simple is crucial.  Focus in on the one thing you want people to do, even if you change it up every week, and it helps tons to minimize scrolling.  Less is more.
  5. More is More: Although keeping messaging streamlined is crucial, buttons and images need to be at least 30×30 pixels to be legible via mobile devices.  And don’t try to cramp too much content in— white space is your friend.
  6. Don’t Forget Email: As of Q4 2013, 61% of emails are viewed on a smartphone or tablet.   That means above and beyond all the earlier tips for optimizing your mobile website, you also need to mobilize your emails, newsletters, appeals, etc.  Be sure to preview your draft emails on a mobile device, and if a majority of your audiences does indeed read your messages via mobile, send your emails on the weekend vs. the weekday, as that’s when mobile users are most likely to use them to check email.

Good luck taking your cause mobile with these six simple tips, and as we launch an entirely new kind of mobile company that’s dedicated to helping nonprofits fully leverage this tool for change, reach out with any questions, or if we can be of help!

Darian Rodriguez Heyman is Co-Founder & Chief Development Officer of BetterWorld Wireless, which serves U.S. nonprofits with calling, texting, and data plans powered by Sprint, and donates a free phone or tablet to women and girls in need for every customer.  Nonprofits can save 5% and get a free phone via their special TechSoup offer. Darian is also the former E.D. of Craigslist Foundation, Co-Founder of Social Media for Nonprofits, the only conference series devoted to social media for social good, and the best-selling author of Nonprofit Management 101 (Jossey-Bass), which includes a chapter from Beth Kanter.

Charity Miles App Nominated for Webby: Walking for A Good Cause

Beth's Blog -

Over the past year, I have been using a fitbit to help me incorporate more activity in my life.  I’ve committed to walking 10-20,000 steps per day and even earned my 1,000 miles badge.  But what if you could raise money for a charity just by walking, running, or riding your bike?    That’s exactly what the app “Charity Miles” makes happen.   You download the app, select a charity, and start moving and earn money from sponsors for that charity.  Walkers and runners earn 25¢ per mile; bikers earn 10¢ per mile, all courtesy of corporate sponsors like Timex, Humana, Lifeway and Johnson & Johnson.  The app is so good that it has been nominated for a Webby!

With Gene Gurkuff, Founder of Charity Miles at SXSW

In March at SXSW, I bumped into Gene Gurkoff outside of the Social Good Lounge.    He shared why he started this app:

“I started this app because I’ve been running marathons for 11 years to raise money for Parkinson’s in honor of my grandfather who has it. I’ve run 39 marathons and 6 Ironman triathlons for Parkinson’s and I’m one of the founders of Team Fox, the grassroots fundraising arm of The Michael J. Fox Foundation. I always wanted to get companies to sponsor me. But since I’m just a regular athlete, I could never do that. So, I figured that if I got enough people together then we could all get sponsored— just like the pros but for charity.”

This was meaningful to me because my father lost his battle with Parkinson’s last year and I felt like a great way to walk with intention to honor him.  This isn’t about fitness or crowdsourced motivation, it’s about supporting a charity that has some meaning to you.

Gene launched the app in June of 2012 and it has been growing ever since.   It’s been written up in most major fitness magazines, including Runner’s World.  It has also  have won several awards, including the SXSW Dewey Winburne Award for Community Service and the SXSW People’s Choice Award.  And, now the app has been nominated for a Webby – please vote for it!

The whole concept of walking with intention is intriguing to me.   It makes me wonder how can one integrate movement and walking into work?  I’ve written about why I think movement is the killer app for work but love to see this embraced by more people.

 

Avery Dennison drives a new era of innovation with Google Apps

Google Enterprise Blog -

Posted by Bhupesh Arora, Senior Director of New Technologies, Avery Dennison

Editor's note: Today’s guest blogger is Bhupesh Arora, Senior Director of New Technologies for Avery Dennison, a global leader in labeling and packaging materials and solutions. See what other organizations that have gone Google have to say.

Our founder, Stan Avery, invented the self-adhesive label and launched the modern labeling industry when he started Avery Dennison back in 1935. Seventy-eight years later, Avery Dennison products are all around us, in thousands of consumer and industrial applications. And we’re still innovating. Brand-enhancing labeling solutions, RFID-enabled inventory management systems and wearable medical sensors are just some of the products fueling our innovation pipeline.

It’s not surprising, then, that Avery Dennison was quick to adopt Google Apps for its global workforce. Enabling collaboration to unleash human creativity through fast, simple and robust digital means is a big step in innovation for us. We also expect significant payback in greater productivity and cost savings.

Adopting Google Apps has allowed us to retire costly, less interactive email, intranet and social media platforms and replace them with a single virtual work and collaboration space that’s accessible to our employees anywhere in the world. And Google’s data center and network infrastructure allow us to deliver these services securely and with low latency, regardless of location.

Some of our business leaders were concerned about the size and complexity of such a transformation, and with good reason. Managing this kind of change—asking 19,000 computer-based employees to adopt a whole new set of tools in their daily work habits—turned out to be one of the most important parts of the initiative.

With the help of Tempus Nova, a Google Apps Reseller and our change management partner, we planned carefully, started small, learned at every step, and built scale and momentum over a 9-month period. We cultivated individual employees to become knowledgeable and enthusiastic Google Guides. And we worked closely with individual business divisions as their employees began adopting Google Apps.

It was also a tremendous help to have all our senior leaders become early and visible users of the new tools. Our CIO, Rich Hoffman, was a particularly strong advocate. He championed the initiative from the beginning and immediately incorporated Google Apps into all his personal communications and document-sharing habits. He sent regular emails to the entire company promoting the tools, encouraging employees to explore them and amplifying the excitement that was quick to spread as we rolled out the Google platform around the globe. He knows the benefits of going to the cloud and appreciates how Google has been a full strategic partner throughout the process.

Today, nearly all our computer-enabled employees use Google Apps. It’s early in the experience, but we’re already seeing improvements in productivity and user satisfaction. Our employees were hungry for better communications and collaboration tools and the freedom to use them anywhere at any time. They love the speed and stability of their new Chrome browser, and they’re embracing Google Docs for its real-time editing and collaboration capabilities—and its ability to eliminate unnecessary meetings. And everyone is delighted with the easy, ubiquitous access to people and data made possible by a cloud-based platform. Our senior leadership sees a platform that is actively fostering a new era of innovation at Avery Dennison—one built on unfettered creativity and collaboration.

All in all, adopting Google Apps has been more than a change in technology for Avery Dennison—it’s a key part of a major transformation in the way we work.

Learning is the Work

Beth's Blog -

Last month, I had the pleasure of participating in National eXtension Conference which was amazing for many reasons.    I first did several professional sessions with this network back in 2007 and an online class on knowledge sharing and online collaboration – so it was great to long-time colleagues.     The highlight was a master panel with Dave Gray,  Harold Jarche, and Jane Hart on connected learning and culture change needed to embrace this type of learning.  We used Dave Gray’s “Board Thing” online tool to crowdsource questions to discuss from the audience.   You can find a storify of the curated tweets and links here.

What was most exciting for me was to finally meet three people  in person after following their writing, blogs, and books for almost a decade.   If you are not already familiar with their work, you will learn a lot about online collaboration, knowledge management, informal learning, and networks by following them.

Dave Gray:   Dave Gray is a guru on the topics of design, innovation, culture and change. He’s written two books - Gamestorming and The Connected Company.    I first discovered Dave’s work through colleague, Eugene Eric Kim, who recently shared this great story about Dave and his work.

YES YES YES YES YES @davegray “People don’t learn from spreadsheets, predictions, and plans, they learn from making things” #NeXConf

— Jason Adam Young (@jasonadamyoung) March 27, 2014



Jane Hart: Jane has been blogging for many years and writes about informal and workplace learning .   She is one of the leading voices of  ”social learning practice” which is about self-directed and informal learning from your online networks.  She’s written a book about this, “The Social Learning Handbook.”   She has a wonderful Twitter stream called “Learning Flow” that is a continuous learning stream of short activities (15-20 minutes) a day.   She also publishes the Top Learning Tools Index, a crowdsourced list of the best technologies for networked learning.

In her keynote,  Jane gave us the big picture and framework about what social learning is and why it is important.   Jane described social learning as “learning the new” to keep up with our industry.     It is about digesting a steady flow of information from a diverse online professional network.   “It is about constantly looking around you and at new resources to learn new things.”   She used the metaphor of white river rafting.

Why is learning the new important?  She pointed out that an individual’s knowledge and skills will be out of date within 5 years and a college degree will be out of date long before the loan is paid off.       This means we need to build the skill of learning the new and this means building online social network competence.  Most importantly, it is about building a professional network of peole in your industry or professional area  (external experts and others) and interacting with them to keep up to date.

What does learning the new mean for organizations?  She explained that “learning or teaching the old” is about training, knowledge transfer, and structured, directed learning.   Teaching the new is not structured because it is social learning. She points out that you can’t teach people to be social, only to show what it is and help facilitate it.   She also talked about a new role called “Social Learning Practitioner,” someone who encourages and enables and supports knowledge sharing and learning across the organization.

Harold Jarche: I’ve been reading Harold Jarche’s blog for many years and was thrilled to finally meet in person.  He is a network consultant and recently wrote an e-book, Seeking Perpetual Beta: A Guide Book for a Networked Era.    In 2011, I read about his  ”Seek, Sense, Share” framework for personal knowledge management and adopted this approach for a year which was an invaluable for learning.

After Jane’s keynote,  Harold lead a master class with practical exercises on how to “learn the new” or manage/design and use a professional learning network.

Mapping Your Professional Network Exercise:

He asked to think about this question:    Who are the people with you have most frequently communicated with in order to get your work done?  He asked us to list them.  Then asked us to do analysis based on:

  • Age
  • Organization
  • Gender
  • Hierarchical Position
  • Area of Expertise
  • Geographic Location

He asked to reflect on our network map.  Is your professional learning network diverse enough?  Diversity correlates with innovation?  Are you getting new ideas from your network?  If you find Twitter boring, perhaps you are following wrong people.   This sparked an excellent discussion about how we identify people to follow – how do we tune our network?  Here’s a blog post from Jamie Seger summarizing some of the ideas into practice.

He also shared some points about how you need to filter your professional learning network.  The illustration above is Jarche’s “Seek, Sense, Share” model that integrates  Five forms of filtering by Tim Kastelle.    The filtering approaches fall into two categories:   Human Judgement Based or Mechanical.

The most important takeaway was to understand how to use human filtering in your professional network.  You can identify the recognized experts on a topic, especially if it is a side topic to what you need to know and follow them.    But if the topic is the core of your work, you need a network expert filter – this is multiple perspectives on the topic.    This is about being intentional about selecting who you follow to build your ability to learn.

 

Cloud Platform expands support to Asia Pacific

Google Enterprise Blog -

Posted by Howard Wu, Head of Asia Pacific Marketing for Google Cloud Platform

(Cross-posted on the Google Cloud Platform Blog)

Many of the world’s most successful new companies, from Angry Birds creator Rovio to photo messaging service Snapchat, have built their businesses on Google Cloud Platform. We want developers in the Asia-Pacific region to also experience the speed and scale of Google’s infrastructure, so starting today, we are expanding Google Cloud Platform support to include Asia Pacific zones and adding local language tools.

Google Cloud Platform is a set of compute, storage and big data products that allow developers to build on top of the same infrastructure and technology that powers Google. The expansion means that local developers across Asia Pacific can now experience better performance and lower latency. Developers around the world will also have access to a broader global network of servers.

Japanese game maker Applibot is an early adopter of Cloud Platform in the region and have already used it to build and deploy mobile games globally. With millions of downloads on Google Play and iTunes, the company says Cloud Platform has been critical to their success. Applibot does not need to worry about server maintenance or provisioning new hardware to serve millions of potential users when they ship the latest game. Google Cloud Platform scales smoothly so that the company can focus on what they do best — creating great games.

The expansion of Cloud Platform support to Asia is our latest investment we’re making to help businesses work better with cloud based tools as part of Google’s Enterprise business. In addition to local product availability, the Google Cloud Platform website and the developer console will also be available in Japanese and Traditional Chinese.

Developers interested in learning more about Google Cloud Platform can join one of the Google Cloud Platform Global Roadshow events coming up in Tokyo, Taipei, Seoul or Hong Kong. For more technical details, head over to the Cloud Platform blog.

How Do I Get My Nonprofit’s CEO To Use Twitter or other Social Media?

Beth's Blog -

“You have to show not just tell your CEO about social media”- @carolynsave “Create a tweetorial” – @kanter #afpshift pic.twitter.com/zKggoMllYB

— Ettore Rossetti (@EttoreRossetti) March 25, 2014

Last month, I participated in a keynote panel at the AFP Annual Conference in San Antonio, TX on the theme, “Social Media for Social Change” with Carolyn Miles, CEO of Save the Children, Ben Rattray, Founder of Change.Org, and Ritu Sharma and Darian Rodriguez Heyman, co-founders of Social Media for Nonprofits Conference.     It was a blast!    Carolyn, Ben, and I each did a brief presentation on the topic and then we sat down for a discussion facilitated by Darian and Ritu using questions from the several thousand people in the audience.

Here’s a storify of the curated tweets, but I wanted to pull out one of the questions that came up:

“How do I get my nonprofit’s CEO to pay attention to social let alone use it?”

1.  Get Their Attention: “Camp outside their door.”    This is the advice that Carolyn Miles of Save the Children offered.  She said that as a busy CEO, there are many things to pay attention to and she would not be using any social media if wasn’t for her staff person, Ettore Rosetti, VP of Digital Marketing.   He camped outside her door and not only told her about how nonprofit CEO’s were using Twitter, but showed her how easy it was.

2. Show How Social Amplifies the Work They Are Already Doing:     Now that you have got their attention, make sure you discuss how social media can amplify and enhance their current work by asking some simple, but powerful questions.  Here’s a story about the CEO of the ACLU of New Jersey and how he uses Twitter to reach out to the press and policy makers and the questions he and his staff answered.   Here’s another example about a nonprofit CEO (Helen Clark of UNDP) using Twitter to engage audiences about policy.

3.  Give them a “Tweetutorial”: Most likely, your CEO uses a mobile phone.   Give them a “Tweetutorial” of how to use Twitter on their mobile phone and the basic commands.   Here’s a collection of cheat sheets that you can use to teach any Nonprofit CEO almost any social media channel.

4.  Show Examples of Peers: Sometimes peer pressure can motivate.  Be sure to show other examples of nonprofit CEOs, preferably from similar nonprofits, using Twitter.   Here’s my Ultimate List of  Lists of Nonprofit CEOs Using Social Media.

5.   Share Time-Saving Tips: Be sure to let your CEO know that using Twitter or other social media channels doesn’t require hours and hours of time.  They can build their network while they wait in line for lunch or commute to work.  Here’s three good tips for easy content strategies for leaders.

6.  Teach Them How To Be Twitter Literate: Your organization’s brand communication strategy will complement your CEO’s use of Twitter.   For them, it is about being authentic and the personal touch.   For CEOs or anyone to be successful using Twitter, they need to know how to tune the network of people they follow and how to “feed” the network of followers the best content and engagement related to your organization’s work.

7.  Show Their Impact: After they have been using social, so how their presence is reaching a different audience.     Using a tool like Twiangulate, you can easily see the overlap of followers and reach for the CEO and the organization’s branded account.  Here’s an example of Save The Children and its CEO, Carolyn Miles.   As you can see, the CEO’s reach is larger, although she has fewer followers than the branded account.  That’s most likely because more influential  people are following the CEO!

Does your nonprofit’s CEO use social media for leadership?  How?  What are the best practices to sustaining and supporting their effective of social media to support your organization’s mission?

 

The Mobilisation Journal: A Way To Spread Learning About Social Change Movements Innovative Use of Technology

Beth's Blog -

The Greenpeace Mobilization Lab has a project proposal idea for a “Mobilization Journal” as part of  the Knight News Challenge.  It’s open for comments and feedback right now – or “applause.”   This blog shares some thoughts about this project and I have to give it a big round of applause.

To understand the project, you have to get familiar with work of Greenpeace Mobilisation Lab.  I’ve been following it for a while now and it is very inspiring on many different levels.    The laboratory gives Greenpeace and its partners a space to design, test, iterative, and roll out  new strategies and techniques for participatory campaigns or what has been called “People Powered.”    What happens in the lab is that they test campaign ideas that make use of new technologies such as  mobile phones, tablets, social media, email, and others, network approaches, and others.    But, more importantly, the lab documents and shares what has been learned with Greenpeace’s affiliates and leaders around the world.

This is an example of a nonprofit organization that has invested in building an internal learning and innovation network that will lead to improved results for Greenpeace’s environmental mission.   Here’s how they describe it:

By providing a space where new ideas can be supported and tested (and existing best practices can be cultivated and scaled), Greenpeace can better leverage the strengths of its existing global network; we build on what’s working. We seek to identify, test, and co-create new ways of engaging individuals more deeply to protect the environment and promote peace. We also embrace a decentralized, networked approach, allowing Greenpeace and its allies and supporters to be nimble, agile and react quickly to a constantly changing landscape.

Greenpeace is running an internal innovation lab, much like what large companies around the world – and especially here in Silicon Valley.      The Mobilisation Lab works with Greenpeace and its partners on the following services:

  • Mobilisation Strategy and Design :: creative and collaborative workshops with multidisciplinary teams
  • Assessments and Review :: evaluating past performance to inform future mobilisation efforts
  • Data Analysis and Research :: building a culture of data-driven campaigning, designing tests with campaigns and offices, and setting up controlled experiments to optimize and improve performance
  • Training and Peer Learning :: skill-building, knowledge sharing, and network building
  • Storytelling and Knowledge Transfer :: sharing innovations, lessons learned, fail stories, and emerging best practices
  • Staffing Support :: advising on staffing structures, integration efforts, and hands-on support with talent recruitment and hiring
  • Innovation Incubation :: piloting new ways of working, from practices to technologies
  • Systems Change :: advising global organisation, campaign teams, and NROs on new ways of working

But what is I like is that their lessons learned from this work doesn’t stay behind a password protected vault.    They are openly, aggressively sharing what they learn through the reports, tool kits, and updates on the site.    Here’s a sampling of the some of the gems you’ll find:

  • Creating Shareable Social Media Content:  You’ll find some excellent frameworks for campaign strategy and using different tools.  This one is for social media.   There’s many other toolkits on the lab site, but I found this of special interest.
  • Networked NGOs: This section shares stories from NGOs in their network about they are successfully plugging into citizen networks.
  • Data and Analytics: This section shares analysis and data from campaigns and how they applied it.

The Mobilisation Journal project on the Knight News Challenge will use  the existing journalism and storytelling work already piloted by the Mobilisation Lab at Greenpeace and scale it more generally for the social change sector.   In other words, they will provide news and information that will help support and strengthen social change campaigners use of technology and networked strategies.

Why I like this idea:

  • There is not a resource that facilitate learning and experimentation from organizations/networks/individuals who want to use networked approaches for social change campaigns – regardless of issue.   This journal provides a way to strengthen practitioners skills and adapt to rapid changes.
  • The journal information will be highly practical but based on research and can be immediately applied.  The potential for a larger feedback loop – of organizations and others using the insights and reporting back what they learn is very exciting.

What do you think?   Add your comments and feedback in the next 8 days here.

 

 


 

 

https://www.newschallenge.org/challenge/2014/submissions/mobilisation-journal-news-and-analysis-of-people-powered-social-change-around-the-world

For the past few years, the Knight News Challenge has seeks to accelerate media innovation by funding breakthrough ideas in news and information through an open innovation process where anyone can submit an idea and get feedback.   Some of the projects that have been funded through this initiative have also been some of the most innovative activist platforms for social changes.  For example,   Ushahidi, a platform and tool suite that democratizes information, increases transparency and lowers the barriers for individuals to share their stories, was one of the past winners.

 

 

 

https://www.newschallenge.org/challenge/2014/submissions/mobilisation-journal-news-and-analysis-of-people-powered-social-change-around-the-world

It’s time for real change

Google Enterprise Blog -

Posted by Amit Singh, President of Google Enterprise

Today marks the end of an era for computing, as Windows XP meets its maker. I remember when XP was released in 2001—it seemed like a revolution that introduced computers to a whole new generation. But fast forward 13 years and we live in a very different world—one in which we expect the latest and greatest software, and the ability to access our stuff from anywhere. Even Microsoft admits: it’s time for a change. After all, in 2001, computers looked like this:
In addition to the nearly 30% of desktops still running XP, many businesses are in a tough spot. Despite “significant” security and privacy risks, legacy software or custom-built apps have held businesses back from migrating in time for today’s XP support deadline. Companies in this position now find themselves at a timely crossroads.

It’s time for a real change, rather than more of the same. Chromebooks for Business offers you a secure and easy-to-use computing experience, along with a central web-based management console and lower total cost of ownership. If you’ve been considering Chromebooks for your company, until June 30, we’re sweetening the deal:

  • Buy Chromebooks for Business and get $100 for each managed device you purchase for your company.
  • If your employees need to access desktop apps, we’ve partnered with Citrix and VMware to bring two offers:
    1. Get $200 off Chromebooks for Business with VMware Desktop as a Service (DaaS).
    2. Get Chromebooks for Business and 25% off Citrix XenApp Platinum Edition, which includes AppDNA software for accelerating Windows XP migration.
Last year, Forrester urged businesses to consider Chromebooks. Here are some reasons why even organizations that rely on desktop applications should consider a switch now:

  • Run your favorite work apps — yes, even offline: With more adoption of business web apps, companies are making the switch from Windows XP to Chromebooks. Google Docs, Sheets and Slides work online or offline. Quickoffice is built into every Chromebook and Cisco is bringing WebEx to Chromebooks soon.
  • Access traditional desktops and software, too: Customers, like Woolworths, access Windows applications in a virtual environment through providers like Citrix, VMware and others.
  • Power your kiosks: Use Chrome OS’s Kiosk mode to power your customer kiosks, shared employee terminals, or sales dashboard — like Dillard’s, which relies on Managed Public Sessions to help employees access their corporate email and important internal systems.
  • Certified for schools: For education, Chromebooks are verified to meet Smarter Balanced and PARCC assessment requirements with software from AIR and Pearson Testnav8. According to NPD, Chromebooks made up 21% of U.S. commercial laptop sales in 2013.

For more details about how to upgrade your IT solution, please visit our website. Don’t let your business go the way of tamagotchis and parachute pants. It’s time for a real change — something we can all agree upon.

New Tips from the Giving Day Playbook on Crowdfunding Campaigns

Beth's Blog -

From GiveMN Case Study - Click for Case Study

Note from Beth: I’m working with the Knight Foundation to facilitate a peer learning exchange that will help their community foundation partners learn and spread best practices  in planning and implementing Giving Days.   This learning approach has two ways to capture knowledge.  The first is The Giving Day Play books which a collective archive of formally documented processes, examples, check lists, and case studies planning and hosting giving days.   The second is a peer learning group of participants who are regularly sharing what they learned from implementing ideas and tools in the Playbook.  What’s cool is that these efforts are not mutually exclusive, as the group experiments, documents, and shares what they’ve learn, these real-time lessons are being add to the Giving Day Playbook and share beyond Knight’s grantees.  This guest post from Marika Lynch shares some of the most recent lessons learned about Giving Days and was also published on the Knight Foundation blog.

New Tips From the Giving Day Playbook on Crowdfunding Campaigns by Marika Lynch

Last year, Knight Foundation published the Giving Day Playbook, a soup-to-nuts guide to 24-hour online campaigns that community foundations are increasingly organizing to promote local philanthropy.

Now, with foundations across the country participating in Give Local America on May 6, we have refreshed the playbook with new insights to help in the planning.

What’s the best way to recruit and train volunteers on a Giving Day? How can you encourage donor-advised fundholders to participate? And how do you handle a tech glitch—or even a systems crash? Over the past year, we have worked closely with 19 community foundations in cities where Knight invests and gleaned insights on these issues. Today, we are excited to share them.

These additions, created by our partners at Third Plateau Social Impact Strategies, complement the existing playbook content, which includes recommendations, checklists and templates for everything from early planning to post-campaign analysis.

Here’s a look at what’s new at GivingDayPlaybook.org:

Crisis Planning: As organizers at GiveMN’s Give to the Max Day, one of the gold standards, can attest, planning matters when you’re faced with a crisis. After processing about 66 donations per minute during their 2013 event, the website crashed at 12:30 p.m.—for five hours. This failure caused the GiveMN team major headaches on the Giving Day and beyond, and has led GiveMN to reevaluate its technology options and focus on regaining public trust. The good news is GiveMN still set a fundraising record, and their planning, strategic decisions and humor from their nonprofit partners carried them through. We’ve added a case study on GiveMN’s response, in addition to a Crisis Planning section. Be sure to check out the Crisis Prevention & Management Template, which includes tips on how to prepare for these issues.

Volunteers: Organizers have used volunteers for a variety of tasks during Giving Days. In Kansas, for example, the Wichita Community Foundation reached out to a local tech alliance to help with social media updates. On Colorado Gives Day, the foundation recruited five teams of college students to stand on corners and raise awareness—providing a physical presence in the community. The Outreach section offers tips on volunteer recruitment, orientation and training, while the chapter on Day-Of Logistics includes ways to maximize efficiency during your event.

Getting Donor-Advised Funds Involved: Community Foundations are often looking for ways to engage their fundholders in Giving Days, and several communities were successful at this in 2013. Many provided an option for fundholders to contribute directly from their funds. The Community Foundation for Greater New Haven even offered a “pre-sale” for fundholders, where they were provided the option to give in advance.  A new addition on engaging fundholders within the Donor Outreach section provides details.

Soliciting New Nonprofit Endowment Funds: One of the interesting findings from the Knight communities is that two foundations actually used their Giving Days to raise money for, and start new, nonprofit endowment funds. The Blue Grass Community Foundation, for example, added 16 new funds through its eight-week campaign. The playbook explains how they did it through two mini-challenges.

We plan to update the Giving Day Playbook throughout 2014 with insights as we capture them, so keep checking back for the latest.

Marika Lynch is a writer and communications consultant for Knight Foundation.

 

The Secret To Social Media Engagement: Kiss A Squirrel!

Beth's Blog -

“I kissed a squirrel & I liked it” #ReplaceGirlWithSquirrelInASong

— Billboard (@billboard) April 4, 2014

I’m preparing for a webinar and with any training I begin the instructional design with surveying participants to understand their level, learning goals, and attitudes about the subject matter. Then I build out the content and discussion questions.    In reviewing the data and themes from the audience input, some terrific questions about engagement popped out:

  • How can we become better at using social media so that our channels experience more engagement and convert people to get involved?
  •  

  • How can we get people to talk to us? Even asking direct questions doesn’t result in replies.
  •  

  • What is the best way for a non-profit organization to engage the audience?
  •  

  • How can we turn our fans that we engage with on social media into financial supporters of our organization?
  •  

1. Engage around questions that are relevant, fun, nostalgic  or evoke emotions


I happened to stumble upon this funny tweet from Billboard that asks its Twitter followers to tweet with the hashtag #ReplaceGirlWithSquirrelInASong and gave the example “I kissed a squirrel and I liked it.”    This tweet got 71 Retweets and 65 favorites.  If you look at the replies, you can see that it also got about 30 @replies, including replies where participants played the game.

@billboard #ReplaceGirlWithSquirrelInASong Big Squirrels don’t cry — Vern❄️ (@verena_fidelia) April 4, 2014

So not every nonprofit or social cause can employ humor in its tool box, but that is not the point here. Billboard’s audience, presumably, is passionate about songs and lyrics given it is the source for music charts, news, and events. This tweet is sparking engagement because it resonates with the audience and is also playing with nostaglia.

Nostalgia is much more than mere reminiscing; it’s a warm, fuzzy emotion that we feel when we think about fond memories from our past.    In a 2012 study, researchers discovered that nostalgizing helps people relate their past experiences to their present lives in order to make greater meaning of it all. The result can boost their mood and reduce stress. Nostalgia increases feelings of social connectedness to others and makes people feel loved and valued and increases perceptions of social support when people are lonely.

Here’s another example of how Billboard is using nostalgia in its tweets:

 

This Week In Billboard Chart History: TLC Takes ‘No Scrubs’ To No. 1 http://t.co/os3jRMksjH

— Billboard (@billboard) April 7, 2014

2.   Keep A Running List of High Engagement Conversation Starters and Use Them Regularly

If you want engagement on social media channels, identify good conversation starters that are relevant to your audience, will ignite their passion or nostalgia about the subject matter.  Conversation starters are questions, visuals, anecdotes, stories, or other snippets of content that you share on social channels to ignite engagement.    This list should be with you when you are planning out your content and engagement for your social media channels.

3.   Use Participatory Research Techniques To Discover Engagement Topics

How do you discover these nuggets?    If you don’t know already know what starts good conversations, go out do some interviews with your audiences or simple observation to find out.    You don’t have to do a comprehensive survey, you can use some participatory research techniques like interviewing or fly on the wall observation.  Or just keep your ears open.  Maybe your executive director or program directors are giving a presentation about your organization’s programs, take notes on the types of questions that come up from the audience.    A development director at a Food Bank who also did tours at the facility kept a running log of questions and comments that visitors made, including the fact that they were interested in the food donations and surprised that they food bank received donations of fresh fruit.  This lead to a regular content feature on Twitter and Facebook that shared a photograph and question, “What’s been donated to the food bank this week?”

Another place to look for clues is any formal audience research that your organization done.  You can also learn a lot from analyzing the email questions from your organization’s web site  general email address.     And, of course, don’t forget to pay attention to questions and comments that bubble up on your social media channels as well.



4.    Make it Buzzworthy

Here are five best practices from BuzzFeed and ten tips from Upworthy about how to craft engaging and “viral” content that can be applied to your nonprofit’s social media content.   The common tip?   Craft good headlines.  Here’s an excellent cheat sheet that can help you write more engaging headlines.     Here’s more tactical tips from Upworthy:

  1. Find or create great content. Apparently you can’t make crappy content go viral.
  2. Write at least 25 headlines—simply because your first one will likely suck.
  3. Avoid giving it all away in the headlines. Also, don’t give it away in the meta-description.
  4. Edit headlines and descriptions on Facebook, if necessary. For instance, you can change the photo that goes with your article. You can also edit the title and description—no coding required.
  5. Be visual. “If you aren’t making your images big enough to be visual, your content ranking will probably suffer,” according to the Slideshare presentation.
  6. Include a strong call to action (CTA). Do you want people to click? To share on Twitter? Nudge people to do something.

5.   Measure, Test, Refine

One thing you will also notice when you review the  Upworthy deck is that they also use measurement to improve their content and engagement.   They do a lot of A/B testing to figure out what headline, visual, or call to action works best.     Also, they make good use of their analytics, evaluating whether or not it drove traffic to the web site, resonated on Facebook by analyzing Facebook insights, or they were able to convert audience to an action or conversations.

Have you discovered engaging content that inspires your audience to an action that reaches your goals?    Do you use any of these techniques?

Five Best Practices in Nonprofit Crowdfunding

Beth's Blog -

Flickr Photo by Lendingmemo

 

Note from Beth: Last year, 30% of the $5 billion crowdfunded went to social causes according the “Cracking the Crowd Funding Code“.  Nonprofit’s use of crowdfunding is growing at an exponential rate with many nonprofits jumping on the crowfunding bandwagon attracted by the potential of finding new supporters.   Robert Wu offers a great set of best practices in this guest post below.   As crowdfunding practices mature and become an valuable part of the nonprofit fundraising toolkit, there is a need to set standards and expectations.  David Neff and colleagues have launched a “Crowdfunding Bill of Rights” to get the discussion going.  You can help create the Bill of Rights here.

Five Best Practices in Nonprofit Crowdfunding by Robert Wu

At CauseVox, We’ve helped thousands of people and nonprofits all over the world crowdfund for nonprofits and social good projects. In the early crowdfunding days, I helped launch a crowdfunding campaign with the American Red Cross and SXSW that raised $120,000 in 10 days.

Nonprofit crowdfunding is changing the landscape in online fundraising. As more and more donors are being exposed to crowdfunding for products and services, they’ll expect your fundraising to shift towards those approaches as well.

Here are five best practices that I’ve learned along the way that you need to follow in order to crowdfund successfully for your nonprofit.

1.  Start with a measurable goal

Your goal aligns your team and supporters with your crowdfunding campaign. You have to find a balance between what is within reach and what is an aspiration. If you’ve fundraised online before, ask yourself a few questions to get a baseline of what is achievable.

  • How much have we raised online in the past year?

  • What is the average amount that we have raised in a campaign or event?

  • What is the average donation amount online for us? (it’s $88 for in crowdfunding)

If this is your first time with crowdfunding, you can ask yourself:

  • How much do I need to make an impact?

  • How much does the product or service that I want to create cost?

  • How much did similar crowdfunding campaigns raise?

After you think through these questions, create a well defined goal that follows the SMART framework: specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timely.

2.  Rethink Rewards and Donation Tiers

Rewards are items, recognition, or a service that you’ll get for contributing a crowdfunding campaign. They are also known as perks or gifts, and are used as incentives to motivate people to support a campaign.

But studies have shown that rewards for donations may actually reduce giving.

The Yale researchers George Newman and Jeremy Shen, found that contrary to expectations, rewarding donors cut donations in most situations. In a nutshell, donors that received a gift, felt selfish, which in turn reduced the motivation for giving.

Instead, you should focus on impact-focused rewards.

An example of impact-driven fundraising gifts are hand-sewn scarves from a family who started a local business as a result of your donor’s micro-finance loan or a personal letter from a child who you sponsored for her education.

Impact-driven fundraising gifts are an all-around win-win because it matches both the donor’s motivations to give and the tangible impact on the one who received it.

3. Create a sexy story

You know that compelling stories get you donations, sharing, and publicity, but you’re probably thinking — “I don’t have a sexy story” or “I don’t know how to tell a compelling story”. It’s actually easier than you think to create one that works.

You have all the ingredients for a sexy story, but how do you get the recipe? Just look at Hollywood, and think back to all those movies and TV shows you’ve watched.

There are four classic storylines that perform really well with nonprofit crowdfunding:

  • Overcoming the monster – Similar to James Bond, Batman, or the Avengers, you can show your organization overcoming a villain or some form of adversity. For example, Earthrights International fights against corporate human rights abuse. They raised $20,000 with this storyline.

  • Rags to riches - Like Chris Gardner in Pursuit of Happiness, showcase your organization or individual(s) transitioning from a low to a much better place. For example, Project Renewal helps homeless people get off the streets. They showed Harry Dickerson reclaim his life from homelessness on their Giving Tuesday campaign and  raised over $70,000 with this storyline.

  • Quest - Like Lord of the Rings, tales of a dedicated group of people who encounter perils along the way to reach an ambitious goal can be highly engaging! This storyline is best used as a part of peer-to-peer fundraising, where the individual can share their story. For example, a group of friends shared stories of their beard-growing journey to raise funds for breast cancer research. They raised $28,000.

  • Tragedy - In Breaking Bad, Walter White dives into the world of making meth. He falls into something bad and gets more and more evil each day. You can focus on the negative as part of your storyline. For example, I raised $120,000 for Japan disaster relief by showing how the tsunami destroyed cities and displaced communities.

You can use these storylines to frame your story and get your crowdfunding campaign the attention it deserves. At the end of your story, put in a call-to-action so that the reader/viewer can know how to help.

4.  Build a tribe of champions

Contrary to what you may assume, you can’t launch a crowdfunding campaign by relying on the crowd. You’ll need to cultivate a tribe. Start with a list of 100 people that you know and would be willing to take action and put them in three buckets:

  • Promoters - People that will share your campaign and updates via email, social media, etc. They’ll amplify your reach. Think of them as your own publicity team.

  • Fundraisers - People that will help solicit for donations via peer-to-peer fundraising. They’ll create a mini-crowdfunding campaign through personal fundraising pages. On average, we see about 50% of crowdfunding campaign funds come in this way.

  • Donors – People that will contribute to your campaign.

Give each bucket a role and goal so that they know how and when to help. Some people can take on multiple roles if they’re high up on the engagement ladder.

In my crowdfunding campaign at SXSW, we were able to get the campaign into CNN, WSJ, NYTimes, and dozens of other press and media outlets.

 

Even though this drove an incredible amount of traffic and donations, not all crowdfunding campaigns should invest their time in trying to find press coverage. Here’s why:

 

  • Finding the right journalists can be hard. If you don’t have a relationship with them already, then the chances of them writing about you are lower.

  • Your campaign or cause has to be newsworthy. Journalists look for stories that follow a broader trend or that are in their beat.

  • Getting publicity may not yield significant donations. Even though you can get tons of awareness and traffic, they may not be the right audience that will fund your campaign.

Now, if you do decide to go the publicity route, here are the three steps to getting press.

  1. Target - Use free tools like Twitter Search to find journalists that have an interest in your area. Jot down their contact info (Twitter handle and email address).

  2. Prepare – Ask yourself, why is this newsworthy? Why would the journalist want to write about me? Why would her audience want to read the article? Come up with a press release and pitch materials based on your newsworthy story.

  3. Pitch - Contact the journalists that you’ve identified, tell them your story, and give them more info about your campaign.

Additional Best Practices

Getting started with crowdfunding is easy, but doing it right can be a challenge. You can learn more details on how to launch a nonprofit crowdfunding campaign. Download our free ebook on planning a crowdfunding campaign today!

Rob Wu is the CEO of CauseVox, a crowdfunding and peer-to-peer fundraising platform for nonprofits.

 

 

 

Google Apps goes behind the curtains of Glyndebourne opera house

Google Enterprise Blog -

Posted by Richard Wells, Head of Information Technology at Glyndebourne

Editor's note: Today’s guest blogger is Richard Wells, Head of Information Technology at Glyndebourne, a 1,200-seat opera house set in the grounds of a country house in East Sussex, England. See what other organizations that have gone Google have to say.


English opera company Glyndebourne started out in 1934 as an intimate gathering for opera enthusiasts at the founders’ home. Today it’s a 1,200-seat opera house located in the grounds of a 600-year-old manor in the English countryside. We put on about 120 performances a year, including the annual Glyndebourne Festival in the summer and our traditional Autumn tour, which takes us to cities around England.

Before going Google last autumn, we relied on a traditional Microsoft Office, Sharepoint and Exchange infrastructure. This setup required dedicated Windows computers to access all our files on various hard drives and servers, sometimes through complex remote connection processes. It was difficult, stage hands could not always access their email, schedules or documents and often had to use pen and paper to create notes after performance.

Google Apps has changed the way we work since employees can now access their work directly from their mobiles. Our House Manager previously had to email the ushers’ schedule to their personal email accounts. It was a tedious process. Now, all our ushers have their own Google accounts and we can share one roster as a Google Sheet and collaborate in one file.

Google Apps also helps those of us in headquarters be more efficient and resourceful. Each month our general director posts a popular news bulletin online. It’s lighthearted and informative, and great reading material for a coffee break - this meant many people printed it out to read, like a magazine. Now that we have gone Google we simply pop it up on our mobile devices any place, any time with the added financial benefit of paper and ink savings.

With the move to Google our IT staff were excited to be able to stop maintaining the on-premise email system, particularly as our company grew. We have nearly doubled our computer users to 200 in the last few years, while our IT resources stayed the same. As a result, we spent three full days a month maintaining Microsoft applications, updating software and troubleshooting remote employee issues. With Google Apps we now spend a fraction of that time on support and troubleshooting.

Under the old system we were running out of storage fast, including storage for our performance videos and sheet music. You can imagine how thrilled we were to learn that a single suite of products -- Google Apps for Business -- could resolve all of our problems around hosting, mobility and collaboration. With the help of Ancoris, a Google Enterprise partner, we quickly deployed and migrated all our computer users to the new ecosystem. We now store just under 500 GB of digital performance material online with Google using Google Drive.

With Google giving us email, collaboration, business workflows and our storage needs in the cloud, the IT department has far fewer worries. Staff now spend their time on more meaningful jobs like creating high-quality recordings of our performances and improving our digital presences such as the Glyndebourne YouTube channel. Employees have seen an increase in their ability to focus on our core objective: creating world-class opera. Google Apps helps us bridge the creative and operational sides of the company. This allows us to work from anywhere, anytime so the show goes off without a hitch every night.

Organizational Amnesia, Accountability Buddies, and Other Things I learned at the Grant Managers Network Conference

Beth's Blog -

March was the “Iron Woman Multi-Conferencethon” for me and I’m just catching up.   In mid-March,  I had a whirl wind day at the Grant Managers Network Annual Conference where I did the following:

I’ve captured some good notes, tweets, photos, and shared resources for each session, but here I wanted to dive into a few interesting ideas that bubbled up.

Organizational Amnesia

Roberto Cremonini used the term “Organizational Amnesia” referring to organizations that may not be measuring, documenting, and extracting learning from data and other artifacts.    This creates an organization of zombies doomed to repeating the mistakes of the past.     The term is a play on “organizational memory” which is defined as is the accumulated body of data, information, and informal learning created in the course of an organization’s existence or known as “Knowledge Management.”    There are two repositories: an organization archives – reports, data, and documented knowledge which is more and more in electronic format and individuals’ memories (if they are still working for the organization.)  Unfortunately, organizational memory is short, and without a way to capture knowledge and  learning, they become lost.

I found a blog post called “The Dangers of Organizational Amnesia” by Darcy Jacobson.  She points a few trends making our individual AND organizational memories shorter. “It is ironic that technology has provided us with phenomenal tools for communication and connection, but much of it has also sped up our work lives and made knowledge and memory at work much more ephemeral. Add to that higher rates of turnover and more mobility in organizations—particularly among younger workers. We find that there are fewer and fewer curators of “tribal knowledge” and more and more of our knowledge capital is at risk of slipping through the cracks.”

She references a paper from 2001 why organizational memory is important from Dr. Jeff Conklin from the CogNexus Institute and describes organizational memory into two types: formal and informal knowledge.  The former refers to things like manuals and documents, which he points out we tend to preserve very well.  But informal knowledge is the information we learn when we create that formal knowledge and is not always captured.    This idea and practice is further described in a paper and MIT study that asks “Are You Feeding or Starving Organizational Memory?

According to that study there are two important pieces to relationship-based memory that can be captured:

  1. Social capital: Time spent interacting on work tasks establishes a sense of reciprocity and trust among colleagues. This social capital encourages employees to turn to colleagues to get useful assistance or advice about future initiatives.
  2. Knowledge mapping: By working closely together, colleagues build an understanding of each person’s particular knowledge and skills. This understanding allows employees to seek out the right peers for information in the future.

My colleague, Eugene Eric Kim recently wrote a wonderful mini-rant, “Documenting Isn’t Learning.”  Documentation and learning are the treatment for organizational amnesia. He makes the point:

“Today, too many of us are fixated on digitally capturing our knowledge. That is the wrong place to start. We shouldn’t be so focused on externalizing what’s in our head in digital form. We should be looking at the problem the other way around — figuring out how best to get knowledge into our heads. That is the much more challenging and important problem.

How do we do that?

The number one thing we can do to help groups learn is to create space and time for reflection. How many of you take the time to do that with your groups?”

He went on to ask a provocative question, “What if, instead of spending so much time, energy, and money on trying to get people to share more information digitally, we assigned people learning buddies? What if we incentivised time spent in reflection and with each other?  What if we created systems for shadowing each other and for practicing the skills we need to be effective?  Wouldn’t those be better first steps toward facilitating effective group learning? ” Dave Gray called Eugene out to say that “The process of documenting is one of the most powerful ways of catalyzing learning.”  In response, Eugene set up a Google Hangout to discuss the question of learning today at 12:30 PST.

Accountability Buddies

This is one of the points of serendipity because during the workshop I did on using content curation for professional learning, Jen Bokoff shared the tip of having an “accountability buddy” – a trusted colleague who she checks in on about what they will accomplish each day or week. Would be easy to also add learning to this as well.

Just shared the value of having an accountability buddy like @Samuel_Hansen. Great way to stay motivated and focused! #GMN2014

— Jen Bokoff (@jenbo1) March 18, 2014

We also discussed ways that individuals could carve out time for more reflection or do what Eugene is suggesting above – to get more knowledge into our heads. Finding the time to reflect and learn is hard – and digital information isn’t the only challenge. One participant shared that it is difficult to work in open office spaces and they are trying the above cards to help minimize physical distractions. During the session, participants discuss some ways they plan to get more focus:

  • Don’t use mobile phone as an alarm clock to avoid checking e-mail or social first thing in the morning or last thing before sleep
  • Incorporate more movement into the day
  • Separate the “seeking and sharing” of digital information from the sense-making piece

 



During the keynote Q/A, there were many questions related to an organization’s social media policy and all staff participation and of course related to legal compliance. Although some questions can’t easily be answered with compliance or written policy as this recent presentation from the Nonprofit Technology Conference called “50 Shades of Social Media” by Debra Askansae, Farra Trompeter, Ashley Lusk, and Carly Leinheiser points out.

Finally, my colleague, Nathaniel James of PhilanthroGeek did an excellent session on social giving and philanthropy.

 

London Borough of Barking and Dagenham goes mobile and saves money with Chromebooks

Google Enterprise Blog -

Posted by Rupert Hay-Campbell, Information/Communications Technology and Information Governance Officer, London Borough of Barking and Dagenham

Editor's note: Today’s guest blogger is Rupert Hay-Campbell, information/communications technology and information governance officer for the London Borough of Barking and Dagenham, a community in East London with 180,000 residents. See what other organizations that have gone Google have to say.

At the London Borough of Barking and Dagenham, we're dealing with a classic government challenge: the need to provide great technology for our 3,500 local council employees in a climate of severe budget austerity. In the middle of 2013 we turned our attention to upgrading our IT platform in preparation for the Windows XP end of life in April 2014.

We knew we had to either upgrade our 3,500 desktop computers and 800 laptops or find new ways to give employees access to our council systems, and preferably on devices that didn’t need to be constantly upgraded or managed by our IT staff. Google Chromebooks and Chromeboxes ticked all of these boxes – and more.

We want to future-proof our systems based on how our employees will be working five or 10 years from now. They’ll be more mobile, working from home or from various council offices, so they’ll rely on laptops. The applications they’ll use will be web-based, so a device built around a browser makes sense. At the same time, we must also manage council information in strict compliance with UK government security regulations.

Once CESG, the UK government agency responsible for IT security, developed security standards for councils using the Chrome operating system, we started switching out XP desktops and laptops with 2,000 Chromebooks for employees and 500 Chromeboxes for reception desks and shared works areas.

With the help of Ancoris, a Google Enterprise Partner, and Elevate East London, the council’s joint venture IT outsourcing partner, we're currently rolling out an initial 1,500 Chromebooks. Our partners helped us provide access to council applications via a Citrix virtual desktop, but we’ll gradually move new apps to the Chrome browser.

When we finish deploying Chromebooks and Chromeboxes in early summer, we’ll have 1,000 fewer devices to manage compared to our stock of Windows XP devices. Most employees will only have a Chromebook, instead of both a desktop and a laptop.

Not only does this help employees bring their work anywhere, it also saves us £200,000 compared with the cost of deploying new Windows desktops, and we’ve estimated a further £200,000 saving on electricity costs with the more energy-efficient ChromeOS devices. And since employees can work anywhere, we’ll be able to make substantial savings on more efficient use of some council buildings and offices. Spending less money on more secure, worker-friendly and flexible technology is helping us at the council deal with the challenge of austerity cuts - and, of course, plan better for the future of our community.

Methods for Facilitating Innovation in Nonprofits

Beth's Blog -

Last month I had the pleasure of taking the Luma Institute Train the Trainers workshop where I got a chance to immerse in practicing  facilitation techniques based on human centered design principles.     The workshop instructor Peter Maher is founder and CEO, of Luma Institute, and a Jedi Master.   The co-facilitator was Amy Hedrick who works in Product and Design Innovation at Intuit. The curriculum was based on their “Innovating for People” design methods recipe book and “taxonomy for innovation.”

What is Human Centered Design? Is it only used by people with artistic talents and graphic design skills?    Anyone can be a designer!   These are methods for developing solutions (any type) in service of people.    By applying this approach to program development or strategy,  your nonprofit can get more impactful results.

We received copies of his Luma’s book and cards, “Innovation for People,”  which is a synthesis of landscape analysis of design-thinking and human centered design methods.    A frequent question Peter is asked about how an organization can become more innovative.   “What are the skills that we need to practice for 10,000 hours?  His response:

  • Looking: Observing human experience
  • Understanding: Methods for Analyzing Challenges and Opportunities
  • Making: Methods for Envisioning Future Possibilities

Six month agos, I was introduced to Luma Institute’s work as a participant in a Foundation convening to get ideas for their digital strategy development.    I not only learned a huge amount, but I was able to systematically apply and iterate with the techniques over the last year.

I was excited to take my learning much deeper with a two-day immersive workshop with participants who run innovation labs.    The sessions focused on how to combine various techniques together to achieve a specific goal and while there was a lot of “facilitating with sticky notes,” the overall process was larger than that.

Here’s a some of what I learned about facilitating innovation and train the trainers design.

A Good Opening Opens Possibilities from Learning from Other Participants

The workshop had 16 participants, mostly people who run innovation and research labs from corporations.     Since we were spending two days together, working on collaborative exercises, a good opening where we could introduce ourselves and make connections was important.

We introduced ourselves by drawing a picture on a sticky note and using the speech bubble sticky to articulate a challenge in our practice.   Next, each person got to introduce themselves and their challenge, while the instructor, Pete Maher, expertly facilitated a network map on the wall.

Being able to do concept mapping on the wall with sticky notes is a core technique in a number of the methods that we practiced throughout the two days.   It was great to watch as master like Pete do this and have him share some of his tricks of the trade that I was immediately able to put into practice the next day.

Train the Trainer:  Must Incorporate Exercises that Use Simulations

When you are learning a new facilitation or teaching technique,  it is important to not only listen to a lecture about it, but to practice it in the class with guidance from the instructor and then apply on your own.     For each technique we were introduced to do, we were given a situation or simulation to apply it.    The exercises we did were done individually (think and read/write),  pairs (interviews), and in small groups.    We debriefed in full groups.

We learned and practiced a “making” technique called “paper prototype” where we created a model for an idea out of paper.    Each four-person team had 20 minutes to design and build a paper prototype for a new type of car radio.    This lead into another technique we practiced called “Think Outloud User Testing,” where we conducted a user test of our paper prototype.

What was eye-opening for me is that while we were designing and building our paper prototype, all of us thought it was pretty clear how to use it.     When we tested it,  the tester had no idea how to turn on our radio!!   It is humbling when you actually get feedback from the people you are designing something for.

While I doubt that I will ever have to do design interfaces for a new car radio, the process was a stark reminder to me as an instructional designer to always get empathy from students in the course design process.  This may be mean rapid prototyping as well as front-end research.  I immediately came up with twenty ways to adapt this simulation and method for a nonprofit context!

Innovation Thinking Is A Balance of Generative, Recombination, and Prioritization

We learned many techniques, but the most important insight I gained was how to combine the different methods to support your goal.      Innovation thinking is not just about creativity and generating ideas, it about combining, synthesis, and prioritization.

Round Robin

One of my favorite techniques was  called “Round Robin,” which reminded of the game played by Surrealists called “Exisquite Corpse.”   We were given a piece of paper folder over so you could not see the next three questions and asked to write down the challenge statement.    The next question we brainstormed solutions and passed the paper to someone else.   The next question asked us to find flaws with the solution and pass the paper to someone else.   In the last question, we were asked to add a final or revised solution.

This reminds me of a similar technique I’ve used in face-to-face workshops over the years where you set up small groups to work at a flip chart and brainstorm ideas.  Then each group rotates to the next station and adds their thoughts.   Once everyone has a chance to see everyone else’s  stations, the original team looks at and synthesizes the additional input.

Bull’s Eye

 

 

This was another exercise where we had to prioritize features on the car radio (which we later paper prototyped).     We had a page with three circles and had to cut and tape the most important features in the center, second most important in the second circle, and the rest in the third.   We worked in small teams.

This exercise helped us think through a “Minimum Viable Product,”  but more importantly get consensus on our team about what was most important.   I could see this working well for prioritizing anything and particularly nonprofit web site requirements documents.   It could also be applied to phasing a program or identifying a pilot for a strategy.

For me, innovation is all about learning, creative thinking, iterating, doing, and practicing agility.    That’s why I find it so exciting.

How does your nonprofit facilitate innovating thinking and doing?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nonprofits Who are Making A Difference Through Play

Beth's Blog -

Note from Beth: I’ve been a fan of the Games for Change Festival since I first attended in 2006.  So, I’m thrilled that community manager,  Meghan Ventura, who is responsible for cultivating the community presence of Games for Change agreed to write this guest post about nonprofits who are using games for social change.    And, don’t miss this special offer: Get 10% off tickets with the code beth_g4c14.  You can register here.

Nonprofits Who are Making A Difference Through Play – guest post by Meghan Ventura

Video games are big — bigger than Hollywood in terms of revenue, as a $66 billion global industry. While not every game has a record-breaking release like Grand Theft Auto 5, which netted $1 billion in three days, they certainly have a wide audience. Players, who collectively average about 30 years old in the U.S., and 47% of whom are female, spend a collective 3 billion hours per week on digital games!

Several nonprofits have successfully interacted with, and more importantly, seen impact from, these engaged new audiences. We’ll share some of these case studies below, but for more, check out these projects and learn more about the people behind them at the Games for Change Festival (http://www.gamesforchange.org/festival), NYC’s largest gaming event that convenes the social change community and game makers, next month (April 22-24 & 26).

In Education

GlassLab (http://www.instituteofplay.org/work/projects/glasslab/ ) explores the potential for existing, commercially successful digital games to serve both as potent learning environments and real-time assessments of student learning. Its strategic partnership with Electronic Arts has enabled GlassLab to develop SimCityEDU, a game-based classroom tool that uses the beloved SimCity franchise to engage students in real-world challenges. This software includes assessment tools for evaluating students’ ability to problem solve, explain the relationships in complex systems, and comprehend informational texts and diagrams. SimCityEDU has been piloted by over 100 teachers and 3,000 students.

Games provide tremendous opportunities for learning about real-world issues. A study (http://www.sri.com/work/projects/glasslab-research) funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and MacArthur Foundation has found “when digital games were compared to other instruction conditions without digital games, there was a moderate to strong effect in favor of digital games in terms of broad cognitive competencies.”

Another nonprofit furthering research behind games and learning is the Joan Ganz Cooney Center. Through projects like the Games and Learning Publishing Council and the National STEM Video Game Challenge (http://www.stemchallenge.org/), the Cooney Center explores the power of games to advance learning and engage vulnerable students.

In Health

The neuroscientists at the Gazzaley Lab at University of California, San Francisco, have shown that games can improve our cognitive function. Don’t run to play Mario just yet though — the game has to be specially designed to fill in lapses in brain activity from the start! For example, the game NeuroRacer can help the elderly improve their multitasking skills, with improvements in everyday activities that last for at least six months, according to a study published by a research team led by Dr. Adam Gazzaley.

Games can also empower players to help solve seemingly impossible scientific problems. One infamous example is Foldit, a protein-folding puzzle game that crowdsources potential real-world protein structures and solutions. Within just 10 days of folding, Foldit players helped decipher the structure of an AIDs-causing virus and produced an accurate 3D model of the enzyme, a problem that had eluded scientists and supercomputers for more than 10 years.

In Philanthropy

Zynga.org (http://zynga.org/) was created with the mission to use games to help those in need. This nonprofit social arm of the juggernaut game developer has helped to raise more than $7 million for charities through FarmVille 24 million users alone. Since 2009, Zynga.org has enabled millions of players to contribute nearly $20 million to more than 30 nonprofit organizations globally.

Illustrating the positive power of another incredibly popular game, the United Nations and Minecraft developer Mojang partnered to bring youths’ game-world blueprints to real-life in public works in Kenya, Sweden, and Haiti through its innovative “Block by Block” (http://www.gamesforchange.org/festival/program/pontus-westerberg-tbd/) program.

Around Gender

The Code Liberation Foundation (codeliberation.org) aims to change the female-to-male ratio in video game development by offering free workshops in order to facilitate the creation of video game titles by women. In 2013 alone, the organization ran over 100 hours of programming in New York City.

Social Impact Through Digital Games

Learn more about amazing projects like these & more at the 11th Annual Games For Change Festival (http://gamesforchange.org/festival/). Many of the game-making and research leaders mentioned above will present at the Festival, such as Dr. Adam Gazzaley (NeuroRacer), Zoran Popovic (Foldit), the Joan Ganz Cooney Center and more. Check out more highlights from the Festival program here. Don’t miss this special offer for Beth’s Blog readers: Get 10% off tickets with the code beth_g4c14.

Has your nonprofit embraced games for social change? How?


Meghan Ventura is responsible for cultivating the community presence of Games for Change. She previously worked with the Washington, D.C., chapter of the International Game Developers Association (IGDA) and urban games group DCGames, organizing events and connecting local developers. She’s worked as a writer and editor, with experience covering video games, and scientific and environmental topics.

Prima Supply speeds up search for restaurant and food service business owners

Google Enterprise Blog -

Posted by Joshua Moxon, marketing director at Prima Supply

Editor's note: Today’s guest blogger is Joshua Moxon, marketing director for Prima Supply, a family-owned restaurant supply company based in Louisville, Kentucky. See what other organizations that use Google Search Appliance have to say.

Customers shopping online at Prima Supply – usually small business owners looking for great deals on restaurant and food service equipment – know what they want, and they’re price-conscious. To help them make choices, our goal is to provide accurate product information, including specifications and availability, and deliver it as quickly as possible. Google Search Appliance (GSA) for Commerce has met our need for speed, and for better control over adding content to search.

In the past, our search product, Amazon Cloud Search, stymied our goals for fast results and helpful content. Visitors to our site had to wait as long as 15 seconds for results, especially if they used refinements for pricing, since that information wasn’t cached. Our bounce rate was higher than normal, which meant that shoppers were leaving our site because they didn’t want to wait around for results.

It wasn’t just customers that were unhappy. We weren’t pleased with our lack of ability to add synonyms or include misspellings, which would have improved our search accuracy. We’d have to bring in IT help if we wanted to add content to search or if we wanted to fine-tune results – for example, promoting certain products or brands within search results. Using outside help took extra time, which meant we couldn’t be agile in responding to customers.

We didn’t have to look hard for a new search product – GSA for Commerce was the only one we considered. We knew that nobody does search like Google, and we wanted the same fast, easy search for our site that we get when we go to Google.com. Instead of bringing in a software developer when we needed to add synonyms or create landing pages for products or brands, GSA for Commerce helps us do this work ourselves, with no delays or extra costs.

Three-compartment stainless steel sinks are a popular item on the Prima Supply website, and customers searching for a specific brand might not realize that there are other options from different manufacturers. Using GSA for Commerce’s Searchandiser tool, we can build out webpages with similar products, at all price points, that show up whenever a customer does a relevant search.

Search times have been reduced and slowdowns have become a thing of the past. In our business, search that’s fast and on-target has a direct impact on customer loyalty. That means GSA for Commerce will help keep our customers finding and buying products they need, and associating Prima Supply with easy searching and fast service.

Women in Tech: a chat with Carolyn Cheng, SVP of Strategic Services for Royal LePage

Google Enterprise Blog -

Editor's note: From Ada Lovelace to the ladies of ENIAC, women have played an important part in driving technology forward. As Women’s History Month winds down, we’re highlighting a handful of women who are making strides, driving change and shaping the future of technology. Today, we hear from Carolyn Cheng, SVP of Strategic Services for Royal LePage, a Google Enterprise customer.

How did you first get involved in technology?
I’d say that technology found me. I began my professional life as a management consultant in strategy and operations at Deloitte Consulting, then joined the growth strategy group at Brookfield Real Estate Services to help drive new business opportunities. After a strong growth period for the company, each person from the team took on a strategic role in one of the operating companies - and I joined Royal LePage. I was brought on to develop new products and services for the network of agents (now more than 15,000), and since they’re distributed so widely across North America, many of those products and services had to be delivered over the web. And thus began my journey into the world of technology.

Have any mentors or communities been especially instrumental to your interest and success in tech?
The Royal LePage culture has played a huge role in driving and developing my career in tech. When I started at the company, the CIO and half of our senior executives were women, so having those positive examples was inspiring. Our culture is also very entrepreneurial, driven in particular by our President, who ensures that employees who show enthusiasm, curiosity and capability are given opportunities to pursue new ideas - even if they’re outside their defined job role. I wasn’t a technologist by trade, for example, but once I’d established my capabilities and strengths, I was given new opportunities that happened to intersect with technology. In general, I think the inquisitive, analytical problem solving skills that are the backbone of strategy are well aligned with developing and delivering services through technology.

What are some of the biggest changes you’ve seen in technology since working in the space?
For one, it’s now much easier and faster to implement technology projects. A decade ago, we often built our own custom solutions in-house, which meant building the software, installing the hardware and learning by trial and error along the way. These were greater stress-induced days, to say the least. Today, third-party solutions in real estate are far more mature and require much more straightforward configuration. And when we choose to build custom, differentiated solutions, we partner with experienced vendors, use an agile process supported with documentation and, most often, ensure those solutions are cloud-based. On the whole, projects deliver in almost half the time, at a lower cost and with a far higher quality product.

What advice do you have for women interested or working in tech today?
Technology is such an integral part of the fabric of how work gets done that I think it’s critical for all women to learn about it one way or another. There’s no role that doesn’t touch technology somehow: sales people need CRMs, marketers have to be conversant in SEO, SEM and social media, finance relies on tech-based tools to deliver business intelligence. The choice revolves more around where you want to sit on the spectrum of technology - on one end, purely as an end user, or on the other, as a more technical creator or implementer. But the more you know about technology, the more opportunities you open up for yourself.

So, if I had one piece of advice, it’s to learn about technology from a young age, then decide what interests you most and go after it. Technology has a much broader definition and is more accessible than ever before. And from what I’ve experienced myself, women in technology are often very grounded, extraordinarily passionate and want to achieve great things, so you’ll be in good company.

Women in tech: a chat with Kelly Campbell, Director of Enterprise Marketing at Google

Google Enterprise Blog -

Editor's note: From Ada Lovelace to the ladies of ENIAC, women have played an important part in driving technology forward. As Women’s History Month winds down, we’re highlighting a handful of women who are making strides, driving change and shaping the future of technology. Today, we hear from Kelly Campbell, Director of Enterprise Marketing at Google.

How did you get into technology?
I entered the world of technology when I joined Google in 2005 after getting my MBA. I’d worked in Finance earlier in my career and did an internship as a brand manager at a large CPG company, but both had left me wanting more. In my second year of business school, a handful of companies from various industries came to campus to talk about potential job opportunities. I popped into my first tech session, with Amazon, and was blown away. There was so much energy and excitement around what they were doing and where the tech industry was going that just didn’t exist in the other sessions. Then Google visited, and I was hooked. I joined the company after graduation and haven’t looked back since. In this industry, you have to constantly challenge the status quo and think about the future first. I love the pace, energy, challenges and vast opportunity.

What are some of the biggest changes you’ve seen in technology since working in the space?
Since I joined Google, I’ve seen a dramatic change in the way people work and the way people learn.

When I started, most people used devices and apps in their home life that they loved, while they were stuck with slow, heavy enterprise software and devices at work. Working from home, on the road or from a remote office meant feeling disconnected and operating in isolation. Now, with the incredible growth in the mobile space and the development of smartphones and tablets, people can use whichever devices they want to work with and work from wherever they need to be. You don’t have to be in the same place to feel like you’re working side by side with someone. You’re seeing their face over a video conference or collaborating on a document at the same exact time, watching as the words they type appear right on the screen in front of you.

On the learning front, if you look at a classroom today and compare it with eight years ago, the landscape has changed exponentially. Students are relying more on technology to learn, and education content and devices are opening new opportunities for teaching all over the world.

What advice do you have for other women interested in technology?
I’m one of four girls in my family, and my father always taught me the importance of having thick skin. I definitely think this applies to anyone working in the technology space. Decisions are made quickly. Change happens often. It’s important to be open to all perspectives and to be ready to push hard for what you really believe in.

How did starting a family affect your ability to continue to move fast at work in the tech space?
It was incredibly hard to take that first step away from work, and then to come back five months later and acknowledge how much I’d missed. But becoming a mother has also helped me in ways that I didn’t anticipate. First, it helped me put things in perspective. It’s incredibly inspiring to look at my child and think about all of the possibilities that technology will enable for him. Second, I increased my productivity quite a bit when I had a child. It’s important to me to be fully present whether I’m with family or colleagues. To strike this balance, I need to draw clear lines between work time and family time.
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