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August 2007
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Create a Cool Photo Collage for Your Website, Blog, Newsletter, Flickr Album and Just About Anything Else

Michele_and_darvin_collage

 

Looking for a way to do something different with photos for your newsletter, blog or other on and off-line publications? Robin Reagler shared this cool little tool with me--the Hockneyizer.

Upload a digital photo and it will create a collage for you. You can use the Polaroid version (what I have here) or one with no frames. You can also change background colors and the number of individual images you want to create. If you don't like the collage you get, just click on the shuffle button and it will give you another version. Then you can edit the image, save to your hard drive, upload to Flickr or email the image. Pretty cool. This is a picture from my wedding a few years ago, which seemed appropriate, since my anniversary is coming up soon. 


YouTube Launches Nonprofit Program--First 300 to Sign up Win a Free Video Camera!

  Via Inside Online Video comes the announcement that YouTube is launching a nonprofit program that allows people to give donations through Google Checkout.

According to YouTube, registered nonprofits can get:

  • A premium branded channel,
  • Rotation of their videos through the Promoted Videos" feature throughout the site.
  • The option to embed a Donate Now button in their channel with no transaction costs.

The first 300 nonprofits to sign up can win a free video camera, so if video is part of how your organization wants to tell your story, you'll want to rush over and check it out. The video above offers some useful tips to get you started.


The Habits Of High Impact Nonprofits

Forces_for_good_2_2 The Stanford Social Innovation Review has an excellent article summarizing the findings of Forces for Good: The Six Practices of High-Impact Nonprofits by Heather McLeod Grant and Leslie Crutchfield.

Chronicling four years of research into 12 highly successful nonprofits, including Teach for America and Habitat for Humanity, the book dispels some common myths about what makes a nonprofit successful, as well as identifying six successful practices.

The Myths and Practices of High-Impact Nonprofits
According to McLeod Grant and Crutchfield, most nonprofit literature focuses on issues that actually have nothing to do with creating a high impact nonprofit--what they call the myths of successful nonprofits:

  1. Perfect Management
  2. High Brand Name Recognition
  3. A Break-through Idea
  4. Textbook Mission Statements
  5. High Ratings on Conventional Metrics
  6. Large Budgets

Instead, real nonprofit impact is the result of six practices:

  • Combining both service and policy advocacy
  • Tapping into the powers of the market, self-interest and economics rather than relying on altruism alone.
  • Building strong communities of supporters who can act as evangelists for the organization and the cause.
  • Nurturing the creation of networks.
  • Learning how to be exceptionally adaptive, responding immediately to changes as they occur.
  • Sharing leadership rather than relying on the charisma of a strong founder.

Not all of the 12 nonprofits studied used all of these practices, nor did they use them in the same ways. In some cases they used them to different degrees and at different times, depending on their particular circumstances and development.

What's striking about these findings is that the "myths" of nonprofit success are based on inward-focusing practices, while the practices that really lead to high impact force nonprofits to look outside of their organizations to leverage external factors. These are also practices that work better in a 2.0 world where networks, adaptability and harnessing the power of the crowd are critical to success. The lessons these nonprofits are learning are lessons that businesses are learning, too.

Some interesting info here that's well worth a look. Looks like I have a new book to add to my reading list.


Want to Be a Virtual Volunteer for a Social Entrepreneurship Project?

Social_network I'm going to try to harness the power of social networking again, so here goes.

For one of my clients, I'm currently facilitating a social entrepreneurship project with a class of high school seniors (17-18 year olds). They are forming teams and coming up with a plan to launch a socially-conscious business project. Ultimately they will be presenting their projects to a team of local business and community leaders.

As part of the class, we have set up a Ning community where they will be interacting, sharing their project information, etc. I would like for them to receive input and feedback from a broader community than just the local area as I think that will only add to their ability to create great final projects. I think they could also benefit from some exposure to the world beyond their County.

So here's my request--tearing a page from the Vicki Davis book, I'm asking for virtual volunteers. If this sounds like something you'd enjoy participating in, please send me an email indicating your interest and if you blog, a link to your blog. I will then coordinate with you on joining the community. You can contribute as much or as little as you'd like and you will be able to do so in your own time frame. If you've never used Ning before, it will also give you a chance to see how it works, which might give you some ideas for using it for your own programs or organization. AND you can  see how I try to build a plane while I'm flying it. If nothing else, that should be a great incentive!

Picture via robinhamman


I'm Not the Only One Digging Ning

Sila_4

 

My interest in Ning continues unabated, especially after seeing that over 100,000 networks have been developed so far. Marc Andreesen's post on the accomplishment indicates that one of the reasons for their incredible growth is that Ning developers are focusing on making it ridiculously easy to set up your own network. I'm here to tell you that they're succeeding with that plan. You can definitely set up a network in about 5 minutes, although getting it going with participants offers its own challenges.

This afternoon I took a break to browse the Ning blog. There I found a couple of nonprofits making incredible use of the service--Sarcoidosis and Tu Diabetes.com. Both are organizations providing support to individuals and their families who are suffering from a chronic condition. These are the kinds of people who often crave connections with others, so using Ning to create space to nurture these necessary connections is an incredible service to offer. And it's FREE!

A few things I noticed about their sites:

  • Both have very active communities. Tu Diabetes is at almost 1,000 members and both networks have a lot of activity going on, with people posting Q&As in forums, writing blog posts, commenting on member pages, etc. There's a sense of energy, purpose and connection that I can only assume is incredibly positive for the members. Which I would assume transfers to the organizations.
  • Within the communities, members have taken advantage of the "Groups" feature to create more focused support groups. This means that there can be groups for children and adults, groups for people who are looking at particular treatment options, groups for families, etc.
  • Like all Ning sites, members have their own personal pages which includes a blog (with privacy options for individual posts), space to upload and share photos, and a comment wall. All of these features add to the sense of community and belonging for members. It also provides space for people to reflect upon and process some difficult challenges and experiences.
  • Tu Diabetes is using their site to advertise events--like a chat session with a doctor--to share links to other resources and to recommend books to members. This turns their site into a very full-featured support and information resource for members. If they wanted to, they could also add RSS feeds to diabetes-related news stories and other information.

After taking a look around these two sites, I'm struck even more by the huge potential of Ning for nonprofits. In one way or another, most nonprofits are about forging and utilizing connections. In some cases, the connections are for advocacy. In other cases, community may need to be formed to provide support. Ning is a FREE way to provide these services using a very robust and professional looking platform.For my money, this is an incredibly powerful resource whose potential we may only be beginning to tap into. Expect to see more here on using Ning because it definitely has my head buzzing with ideas.


Lessons Learned from Calculating My Online Identity Score

Online_identity_2 From Career Distinction comes a nifty little tool that will calculate your "online identity score" and help you determine how effective your online personal branding efforts have been.

When you go to the site, you're instructed to run a Google search, enter in the total number of results returned, determine how many of the results on the first three pages relate to you and then how well you think these results represent your personal brand and the calculator will give you your score. Mine, as you can see, was a 9 out of 10.

I was pleasantly surprised that it was this high and had to take a look at what got me there:

  • This blog--which is the number 2 result returned for "Michele Martin" after the Michel Martin from NPR. (Note that her name is spelled without the final "e,{ making me the number one Michele Martin--with an "e"-- on the web)
  • References from other bloggers
  • Slideshare presentations I've uploaded
  • My LinkedIn profile
  • My Building a Better Blog site

So what's interesting about this? For me, it's a few things.

First, I'm controlling my own online identity for the most part by what I'm creating and putting onto the Web. Links from other bloggers are obviously out of my control, although those links are complimentary, so I'm happy to have them. But the rest of these references are things I've put together myself, giving me ultimate control over my identity. At least right now.

What also strikes me in this is the powerful role of Web 2.0 and social media.  Every one of these references is coming from some sort of social site, not from a traditional web site, newspaper stories, etc. I have essentially become the number one Michele Martin on the Internet through the power of personal publishing and social connections.

Now, of course, all it would take would be one bad newspaper story or Digg reference and all of this goodwill would be buried in a second. I am also benefiting from the fact that apparently I'm the most active Michele Martin on the web, at least for now. But I do find this little experiment an interesting one. It says a lot about how we can control our own online destinies through the power of what we're creating and sharing. Yet another reason to start using these tools if you haven't been doing so already.

UPDATE--Reader Bruce Fulton makes an excellent point in comments that when you use the Online Identity Calculator, you're giving Career Distinction your email address and the right to email you for marketing purposes:

"Reach and the authors of Career Distinction will use your email address to email you recommendations for your online identity and periodically share news of special personal branding events and offers. "

For me, the delete key works well in dealing with this kind of thing, but if you'd prefer to not receive this kind of info at all, then you might want to think twice about using the tool. Thanks for pointing this out, Bruce. 

 


If You Don't Believe That Wikis Can Work as an Organization-wide Solution to Knowledge Sharing, Read this Article

Nathan reports on the success of a wiki as a company-wide intranet. Don't be scared away their price tag --a wiki solution can be had for much less money. Wetpaint has many of the features most nonprofits would need to use a wiki as an intranet and these are available for free. Wikispaces is another option, although it's $50/year to keep your space private.

Aside from the obvious success of the initiative, I'm struck by their focus on usability:

Our customisation focused almost completely on usability. People shouldn't know or care that they are using a Wiki. All that matters is that they can easily browse, search and contribute content. (In fact, after 16 months, only a small set of Janssen-Cilag staff would think of our Intranet as a Wiki. To them, it just seems natural that Intranet software would have evolved to something this simple to use.)

The goal of technology is for it to be invisible, just the way that things are done, not some cumbersome monster. In my experience, many nonprofit and government organizations forget about this part. Wikis by their very nature are a great solution because they discourage feature creep and protect us from the excesses of an over-zealous solution to a problem. Sometimes simple is best. Actually, it's almost ALWAYS the best solution.

Thanks to Brent Schlenker for the link.

Related Posts


After Three Weeks of Ning Communities, I'm Learning a Few Things

Community_2 My latest shiny Web 2.0 toy is Ning. Up until about a month ago, I'd only dabbled in it, mostly visiting and joining other Ning communities, but in the last few weeks since I started Building a Better Blog, I've had Ning on the brain. I've since started Beyond the Glass Ceiling, as well as two other networks for clients I'm working with. So I'm getting a lot of experience with it and thought it was time to jot down a little of what I'm learning. This may turn into something longer/more comprehensive at some point, but I'm following Amy Gahran's advice right now to let my blog be my "back-up brain" So here are some of my preliminary thoughts:

  • It's a lot easier to start a community when you have a group that's formed for some other reason. Both Building a Better Blog and Beyond the Glass Ceiling are supporting/extending projects that began in other ways. By that I mean I can't imagine just throwing up a community and hoping that people stop by. I think that there has to be a real sense of common purpose for it to work, and that purpose will probably have to develop elsewhere before moving it to Ning.
  • Finding the balance between facilitating conversation and running the show is hard work. Every day I find myself wondering if I'm doing too much or too little to keep conversation flowing. Do I look like a control freak or am I not providing enough support? Sue Waters and I have discussed the issue of needing to seed your community with conversation starters and I think that's really necessary to keep things flowing. At the same time, you have to encourage other people to be taking ownership and starting the conversations, too. I hate it when I see my photo next to too many forum posts.
  • I think it's important to use the "push" and the "pull." Ning networks are destinations that you have to decide to visit, (the pull). But I've decided that I still need to "push" messages out to the community to remind them to come visit and talk. So at least a few times a week I'm sending out broadcast messages to the groups, letting them know what's going on and giving them reasons to come visit (I hope). I'm not just relying on the "pull' of assuming that they'll come to the site when they need/want to use it.
  • Which brings me to another point, which is what attracts people and keeps them engaged? I've realized that an online community like this isn't like a party where you just invite people and they'll start talking. Somebody has to be the conversation starter. But then you also have to come up with conversations and activities that engage the community members. One thing that I think is working well with Building a Better Blog is having the Weekly Challenges. That gives everyone a reason to keep coming back. It's task-oriented, which I think is something people like to have, too. I think that part of what engages people is having things to work on, preferably as a community.
  • Last thing I'm thinking about tonight--developing a sense of community, which is huge. How to do this? In Building a Better Blog, in addition to having the Weekly Challenges, we're taking turns leading them, too, which I think is good because in a community, you have responsibilities to other members. I also have tried to personally "greet" every new member as quickly as possible so that they feel welcome. I know that a lot of the other members do this, too.

Another thing I've been gratified to see is how easily people who weren't involved in the original 31 Day Challenge have been absorbed into the community. At this point I'm not sure that you could tell who did the original challenge and who didn't, based on participation, which is excellent. I was a little afraid it would be a problem. I've also been really happy with how supportive everyone is, taking the time to review people's work and comment on it. It's a beautiful little community of practice that's emerging and I want to keep finding the ways to continue building and nurturing that environment.

So that's where I'm at right now. I have to say that I'm finding the process incredibly rewarding and interesting. Another personal learning experiment that I'm glad I started. Although I may collapse soon.

Photo via niallkennedy


Our "Take Back Your 9-5" Career Empowerment Retreat is Taking Off!

Glassceilinglogo6_7

Last week Rosetta Thurman and I invited interested women to join us for a career retreat in the D.C. area. Since then, we've been thrilled to hear from a number of women who are excited about the idea of working together to create their career plans and move their professional development forward. Now it's time for next steps.

The Beyond the Glass Ceiling Community
We're starting with a new community on Ning called "Beyond the Glass Ceiling." This is something I've been thinking about for a while now and with the plans for our retreat moving ahead, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to launch it.

While we'll be using the site to collaboratively plan for the upcoming retreat, I envision it as something much bigger than that. This is a community that I see being open to all women, not just women in nonprofits.

From what I know from my own friends and other women I talk to, I think that there are a lot of us who would welcome the opportunity to have an ongoing support network where we could get career advice, online mentoring, share tips and tricks for career success, etc. I see this site as being a way for women to make those connections and provide support to one another on an ongoing basis, rather than just once in a while when we attend a retreat.

So while the site is launching in part as a way for us to plan the D.C. retreat, I'm hoping that word will spread and that other women will join the network to begin connecting, sharing and receiving career support. As Rosetta says, it's always good to have some cheerleaders in your corner.

The Beyond the Glass Ceiling Blog
Along with the launch of the Beyond the Glass Ceiling network, I've also decided to launch a new blog to support the community. What I've realized in the past few months is that I want to write much more about women's career issues and professional development than I can really do here. Although I've been able to dabble in general career and development posts, my primary focus has been on technology, learning and nonprofits and making a shift here just doesn't work. 

I still plan to write here at Bamboo, but by setting up a online new home, I can be more targeted on career and professional development issues specific to women without confusing or frustrating my readers here. It will also be less confusing for me. I've come to realize in my 31 Days to a Better Blog that there's something to be said for knowing and staying in your niche.

Next Steps
So where to go from here?

  • If you are a woman who wants to start investing in herself on a regular basis, rather than only once in a while, I hope you'll join us at the Beyond the Glass Ceiling community. At a minimum, please check out the Beyond the Glass Ceiling blog  and let me know what you think. I want it to be useful tool, so all feedback is welcome. 
  • If you're interested in attending the retreat that we're planning for D.C., definitely join the community because this is how we'll be putting together the event and sharing future plans with everyone who's interested in attending. It's the only way we can manage everything effectively!
  • If you know other women who might be interested in reading the blog, joining the community and/or attending the retreat, please send this post along to them to let them know what we're planning. Anyone is welcome to join us, so feel free to share.
  • No matter who you are, man OR woman, check out Rosetta's latest post on how to Kickstart Your Nonprofit Career in 7 Days. As usual, awesome career advice that would benefit anyone, even if you aren't working for a nonprofit. (I'm still finding it hard to believe that she's only 24!)

I'm really excited about this new direction and the potential it has for women. I'd love to have you join us or hear what you think about the idea.

View my profile on Beyond the Glass Ceiling


Some Tools for Making Group Blogging (and any Group Writing Project) Easier

A few months ago I wrote that the best blogging strategy for nonprofits may be a group blog, where a number of writers are all contributing to creating posts, rather than relying on a single writer. Now I want to share a few tools that can make a group blog--or any group writing project--even easier.

Writing Posts with Google Docs
Google Docs lets you create and share documents online, which means no more emailing different versions of a document around to several different collaborators. Probably the best way to understand how it works is to watch this latest video from Common Craft--Google Docs in Plain English.

The beauty of Google Docs for blog posting is that you can more easily edit and comment on posts prior to posting on your blog. I have to say that I've begun to use it more and more as I collaborate with other bloggers on various projects and I've found it to be a real God-send.

Organizing and Assigning Posts with Rusty Budget
Rusty Budget is an interesting little online service that allows you to better manage your day-to-day story topics. Basically you can create various story folders to manage story ideas, authors, etc. I suggest checking out their short overview demo to get the full picture. The service is free for one editor and author working together and $4/month to add additional authors. Still a pretty decent bargain if you're going to be coordinating with a lot of different people.

I've started playing around with it and found it reasonably intuitive to use. It's a good place to brainstorm story ideas and make assignments.

Organizing with a Blog Editorial Calendar
Another nice tool is this blogging editorial calendar from Andy Wibbel. It's a spreadsheet that, if you watched the Google Docs video above, you know you could also use online in Google. Could be good to use with your Rusty Budget account, or even in place of it.

So now that you have some tools to get you going, maybe it's time to start talking more seriously about setting up that group blog?