Cross posted from Allison Fine’s blog, A Fine Blog In partnership with my friends at Personal Democracy Forum, I have had the great pleasure of working with the Avi Chai Foundation since last May. Our engagement has two sides; working with the foundation staff to help them use social media, and developing efforts to strengthen the ability of their grantees and community, particularly Jewish day schools, to become more adept at using social media to build and strengthen their own networks. The foundation has been very courageous and forward thinking about using social media. They are sunsetting in 9 years and want part of their legacy to be a growing “tribe” of Jews that are connected with one another and Judaism. It’s a fascinating notion. They’re not interested in leaving buildings and legacy organizations but want to leave the capacity of a network of people to continue to grow and thrive. We are beginning with a set of experiments with day schools including a training academy for which we will have the great fortune of working with Darim Online, a video contest and online fundraising match. The foundation has taken concrete steps to enter the social media waters. Staffers have started tweeting. Deena Fuchs, the director of special projects and communications, came up with a great idea yesterday. For the next two weeks, the staff is going to have a contest to see who can gain the largest number of new friends on Twitter. We couldn’t decide on a prize. Any ideas? In addition, we agreed on social media policies to provide guidance for staff and boundaries for management. A very interesting point that someone brought up at the meeting is that these really are communications guidelines, that there shouldn’t be an artificial distinction between policies related to social media versus traditional media. Here are their policies. I think they’ve done a great job of keeping them simple, manageable and direct: The AVI CHAI Foundation Social Media Policy AVI CHAI encourages staff and Trustees to be champions on behalf of the Foundation, LRP, day schools and overnight summer camps. The rapidly growing phenomenon of blogging, social networks and other forms of online electronic publishing are emerging as unprecedented opportunities for outreach, information-sharing and advocacy. AVI CHAI encourages (but does not require) staff and Trustees to use the Internet to blog and talk about our work and our grant making and therefore wants staff and Trustees to understand the responsibilities in discussing AVI CHAI in the public square known as the World Wide Web. Guidelines for AVI CHAI Social Media Users 1. Be Smart. A blog or community post is visible to the entire world. Remember that what you write will be public for a long time – be respectful to the Foundation, colleagues, grantees, and partners, and protect your privacy. 2. Write What You Know. You have a unique perspective on our organization based on your talents, skills and current responsibilities. Share your knowledge, your passions and your personality in your posts by writing about what you know. If you’re interesting and authentic, you’ll attract readers who understand your specialty and interests. Don’t spread gossip, hearsay or assumptions. 3. Identify Yourself. Authenticity and transparency are driving factors of the blogosphere. List your name and when relevant, role at AVI CHAI, when you blog about AVI CHAI-related topics. 4. Include Links. Find out who else is blogging about the same topic and cite them with a link or make a post on their blog. Links are what determine a blog’s popularity rating on blog search engines like Technorati. It’s also a way of connecting to the bigger conversation and reaching out to new audiences. Be sure to also link to avichai.org. 5. Include a Disclaimer. If you blog or post to an online forum in an unofficial capacity, make it clear that you are speaking for yourself and not on behalf of AVI CHAI. If your post has to do with your work or subjects associated with AVI CHAI, use a disclaimer such as this: “The postings on this site are my own and don’t represent AVI CHAI’s positions, strategies or opinions.” This is a good practice but does not exempt you from being held accountable for what you write. 6. Be Respectful. It’s okay to disagree with others but cutting down or insulting readers, employees, bosses or partners and vendors is not. Respect your audience and don’t use obscenities, personal insults, ethnic slurs or other disparaging language to express yourself. 7. Work Matters. Ensure that your blogging does not interfere with your other work commitments. 8. Respect Privacy of Others. Don’t publish or cite personal or confidential details and photographs about AVI CHAI grantees, employees, Trustees, partners or vendors without their permission. 9. Don’t Tell Secrets. The nature of your job may provide you with access to confidential information regarding AVI CHAI, AVI CHAI grantees, partners, or fellow employees. Respect and maintain the confidentiality that has been entrusted to you. Don’t divulge or discuss proprietary information, internal documents, personal details about other people or other confidential material 10. Be Responsible. Blogs, wikis, photo-sharing and other forms of online dialogue (unless posted by authorized AVI CHAI personnel) are individual interactions, not corporate communications. AVI CHAI staff and Trustees are personally responsible for their posts.
Video has increasingly become the most powerful medium for communicating your mission and programs, and engaging supporters in sharing your content through their social media channels like Facebook. Nonprofits are learning to take advantage of this medium in creative and powerful ways, with creative approaches, great storytelling, and fun graphics. Each year, See3 Communications, in partnership with YouTube, hosts the DoGooder Nonprofit Video Awards. This year, winners will again have the chance to win one of four $2500 grants generously provided by the Case Foundation, awesome video cameras from Flip Video, a free registration to next year’s Nonprofit Technology Conference provided by NTEN and more. New this year: for small nonprofits that have small funds in the video department, there is a new category for the best “thrifty” videos produced for under $500. On top of all this, the winning videos will be featured on YouTube’s HOME PAGE in March. Talk about a boost to traffic. Submissions for Best Small, Medium, and Large nonprofit organization videos must be a video that was made in 2010. Entries for the Best Thrifty Video category can be for videos made any time before the end of the submission period. Each nonprofit can submit as many videos as they would like, but, we encourage only the best work from each organization.
- Entries cannot exceed 10 minutes in length and are limited to nonprofits from the US, the UK, and Australia. See contest rules here.
- All nonprofits are welcome to enter their video. There are no specific categories or missions we are looking for.
- You can submit your videos from February 4, 2011 until March 2, 2011. Tell your friends to submit as well!
- Starting March 7th, voting is open to the public, so be sure to share the word (Email, Facebook, Twitter, carrier pigeon).
- Your organization MUST be a member of the YouTube Nonprofit Program. If you’re not, make sure that’s the next thing you do after you read this post. If you’re picked as a semifinalist, we’ll make sure you’re a member by the time voting begins.
And of course, this post wouldn’t be complete without a video. See, this is why it’s so powerful – I can embed this video in a blog in 10 seconds, and it just brings the text to life, don’t you think?
For more info on the context, visit http://www.youtube.com/nonprofitvideoawards You might also want to check out our previous posts on online video. Let’s see some entries from the Jewish community! Got a video to brag about? Post a link in the comments!
You’re looking for the gift that keeps on giving, right? I’ve got just the thing for you. Pick up a copy of Beth Kanter and Allison Fine’s book The Networked Nonprofit. A fun read with great stories and case studies, this book will help any nonprofit leader better understand the impact and opportunities of working in a networked world. THEN SIGN UP FOR OUR ONLINE BOOK GROUP! That’s right. Starting in January, we’ll be hosting a free online book group to discuss the concepts and their application to our work in the Jewish community. Bonus: experience the joys of the new Facebook Groups feature while you’re at it. You can join the book group now, and we’ll kick off discussion in January. That gives you just enough time to get copies for your co-workers, plus one for yourself, and read it in mid-December while everyone else is still scrambling for that other holiday, or by a cozy fire, or on the beach in Hawaii or where ever you might take a winter vacation… Have you read the book yet? What are you interested in discussing? What ideas grabbed your attention?
Did you notice the proliferation of vide0 this holiday season? Many congregations and other Jewish organization embraced the video greeting, with humor, seriousness, and calls to action. Video is a powerful medium for many reasons. First, it conveys personality, nuance, body language and intonation so much more powerfully than text or photographs. Further, a video can capture a user’s attention for 2 or 3 minutes at a time, rather than a few seconds at a time with text online. Thus, it has the potential to tell a much deeper story than you might achieve otherwise. Let’s take a look at a few Rosh Hashanah greetings from this year: The Community Synagogue, Port Washington, NY. This video got picked up by Perez Hilton, The Daily Beast, and local TV news, resulting in over 90,000 hits on YouTube. While total hits aren’t the ultimate measurement of success, they clearly got something right that generated this attention. There are three important elements to take away from this success: 1) The Rabbi’s message is personal, thoughtful and educational; 2) the central piece is humorous and playful. While it feels silly and lo-fi, it also give a sense that this is a fun place to be; and 3) it closes with a real community building tour of the people who make the synagogue run on a daily basis (including introductions of recently hired staff). While it’s slightly long (nearly 4 minutes), it is well paced and keeps your attention. The comments on YouTube are fascinating too — worth glancing at. Jewish Federations of North America put together videos that local Federations could use and adapt for their own purposes. You’ll notice that while the campaign is about a "call to action", the story being told is from people just like you and me, and less about the institution itself. This approach makes the video more compelling, personal and accessible than a pure solicitation. Congregation Rodef Shalom in Virginia made a video to a song, and invited any cameo appearances — the UPS guy, the gardener, and the entire summer camp – to give a feel of the community. How else could you shed light on the community, help people learn something, or develop new associations with your organization? What Rosh Hashana videos did you notice this year? Drop a link and your thoughts about what worked (or didn’t) in the comments here. What should orgs be thinking about for next year?
Brit Lashon HaTov originally was written by Congregation B’nai Jeshurun (New York City) under the guidance of Rabbi Felicia Sol. Their goal, and ours, is to foster the kind of constructive communication that will truly enable our shul to be a Kehillah Kedoshah: a sacred community. Specifically, this covenant addresses an aspiration that we (like our brothers and sisters at B’nai Jeshurun – "thoughtful, creative, committed, sometimes boisterous, and often opinionated") speak, write, meet, email, and phone each other in ways that demonstrate tolerance and respect.
"Everyone is created in G!d's Image." (Genesis 1:27)
* Invite and encourage everyone's participation.
* Assume the best intentions on the part of your listener.
* Do not engage in lashon hara – gossip, rumor mongering, slander.
"Everyone has a place in the Torah." (Sefat Emet on Parashat Bamidar)
* Seek to understand others' opinions before yours is understood.
* Work to gain insights from views other than your own.
"Disagree for the sake of Heaven." (Pirke Avot 5:19)
* Seek to clarify misunderstandings productively.
* Ask a factual question to determine if your assumptions are correct before deciding there is a problem.
* Treat your conversational partner as you would want to be treated.
"There is a time to keep silent and a time to speak." (Ecclesiastes 3:7)
* Greet questions with a moment of silence to give everyone ample time to formulate a thoughtful response.
* Communicate your own thoughts and speak for yourself, not for other people.
* Understand the roles and responsibilities that congregants, staff and rabbis have in a particular matter so there is real clarity about who is responsible for making a decision.
* Seek to understand when it is time to keep silent.
"Words are powerful" (Proverbs 18:21)
* Appreciate the spirit and passion of our community as it is reflected in diverse opinions.
* Strive towards listening and hearing each other as members of a holy community–
- In public meetings;
- In community forms;
- In havurot;
- In classes;
- In email;
- On the phone;
- At Temple; and
- V'al kol Yisrael, v'al kol yoshvei teyvel.
Although we strive to keep this covenant, sometimes we fall short. We try to recognize those times and apologize to those we have harmed. We try again. We are human.
A sample job description for a synagogue communications assistant with online responsibilities.