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?”
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.
How do you spot the awesome in your content curation activities? What content discovery tools do you use?
I have long been a fan of Technology Committees, but I don't hear a lot of others talking about it. In my role at The Cara Program, we have a fantastic Technology Steering Committee. I can't begin to state all of the benefit this group has brought. They have provided assistance, advice and insight, but have also helped us make connections, find resources and accomplish things we couldn't do alone. But before I go into a little information about our Technology Advisory Board, a few thoughts about committees.
We are so grateful to everyone who has been part of this incredible journey towards a more just and sustainable world.
In this final blog, we wanted to look back over the history of WiserEarth and Wiser.org, to not only share some of our achievements but also why the decision was made to close our core website Wiser.org.
Thanks so much to guest blogger (and dear friend) Mark Dessauer, Director of Communications at Blue Cross Blue Shield North Carolina Foundation. I’m ever grateful to Mark for contributing this stirring post to this month’s blog carnival—The Work Behind Your Work
Thoughts on facing insurmountable challenges…alone
There was not a soul in sight. No lights, cars, homes, or other runners. Only the steady rain on a rural road deep in South Carolina.
I had been running for four miles by myself in the dark with knuckle lights. I had six more miles to go. I could hear frogs peeping in the waterlogged forest. I could see nothing but the road flashing under my moving spotlights. I now knew I could do this and do it well. I was at peace.
Two hours before this run, I was churning and second guessing myself. I was on a nine-person team running a 200-mile relay race from Columbia to Charleston South Carolina that started under increasingly grey skies on a Friday morning and now, was almost at the half way point. I was nervous because while I had never attempted one of these races, my original task was to run a total of 15 miles over three relay legs.
One of our team members had dropped out several weeks before the race, and I now had to run 23 miles over four legs. But I had only trained to run about nine miles.
Don’t get me wrong. I am a runner and have run several marathons in my past. But this race was different because I had a six-mile run at noon, a ten- mile run at midnight, four-mile run at 3am and a final three-miler at 8 a.m. I just wasn’t sure if I could do this.
Now what does this have to do with communications or Getting Attention?
I could build some analogy about being flexible and messaging my needs to the team but the real clarity came on that dark stretch of road after tackling my internal hill and lack of confidence.
It became clear to me that I was not going to die, suffer muscle collapse or even walk during this leg. At that moment I realized that I could do this and do it well. All fears behind me and enthusiasm to go forward. It was a zen moment.
With that insight, I found myself running faster with more determination. The motivational power of my new-found confidence was immense.
It took a while (and some coaxing via an online chat with Nancy) that I recognized that this road lesson crops up on the job as well.
It’s human nature to stay in our comfort zones and do our best at what we do best. As new issues, partners, social media or sudden challenges push us out of that zone, we make a choice to turn away or tackle them head on.
I pushed myself to run ten miles at midnight, and I discovered that overcoming this unexpected challenge plus my internal consternation led to new self knowledge. My revelation during the frog chorus spurred my confidence, and my ability to finish the race. Or just change your life. We finished the race with an overall time of 27 hours and 14 minutes and an 8:08 pace. Our team came in sixth place.
I had no idea that we (or I) could have done this. I do now.
When you or your organization sets out to change the world or your neighborhood and it is raining, dark and you have little energy or funds left. Dig in. Keep going. Know that once you get past that challenge, your strength, capacity and confidence will carry you even further than you thought.
Mark, thanks SO much for sharing your experience, and the motivation that came from it. Keep us posted on what’s next!
Charities are using gaming, such as researching cancer cures through an app, to increase the reach of their message
Here are five ways you can effectively leverage technology in your fundraising strategy:
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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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