The Alutiiq Museum in Kodiak, Alaska, learned to use Facebook for great storytelling by responding to their audience’s appetite for new stories.
“It wasn’t a strategy,” says Katie St. John, Interim Director of the Museum. “Our users trained us over time to post frequently.”
What leads to success in getting help from others? A well-defined question or set of questions, a spirit of sharing, careful planning so time is well-spent, an interesting group that also benefits from coming together, commitment to listening and learning, a focus on improvement, reciprocating and appreciating the extraordinary gift you’ve received. Oh yes, you also have to ask.
Captain Ahab set out from New Bedford, Massachusetts, with just one idea: putting his harpoon in the ultimate big fish, Moby Dick. His all or nothing approach didn’t work out so well for anyone but the whale.
The Coalition for Buzzard’s Bay got a far happier result by spreading nets in many different waters when they set out on their own New Bedford-based quest to grow membership by more than 50 percent over the last two years
The 7 Characteristics of Meaningful Public Engagement
What is necessary to ensure that the public is truly consulted on policy making?
In our primer Meaningful Participation, an activist’s guide to collaborative policy making which you can download for free here, we set out 7 principles that need to be included in any process.
I get very nervous when someone comes along and decides that it’s necessary to restructure the sector and believe that they’ve got such a scoop on nonprofit effectiveness that they can set themselves up as the arbiters of donor giving. Here’s why:
* Only a limited few organizations can directly show their impact on societal outcomes. Some schools perhaps. But how do we measure the creation of beauty or knowledge sufficient enough to pop into a rating system ? Or how about the prevention of harm? Developing meaningful measurement indicators of societal impact for these types of nonprofits have stumped evaluators for decades.
* How many organizations can we say are solely responsible for some long-term outcome, independent of the other players in their system? Even the most polished policy shops I know give due credit to those noisy, rag tag activists from struggling grassroots nonprofits who help to define the middle ground or even hit the home run themselves after years of stalled action. How does a rating system address collaboration, synergy and large networks, planned or not?
Across the US, people are honoring the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday by performing community service. President-elect Obama has asked all Americans to serve on King Day and make an ongoing commitment throughout the year.
While I champion the call to service, I’ve been concerned for many years that the definition of volunteering and service has been too narrowly drawn and that what we should be encouraging is civic participation, in all of its many forms.
It’s not often that I get weepy over the death of a politician. But I couldn’t help tearing up when I heard New Year’s Day that former Senator Claiborne Pell had died. While he served Rhode Island for six terms in the Senate, he truly was a Senator for all of us, a man who believed in public service as a noble calling, and had faith in the power of civility and diplomacy. He worked tirelessly for international peace, human rights, education, the arts and scholarship, the environment and historic preservation.
He was quirky, the way we like our politicians in RI. Known for his frayed cuffs and collars, his summer seersucker suits, he was a patrician beloved by the working class, interested both in science and UFOs and ESP. He defined his Senate job as “translate ideas into action and help people.” Read more
Paul Schmitz of Public Allies offers a great overview of what nonprofits can learn from the Obama campaign in his article in NonProfit Quarterly. Paul cites five key attributes nonprofits can emulate: A powerful brand. A clear, measurable strategy.? Disciplined management. Face-to-face and online organizing. Youth leadership.
In my view, the most unexpected of these factors is the success (and recognition) of old- and new-fashioned community organizing. And this, I think, is where nonprofits badly need to pay attention. Read more
The poverty simulation doesn’t lead straight to solutions. But in about two hours it does lead to understanding on a level no words or data can reach. Poverty is complicated, poverty hurts us as individuals and poverty perpetuates itself. I know that experience is the best teacher.