Hey Northern New Jersey, It’s Your Lucky Day

We won the grant, but you’re the real winners. Darim’s running a Social Media Boot Camp in your backyard, and it’s time to apply. Thanks to generous funding from a Berrie Innovation Grant, Darim will be offering a year-long intensive social media training, consulting and coaching experience to 20 lucky Jewish organizations in northern New Jersey.

Social media isn’t just about new widgets and gadgets like Twitter and Facebook. It’s about a rapidly evolving culture, and a fundamental shift in communications, community building and decision making. To succeed in the 21st century, you need to know what this is all about, and how you can align your work in this new era.

The Social Media Boot Camp will kick off with a full day intensive on December 10th, and then provide a webinar series in 2010, as well as private coaching and consulting as your organization designs and implements a social media project. We encourage you to form a team of 3-5 people (staff and lay leadership/volunteers are welcome), and think about what your goals are. We’ll help you determine what social media tools and approaches best fit your needs, and teach you how to use them.

Applications are now available online! Answer a few questions, list your team members, and throw your hat into the ring. It’s thousands of dollars worth of consulting and training, and you’re only responsible for chipping in $500 – the Berrie Innovation Grant pays for all other expenses.

Learn more about the program and sign up here.

Where Do You Take Your Pulse?

We all compare ourselves to others. It’s natural. How do we measure up compared to that person, that organization, that company. We often compare ourselves to the competition, because we need to stay just an inch ahead in order to compete. In the Jewish community, that often means looking at the other synagogue or school just down the street. We take the pulse of our immediate surroundings.

We’re taking the wrong pulse.

The people we’re trying to reach are comparing their experience with our Jewish communal organizations against every other organization and company they are dealing with in their day-to-day lives. We don’t get a free pass to have mediocre customer service or out of date information on our web site, or poorly formatted e-newsletters.

In today’s marketplace, we’re competing for attention. People don’t allocate 10% of their attention for Jewish causes, they put their attention where they find quality, value, social capital, and authenticity.

Thus staff and board members of Jewish organizations would be wise to expand their gaze, and learn from examples in other nonprofit organizations and the for-profit world. Even the trends that big corporations are responding to are applicable to local Jewish organizations, and today can be accomplished with no additional out-of-pocket dollars, and little (sometimes saved) staff time.

As Shel Israel writes in his new book Twitterville, companies like Dell and Comcast have pulled their reputations out of the gutter by putting real people out on the front lines of Twitter to listen and respond. Innovative companies like Zappos have made this culture of “paying attention” part of their company ethos. There’s a lot to learn from these guys.

Want to learn more? We’ll be giving away a copy of Twitterville soon. Next week we’ll be asking you about how you listen and pay attention to your community, and how you’re using social media to do so. Start thinking …

What other companies or organizations do you see as useful models for us to learn from? How have they inspired you?

Providing Service and Value Online

I’ve got two great sources of wisdom sitting on my desk right now. First, a handout from Ron Wolfson from a conference a year or two ago, and a new blog post by Chris Brogan. Both are about providing service for members and customers, and both draw from examples of companies that have built their brand around SERVICE. In this day and age when time and attention are the limiting factors for engagement and participation, providing high quality, convenient and efficient service is paramount.

At this time of year when we’re walking into synagogues along with thousands of others, we pay attention to signage, accessibility of prayer books, ease of movement. We take advantage of the face to face experience by having ushers who welcome and guide us to open seats. But the rest of year is no different.

As the Synagogue 3000 handout reminds us, great experiences build great brands. A few examples:

  • Nordstrom – Everyone deserves personal attention (personal note, having grown up in Seattle — they also take anything back, no questions asked. My family ALWAYS shopped there, and still does)
  • Borders Books – Find the book
  • Home Dept – There’s no such thing as a silly question

Chris Brogan applies this same concept to online service:

  • Zappos had to convince thousands and thousands of customers that ordering shoes on the web was easy, and that their customer service policies were top shelf. They made a near-billion dollar correct bet on how they competed.
  • Craigslist revenues for 2009 were estimated to top $100 million dollars, and Craig Newmark built the company around the premise that excellent customer service and community involvement were the key.

The bottom line: to compete, BE HELPFUL. This doesn’t mean market your events in 10 different places, it means add value to people’s lives before you ask them to buy, attend or commit. Can you help someone have a faster or easier or more convenient experience? Can you help them solve a problem they didn’t know they had? Can you empower someone to do more or better for themselves and others?

Darim Online Receives Berrie Innovation Grant

Darim is thrilled and honored to announce that we’ve been selected to receive a Berrie Innovation Grant to conduct a Social Media Boot Camp in northern New Jersey in the coming year. The program will introduce participants to social media tools and their implications, examining organizational goals, processes and staffing needs, and larger shifts in culture, communications and business models given the paradigm shift taking place.

The program represents a new area of focus for Darim, taking the lessons learned from The Darim Online Learning Network, and applying it to a longer term and deeper experience for organizations ready to think deeply and take action. Darim is now accepting inquiries from Jewish organizations in northern New Jersey, and shortly will be announcing guidelines, details and posting an online application. Participating organizations will take part in live events, attend skill building webinars, and receive private coaching and consulting as they develop and implement projects throughout the year.

The Berrie Innovation Grants, which were announced in the New Jersey Jewish Standard this past week, were awarded to organizations which are creating innovative programs that help transform the Jewish community. Last fall, the Russell Berrie Foundation entrusted the group of 43 members of the Berrie Fellows Network (the Fellows Network, part of the Berrie Fellows Leadership Program coordinated by UJA Federation of New Jersey, is an intensive education and leadership program, funded by the Russell Berrie Foundation that combines leadership and Jewish learning). With $100,000 for the purpose of supporting innovation in northern New Jerseys Jewish community. The guidelines the Fellows came up with were straightforward — recipients had to demonstrate out of the box thinking for programs that would be both innovative and transformative; and they needed to have a positive impact on the Jewish community. After a 6 month process reviewing over 100 applications, the Network has chosen four organizations to receive the grants: Darim Online, The Curriculum Initiative, Mechon Hadar, and The Jewish Outreach Institute.

Angelica Berrie, President of the Russell Berrie Foundation, commented that, The Russell Berrie Fellows were selected as leaders with the potential to meet the needs of our community in the 21st Century. We wanted to spur the Fellows to re-imagine what our community can be, and gave them the financial resources to make change happen. With the BIG process the Fellows have shown a commitment to innovation and to inclusiveness, we are eager to see their continuing involvement as champions of the programs they have selected.

According to Laura Freeman, BIG Project co-chair with David Rosenblatt, each organization represents innovative programming in a different area of Jewish life in northern New Jersey. Added Rosenblatt, Each met our criteria and most importantly was reviewed for their ability to execute and build sustainable programs.

Darim is excited to launch our Social Media Boot Camp pilots in northern New Jersey, funded by this “BIG” grant, and on Long Island, funded by UJA Federation of New York, and look forward to expanding the program into other communities in the near future. If you have questions about bringing a Boot Camp to your community, please contact us. Do you represent a Jewish organization in northern New Jersey? Learn more about our “BIG” Boot Camp here.

Calling Long Island Synagogues!

Thanks to funding from UJA Federation of New York, Darim is launching our first Boot Camp on Long Island. The Boot Camps are a year long program intended to infuse new knowledge and skills into participating organizations, coach a team from each organization as they take on a social media project (a new plan, a blog, a Facebook strategy, launching a Twitter stream, etc.). Built on a community of practice model, we will encourage knowledge sharing and examine case studies of successful adoption and impact in other organizations.

The Long Island project grew out of a discussion among local Rabbis. Eager to learn about social media, and with the awareness that the tools, skills and mindset were essential to engage and serve especially the younger generations, they worked with the SYNERGY program of UJA Federation of NY to fine tune their interests and goals. Darim’s new Boot Camp model fit the bill perfectly.

We’ll be hosting webinars this month for representatives from Long Island congregations to learn a bit about social media, and to get more information about the year long program which will kick off just after High Holy Days this fall. Synagogues will be invited to apply for the program this summer.

Are you from a Long Island congregation? Know someone who is? Pass along the information! The introductory webinar is free, and we’re offering it at 4 times, for maximum convenience. But you have to register. Staff, lay leadership and volunteers from Long Island congregations are invited. Multiple representatives from a single congregation are encouraged! Learn more and sign up here.

The Innovation Ecosystem: Emergence of a New Jewish Landscape

In their recently published op-ed in JTA titled “Invest in Innovation”, Felicia Herman and Dana Raucher disagree that at a time of economic downturn we should follow the “calls for greater consolidation and a return to the more centralized infrastructure of yesteryear.” These two brilliant women (Felicia Herman is the executive director of the Natan Fund, and Dana Raucher is the executive director of The Samuel Bronfman Foundation) are not looking backwards for solutions, but looking forward. They write:

We believe that the young, and often small, nonprofits that have emerged in the past decade, and the very de-centralization they reflect, are here to stay. We believe that this interconnected network of smaller, niche-based organizations reflects the organizational transformation now under way in American culture: a revolution in the way that people connect, organize and affiliate, brought about by technological advancements that have dramatically shaped our ways of looking at the world. That revolution already has utterly transformed so much of our lives — the way we shop, network, share information, learn and teach. We dont believe theres any going back.

I completely agree with their observations. In addition to encouraging you to read the new report, The Innovation Ecosystem, that they developed with JumpStart, I want to reinforce their de-centralized vision, and encouage us to questions our assumptions and the status quo of how we go about doing our business. The top down models that have worked in the past are no longer the only solution. Self-motivated, creative and empowered individuals and groups now have the ability to self-organize, creating the programs and organizations that embody the bottom-up culture that is so attractive.

Investments in innovative organizations are important, because we do need to evolve our Jewish community to continue to be relevant to its participants. Furthermore, we need to invest in helping more traditional organizations also make this shift to realign themselves with a rapidly changing paradigm. The “revolution” which Felicia and Dana refer to is in fact a tectonic shift, largely empowered by social media, that we cannot ignore. So where to begin? While the strategic questions may feel overwhelming and insurrmountable, dipping our toes in the water to begin to understand the evolving culture and the potential of the technology tools is a fruitful (and dare I say FUN) place to start.

Often I hear staff say “but where are we going to find the time to do this social media stuff? I don’t have even 10 minutes a day to spare.” While that may be true, we are spending a tremendous amount of time and energy (and dollars) in our “business as usual” routine, the products of which may or may not be the most efficient and effective way to achieve our goals and mission.

Take for example the synagogue newsletter. This 12 or 24 page monthly publication takes thousands of dollars per year in paper, labels and stamps, plus who know how many hours to write, edit, layout, photocopy, stamp and send 500, 1000, or 1500 copies each month. Can you tell me how many people read it cover to cover? What’s the most popular column? How many throw it in the recycling without even a glance? Even those who do read it cover to cover — what’s the impact on their participation, education, engagement, identity or support?

Now, can we borrow just 10 minutes a day from the team of people who put countless hours into that newsletter? I’ll help you measure the return on your 10 minutes. My guess is you’ll find it worthwhile.

There is no looking back. So we might as well start looking forward. How do you spend your 10 minutes of social media per day? What are the outcomes?

Clay Shirky Sheds Light on the Social Media Revolution at NTEN

Clay Shirky and Holly Ross (Executive Director of NTEN) at 09NTC
Clay Shirky and Holly Ross (Executive Director of NTEN) at 09NTC

I’m at the Nonprofit Technology Network (NTEN) conference, commonly known as NTC (or this year, 09NTC). It is a phenomenal gathering of the brightest nonprofit folks who are using or interested in technology, from databases to mobile and everything in between.

Today’s keynote was Clay Shirky, author of Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing Without Organizations. His summary of the book in 5 words: Coordinated Action Just Got Easier. (And the footnote: thus organizations have lost their monopoly on coordinating action, and therefore their role is changing.) His entertaining and enlighting presentations (see many on YouTube) include many examples of the implications of social media and the opportunities it presents.

John Fitch's early steamboat design
John Fitch's early steamboat design

One of the things I love most about his work are the illustrations of the major paradigm shift underway. I find that beyond the tactical education about this or that tool, this understanding is key to the health and success of the Jewish community. Today he gave the analogy of John Fitch’s invention of the steamboat. When Fitch started, he took the boat as we all knew it — powered by men rowing oars — and added a steam engine. Not particularly successful. Using the old model and adding steam was not a recipe for success. However, when he changed the model, the steam engine added tremendous value.

The same is true of our organizations. Take the same top-down organization and add technology. Doesn’t work. Working in alignment with the new, and still evolving marketplace requires rethinking our models and questioning some very basic assumptions about marketing, communication, education, and community building.

Thanks to Chad Norman for the Clay Shirky and Holly Ross (Exec Dir of NTEN) photo, and for the quotes below from his talk:

“The loss of control you fear is already in the past.”
“We’re not good at thinking fast. We are good at feeling fast.”
“Tools don’t get socially interesting until they get technologically boring.”
“Once one person solves the problem once, the problem stays solved for everybody.”
“The intention of users has more impact than the intention of the designers.”
“Each of us is simultaneously an individual person and a global publisher.”
“Start small and good, then make it bigger.”
“We spend more time figuring out whether something is a good idea than we would have just trying it.”
“Don’t hire consultants. Hire your own 23-year-olds.”
[It doesn’t work to] “Just take our organization and add some Internet.”
“It’s not just about delivering content to members, it’s about the convening power to help members discover each other.”
“Fail informatively – Fail like crazy.”

Want to hear what’s going on at 09NTC? Check out the Twitter Stream #09NTC.

How are you re-aligning your work? What are you noticing? What’s working, or not?

Stanford Offers Free Online Course on iPhone Apps

The Apple iPhone has been a raging success, largely because it functions as a platform enabling third parties to create and sell (sometimes give away) applications, and users to customize their experience and utilize their phone as a mini-computer. Over 800 million applications have been downloaded from the App Store, according to Apple.

Stanford University has become famous for offering courses on developing Facebook applications, and now is venturing into the iPhone application world with free classes for the public. From their announcement:

Want to know how to write programs for the iPhone and iPod touch? Beginning this week, a Stanford computer science class on that buzzworthy topic will be available online to the general public for free.

The 10-week course, iPhone Application Programming, is a hot ticket. It begins today and videos of the classes will be posted at Stanford on iTunes U two days after each class meeting (http://itunes.stanford.edu). Copies of the slides shown in class will be available there as well…

Online viewers of the Stanford course will see the same lectures as the on-campus students, but will not receive credit for the course (http://cs193p.stanford.edu). Some of the student-developed apps from the fall-quarter class, such as the Chinese-English dictionary Qingwen, are available at the iTunes store.

Have you developed an iPhone app, or have an idea? Share it with us! What’s your favorite iPhone app and why?

NTEN Conference or Membership – FREE! Give Us Your Best Social Media Story.

Darim has stuck up a deal with the Nonprofit Technology Network, otherwise known as NTEN. NTEN is a valuable central destination for all things nonprofit technology related — webinars, conferences, CRM, CMS, social media, video, marketing, communications, strategy, etc. Membership is not expensive, and incredibly valuable.

As a way to help the Darim community learn about and take advantage of NTEN, Darim and the Jewish Communal Service Association are partnering with NTEN to solicit your best stories. We want to know how you are using social media, and what the outcomes have been. This contest is open through April 1. On April 1 we will announce the winners. Prizes include FREE REGISTRATION FOR THE NTEN CONFERENCE in San Francisco, April 26-28 (winner is responsible for transportation and hotel) – valued at $649; free one year membership with NTEN for your organization – valued up to $200; and a free private tutorial or consultation with Darim staff via phone or webinar – priceless! (First place winner gets their pick).

Submit your story by posting it in the comments on this blog post by April 1 (or, if you prefer, you can email us). Please make sure to tell us who you are, your role, your organization, what tool you’re using, how you’ve used it, and what the outcomes have been (data, anecdotes and reflections are all welcome).

Let’s hear what you’ve got!

Jewish Media/Communications Jobs

It’s amazing that in this economy, and in a time when we here are Darim are continually advocating for increasing staffing and capacity around media use, that these openings pop up! What luck! Might they interest you, or someone you know?

BIRTHRIGHT ISRAEL NEXT: DIRECTOR OF COMMUNICATIONS

(excerpts from a post on ejewishphilanthropy.com)

With an emphasis on community organizing and grassroots mobilization, Birthright Israel NEXT empowers all Taglit-Birthright Israel trip participants and Jews between the ages of 22-30 to be more connected to Jewish community, ritual, culture, and social action. The organizations goal is to provide the resources and motivation for Jews to discover and develop their own relationship with Judaism, communicate and meet other Jews in the community, and provide an inclusive means for people of all religions to understand and experience Jewish culture.

Creating an inspired, interactive, and compelling online presence is essential to increasing awareness of and participation in our programs, adding to our growing community and encouraging involvement in our events. Therefore, we are seeking a Director of Communications to develop and implement traditional PR and online strategies to provide young people with a rich, interactive experience with our brand. This is an exciting opportunity for a creative and tech-savvy communications specialist with a passion for our mission and a desire to mobilize.

The Director of Communications is charged with crafting a communications strategy for Birthright Israel NEXT and overseeing the full range of internal and external communications, including media outreach, social media marketing, advertising, fundraising, and board communication. The ideal candidate has demonstrated success in leading integrated traditional and digital public relations/marketing campaigns for a cause-related organization with proven results, has outstanding brand-building experience, and superior communications skills.

More info here.

COMBINED JEWISH PHILANTHROPIES – BOSTON FEDERATION – VP of MARKETING

The Vice President of Marketing manages all marketing, branding, communications, public relations, direct marketing, and event management for Combined Jewish Philanthropies (CJP).

We are looking for a creative and seasoned professional to deepen the CJP brand, grow awareness of CJP’s philanthropic and programming offerings, expand the use of new media and increase the role of online strategies in our marketing mix.

More info on the CJP web site.

THE DAVID PROJECT — WEB DESIGNER/DEVELOPER (Boston)

The David Project Center for Jewish leadership is an international non-profit organization dedicated to educating and inspiring strong voices for Israel through dynamic and comprehensive educational seminars, workshops, and curricula. Our groundbreaking Israel education curricula are currently taught in over 100 Jewish high schools and middle schools, reaching thousands of students around the country. Each year we educate and train hundreds of college students to assume pro-Israel leadership roles on campuses across America and Canada.

This position will involve the updating and improvement of our current website on a regular basis. The individual will be responsible for implementing changes and improvements to our website consistent with the mission of our organization. In addition, the individual will be responsible for working with other staff members to keep the information on our website current.

More info here.

Additional jobs at UJC in New York and other Federations nationwide.

Got a job to post? Add it to the comments with a link to more info!