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!
You’re looking for the gift that keeps on giving, right? I’ve got just the thing for you. Pick up a copy of Beth Kanter and Allison Fine’s book The Networked Nonprofit. A fun read with great stories and case studies, this book will help any nonprofit leader better understand the impact and opportunities of working in a networked world. THEN SIGN UP FOR OUR ONLINE BOOK GROUP! That’s right. Starting in January, we’ll be hosting a free online book group to discuss the concepts and their application to our work in the Jewish community. Bonus: experience the joys of the new Facebook Groups feature while you’re at it. You can join the book group now, and we’ll kick off discussion in January. That gives you just enough time to get copies for your co-workers, plus one for yourself, and read it in mid-December while everyone else is still scrambling for that other holiday, or by a cozy fire, or on the beach in Hawaii or where ever you might take a winter vacation… Have you read the book yet? What are you interested in discussing? What ideas grabbed your attention?
Did you notice the proliferation of vide0 this holiday season? Many congregations and other Jewish organization embraced the video greeting, with humor, seriousness, and calls to action. Video is a powerful medium for many reasons. First, it conveys personality, nuance, body language and intonation so much more powerfully than text or photographs. Further, a video can capture a user’s attention for 2 or 3 minutes at a time, rather than a few seconds at a time with text online. Thus, it has the potential to tell a much deeper story than you might achieve otherwise. Let’s take a look at a few Rosh Hashanah greetings from this year: The Community Synagogue, Port Washington, NY. This video got picked up by Perez Hilton, The Daily Beast, and local TV news, resulting in over 90,000 hits on YouTube. While total hits aren’t the ultimate measurement of success, they clearly got something right that generated this attention. There are three important elements to take away from this success: 1) The Rabbi’s message is personal, thoughtful and educational; 2) the central piece is humorous and playful. While it feels silly and lo-fi, it also give a sense that this is a fun place to be; and 3) it closes with a real community building tour of the people who make the synagogue run on a daily basis (including introductions of recently hired staff). While it’s slightly long (nearly 4 minutes), it is well paced and keeps your attention. The comments on YouTube are fascinating too — worth glancing at. Jewish Federations of North America put together videos that local Federations could use and adapt for their own purposes. You’ll notice that while the campaign is about a "call to action", the story being told is from people just like you and me, and less about the institution itself. This approach makes the video more compelling, personal and accessible than a pure solicitation. Congregation Rodef Shalom in Virginia made a video to a song, and invited any cameo appearances — the UPS guy, the gardener, and the entire summer camp – to give a feel of the community. How else could you shed light on the community, help people learn something, or develop new associations with your organization? What Rosh Hashana videos did you notice this year? Drop a link and your thoughts about what worked (or didn’t) in the comments here. What should orgs be thinking about for next year?
Its Chanukah, a time for telling stories about our heritage, our history, and our families. Its how we pass along our values, our beliefs and rituals, and our legacies. At my familys annual cousins Chanukah party a tradition that is close to 50 years old (if not more), my aunt made sure to point out to the three generations present that the cookies she had baked for everyone were based on my late grandmothers recipe.
To the uninitiated, the cookies appear rather simple. They are probably best appreciated by those of us who grew up on them precisely because they connect us back to our family history and our grandmother. But the cookies are also part of the experience of the younger generation, those who did not know their great-grandmother personally, but who will instead associate those cookies with our annual family gatherings and make connections from their own vantage points. They are developing their own stories to share, stories that will extend our family’s narratives.
Story telling is important for organizations as well. There are many ways to tell our stories. One way is to share interesting practices and successes, as suggested by Lisas post below. How we present ourselves online is another way of relating our stories.
In what ways does your online presence depict your organizations story? How does it reflect the diversity of your membership and its experiences? What are the values, beliefs, and rituals projected in your online narrative? How would someone new to your community – a new reader – interpret your organizations story? And in what ways can we facilitate connecting these stories to the larger, ever expanding, intricately interwoven community?
Social media is all about two way conversation, simply put. Exchanges between real people, building real relationships, and finding common ground, shared interests and, in many cases, collaborating to take action together.
Oftentimes as we manage Facebook groups or blog posts or even in surveys we ask people to share their stories. “Tell us about an experience when…?” Shawn and Mark at Anecdote develop courses on storytelling, and digital storytelling. Their discovery is that you have to tell stories to hear stories. That by modeling the style, length and risks taken in talking about your own life, you given permission and frameworks for others to do the same. We take cues from our peers about what’s appropriate. And especially in online settings, many people are still discovering/learning/evolving their comfort zones and the cultures of various online forums. From their blog:
Here’s an example. When I see my teenage daughter after school I would often ask how her day went, whether anything interesting happened at school, and the standard response is often monosyllabic: yep, nup. In fact the more questions I’d ask the shorter the answers. So I changed tack and rather than ask questions I simply recounted something that happened in my day. I would launch into something like, “I met a bearded lady today. This morning I drove down to Fitzroy to run an anecdote circle for …” and immediately my daughter would respond with an encounter from her day. A conversation starts and it’s delightful.
So next time you seek to hear other people’s stories, consider how you invite them to do so. Finishing a blog post with a question or invitation is a great way to encourage comments. And also consider sharing some of yourself. Blogging is a lot about developing a community — commenting on your friends’ and co-workers’ blog posts to tell you story is a great way of establishing a norm and permission for others to tell theirs.
What approaches have you found most successful or useful for inspiring dialog in your groups and blogs?
[Thanks to Naava Frank of Knowledge Communities and Kehilliyot for turning me on to this concept.]
Google is introducing a new web browser, Chrome.
Knowing that people seek, access and absorb information in many different ways, they have offered many different points of entry for learning about the browser. The most important part of their campaign is how they are inviting us inside to understand the process, not just selling their product.
Through cartoons, video, and text (blogging), they are telling the story of why and how they developed a revolutionary new offering. And it’s powerful. As a user/reader/watcher you are invited inside the process and the story — and invited to become part of the story by actually using Chrome.
In addition to these storytelling offerings, Google also has produced videos to introduce you to the features of the browser – a “how to” guide.
So… What can we learn from this?
First, “how to” may be necessary but it is not sufficient. Logistics are only part of the story, and the personal connection (even to a developer in another state from another generation who is using words that sound Greek to you) is critically important to feeling engaged. American Jewish World Service has done a great job of this with their videos developed with See3 to show the real experience of real people who are involved with AJWS. Donors, volunteers, staff all have powerful and important stories to tell.
Second, visuals, and especially video, offers more momentum than plain text. While I would be hard pressed to READ the whole story, I’m delighted to watch a few minutes of video. JT Waldman transformed Megillat Esther into a comic book (it’s kosher!) which has engaged young (and old) in a text that they otherwise might not have ever studied. (BTW, he’s now working on the Tagged Tanakh project — way cool.)
There are many circumstances when we have a hard time capturing the attention of our audiences for important things. The congregational meeting, for example. Introducing a new staff person or board chair. Showing the added value of the new classrooms that are under construction to fuel the final stages of a capital campaign. Sharing the impact of participating in a mitzvah day. Orienting new families to the traditions and customs of your congregation.
What do you learn from these various approaches? How do you see it applying to you work? Got something to share? Tell us!
See below to hear the Chrome Story for yourself: