Opportunity: Tell Us How You Tech!

Have you or your organization used new media technology in an effective, creative way to activate your network? Tell us the details of your story, and be entered to win a free pass to the 2011 Nonprofit Technology Conference (“NTC”) from the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation and Darim Online. NTC, an annual event organized by NTEN: The Nonprofit Technology Network, will take place March 17-19 in Washington, D.C. It is a rare opportunity for the tech-friendly and curious Jewish professionals to connect with, learn from and share knowledge with peers and experts who are dedicating their talents to the nonprofit sector. A wide range of nonprofit professionals—executive directors, development professionals, marketing and communication folks, IT staff, program staff and others—from both very small and very large organizations will be present to discuss how technology, marketing, communications and leadership are essential to advancing your mission. Do not miss out on this amazing opportunity to step outside of the silo of our community to learn from the rockstars of the nonprofit technology field while also engaging in facilitated discussions and schmooze sessions with your fellow Jewish professionals. Better yet, you can earn the chance to do it for free simply by telling us how you are using technology! Leave a comment below! Deadline for submissions is December 15! Thank you to the Nonprofit Technology Network for donating this conference registration to the Jewish community!

Women Who Tech – I’m Not The Average Story

womenwhotechThere’s a good thing cooking on September 15th. It’s the third annual Women Who Tech summit, a series of phone-based panels featuring the who’s who of women in technology, includingRashmi Sinha of SlideShare, Kaliya Hamlin of Shes Geeky, Shireen Mitchell of Digital Sistas, Beth Kanter, Amy Sample Ward, Michelle Murrain, and Lauren Vargas,, Irene Au of Google, Amy Jo Kim of ShuffleBrain, Heather Harde of Tech Crunch, and Lynne d. Johnson, formerly of Fast Company and now with the Advertising Research Foundation (plus a couple smart men, such as Clay Shirky and Geoff Livingston). The event is a series of stellar panels (again, by phone, so you can participate from anywhere), including “Social Media ROI”, “Launching Your Own Startup”, and “Self Promotion: Is This Really a Rant About Gender?”.

I totally get the premise of the summit, that women are underrepresented in mainstream media and blogs and conference panels, that we need to break down barriers to women’s participation in the technology sector, and the need to create a network of women in technology who can be called upon as experts in their field.

As the Wall Street Journal reports, “only about 11% of U.S. firms with venture-capital backing in 2009 had current or former female CEOs or female founders, according to data from Dow Jones VentureSource. The prestigious start-up incubator Y Combinator has had just 14 female founders among the 208 firms it has funded.” Women Who Tech is not the only women-focused event on the calendar. In December, the influential technology conference TED is holding its first women-focused conference. (More stats and resources about women in tech are available here.) I applaud these events, not for their sometimes interpreted as “affirmative action for women” approach, but for their celebration and encouragement of women who are breaking down perceived (as well as actual) barriers.

The thing is, I grew up in a different world, where my CEO-of-educational-technology-startups mother worked long hours to excel at her career, make the world a better place, and be a 100% mom at the same time. It’s possible that she worked harder than her male colleagues, or had more to balance with her roles at home, but from my point of view as a kid and young adult, women could do anything. The fact that I have chosen to work in a tech-related field isn’t because I am trying to change percentages, or represent my gender in high level decision making. It’s because it excites me, and I’m good at it. Gender never played into my decision (if it had, I would be doing something else?), and it rarely presents itself as an issue in my professional life.

That being said, there are definitely times when I look around the room and find myself in the company of mostly men. I like to think I’m rather Zen about it. I take note, and then move on. Recently, I’ve been putting together a panel for a social media session at a major national Jewish conference. I’m struggling to find a man for the panel, you know, just for the sake of diversity. So in my world, thankfully, the experience is not as one-sided as the venture capital statistics seem to say. (Note to self: I wonder how different is actually is in the nonprofit world – reflecting on my experiences at NTEN conferences, the presenters are heavily weighted towards women. Currently seeking the latest stats). The goal here is not 50/50 equality all the time. The goal is to recognize both real and perceived barriers, and to abolish them.

While others may interpret events like the upcoming Women Who Tech and TEDWomen as equally sexist as the venture capitalists whose decision making percentages they quote, I think the greatest power of these events is to give women who didn’t have moms like mine a similar sense of “anything is possible.” Further, as women, we do face unique challenges (as me sometime about the weeks leading up to announcing to my clients that I was pregnant for the first time, or how I paced around the house with a newborn in a sling, the wireless phone clipped to my hip, and a headset on – someone should have taken a photo). But most of all, these events are tremendous for one main reason: they showcase tremendous talent, all in one place.

The Women Who Summit event is an easy-to-swallow $20. Really. So mark your calendar for September 15th, from 11am to 6pm Eastern time. All you need is an internet connection and a phone line. Check out the schedule and register online. There are even after parties in a handful of major cities. I might try and get myself to the New York City one. Anyone care to join me?

Plus, I’ve got 2 passes to give away. Leave your comment here with your thoughts on gender and technology and I’ll pick two winners before Rosh Hashanah (September 8th). But go ahead and buy your pass now. You can always give it to the nice gal (or guy) down the hall. With a pink bow around it. Or not.

Crowdsourcing the Jewish Future: What’s Your Vision?

[crossposted from jlearn2.0] Passionate about Jewish learning? Have Big Ideas about what 21st Century Jewish learning might look like? Share your vision … and you just might win an all expense trip to the upcoming Jewish Futures Conference – not to mention a world-wide audience!

BJENY-SAJES and JESNAs Lippman-Kanfer Institute invite you to submit a short video that communicates your response to the following question:

As we move toward a world where learning happens anywhere and everywhere, authored by anyone, what could Jewish learning and life look like in the future?

Those submitting the top three responses will be flown to New Orleans on November 7-8, 2010 (all expenses paid) to present their thinking at the Jewish Futures Conference. The Conference will be held on Monday, November 8, 2010 as part of the General Assembly of Jewish Federations of North America.

High profile presenters, combined with up and coming innovators from the Jewish and general world, will each be given 10-18 minutes to describe their vision for the future of Jewish learning in the context of emerging new digital and social technologies.

Submissions will be accepted in the form of 4 minute videos by August 27, 2010 and should be sent to: futures@bjeny.org

Questions? Contact Rabbi Arnold D. Samlan: samlana@bjeny.org

What are you waiting for? Come on over and check out submission and event details here now!

What’s your vision? Share a preview in the comments below!

Apply Now: Get Your Leadership On With NTEN’s Technology Leadership Academy

nten leadership academy logo Yes, folks, it may be summer but it’s time to start thinking about going back to school! NTEN is offering a special 9 week webinar-based Technology Leadership Academy. The Academy will accept 50 nonprofits with budgets under $2 million, to be represented by 2 participants from each organization, including the executive director and a tech-responsible individual.

Attendees of the Academy will be able to:

  • Articulate the value of technology in their organization for themselves, funders, and other key stakeholders.
  • View technology as integral to every department in their organizations.
  • Recognize options for funding IT projects in their organizations.
  • Staff technology effectively.
  • Manage the organizational change that technology can produce.

Topics include:

  • Future of IT in Nonprofits / Presented by Edward Granger-Happ
  • IT Planning and Implementation / Presented by Steve Heye & John Merritt
  • Introduction to IT and Systems / Presented by Andy Wolber
  • Information Management Systems / Presented by Laura Quinn
  • Effective Internet Presence / Presented by Katya Andresen
  • Evaluation: Technology ROI / Presented by Beth Kanter
  • The Human Side of Technology / Presented by James Weinberg
  • Weekly Ask the Experts sessions including Charlene Li, Founder of Altimeter Group and Auther of Open Leadership

The Academy is being offered through the generous support of Microsoft and will run from September 29 – November 22.

Learn more about the Academy and guidelines for application here and if you qualify and are interested apply here!

Don’t miss out – the deadline for applications is Friday, July 30th. Applicants will be notified of their status by August 6, 2010.

The “New Normal” is Change. Deal With It.

At the Jewish Communal Service Association’s annual program today, change was the name of the game. Jerry Silverman, CEO of Jewish Federations of North America in particular spoke about two kinds of change that we need to embrace: First, accepting that constant change is the “new normal” (the theme of the JCSA conference), and second, the need to confidently lead through change, whether that be changing economic times, new technologies, and evolving cultures.

On the first, we need to learn how to be more nimble — learning new skills, evolving our decision making processes to be able to move more swiftly, and being able to adjust structures to keep the machine humming when the outside world shifts.

But all of this is only possible when we are successful with the second. Leading through change is a great challenge, that involves not only good business strategy, but excellent communication, team building, listening, and attention to the psychology of change, not only the logistics of change. If the Jewish community needs one thing, it’s people who are superb leaders in times of change.

Several years ago, when Darim was shifting from our original work of building web sites to a focus on training, coaching and consulting, I read a powerful book, Managing Transitions, by William Bridges. The take home message: Change is situational (like a light switch), but transition is psychological (a process). We need leaders who know what change needs to be made to thrive in the “new normal”, but those same leaders also need to facilitate a transition, which requires a whole different set of skills.

If you haven’t noticed, the Jewish community isn’t the only one recognizing this need. (It’s comforting to know we’re not behind the curve on this one!) A flurry of new books are hitting the shelves focused on change strategy and management in today’s world:

  • Switch, by Chip and Dan Heath (from Amazon.com): In a compelling, story-driven narrative, the Heaths bring together decades of counterintuitive research in psychology, sociology, and other fields to shed new light on how we can effect transformative change. Switch shows that successful changes follow a pattern, a pattern you can use to make the changes that matter to you, whether your interest is in changing the world or changing your waistline.
  • The Power of Pull, by John Hagel III, John Seely Brown, Lang Davison (from Amazon.com): In a radical break with the past, information now flows like water, and we must learn how to tap into its stream. But many of us remain stuck in old practicespractices that could undermine us as we search for success and meaning. Drawing on pioneering research, The Power of Pull shows how to apply its principles to unlock the hidden potential of individuals and organizations, and how to use it as a force for social change and the development of creative talent.

Coming out soon:

  • Open Leadership, by Charlene Li (co-author of Groundswell) (from Amazon.com): “Be Open, Be Transparent, Be Authentic” are the current leadership mantras-but companies often push back. Business is premised on the concept of control and yet the new world order demands openness-leaders do not know how to be open and be in control. This must-have resource will help the modern leader understand how to lead in the new open world-where blogging, twittering, facebooking, and digging are becoming the norm. the author lays out the steps that leaders must take to transform their organizations and themselves into being “open” -and exactly what that will mean.
  • Empowered, by Josh Bernoff (co-author of Groundswell) (from Amazon.com): Fueled by data from Forrester Research, Empowered is packed with the business tools and information necessary to move your organization several steps ahead … and lead … your people (who are) armed with cheap, accessible technology, and are connecting with customers and building innovative new solutions.

What are your strategies for managing change? Where have you been successful? What’s hard? Do you have advice or other resources to add to the conversation? Onward!

The Networked Nonprofit

Last week I dove into the Nonprofit Technology Network (NTEN) Conference, commonly known at #10NTC. (I dare you, search for that on Twitter and see how active is STILL is, days after the conference wrapped up. Us NPtechies are an enthusiastic, passionate and smart bunch. You can also find 58 Powerpoints from the conference on Slideshare, 870 photos on Flickr, videos on Youtube … need I go on?)

Screen shot 2010-04-09 at 4.18.20 PMOne of the best sessions I attended was where Beth Kanter and Allison Fine (among the gurus of nonprofit technology) presented their upcoming book, The Networked Nonprofit (due out in June, but you can preorder here). These two women completely understand the future of nonprofit organizations in the digital age, and I could listen to their wisdom, humor and case studies for days.

One element from their presentation keeps knocking around in my head, the idea of three stages of organizational development in this networked era.

  1. Fortress – an organization where there are insiders and outsiders, and the two rarely meet or interact;
  2. Transactional – an organization that is engaged with their community, but with the sole focus of transactions, such as getting people to sign up for an event or make a donation;
  3. Transparent – an organization that fully engages and empowers their community to accomplished shared goals.

I love the simplicity of these three stages, and the acknowledgment that getting on social media platforms is not the ultimate goal. Plenty of people are promoting events on Facebook and measuring success by the number of tushes in the seats. But the real paths to accomplishing our mission and goals, and the more accurate measurements of success go far beyond this. They also require a leap of faith, and the ability to take that first leap.

Remember the first time you climbed to the top of a high dive as a kid, your heart beating so hard you thought it would leap out of your chest, and that moment when you finally hurled yourself into the air? It’s the same moment really. And remember when you went back again and again and again to do it over and over? Yeah, it’s like that too.

So tell us — what stage are you at? What do you need to move from one stage to the next? Where do you see examples of “transparent” organizations or activities?

#10NTC Faith-Based Affinity Group. Add Your Voice.

Screen shot 2010-04-08 at 11.04.53 AMThis afternoon we’re convening the first ever faith-based affinity group at the NTEN Conference here in Atlanta. On Saturday, we’re hosting a panel with speakers from the Christian and Muslim communities to share how social media is influencing their work and communities. This afternoon, we’ll be addressing the following four questions. Add your voice to the mix, by commenting on this post, or tweeting your thoughts using the hashtag #10ntc.faith

  1. How to Convey Our Mission/Religious Message/Personal Relevance Online? Beyond marketing events, providing links and posting photos of a recent gathering, how can faith based organizations use these platforms in serious and effective ways?
  2. Convincing Leadership to Take Tech/Social Media Seriously: Oftentimes leadership in faith based organizations are unaware or uncomfortable with the role of technology in running a successful organization. How can we help increase comfort, get the budgets we need, and build confidence among leadership and colleagues? What should we be measuring, how to measure and present it? What are your techniques, key performance indicators, and strategies to educate senior staff?
  3. Balancing Shifting Roles – Who Manages the Web Site, Twitter Feed, Facebook Page? Who is the gatekeeper of outgoing messages and your organization, and how is that role changing in a social media age? How much should program staff be empowered to update statuses or post other content? Where is the balance, and how to evolve an organization’s culture for success in the immediacy-culture of today? When and how should clergy be using these tools? Who assists/supports/teaches clergy how to do it well?
  4. Planning for the Future: Often we find ourselves behind the curve and trying to catch up. While we may not need to be on the cutting edge of everything, now is the time to start planning for the future. Mobile is emerging quickly as a powerful tool – how can faith based orgs effectively make use of this new wave of potential, and what else should we be watching, planning for, innovating with, or inventing?

Share your experience!

Faith, Hope, Meaning, and Change: The Story Behind TweetYourPrayers @TheKotel

[cross-posted on jlearn2.0]

Fascinating story about community and more, presented by Alon Nir (@TheKotel) at Jeff Pulver’s (@JeffPulver) #140 Characters Conference in Tel Aviv earlier this month:

Read Alon Nir’s blog post about the experience, and learn more about Jeff Pulver and the #140 Conference – see if there is a meet up or conference in your neighborhood…

I just registered for #140 Characters Conference NYC ’10 in April – and in return I received a discount promo to share with my friends – how cool! So, come on and join me, friends!

The Reform Movement Should Make the Most of this Moment

As far as Rabbi Eric Yoffie is concerned, Reform congregations need to get with the program, technologically speaking, and they need to do so now. At the recent URJ Biennial in Toronto, the movements head delivered his annual sermon and used the opportunity to encourage every congregation to think seriously about harnessing the power of the internet to enhance their communities:

[T]he web potentially at least empowers our members and democratizes our synagogues. The synagogue is the grassroots address of the Jewish world, and the web gives us an instrument to involve and include Jews as never before. Are our synagogues doing great things in this area? Absolutely. Are we making the most of this potential? Not even close.

Yoffies challenge to congregations is to be applauded. Too many synagogues and Jewish schools have an attitude towards tech thats generations (a relative term, I know) behind their congregants and students who all have Facebook accounts, use Twitter, and are never more than an arms length from their Blackberries and iPhones. But the movements approach to addressing this issue an organized program to train lay leaders to create and maintain congregational blogs is only a first step. The Reform movement has an incredible opportunity on its hands, a chance to take the next steps and to get a lot more serious about using technology to build and strengthen communities.

Four suggestions for maximizing this moment:

1. Congregations should form committees (or task forces) to develop thoughtful strategies for using technology to increase the efficacy of communication. Rabbi Yoffie is right that blogs are a great way for synagogue members to connect online. But there are lots of other technologies social networking, microblogging, podcasting, mass texting that also might be useful to synagogues. And there are those congregations for whom blogging might not be the best fit. Every synagogue should gather their most technologically savvy members (and some socially savvy connectors, if were going to take Malcolm Gladwells advice) to make these sort of decisions for the community. Should the temple have a Facebook page, and if so what kinds of things should be posted there? If the synagogue has a Twitter account, who should be charged with maintaining it? And how often should they tweet? The URJ could be indispensible in providing consultants and experts to help congregations get on this path.

2. Technology can help Reform congregations do an even better job of running organizations that live up to the highest values of the movement. Imagine if a synagogue lived up to its commitment to environmentalism by going totally paper-free. The synagogue staff uses Google Docs to collaborate on projects. Rabbis project Temple announcements (and other administrivia) up on a screen during services so that programs dont need to be printed every week. Instead of spending lots of paper and money on a newsletter, members receive a monthly email newsletter, as well as frequent updates on Facebook and Twitter. Lots of congregations are using all these technologies, and theyre preventing lots of paper waste in the process. The Union can support congregations new to these technologies by teaching professionals to use these tools, empowering congregants with tech skills to be leaders in their communities, and by pairing temples at the beginning of this journey with those whove already found success.

3. Technology is an important part of the future of Jewish education. Im not talking about educational video games. Im talking about using tools to help learners connect deeply to Jewish text, about helping schools better communicate with parents, about using inexpensive video conferencing to bring diverse teachers to isolated Jewish communities. Education is a central part of a synagogues mission, and we need to be asking new questions about how learning is changing. How can we utilize new technologies like Google Wave, Twitter, and YouTube to allow for collaborative (hevruta for the new generation!) learning? How can the internet help us engage (and empower!) parents and families in new ways? How can we use technology to open up the world of Jewish education to better integrate the arts, science, and communication?

Thirty years ago, innovative Jewish educators were using filmstrips, slideshows, and video to bring Torah to life. Now, equally innovative educators are using Flash animation, social media, and hypertextuality to accomplish those same goals. The URJ should nurture and support these sorts of projects and help to bring those tools to congregations and their learners.

4. Technology is an excellent opportunity for collaboration. In the few days before the URJ Biennial, a group of educators gathered for a pre-conference symposium on Jewish identity. One of the teachers at that gathering was Professor Ari Kelman who shared research that suggests that the current generation of young, involved Jews (many of whom are digital natives, if you dont mind sweeping generalizations) are redefining affiliation by resisting joining a single organization, and rather participating in lots of diverse parts of Jewish life. For these Jews, no single institution is the center of Jewish life.

Institutions that pay attention to thinkers like Kelman realize that successful Jewish organizations of the future will be marked by cooperation and collaboration. They also know that efficient and financially responsible Jewish organizations are the ones that dont insist on re-inventing the wheel but rather seek out partner organizations with different types of expertise. To truly move forward to empower member congregations to embrace a 21st-Century social-media-savvy technologically-engaged existence, the Union should seek out organizations, educators, clergy, innovators, experts, academics and thinkers who can help congregations do their best work.

Perfect example: Darim Online has lots of experience helping Jewish organizations effectively utilize social media technology (including blogs!), and that expertise could really help (and in fact already is helping) Reform congregations look at new ways of communicating. Instead of trying to invent their own wheel, the URJ should seek out partners whove already invented pretty good wheels.

Lets be clear: The Reform movement is taking unprecedented steps forward. Rabbi Yoffies sermon and the related URJ initiatives launched this week mark the first time a major movement is encouraging and supporting member congregations to take this trend seriously. This is an important moment, and it would be a shame to waste it.

Josh Mason-Barkin, director of school services at Torah Aura Productions, is a member of a Reform congregation and a graduate of HUC-JIR. He blogs at tapbb.com. You can find his twitter feed at www.twitter.com/barkinj. He frequently contributes to a conversation about Jewish Education in the 21st century on Twitter under the hashtag #jed21

Darim Online has a Facebook Page and You Can Too

Facebook is growing up.

While you might have thought Facebook users are mostly 18 and 22 years old, the fastest growing population segment on Facebook is women 55 and older!Furthermore according to www.insidefacebook.com, nearly a quarter of all users on Facebook are 35 years old and up.

These facts may be surprising at first, but it what it tells us is important: Facebook users are of all ages and include the people that you want to engage with your organization.

To tap into this demographic shift, many nonprofit organizations have created Fan Pages, or popularly referred to as just “Pages,” to interact with their constituents on Facebook.

While individuals on Facebook create personal profiles, the analogous feature on Facebook for organizations is a Page. Organizational pages provide many of the same features as a profile page such as:
  • A name
  • A Picture
  • Basic Information
  • A Wall where you or others (if you allow them) can post notes, photos, links, comments and more
  • Applications to your page including the Causes App, which directs fans to make a donation directly to your charity, and
  • A News Feed

The news feed is really important because it allows the followers of your page to keep up with you without having to come to your page over and over. This is one of the key differences between pages and Facebook groups. In other words, the information in a page’s news feed goes directly to your fans rather than waits for your fans to come to it.

Example of a Temple Emanu-El’s news feed from its page:


Notice how Darim’s most recent post shows up on the home page of a follower mixed in with updates from other friends:

Because on a user’s homepage your organization is appearing among friends and other pages, it’s important your posts stand out with compelling and valuable content. For example, your organization can use its news feed to post interesting articles on the web, events that are happening in the community, etc., in addition to promoting yourself.

Before you create your page, it may be helpful to explore other nonprofit Pages on Facebook. If you have a favorite nonprofit page on Facebook, please leave a link to it in the comments section with why you like it.

While you are looking at the pages consider:

  • Who the organization is trying to reach out to?
  • What are the messages the organization is communicating?
  • How does the Page amplify and support the organizations other media or web presences?
  • How often is the Page updated?

Over the next series of posts on JewPoint0, we will lead you through some of the main opportunities you have in creating a Page. In the meantime you may want to check out Facebooks short tutorial and step-by-step guide on creating a page at www.facebook.com/pages. Also, if you have any questions or comments feel free to post in the comments section by clicking in the link above. You could also tweet a question to @DarimOnline.

Strut your Stuff

  • Do you have a Fan Page? Feel free to post a link to it in the discussion section so we can all learn from your example!
  • There are many resources on the web about Facebook pages. Here are a few links to get you started. Try visiting Rachel Levy’s blog, Beth Kanter’s or Jeremy Owyang’s for more information about Fan Pages.
  • Stay tuned to JewPoint0, as we post tips on picking a name for your page, choosing a picture, what information to include and how to generate compelling content.