Being Thankful

Thanksgiving may be over and Chanukah is winding down, but it's ALWAYS a good time to show your organization’s supporters how grateful you are to have them onboard.

Just like receiving a handwritten note is a lot more special than a text message “thx,” getting personal with your supporters, and letting them know how each contribution is having an impact, is a great way to show them you really care.

There are so many creative directions to explore — but here are some fun ideas for going the extra nine yards in saying thanks to your biggest cheerleaders:

Personalized thank you video
Every year, charity: water staffers get in front of the camera to say thank you — dedicating videos to the class of 3rd graders who donate their lunch money and the bloggers who get the word out about their crowdfunding campaigns. It looks like they’re having a blast producing this series — and it’s a great way to retain supporters and keep them engaged.
 

Connect support to impact
A striking infographic is a great way to illustrate how the money you’ve raised this year is being put to use in the field. Connect the dots between clicking donate in your email inbox and tangible outcomes on the ground — and get ready to brainstorm some evocative analogies for your work.

A personal note
Bring your supporters together with the people who are seeing your impact firsthand. Maybe your organization works with refugees, or vulnerable children, or homeless families — let your constituents and staffers share, in their own words, how much the support of your donors means to them. You can forward their note in an email, or collect short video testimonials to share — like these messages from Nature Conservancy scientists around the world.

Saying thank you isn't just a nice thing to do — many organizations, like the International Rescue Committee, see a real return on investment when they share messages of gratitude with their donors.

We hope this gives you a jumping off point for putting together a heartfelt thank you campaign. And to all of our clients and friends of See3 and Darim Online, thank you, so much, for the work you do to make our world a better place.

What's the best thank-you you ever received from an organization? What made it so special for you?

Monday Web Favorites: The #Unselfie Campaign, Giving Effective Feedback, and “Be the Shamash”

It's time for our Monday web favorites, and there is much light to share over Chanukah…

First up: We love the #unselfie campaign! A bit of background…as of last year, the Tuesday after Thanksgiving has been declared "Giving Tuesday," to change the focus from buying and acquiring on Black Friday and Cyber Monday, to giving back and thankfulness. (Fun fact, this was started by the folks at the 92Y in New York.) Meanwhile, the term "selfie" was chosen as the 2013 "word of the year." This year, Giving Tuesday added this cool #unselfie campaign, to get people taking pictures of themselves (or of their faces behind a sign they made) saying/showing what they're doing to give back. Taking and posting an #unselfie could be a great activity for a teen group, for a family to do together, for a synagogue staff to do as a group. It's quick and fun activity to help share the light at Chanukah, and tap into a broader online campaign/conversation.
 

And our next selection: Another great opportunity has come up for tomorrow, this one on the professional development side. The talented  and vivacious Deborah Grayson Riegel is offering a free teleconference on giving effective feedback, Dec. 3rd, 2-3pm Eastern. Click here for details and to sign up.
 

Finally: We've got one more example of a lovely campaign we wanted to share – Shira Kline, also known as Shirlala, is using the eight nights of Chanukah to run a "Be the Shamash" (the candle that lights all the other candles on the menorah) campaign. It's a great example of using your social media to highlight that sweet spot where the things you care about and the things that matter to your community come together and shine. Hosting these kinds of mini-campaigns on your Page, or through any social media outlet, helps keep you at the front of your community's mind. That way, when you're ready to tell them about an event or other offer, they're already listening.

What have been your favorite things on the web recently? Share them in comments, or with Miriam through email, and they could appear here next week! Happy Chanukah, everyone!

Top image credit: GivingTuesday Facebook Page

Thankful

What are you thankful for this week? I'm thankful for this catchy Facebook post from Shannon Hall and her team at the Sarah & Irving Pitt Child Development Center of JCC Metro Detroit. With the discovery that the most popular posts on their page were the photo collages, and knowing that the children would be focused on giving thanks in celebration of the upcoming Thanksgiving (and Chanukah!) holidays, the team developed this creative idea. Using smart phones, the team snapped a few photos of children, noted what they were thankful for, and added the speech bubbles using the free PicSay app for Android phones. For iPhone users, the free app Bubble works great, too.

Then, in order to attract more attention then they would have by posting the photos individually, they collaged three responses into one photo using PicsArt, another free app for Android, iPhone users, check out the free and easy to use PicStitch. The result was a playful, eye catching photo.

They combined with photo with an invitation to a week long game. Comment on the post and they'd ask your child next. And comment they did! Parents responded with curiosity about what their own child might say, and also added their own grateful comments. The result is a community expression of gratitude, perfect for the week before Thanksgiving.

What was the strategy behind the team's thinking? As part of their work in this year's Jewish Early Childhood Social Media Academy organized by the Alliance for Jewish Education at the Jewish Federation of Detroit, the team wanted to celebrate the children and families within their preschool program in order get the word out to the larger community about their offerings. Their strategy is to encourage their current actively involved on Facebook parents to inspire others to join the fun. Focusing on organic, fun, and engaging posts, their Facebook page has been a model of successful early childhood engagement.

In addition to achieving this immediate goal, creating social content that gets people to comment increases your "weight" in the Facebook algorithm.  Your content is therefore more likely to show up in the newsfeeds of others who have liked the page, which leads to more engagement, which sets a very positive snowball in motion.

How are you stewarding a culture of thankfulness and engagement on your Facebook Page?

9 Tips to Boost Your Facebook Page Search Rankings

Cross posted with permission from http://www.johnhaydon.com/

One thing that's often overlooked in the year-end fundraising dash is making sure we can easily be found by people looking for us. Particularly on Facebook and Google.

Here are 9 things you can do NOW to optimize your Facebook Page for both Google and Facebook’s Graph search:

1. Tweak Your Page Category
Make sure you’ve selected the best possible category for your Page. You can edit your category by going into your Page Info area (Edit Page > Update Page Info).

Select the category that best describes your organization. Trying to avoid picking "Nonprofit organization". If your nonprofit is an art museum, pick "museum".

2. Tweak Your Page Sub-categories
If you have a Local Place or Business, you can add up to three sub-categories. These can be added / updated within your Page Info area (Edit Page > Update Page Info).

3. Complete your Address
Graph search will allow users to search for local nonprofits their friends like, so make sure your physical address is complete and current (Edit Page > Update Page Info).

4. Complete Your About Section
The information you share in your “About” section will help people find your Page in search. Particularly if you put keywords at the beginning of each field.

***What are keywords you ask? Keywords are phrases people enter into search engines, for example "breast cancer". Note that they are not necessarily single words. If search engine optimization is new to you, read this article.

Do not start off with “We are a 501(c)3 organization…”People don’t search for "501(c)3" when they’re looking for services and resources for breast cancer patients.

5. Tag Your Photos
Photos are a primary content type displayed in Graph Search results. Make sure you tag each photo with your Page name and any location associated with the photo.

6. Pay Attention to Photo Descriptions
When you post photos, make sure you use appropriate keywords. These keywords are also used in Graph searches.

7. Create a Username
If you haven’t done so already, create a custom URL (username) for your Page that includes the name of your organization. This will improve your SEO on both Facebook and Google.

8. Continue Creating Killer Content
Remember, like Google, Facebook wants to display the best results at the top of a search. To rank search results, Facebook looks at how much people have talked about that specific photo, video or text update.

9. Don't Forget Hashtags
Although hashtags are relatively new on Facebook, make an effort to include at least one hashtag keyword in each update. But search that hashtag first to see how prevalent it is.

When Failure Isn’t Failure

Too often we get hung up on THE NEXT GREAT IDEA that will save or transform the Jewish community.  Following stark headlines birthed by the recent Pew study, I suspect the urgency around this may even grow.  Yawn.

I'm more interested in looking at the world and our challenges opportunities through new lenses.  Sometimes a tweak here and there is a great approach for improving your work. Sometimes we need to think bigger. But as the scale of the idea (and the investment required to make it come to life) increases, the risk of possible failure increases as well.  Our fear of failure therefore often acts as the glass ceiling of our biggest ideas and freshest thinking.

Those making really profound progress in our rapidly evolving world aren't afraid of failure.  As detailed in The Lean StartUp, it's not always about the A landslide victory of your idea, it's about developing it in a smart and nimble way. It's about seeing the small failures and improving upon them.  Salman Khan, founder of the Khan Academy started by making videos for his family, and realizing the value, scale the idea to help others.  Rarely are great, big ideas great or big right out of the box.

At The Nonprofit Technology Conference a year ago, Beth Kanter led a panel discussion called "Placing Little Bets" (based on the book, Little Bets), where the discussion turned to failure.  Fascinating.  Of course your little bets (experiments) can't grow into big discoveries unless you fail.  Like in a science lab, you learn as much (maybe more) by the experiments that don't turn out as you hypothesized.  My take away:  the tech/innovation field understands this, and encourages, rewards, and invests in this cycle.   They think big (but start small), know how to let go of the mediocre ideas, and how to identify failure, learn from it, and improve upon it. 

In the Jewish community, I am afraid we're too afraid to fail. In fact, we're so afraid of our own failure (writ large — declining numbers, declining engagement, struggling institutions) that we embody that fear of failure in everything we do.  Sure, there are people placing bets, people with fresh ideas, and a whole 'innovation' sector.  But I'm speaking to the collective ethos of organized Jewish life. We need to think (and feel) differently about failure.

The Jewish Education Project, in partnership with Upstart and UJA Federation of New York, is hosting a FAIL FORWARD CONFERENCE in November, with  Ashley Good, the CEO of Fail Forward.  I'm thrilled to see this issue rising to the surface of our communal conversation.  We need to be talking about this, sharing our 'failures', collaborating to decide where and how to invest in the places where we can improve on that failure, and how we can learn from it.

But here's what I think it really boils down to:  We have many connotations with the word FAILURE that we need to let go of.  Or maybe we need to fine an alternate word (suggestions welcome in the comments).

  • For Jews, failure signifies the END of something.  That's a concept all too real, and very traumatizing to leaders of the Jewish community.  So let's get this straight: Failing forward isn't about extinction of an idea (or a whole people). It's about refining and strengthening that idea so it will flourish.
  • Failure often carries connotations of blame — of negligence, or stupidity, or defeat.  And of course we (personally or organizationally) don't want to be associated with that.  We need to write over those connotations with positive associations.  What will those be?

How do you think about failure?  How do you talk about it in your work (or why do you struggle to talk about it)?  Do you or your organization have practices that help embrace, celebrate and learn from 'failure'?  Where have you failed and learn from it? What new associations can we add to the word "failure" to help us embrace failing forward for all of its goodness and potential benefit to our community?

I'm giving away two great books from people who have looked at this idea, or challenged it in profound ways.  Share your experience of and ideas about failure and enter to win with The Global Achievement Gap by Tony Wagner, or The One World Schoolhouse by Salman Khan.  (Make sure to note which book you prefer, and follow the comments so you'll know if you won.)

Vine vs. Instrgram Video. How Do They Compare?

 

This past week, Facebook launched a video component to their already immensely popular photo platform, Instagram, in order to compete with Vine, the short form video app by Twitter.

Vine

vine_icon.png Launched by Twitter, Vine is a micro-video app that allows you to record six-second videos on your phone and share them on Vine and Twitter. You can record all 6 seconds at once, or break up the six seconds to record separate images in a series or "stop motion" style. Vine then displays the videos in a loop, similar to a GIF.  (Yes, you might be thinking, 'aren't animated GIFs so 1999?'  Yes, but they are making a retro comeback, especially through Tumblr and with new tools like Vine).  In some cases the looping effect holds your attention longer, and allows for a deeper understanding of what might appear simple on the surface.  But in some cases the looping effect can be annoying.  Perhaps in the future Vine will allow it as an option.

After downloading the app, you can start and stop the video by tapping and holding the screen. When finished, you simply upload the video and can add comments and hashtags. Similar to Twitter, when tagged, a video can be seen by anyone, but you only see videos by users you follow in your feed. Vine videos can be embedded anywhere on the web and uploaded to Twitter and Facebook as well. A quick Vine tutorial is here.  Warning: it's slightly more than 6 seconds!

Instagram Video

instagram-icon.pngTo compete with Twitter’s new mini-video feature, Facebook launched its own version of Vine, via Instagram.  Instagram video is not a separate app, but rather incorporated within Instagram. Users simply download the updated version of the app and a new video button appears when taking photos on your phone. This video feature can be started and stopped like Vine, but can record up to 15 seconds and allows for editing and filters, similar to Instagram photos. Unlike Vine though, Instagram video can only be uploaded via Instagram or Facebook, whereas Vine can be embedded anywhere on the web.

Instagram video also includes a cover photo (you can choose which frame of the video you want to show when it's displayed as a still image — it doesn't have to be the very first frame), and video stabilization.  These videos do not loop as Vine does.  A quick Instragram tutorial is here.  Also more than 15 seconds!

 

So what should I be using?

Vine does have the largest audience in terms of short video app users. But that audience is only 11% of the total video sharing market, whereas Instagram holds 35% of the photo sharing market, and has 130 million users. Despite the newness of Instagram and the fact that you're not currently able to embed those videos, its audience and relevancy eclipse Vine’s, and it offers more features.

The looping of Vine and the ability to embed the videos elsewhere online can, and will, probably be added to Instagram in the future. But since both are free, it doesn’t hurt to download both and see which one you like better.  If you're already a regular Instagram user, it may make sense to integrate your short format video work into that existing channel.  If you have not created an Instagram channel for your organization, you may find Vine more attractive since you can embed those videos elsewhere to augment other channels.

Here’s a breakdown via TechCrunch (read the whole article here):

instagram-vs-vine5.jpg

 

 

 

Video Video Video. You Need It. Here’s How.

Video matters.  It grabs more attention, tells a story more effectively than text, is easily sharable on social media channels, and can be a conversation starter (how many times have you said to a friend, "have you seen that TED Talk about …"?)

Recently, YouTube, See3, and Edelman teamed up to survey the role of video within the non-profit world.  Surveying over 450 respondents representing a vast array of nonprofit organizations, the study revealed that nearly all nonprofits recognize the importance of video (91% of respondents say they want to be making more video).  Yet respondents were less confident about their capabilities to effectively utilize video in their communications strategy, and how much they should be investing in creating high quality, professional video assets, as 76% responded that they don’t know how to measure video success analytically.  

While an increasing number of nonprofits are learning about the power of creating their own video assets, there are many ways you can leverage video in your work.

1) Not all video needs to be highly professional.  Jewish Community High School of the Bay recorded a brief video of a student leading a Zumba class.  This snippet was gold on Facebook as they began to shift their social media strategy to a more transparent community building approach.  Informal (yet still high quality with attention to sound and lighting) works well, in the right setting. See our post about the new short format video apps Vine (on Twitter) and Instagram for tips on creating even shorter videos.


2) Curate great video content from others.  IKAR was smart in creating a video that sent a powerful message that was applicable to a wide audience.  While the video clearly adds to the IKAR brand, it was really easy to forward and repost because of the universal message.  This is creating social content at its best.  Many individuals and organizations reposted this video because it fit with their own brand and personal ethos. 

3) Use video as a conversation starter.   ELI Talks are a series of short, thought provoking videos of live talks related to Jewish community and culture.  Conceptually derived from TED Talks, ELI Talks are a great way to begin deep conversations among staff, boards and other groups about issues of great importance to the Jewish community.  For example, Rabbi Sid Schwarz’s talk describes his experience taking a group of synagogue members to volunteer in Haiti, and Gidi Greenstein's talk explores the balance between flexibility and rigidity as we chart our course into the Jewish future. You can find discussion questions underneath each video to get the ball rolling in your conversations.

4) Go small.  Two new applications have recently taken off that allow you to record short — very short — videos via an app.  Vine is the Twitter based app (6 seconds), and Instagram just release their own version (15 seconds).  By definition these are short, and if you use them well, short and sweet.  Many nonprofits are creating simple videos that help viewers connect to their mission powerfully by 'reporting from the field' (see the Humane Society and Charity:Water examples).  Other brands are putting in more effort (often with stop-motion design) to create powerful mini-mercials (see these examples from Etsy and lululemon).  Collections of short videos like this, a regularity of posting them, help tell a story in a unique and powerful way, that's quick and authentic.

For more about the survey and resources to help you improve your video efforts, check out the full YouTube/See3/Edelman survey report and online video guide here.

How are you using video? Share your stories and post links in the comments.

Creating Conversations and Giving Everyone a Voice: Talent Recruitment at Hillel

Instead of simply posting job openings, we use this space to highlight the great work happening at Hillels around the world, where students are engaged students in Jewish life, learning and Israel.  As a result of all this, hired, we have completely changed our outlook on how social media functions for our organization.

In the spring of 2012, Hillel’s Human Resources team set out to play a more active role on social media to help us better recruit for Hillel, share job listings, tell our story, and grow our presence online.  Under advisement from our new Digital Media Manager, Monica Herman, we worked to define strategies we could use in the social media space. We quickly realized that it had to be about conversations. While this seems natural on our personal Facebook accounts, it’s actually something that can get lost in organizational social media. Followers want to be engaged in the conversation with your organization, not just reading posts, no matter how fabulous what you have to say may be. 

We determined who we wanted to hear from, and what we wanted to talk about. For Hillel’s HR team, that was job seekers, former and current Hillel professionals, graduating college seniors and graduate students, potential professionals, partner agencies, placement professionals, and the wider Jewish community.  That’s a LOT of constituents and a lot of different messages!  We have found that, when we tell our story through the voices of those we impact, many of our stakeholders join the conversation in meaningful ways.  They get to tell their story through the lens of Hillel.  The organization is no longer the only voice, which is a good thing!  Showcasing your organization’s diverse population and encouraging your people to share improves relationships and communication for everyone.

For example, we launched a blog post series highlighting why our professionals love what they do.  This forum enables them to tell their stories and share what resonates with them about their jobs.  The professional benefits from great PR for their local Hillel and provides them with a platform to talk about their journey and what their career means to them.  We know our stakeholders enjoy hearing directly from someone on campus about how they are making an impact or working through an issue. Colleagues also share these stories with their own networks, and comment on their peers’ experiences. In addition, from an HR perspective, potential job seekers can learn from these posts how they could fit into an organization like Hillel, and even contact the professional directly to learn more. Far better than the HR recruiter posting 10 reasons why it’s fun to work at Hillel, right?

We identified the specific social media channels that were better suited for different types of conversations than others.  Originally, we used Facebook to post every new job as they came up. Now, we use a dedicated Twitter profile for that, and direct active job seekers there for real-time updates on what’s new. We also follow job-hunting resources and share links, tips and strategies on the interview process and how to manage a job search.  Updates from @Hillel_Jobs are also shared with the broader Hillel Twitter account, @HillelFJCL, raising visibility to a broader group of stakeholders. Using LinkedIn, we explore the benefits of working for Hillel, and share and discuss relevant articles and trends in the job market and hiring practices. Candidates can also find me, a real face, in case they’re interested in learning more.

With this new social media strategy in place, we’ve broadened our presence across multiple channels. Hillel's Facebook page engages directly with students, parents, professionals, partner organizations and supporters. Instead of simply posting job openings, we use this space to highlight the great work happening at Hillels around the world, where students are engaged students in Jewish life, learning and Israel.  As a result of all this, we have completely changed our outlook on how social media functions for our organization.

We don’t have all the answers yet, and there’s much more that we will learn around this, but we’re excited to be engaged in the conversation! We’d welcome a discussion about what’s working for your organization and what challenges you’re facing around this issue.

Aviva Zucker Snyder has been the lead Talent Recruiter for Hillel: The Foundation for Jewish Campus Life since 2009, after starting her career in Jewish student life, and later as the Executive Director at University at Albany Hillel from 2002-2008.  You can find her on LinkedIn, where she spends a lot of time networking.  When not online or on the phone, she’s either training for a half marathon or running after her almost-5 year old, Noa.

 

Jewish Day School Social Media Academy 2013-14

For the past two years, Darim Online has produced the Jewish Day School Social Media Academy to help schools advance their work in the connected age.  Through the Academy, schools learn about new tools and strategies for fund development, recruitment and alumni engagement in the social media age, and then put their new skills to work, and mature their internal operations.   Schools that have been accepted into the 2013-14 Academy participate in an intensive year of training, coaching and project-based learning, and are encouraged to share their learning and accomplishments with the field.   

“We have changed so significantly how we do everything. We communicate so much more effectively. For us it’s been an incredibly dramatic improvement.  I would do this Academy again in a heartbeat.” –- Denver Academy of Torah, 2012-13 cohort

“Our coach acted as mentor, cheerleader, consultant, expert and supporter.  It was invaluable.  It made all the difference.”   — San Diego Jewish Academy, 2012-13 cohort

Other schools and day school representatives are welcome to learn along with us.  We have a webinar series that is open to all, and we invite you to join and participate in the discussion in our Facebook group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/jdssocialmedia/

Interested in joining our webinar series?  Sign up below!

 

 

 

 

 

Becoming Social: Risk Taking, Transparency and Innovation

Prior to participating in the Jewish Day School Social Media Academy, our school culture was pretty conservative when it came to social media, so many ideas that we brought home from the kick off meeting felt very risky and foreign to us.

Within the first week of this program, we turned on the tagging function on our Facebook page to allow for interaction and transparency. At the time, letting go of this control felt unintuitive and scary.

zumba.pngThat same week, we noticed a student-led Zumba class happening in the courtyard and we impulsively took a 30-second video. We never would have posted something like this previously because it felt personal and exposed in terms of the students, and it was also an activity that was wholly social and not connected to any mission-specific message. In short, it was just fun. In response to the post, we received an unprecedented number of likes, comments and shares from students, parents and community members. This “experiment” started a ripple effect in terms of taking risks.

The only video that had ever been leveraged for fundraising at JCHS was very high-end, in that it was professionally shot and produced. So Lisa Colton’s suggestion to “be brave” and do quick and dirty videos was intriguing and exciting. The discussion at the kickoff meeting about how to deal with negative online feedback made us feel as if we could jump and go for it with our own videos.

We shot a short video with teachers and students that showed areas the Annual Fund supports at JCHS such as athletics, drama and science.  We shared this video on our web page, through eBlasts and on Facebook which added a much-needed spike in parent momentum/interest. The video resulted in 12 online gifts the first night we posted it – which was also unprecedented. From here we became addicted to both making fun, creative videos and the momentum they inspired. We got sillier and people liked it.

As the year progressed, through the Annual Fund and into our Darim fundraising challenge and spring fundraising event, we became comfortable – and quite happy – with this new cultural norm of risk taking, transparency and innovation. Our “capstone” project for the Academy was a fundraising challenge to our 271 alumni. The greatest percentage of them to give in one year to date had been 9%. We challenged ourselves to receive at least 50% participation from our alumni during the month of April to receive a matching grant from AVI CHAI. JCHS is only 12 years old. Most of our alumni are still in college and not financially independent, so this was a big challenge for us.

teacher.pngWe kicked off our alumni campaign with a slide show of 8 JCHS graduation ceremonies.  This video created our first wave of momentum, but we noticed immediately that the “fire” required constant stoking to keep gifts rolling in. We then came up with a teacher campaign asking students to give Our alumni mavens were key in tagging these photos and creating a buzz that increased with each new teacher photo. During this photo campaign, one of our alumni mavens suggested that what would really work with older alumni is to see photos of their teachers from the early years who are no longer teaching at JCHS. As one of us has been here for 10 years, reaching out to these teachers on Facebook was easy and they all responded quickly and enthusiastically.  See an example of the reactions on Facebook. 

Not only did we achieve our 50% goal, but in the final push, which was very targeted from alum to alum, we achieved 61% alumni participation (166 alums). The impact from this challenge continues to show through feedback about how much they enjoyed talking to each other and reminiscing about JCHS, to a record number of alumni attending the spring fundraising event. This year of social media was educational, fun, and it truly shifted our culture in a way that supports community at JCHS.

Julie Vlcek-Burke has been at JCHS since 2003 and is the Director of Development. Maura Feingold has been at JCHS since 2007 and is the Marketing Manager.

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 2012-13 nationwide cohort of 20 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

The 2013-14 cohort is currently in formation. If your school or community is interested in more information, please contact Lisa Colton.