Monthly Archives: June 2010

Nonprofit 2.0 Unconference Redux

Last Friday’s Nonprofit 2.0 Unconference opened with an empty whiteboard and two blockbuster keynotes.

The nature of an “unconference” is that the attendees construct the schedule and content as they go. To set the tone and bring some context to the day’s proceedings, the keynotes came first. Two of social media’s most respected thinkers, Beth Kanter and Allison Fine kicked things off discussing their new book The Networked Nonprofit: Connecting with Social Media to Drive Change, then the Red Cross’s Wendy Harman showed how her networked nonprofit works in action, particularly in regard to disasters such as the earthquake in Haiti.

Kanter and Fine’s book defines “free agents” as “individuals working outside of organizations to organize, mobilize, raise funds, and communicate with constituents for a cause.” Kanter pointed to Roger Carr of the Everyday Giving blog and Mark Horvath (@hardlynormal) as prime examples of free agents working their magic.

Nonprofits (foundations and regional associations included) need to identify individuals who are passionate about their cause. If these individuals are adept at using social media, organizations can mentor free agents and bring them into the fold. Continue reading


Minnesota Snapshot: Leveraging the past to build the future

MCF has been privileged to receive two grants from the Forum of Regional Associations of Grantmakers initiative, New Ventures in Philanthropy.

With our first grant, we led a collaboration of key philanthropic partners in developing the Minnesota Toolkit for Giving and a corresponding website,  These resources provide donors with information on a wide range of charitable giving options, ranging from simply writing a check to support a favored charity to making more complex decisions on creating a private foundation or setting up a fund at a community foundation.  Created in 2001, the website continues to garner attention and had 31,000 unique visits in 2009.

Our second New Ventures-supported project focused on Minnesota’s long-held tradition of corporate giving and its nationally known 5% Club.  Concerned with waves of mergers and acquisitions resulting in the loss of many home-grown businesses and their contributions to communities, we designed this project to take the concept of percent giving and apply it to smaller businesses in rural communities.  From our experience with the 5% Club, we knew this would only be successful if conducted through established business associations – the Chambers of Commerce.  Now called Minnesota Business Gives and housed at the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce, this project has led to 36 community chambers across the state recognizing their business members for giving at least 2%.  In addition, each chamber has conducted a seminar on giving strategies for businesses; 17 seminars were delivered in 2009 alone. We also developed two publications, The Minnesota Business Giving and Community Involvement Workbook (modeled on workbooks created by the Association of Baltimore Area Grantmakers and the Oregon Community Foundation) and Giving Stories.

With these New Ventures projects completed, MCF empanelled a task force to explore how to further our mission to strengthen and expand philanthropy.  The task force has completed its planning work and is recommending to our board in June 2010 three inter-related initiatives that build on MCF’s former work and support our goal of “building the base of organizational philanthropic capital for today and tomorrow.”

We will:

  • Update and create a more vibrant Minnesota Toolkit for Giving on our website, making it a living resource with new stories, tools and directions for donors;
  • Undertake the first steps to pursue a tax credit for contributions to endowed philanthropy in community foundations;
  • Initiate a pilot project in a small number of Minnesota communities to provide information and resources to assist each community in developing its own culturally appropriate approaches to building philanthropic capital.

These works-in-progress focus on Minnesota’s rural communities. With our sector’s recent attention to building rural philanthropy and Nebraska Community Foundation’s various transfer of wealth studies, we believe our best bet at strengthening Minnesota communities is by building philanthropic capital throughout the state.

As we role out our new initiatives in 2010 and 2011, we look forward to sharing our successes and challenges with regional association colleagues.

For those interested in this project you can contact Bill King at bking (at)  And, if you are interested in promotion of philanthropy work, the Forum is creating a network of colleagues who have or are continuing to undertake efforts to promote philanthropy.  You can contact Michael Litz at the Forum (mlitz (at) to sign up as part of this network.  Plans are to connect via a list serve and hold two conference calls annually to share our progress, successes and challenges as we continue to build the philanthropic capital within our regions.

Nonprofit 2.0 Unconference

Nonprofit 2.0 Unconference Logo

This Friday I’ll be attending the Nonprofit 2.0 Unconference here in DC.  What is the the Unconference?

The Nonprofit 2.0 Unconference will be DC’s only unconference dedicated to the social cause space. Why? Because we’re different! Using social media to create networked communities and movements is much different than selling products or services. From volunteers and political action to cultivating donors and partners, social media for causes represents a mission. Often our communications impact society, benefiting Americans and citizens across the globe. Changing society for the better is a special, unique heart-felt activity. Join others like you for this very special unconference committed to doing social good.

So in other words, it’s a cool gathering of nonprofit social media people where we can talk shop, swap stories, and learn from each other, all for the greater good.

Keynote speakers Beth Kanter and Allison Fine will kick things off with a discussion of their new book The Networked Nonprofit, a great read for associations like ours who are inherently structured as peer-learning networks. I got my copy last week and it’s been blowing my mind. You’ll find a nice write up of some of the concepts from the book, including fortified vs. networked nonprofits and how to embrace “free agents” over at NCG’s blog.

We will also be hearing from Red Cross social media chief Wendy Harman.

Are you jealous yet? Well, don’t be. I’ll be sharing everything I learn here on the Forum’s Forum and tweeting all day long. Make sure to follow the Forum on Twitter. If you want to get even more of the action, follow the hashtag #np20.

New Social Media Resources

Claudia Herrold of Ohio Grantmakers Forum recently dug up two cool new social media resources. I have a feeling she’s been on the hunt in anticipation of our exciting social media session at the Forum’s Annual Conference, “Choosing and Using Social Media to Achieve Regional Association Mission,” which she and I will co-present, along with Allen Gunn of Aspiration.

Though come to think of it, she could just as easily be preparing for tomorrow’s “How RAs Are Implementing Social Media/Web 2.0 Strategies, Part II” conference call, during which the Forum will continue our discussion sharing tips and lessons learned by those already waist-deep in social media waters.

So anyway, I was saying that Claudia discovered some great resources.

First is the Nonprofit Social Network Benchmark Report, which includes all kinds of juicy nuggets, like the fact that 86% of Nonprofits have a presence on Facebook and 60% are on Twitter.

Social networking continues to be a growing part of nonprofits’ online strategy, according to a second annual Nonprofit Social Network Benchmark Report recently released by NTEN, Common Knowledge, and ThePort. In an online survey conducted from February 3 to March 15, 2010, 1173 respondents representing nonprofits of all sizes and from multiple vertical segments indicate that a growing nonprofit presence on commercial social networks such as Facebook and Twitter, but a decreased usage of house (private) social networks.

Claudia also pointed out this awesome chart from CMO, a “guide to the social media landscape.” Remember when we showed you the Allen Gunn-inspired publishing matrix? Well, CMO’s chart is a essentially a handy-dandy tool for optimizing how you use many of those channels. Definitely click through for this one.

Both of these items have been added to the Forum’s Knowledgebase (login required). Do you have more resources? Send them my way.

Grantmaker Education Framework Conf. Call This Thursday

We are pleased to introduce the final tool created as part of the Forum’s national leadership project to strengthen the capacity of RAs to provide high quality learning opportunities to grantmakers.   “Your Toolkit for Successful Evaluations” has been designed and assembled by the Macro International evaluation team, with the support of the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, as a starter kit to promote the integration of effective evaluation into grantmaker education programs.

Each of the components in this toolkit has been developed in direct response to input from representatives of regional associations on what would be most useful.  It is presented as a companion piece to the recently released grantmaker education framework (PDF) as a system for improving your grantmaker education offerings.

This core set of tools includes:

  • general tips for conducting successful evaluations
  • guidance and examples for defining and understanding a program’s logic
  • how-to instructions for designing participant questionnaires
  • an annotated guide to existing evaluation resources to support good practice

Access the materials at:

Toolkit (PDF)
Logic Model Template (DOC)

In order to support your use of the toolkit we will hold a conference call with the Macro team of Helene Jennings and Dawn Roberts.  Please join us to review the resources on Thursday, June 10 at 2:00 ET.  Register here.

10 Questions or Less for Buffy Beaudoin-Schwartz

10 Questions or Less is a feature here on the Forum’s Forum in which we get to know regional association staff members a little better—their work, what drives them, and more. This week, Buffy Beaudoin-Schwartz, Communications Director at the Association of Baltimore Area Grantmakers.

The New Ventures Initiative recently wrapped up with a report celebrating its accomplishments. You played a big role in the initiative and the report. Is there any one New Ventures project you can point to as a favorite?

I think the role of new ventures played in promoting the growth of giving circles across the country is very exciting, in particular the ground-breaking national research and online giving circle knowledge center.

You’ve been a longstanding proponent of giving circles, even co-authoring “Growing Philanthropy Through Giving Circles” and founding the Women’s Giving Circle of Howard County. Why do you think giving circles have such wide appeal?

I think they are a fun and inviting way for people to engage in the community and causes they care about and have a greater impact than they might alone—while learning, networking and socializing at the same time. I also think they are popular because many are encouraging the involvement of kids and entire families. As the mother of four kids, this is particularly important to me.

As ABAG’s social media maven, how much time do you spend working on Twitter and Facebook each day? Is there a distinct advantage to new media engagement as opposed to traditional media outreach?

At least an hour a day is spent on promoting the good work of ABAG, our members, partners, regional and national philanthropy—by “listening” to social media discussions on philanthropy, as well as posting…which in turn enhances my communications efforts across the board. I think two distinct advantages are 1) the ease of use of social media to reach our core constituencies as well as the broader community, and 2) the opportunity to be a part of and perhaps help shape the philanthropic conversation that is happening 24/7 through social media.

ABAG’s members also seem to be social media conscious. Who’s doing a particularly good job?

It’s exciting to see a number of our members having fun with social media, while being effective in engaging others to their work… I think the Annie E. Casey Foundation, Baltimore Community Foundation and Ausherman Family Foundation are doing a great job with Twitter; the Columbia Foundation and TKF Foundation are doing the same with Facebook; and OSI-Baltimore is reaching and engaging people in a new way through their “Audacious Ideas” blog.
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