Happy Healthy Nonprofit A Review

At this time of year, we take time to reflect on ourselves over the past year, and to set intentions for how we will be in the coming year.  All of us have room for improvement (think about Carol Dweck's "growth mindset") to become our best selves.  Our personal well-being — physical, mental and spiritual health — is key to unlocking the best of who we are, at the office, with our families and friends, with with ourselves.  Beth Kanter's new book, The Happy Healthy Nonprofit, written with co-author Aliza Sherman, is a fantastic resource for leaders and managers in our community to reflect on both their own well-being and to consider how to foster healthier professional environments to help all of us thrive.

Over the past few years at See3, we’ve been working hard on building a company culture that values the personal well being of our employees and invests in our team to be a productive family based on shared values. This attention is paying off, with happy and hard-working staff who are generous with each other and our clients. We take time to celebrate each other’s accomplishments in the office and outside of it. We are also attracting talented and diverse new employees who want to advance their careers and have a great quality of life while doing it.

Because we’ve been thinking about these issues a lot, we are particularly excited about this new book, The Happy Healthy Nonprofit. In it, these two superstar authors tackle head-on an issue which those of us working in the nonprofit world know so well — burnout. If you want to find people who work really hard, in often challenging circumstances for low pay, look no further than your nearest nonprofit organization.

Beth’s previous books looked at how nonprofits can change to be more nimble and function better in our newly connected digital world. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the issue of employee health and burnout avoidance comes next. With the quickening of the pace of communications, more competition for donors' attention and more scrutiny of nonprofit work than ever, it’s no wonder that burnout is finally on the agenda.

The authors point out that nonprofits have unique challenges with these issues because sacrifice is often in the DNA of social movements. They write:

Self-sacrifice becomes a cultural norm in organizations and movements. Leaders who give up their personal lives for the cause often evaluate staff members’ value or commitment to the organization by how much they, too, deny themselves work-life separation and boundaries.

That sounds really familiar! While this is true for so many of us in the sector, we couldn’t help but think about how this concept of self-sacrifice may unfortunately be particularly acute for women, who may have expectations of the need to work harder to attain leadership positions, not only in the nonprofit sector, but everywhere.

One of the things we love about this book is how Beth and Aliza cite so many practical examples of organizations supporting employee and team health and well being. These real life stories provide inspiration for what you might address at your organization, and a template for your action, too. We’re honored (and proud!) that Beth and Aliza included See3’s HR and dog policy as an example of how organizations can change policies that impact quality-of-life for everyone working there.

See3, a digital agency working with nonprofits, put several policies in place that promote well-being and that affect the way its staff works and manages work-life issues. The agency doesn’t count sick days or personal days, and it offers paid maternity and paternity leave policies, flexible schedule options, and work-from-home flexibility. See3 also has an office policy baked right into its employee handbook that allows employees to bring their dogs to work.

We were also mentioned for our physical movement breaks as a way to reduce stress and promote health:

“Our team regularly breaks around 2:00 in the afternoon to do a 10-minute workout,” says Bridgett Colling from the marketing agency See3. “We find workouts on YouTube or Pinterest and do them as a group using yoga mats we keep in the office. Taking some time to step away from my desk and get my blood pumping usually gives me a much greater energy boost than another cup of coffee or something filled with sugar.”

While some of this attentiveness to culture and health has come from our company’s leadership, a lot of it has grown out of listening to our staff and empowering people to take the initiative to shape our company culture. Bridgett initiated the 10-minute yoga and by doing it in the common spaces and inviting others to join her, she has made a significant contribution to both the health of the participants and the culture of our company overall.

Our vision boards hanging on the walls of our office integrate productivity, professional learning and health and wellness goals. By making all of these goals explicit, our staff is better able to support each other and celebrate our achievements. 

Stopping Burnout Before it Starts

In The Happy Healthy Nonprofit, Beth and Aliza help readers understand what causes burnout and why self-care is critical for your nonprofit’s success. This book is a must read for nonprofit CEOs and managers, as well as anyone in this profession who wants to be happy and successful over the long term of their career.

The self-care process they outline starts with basics — sleep, nutrition and exercise — but moves on to care that relate directly to job stress, such as mindfulness and gratitude. At See3, we have a tradition (based on research that suggested gratitude is a key ingredient to happiness) of including something we are grateful for in our staff-wide daily email check-in, such as support from a team member or spouse, for family health, or for a comical cat video. The Happy Healthy Nonprofit also includes powerful self-assessment tools to help you define your own challenges with self-care as a way to begin addressing them personally and across your organization.

What we particularly love about this book is that it gives individuals the tools for their own self-care, without victimizing those who are feeling "less than optimally healthy”. We can’t solve this issue without changes to our organizations — and Beth and Aliza don’t let the organization off the hook. Organizational structures and policies have perhaps the greatest impact on employees’ ability to work with less stress and avoid burnout. The book gives very clear examples and guidance for organizations looking to promote a healthy culture.

Thanks to Beth for sharing an advance copy with us. For months we’ve been excited for this book’s release, and it meets all of our very high expectations. Order a copy for yourself, and while you’re at it, consider ordering an extra to give as a gift to your leadership or coworkers as well. While health may start with yourself, a happy, healthy nonprofit is good for everyone.

The Happy Healthy Nonprofit is available everywhere books are sold. You can buy it here on Amazon.

 

About the authors: Lisa Colton is the Founder and President of Darim Online, and the Chief Learning Officer at See3 Communications.  Michael Hoffman is the CEO of See3 Communications.

Maturing Your Social Media Practice for Synagogues: Follow Up Resources and Archives

Effective use of social media is critical today for being seen and understood, and developing relationships between and among your community members. This free 5 part series on the most important social media topics for synagogues today covers important and timely topics to help synagogue leaders — from novice to expert — take their digital practice to the next level.  These webinars run live in February and March, 2016.  You can sign up here for the next sessions in the series, and archives from previous sessions are below

Thanks to UJA-Federation of New York for supporting this series!

 

VISUAL STORYTELLING

Recording

Slides

Resources:
Pause Before You Post Video
G-dcast videos  (good for curation!)
iMedia Connection
Connected Congregations (more on building relationships and community)

A few synagogue Instagram accounts as examples:
Central Synagogue, New York (promotional)https://adwords.google.com/KeywordPlanner
Temple Israel, Memphis (people focused)
Sixth and I, Washington DC (events and great visuals)

Flickr
Hootsuite
Buffer App
Creative Commons Licenses

 

PAID MEDIA

Recording

Slides

More about the trifecta of owned, earned and paid media.

Google Grants — apply here!

Google Ads keyword planner

Facebook Ad Resources here and here.

Get started with Facebook ads!

 

COMMUNICATING FOR SOCIAL

Slides:  http://www.slideshare.net/darimonline/the-new-rules-community-building-in-the-age-of-social-maturing-your-synagogues-social-media-practice

Recording

The first TV commercial and a bit more about broadcast vs. social:

Examples shared:

Temple Israel on FB: https://www.facebook.com/TempleIsrael/

Chevra Ahavas Yisroel: https://www.facebook.com/chevraahavasyisroel/

Sixth and I: https://twitter.com/sixthandi

Blog post from The Community Synagogue: https://commsyn.org/blog/our-community-theater-tabernacle

RESOURCES MENTIONED:

Social Media Policy Workbook: http://darimonline.org/smpw

Facebook Pages vs. Groups:  http://mashable.com/2014/10/19/facebook-pages-groups-profiles/#rOHCfPl_amqU

Making Facebook Groups Rock (Miriam Brosseau on Beth Kanter’s blog): http://www.bethkanter.org/facebook-groups/

What is a hashtag?  http://mashable.com/2013/10/08/what-is-hashtag/#FX58SJ6pXuqN

Good times to post on social media (but do your own testing and see!  Facebook Pages have great “insights” data):  https://nonprofitquarterly.org/2014/04/03/infographic-optimal-times-to-post-on-social-networks/

 

CONTENT STRATEGY AND EDITORIAL CALENDARS: REPRESENTING YOUR BRAND ONLINE

Recording

Slides

Finding your voice:  Social Media Policy Workbook

Editorial calendar template

Darim’s guest blogging guidelines
 

CROWDFUNDING

Recording

Slides: http://www.slideshare.net/darimonline/intro-to-crowdfunding

Links to platforms:

http://crowdrise.com/

http://razoo.com/

http://kickstarter.com/

http://charidy.com/

http://jewcer.com/

Organizational Transparency: An Introductory Guide for the Perplexed

“Openness is the chief virtue of the digital age.”

– Virginia Heffernan, "Magic and Loss: The Pleasures of the Internet"

 

Transparency itself isn’t a new concept. In the US for example, nonprofits must publicly file 990s annually. This ensures accountability, and is a requisite for tax-exempt status. But transparency does not begin and end with financial information. There are new dimensions, new imperatives emerging from technology, and perhaps most profoundly, transparency is now a critical leadership skill. That feels pretty new to many of us.

But today’s leaders need to understand that transparency is no longer optional.  When the rules of the game have changed, leaders necessarily need to adapt their approaches. What roles does transparency play here? According to Charlene Li, author of Open Leadership, “transparency is not defined by you as a leader, but by the people you want to trust you and your organization. How much information do they need in order to follow you, trust you with their money or business?” (pg. 193).  It’s all about trust — and trust (and its corollary, attention) are the currency of our current attention economy.

Understanding that transparency is a critical value and essential element of effective leadership has powerful implications for organizational sustainability too. Previously, organizations literally served an ‘organizing’ function. Institutions held the data, finances and authority. Today, individuals are self-organizing and shifting the power center. Jeremy Heimans and Henry Timms decode this in their HBR article “Understanding ‘New Power’”. Simply, “the goal with new power is not to hoard it but to channel it.” As society is increasingly skeptical and rejecting of old structures, transparency becomes even more important. It becomes a way to activate and channel new power.

Some people mistake transparency for cracking open your financials and letting it all hang out. But it isn’t just about opening up your books or making leaders function as if they are naked. Transparency (of any sort) is values-based, centered on respect (hakavod), virtues (middot), and, the big one, truth (emet). Think about your relationships with your spouse, business partners, and good friends.  Yes, there’s the planning — taking kids to soccer, paying the bills, making doctors appointments. But what if you didn’t trust your partner, and had little input in decisions? The logistics would be joyless. Strong relationships are built on respect, honesty and open communication (transparency). So too relationships with our donors, members, volunteers and advocates.

Jed Miller, who helps human rights organizations align mission and digital strategy, says that “Institutions may be afraid that by opening up about internal processes they give critics a map of their weak spots.” He warns that this kind of initial fear is inherently limiting. “The key,” he says, “is to think about your public—however you define them—as participants in your mission, not as targets or threats.”  What kind of insight — into processes, decision making, etc. — is needed for them to trust you as a champion of the cause?

When we, as leaders in the Jewish world, hold ourselves and our leadership apart from the community, how can we expect to engage our communities with full and sanguine spirit?  We cannot hide or disable conversations, or operate in a vacuum and expect the public to consistently trust us with their dollars. Those days are over. Today, we need to embrace these values of open leadership.

Organizational transparency is where Jewish wisdom nests with innovative thought. I’ve spoken to rabbis about salary transparency, and searched Jewish orgs with high ratings on charitable indices. Comparing synagogue websites, I’ve sought open plans, board minutes and budget spreadsheets.  While there are bright spots, the norm is much more closed and opaque. In the Jewish professional community, we tend to compare ourselves to each other to establish a norm, when in fact we need to be widening our gaze to understand the role and importance of transparency in today’s marketplace. My sense is that the Jewish world is not keeping up, or worse, we are not pushing ourselves forward. It is time that we recognize the shifting norms, acknowledge the benefit to our organizations and community as a whole, and take real steps to integrate transparency into our normative business practices. 

In a time when many Jewish organizations are seeking to get more people to trust and follow them, we must heed Open Leadership author Charlene Li’s words of wisdom. Transparency is the information people need in order to follow and trust you as a leader, or as an organization. While leaders may be initially resistant to the idea of transparency, we must all take it seriously to build strong, sustainable and vibrant communities.

Stay tuned for future posts on specific examples of how various leaders are putting this ethos into action.

Gina Schmeling is a non-profit consultant based in Brooklyn. Find her at @nyginaschmeling or in the park with the runners.

 

Top 5 Soft and Fuzzy Social Media Lessons

The most valuable mile marker of an organization’s social media maturity is how they integrate the tools, content and social experience into their organization’s operations and overall strategy.  Technology (of any sort) shouldn’t just be layered on top of status quo operations, and it isn't actually about the technology.  Leaders must be insightful about what they are really trying to change or accomplish, and then align the tools, skills, tactics, culture and workflow to support it.  Often it's the soft and fuzzy side of technology that's the hardest part to get right.

For example, a rigid organizational culture will not support the emergent nature of social media communications and community building.   A hierarchical staffing structure will isolate social media responsibilities with a person in the office rather than promoting stronger relationships among all.  A broadcast communications strategy will fall flat (or worse, do harm) in a conversational and collaborative landscape.

Thus, one of the greatest challenges of successfully bringing your organization into the connected age is to recognize the need to evolve organizational culture, and to take steps to do it purposefully and productively.

In this year’s Jewish Day School Social Media Academy, produced in collaboration with the AVI CHAI Foundation, 15 schools learned new skills and developed new strategies for their social media efforts.  They engaged alumni and raised funds, and some even recruited new families to their schools. But perhaps even more importantly, they learned how to more fully integrate social media into their schools’ culture and operations, from recruitment to alumni engagement, from fundraising to community building.  We can learn much from their pioneering work, experimentation and accomplishments.

So here are the top 5 integration lessons from this year’s academy:

1) Get Everyone Rowing in the Same Direction.  There’s a delicate balance between having a coordinated strategy, and cramping creative people’s style.  At The Epstein School, for example, the Academy team decided to explore Pinterest as a tool to engage parents and prospective parents.  They soon realized that different departments (for example, the library) had already started experimenting with Pinterest and established a bit of a following. They are consolidated the efforts to help each department use Pinterest effectively, while creating one brand presence and attracting families to explore all of the various boards.  They are building up toward a launch in the fall with content that will be valuable for both current and prospective parents, and shows the school’s priorities and strengths in action.

2) It’s Everyone’s Job.  Social media responsibility doesn’t live only with one staff person.  Content creation and curation is everyone’s job, and within a school community, parents and students play a role as well.  The Cohen Hillel Academy embraced this ethos throughout their school.  They used their social fundraising campaign as an opportunity to raise awareness of and engagement with their school’s newly-articulated strategic focus on Expeditionary Education, Joyful Judaism, and Community Partnerships. They looked for ways to engage students in the concepts (e.g., speaking about “Joyful Judaism” at a school assembly and asking kids to draw a picture of what it means to them) and used the campaign as a jumping-off point for richer, more thoughtful conversations with parents.  Noah Hartman, Head of School at Cohen Hillel has been tweeting throughout the year, increasing accessibility for students and parents alike, curating educational resources and insights, building community, and being playful (like a Vine video announcing a snow closure!)

The Leo Baeck Day School in Toronto inaugurated “LBTV Action News” as a vehicle for telling the school’s story, and to enrich the curriculum. In 60 to 90 second installments, students did standup spot “news reports,” on selected events and subjects. It was effective in terms of growing our social media reach. Parents are our main audience on Facebook – which is our main social medium — and they love seeing children doing the presenting as well as being the subjects of a video.  Communications Director David Bale leveraged his background as a radio news reporter to teach students how to prepare an intro, segue to an interviewee and how and what to ask, and summing up in an extro/sign off. They learned the proper way to stand, hold a mic, and to think in terms of their audience of Internet viewers watching a small frame video screen.

3) It’s all about the Culture.  Society is based on cultural – norm, expectations, rituals.  You know the nuance of what’s appropriate or respectful in various places because you pick up on cues – dress, tone of voice, pecking orders, etc. Your online culture is no different.  The Epstein School was focusing on increasing engagement, and knew that to be successful, their parent community needed to feel like it was their space, not just a broadcast from the school office.  They developed a training program – starting with parent volunteers in their leadership program – to help parents learn social media skills and understand how they can participate and why it makes a difference.  Their reach, engagement, tagging, and sharing has increased tremendously as their parent community has demonstrated the culture they seek to nurture.  Similarly, The Davis Academy has engaged Host Committee Members, Parent Ambassadors, and Faculty Members to play a more active and informed role in their social spaces, and will be kicking off their work in the fall with a social media orientation.

4) Let It Go, Let It Go.  The Ida Crown Academy (grades 9-12) focused on recruitment this year. Their strategy included reaching middle school students to get them excited about attending high school there, rather than always communicating directly with the parents of prospective students.  In order to reach middle school students, they tapped their high schoolers to make the case that ICJA is a wonderful place to go to school.  Hearing directly from the students was more authentic and trustworthy, and more relevant.  They decided to hand over their Instagram account to current high school students (with supervision) who were encouraged to post photos as a real window into life as an ICJA student.  They posted about field trips, special school activities, and day-to-day life at the school. The students enjoyed it (after all, most high school students are spending more time on Instagram than Facebook these day so it’s a platform they’re comfortable with and like to use).  As a result, they’ve seen a growing number of prospective students start following their Instagram account and liking their content.

5) Integrate!  Social media isn’t a layer on top of your communications and engagement, it’s a tool that should be integrated into everything you do.  The Frisch School decided to coordinate a sports breakfast fundraiser with their social fundraising campaign. Knowing the visual power on social media, they brought the Cougar back as a symbol of our various sports teams.   They photographed students, teachers, and faculty with the Cougar at various events or just around the school holding up signs saying things like “We Support the Cougar” or “The Hockey Team Supports the Cougar”. The meme became popular amongst the students that the student-produced newsletter decided to create graphics and write articles about Supporting the Cougar, and the Student Video Production Club created a video with a Rocky theme (the special guest at the live Sports Breakfast was the Modern Orthodox boxer Dmitriy Salita).   The campaign created valuable energy on the ground and for the live event, as well as produced priceless content and garnered great engagement and financial support online.

These are just a few of the valuable lessons learned in the JDS Academy this year. You can explore the lessons and activities of all of the schools through their blog posts tagged #JDSacademy.  You’re also invited to drop into the ongoing conversation in our JDS Academy Facebook Group.  Got lessons to add, or examples of how you’ve put these 5 into practice?  Let us know in the comments.

Lessons Learned: Social Fundraising is Social

Editor's note: The Jewish Day School Social Media Academy was a year long program to support schools in developing social media skills and applying them to various areas of their work.  The social fundraising project encouraged schools to launch social campaigns to raise funds which would be matched by the AVI CHAI Foundation.  Schools designed unique and varied campaigns, from honoring teachers to celebrating sports to raising scholarship funds.  In this post, we hear from Krieger Schechter Day School as they share important lessons about the design and implementation of their campaign.

Krieger Schechter Day School (KSDS) decided to create a social media campaign to both raise funds and help alumni and alumni parents reconnect with the school.  We chose to highlight our Grade 8 play performed all in Hebrew. We know our alumni and their families look back fondly on their performances, the late night practices, and the shared memories this experience built. During this campaign, we asked our alumni and their families to give back to KSDS and contribute to the current Grade 8 production, “Beauty and the Beast.” For the 20 days prior to the play we were showing one clip from each of the 20 previous plays.

We used the matching funds as a tool to motivate this group of alumni and alumni parents to give. Immediately, we found resistance from not only alumni parents but faculty as well. We did not have buy-in from our community at large. There were questions about why we need to support the play, although our research has shown people are more inclined to give towards a specific project rather than towards an unrestricted campaign. We realized that this specific group really needed to have a clear conversation explaining the goals of this social media experiment and campaign and we did not have that conversation prior to its launch. 

The social media component was successful to get people to watch the clips of the plays. We grew our Facebook page, and there were even conversations that began organically.  But, we came to two conclusions-one about the social media component and the other about the fundraising component. The first is that we did have to personally encourage people to post on our page. The initial posts or questions were from the staff whose job it was to post or a person that the staff member asked to post. The posts were not spontaneous. The second was that the larger gifts we received were from individuals who were personally asked or who knew more in depth about the project. After a conversation, people were more willing to support this campaign. Because of these two points, although we hit our fundraising goal, we do not feel we were successful overall.

It goes back to the grassroots of spreading the word. We are not a national organization like the Red Cross or a politician running for office like President Obama. We are a small Jewish day school in Baltimore. We are only going to attract from our small pool and some outside community members who believe in the value of egalitarian Jewish day school education. Otherwise, a play in Hebrew, or the KSDS annual campaign, is not something people will donate to.

The Jewish Day School Social Media Academy is an intensive program designed to help Jewish Day Schools advance their strategic use of social media in areas such as communication, marketing, community building, alumni relations and development. The 2013-14 nationwide cohort of 15 schools was generously supported by The AVI CHAI Foundation.  Each of the schools will be sharing insights from their experience through blog posts here with the tag #jdsacademy

Complete the Social Media Self Assessment for your school at http://www.dayschoolacademy.org/assessment

 

Social, More than Media: A Lesson in Involving Others

This year, the Hillel Academy of Pittsburgh embarked on our inaugural social media fundraiser. Seeing how many people we were able to reach was eye opening.  At the same time I realized how many people we could have reached.

I learned that on my own, I could put a lot of effort into this type of project but it could only go so far.  This experiment illustrated just how much more we could accomplish if others were involved.  Involving others helps to ensure that you will reach a larger audience of potential donors.  Thus, my goal for future fundraisers is to assemble a team that will share the responsibility.

This fundraiser also showed clearly having a narrow focus made our efforts more fruitful. This year we raised money in memory of a very special young woman whose life was taken prematurely. In the short time she was on this earth, she touched many people, both young and old.  Our appeal gave people an opportunity to make an enduring impact in her memory.

As we brainstorm future social media fundraisers, I am going to continue to look to our community for ideas of what will be particularly meaningful to and for them.

 

The Jewish Day School Social Media Academy is an intensive program designed to help Jewish Day Schools advance their strategic use of social media in areas such as communication, marketing, community building, alumni relations and development. The 2013-14 nationwide cohort of 15 schools was generously supported by The AVI CHAI Foundation.  Each of the schools will be sharing insights from their experience through blog posts here with the tag #jdsacademy

Complete the Social Media Self Assessment for your school at http://www.dayschoolacademy.org/assessment

 

It’s Everyone’s Job. Plan For It.

As we often say at the Davis Academy, life is a journey: a journey of learning and discovery; a journey that embraces family and community; a journey that broadens our world.  As we embarked on the 2013-14 school year, our advancement team joined together on a year-long journey to better define what social media looks and feels like at the Davis Academy. This journey has provided us the opportunity to reflect on how we utilize social media and how we can better engage our constituents via the various avenues of social media. Prior to embarking on this journey, we were already using social media (Facebook and Twitter, in particular, to various degrees); however, we had not been very strategic about our approach.

This journey, our Jewish Day School Social Media Academy experience, has given us the coaching, guidance (and nudging) we needed to go outside of our comfort zones and to experiment with new approaches, strategies, and projects. Our biggest takeaway has been the simple realization that social media is everyone’s job and that timing is everything. That being said, with the guidance of our amazing coach, we have taken a closer look at defining our social media policy, developing our content curation strategy, and are striving to further empower the members of our community to authentically become involved in the SM storytelling through formal trainings. 

Many members of our community (faculty, parent ambassadors, alumni and administrators) have an established social media presence, and it has been a yearlong goal to streamline this activity into a more collaborative effort.  All of our constituents have amazing content to share individually, but by sharing collectively the impact is significantly more powerful. In order for the shared effort approach to work, we have quickly realized that some formal training is imperative.

We have identified a core group of Host Committee Members/Parent Ambassadors/Faculty Members who already recognize the tremendous value and the impact that social media can have, and we are using this core group to train and engage others as well.  While much of this training took place midway through the school year this year, we recognize that there will be much greater momentum in future years when these trainings occur right from the start. In the fall, as part of our Host Committee kick off, our parent Co-Chairs will begin with a dialogue around social media (as we have done for the previous two years).  This dialogue will then be extended into a hands-on application session in our Tech Lab where the co-chairs will walk parents through the ins and outs of Facebook and Twitter (aka Facebook/Twitter 101).  Together, they will have the opportunity to explore the Davis Academy Facebook page, Twitter handle and grade level specific hashtags, interact with the already existing content, and curate new content themselves in a supported setting.  We want our parent ambassadors and host members to feel empowered to post, share, tag, like, and comment as they go about their everyday activities. In a similar fashion, our faculty and administration also are taking a more formal approach to SM training and are holding sessions for other key players like parents, grandparents, and teachers to join in the collaboration. 

Thanks to the monthly webinars, coaching calls, and ShareFests with other JDS Social Media Academy schools, we feel we are better equipped to use social media as a communications tool to reach more families and community members.  We look forward to involving more constituents and improving our practices to tell The Davis Academy story through these valuable channels.

 

The Jewish Day School Social Media Academy is an intensive program designed to help Jewish Day Schools advance their strategic use of social media in areas such as communication, marketing, community building, alumni relations and development. The 2013-14 nationwide cohort of 15 schools was generously supported by The AVI CHAI Foundation.  Each of the schools will be sharing insights from their experience through blog posts here with the tag #jdsacademy

Lessons from a Social Fundraiser

After completing our first-ever social fundraiser on Crowdrise this spring, there is no doubt it was the best learning experience of the Social Media Academy. We met our goal, reached new donors and developed new fundraising ideas for the future–all while having a lot of fun doing it.

Of course, we learned along the way and have a few lessons to share.

The Social Fundraising Age Gap: While it’s true that all ages are on social media these days, it’s not necessarily that everyone is engaging on social media—commenting and taking the call to action that we seek in our posts. Contrast these two cases:

  1. One donor who learned about our social fundraiser actually contacted The AVI CHAI Foundation (which was providing matching funds through the JDS Social Media Academy) after seeing no mention of their matching grant to us on their website. Really? Because it was certainly on the school website!  That person had never heard of Crowdrise and was entirely skeptical. And although she was kind enough to donate, she did it by mailing in a check. It’s possible that she never uses her credit card online.
  2. Now, consider our seniors (students), who we engaged for Campus Fundraising. They wanted no information about our campaign after finding out that money went to our school. A fundraising team captain would say something like this: “You know Crowdrise? Well, go there and find the ‘AlmostAlumni’ link. Give me some money, and our team will win.” And then that student would whip out his phone and credit card and do exactly that. Engaging our seniors and planting the seed for future donations was the best part of our campaign.

Don’t Base Results on the First Few Days: We raised over $6000 in one week. It took three more to raise another $2500. Enough said.

Competition Was More Effective Than Prizes: The most aggressive fundraising happened when fundraising champions were motivated by winning. It didn’t really matter if they won a prize or not, they were excited by the challenge of beating their friends (or losing!) in public. Our best results came from alumni who knew each other and were motivated to stay ahead. One would get a donation and another would ask for that amount, plus $1 just to keep the lead. As for prizes, we didn’t see higher results from our champions or our donors based on incentives like Amazon gift cards, iTunes and even Passover shopping gift cards.

Wendy Margolin is the Director of Communications at the Ida Crown Jewish Academy in Chicago, IL.  The school was on of 15 schools chosen to participate in the 2013-14 Jewish Day School Social Media Academy.

The Jewish Day School Social Media Academy is an intensive program designed to help Jewish Day Schools advance their strategic use of social media in areas such as communication, marketing, community building, alumni relations and development. The 2013-14 nationwide cohort of 15 schools was generously supported by The AVI CHAI Foundation.  Each of the schools will be sharing insights from their experience through blog posts here this spring with the tag #jdsacademy

Also, check out the Jewish Day School Social Media and Video Academy website, which includes a free self-assessment to help your school focus on key areas of growth in your social media work.

Tips for An Effective Professional Presence Online

Cross-posted from Clips and Phrases

I was putting together a presentation for Jewish communal folks on developing an effective professional presence online, including some bits about the personal/professional continuum, some about reputation management, some about privacy vs. publicy, and other technical tips. Before I finished the presentation, I asked my network: What advice would you give? Here are their answers…

Rebecca: Creating separate lists for professional contacts and adjusting privacy settings accordingly.

Arnie: Ask questions consistently. Value people’s responses. Engage them in conversation. Respect them. Maintain a sense of humor and a sense of perspective.

Deborah: Just like in in-person communication, consider verbal, vocal (tone) and non-verbal (appearance). They all make an impact.

Stephanie: Nothing is truly personal. You must always represent yourself professionally, even in your personal spaces (i.e., your hobby blog, your “personal” Twitter.

Liz: Don’t just “sell” your programs and/or yourself. Also answer others’ posts, share others’ ideas/posts, participate in the on-line community.

Peter: Be a digital role model (easier said then done).

Ken: Don’t just talk to your own pals. Better yet: try and make new pals, as often as possible.

Lisa: Be generous — respond when people ask or share. Also, re Stephanie’s comment which I 100% agree with, look at the ratios of personal sharing, professional sharing/promoting, generosity/appreciation for others, network engagement, etc. Only a small percentage should be the cute things your kids said (that don’t relate to anything else), otherwise professional contacts will have a hard time taking you seriously. All about the ratios.

Mimi: Connecting with people authentically, keeping things light/funny (the new professional) and warm! AUTHENTIC. GENUINE. REAL. HONEST. (Grabbing my thesuarus here ;)).

Asaf: To the point about reputation maintenance online, I think the best term is personal branding. I think from a professional point of view, people should consider their online presence as supporting the brand that is them. This relates to what they post,where they post, and to whom they post.

Isaac: To be a brand you need to have a consistent voice, tone, message and point of view. To be a personal brand, the above needs to be authentic and closely connected to your actual personality and style.

Big thanks to everyone who contributed to this post! Check out the presentation here.
What advice would YOU give?

The Value Added of Engagement

Originally published on the Grantcraft blog

There are over 500,000,000 users on Twitter – and I am one of them.

As President of a family foundation, I spend my day managing the foundation’s operations and staff, working with partners in the philanthropic and organizational world, and searching for new, innovative projects to invest in. Our foundation advocates for and advances the full inclusion of people with disabilities into the Jewish community. Our focus is on creating lasting change and I work tirelessly in pursuit of creating a fair and flourishing community.

I speak at conferences, conduct interviews with journalists, meet with legislators, and do whatever is necessary to push the issue of inclusion onto the agenda. Like you, I have a very full schedule filled with meetings, phone calls, site visits, and still more meetings.

And then I started tweeting.

Most of my philanthropic friends and foundation colleagues do not use social media, for a variety of reasons. I myself was unsure of how effective Twitter could be in helping to change the status quo. But I embarked on this experiment six months ago to see if I can build community around the issues the foundation advocates for. I understood that it takes time to build an audience and find one’s voice online. Change does not happen overnight.

Of utmost importance was having a Twitter strategy in place. I knew in advance who the influencers I wanted to engage were and connect with, what type of content to push out. Certainly I had much to learn:  how to engage, how to effectively use the platform, when and how to post and how to conduct conversations. Through trial and error I have learned and the early results are encouraging – there has been a definite increase in the number of conversations, retweet and mentions. (Notice I didn’t mention number of followers- that’s not a metric I’m using to measure success). Additionally, my tweeting has brought increased exposure for our foundation’s official account and we have seen a marked upswing in traffic to our blog.

So far, so good.

People ask me why I tweet – especially those who think Twitter is where people post about their morning coffee! I see Twitter as an integral tool to furthering our mission. Here’s why:

– Tweeting allows me to see who the players and influencers in this field are. Connecting with them allows us to share experiences and knowledge.

– Twitter is helping to position our foundation as a thought leader in the inclusion arena.

– It allows me to advocate for the rights of people with disabilities and raise awareness of the issue.

– By showcasing the wonderful work being done by our partners and grantees, we advance their individual missions and contribute to “grantmaking beyond the buck.”

– Social media opens my eyes to other projects out there, the latest news and trends and that allows us to have a finger on the pulse and assist us in becoming a smarter funder.

The central reason why I tweet is because people connect to other people. Putting a face on our foundation’s activities helps create a more intimate conversation and can bring more people into the fold. People connect to my passion, my sense of urgency to create sustainable change and as President, I have a unique voice on the issue people want to hear.

Funding innovative projects is not enough – we want to move the needle. The value of social media is the ability to reach the masses, meet people where they are hanging out and engage them. I want to tap into the energy and passion young people have for issues of social justice and encourage them to become involved, advocate and be at the forefront of change in society. I want to use my newfound connections to urge organizational leaders to make their communities more inclusive.

When I look back in a year or two, I hope to have raised awareness and to have caused more people in the Jewish community to realize the importance of the issue. This will go a long way to realizing our foundation’s mission, one tweet at a time.

Jay Ruderman is the President of the Ruderman Family Foundation. Engage Jay on Twitter and follow the foundation as well to learn more about inclusion.