The Networked Nonprofit

June 7, 2010 Leave a comment

Networked Nonprofit

I was glad to follow a few of my Tweeter peers as they commented on the recent “Personal Democracy Forum” (#PDF10).  Allison Fine and Beth Kanter offered a conversational keynote based on their new book “The Networked Nonprofit.”  So much of what they say is directly connected to the work that we do here at the Interaction Institute for Social Change, that I think it’s best to let Beth speak for herself.

The following is an excerpt from Beth’s blog:

There has been an explosion in size of nonprofit sector over last twenty years, huge increases in donations and number of organizations, and yet needle hasn’t moved on any serious social issue.  Growing individual institutions ever larger has failed to address complex social problems that outpace the capacity of any individual org. or institution to solve them.

That is why we feel passionately that nonprofits need to become more like networks and leverage the power of social media and connectedness.  That was the inspiration for the book and the title, “The Networked Nonprofit.”

Making the shift from working as a single organization to one that works in a networked way both inside and outside of institutional walls is not a one-step process.  Many organizations cannot just flip a switch.  It isn’t as easy to change as changing a light blub.  In the book, we offer a 12 step framework to guide nonprofits on how to embrace social media holistically.   In our research, we found that some nonprofits are born as naturally networked nonprofits and have it in their DNA.  While other nonprofits, institutions that have been working in a particular way for decades, have more challenges in making the change.  Some will probably never change.

We believe that Networked Nonprofits first have to be, before they can do.   The being includes:

  • Understanding social networks through social network analysis
  • Creating a social culture at your nonprofit
  • Listening, Engaging, and Valuing relationships
  • Becoming more transparent, less of a fortress
  • Simplicity, letting go, focusing on what you do best and network the rest

Once an organization has assumed this way of being, then comes the doing.  Networked Nonprofits are masters at:

  • Working with “Free Agent” fundraisers
  • Working effectively with crowds
  • Rapid experimentation and learning
  • Friending and funding
  • Networked Governance

Read more here.

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