JD Lasica's Reviews > The Networked Nonprofit: Connecting with Social Media to Drive Change

The Networked Nonprofit by Beth Kanter
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's review
Sep 18, 2010

really liked it
bookshelves: recommended
Read in September, 2010

For any­one con­nected to the non­profit world, Beth Kan­ter should be a famil­iar name. In "The Net­worked Non­profit," she and the equally adept Alli­son Fine approach the daunt­ing task of try­ing to get noto­ri­ously con­ser­v­a­tive and slow-moving non­profit orga­ni­za­tions to embrace the tenets of the social media rev­o­lu­tion. They do so as friendly guides, never scold­ing or talk­ing down but point­ing to the now unmis­tak­able evi­dence that open­ing up and engag­ing with your stake­hold­ers is the only way to go.

Fine (who hosts the Chron­i­cle of Philanthropy’s pod­cast on social good) and Kan­ter offer many of the same words of advice to non­prof­its that I’ve done as a part­ner at Socialbrite.org, begin­ning with the impor­tance of start­ing with objec­tives, cre­at­ing strate­gies and tac­tics to get you there and wor­ry­ing about the tools and gad­gets last. (By the way, did you know that the non­profit sec­tor employs about 12.9 mil­lion peo­ple, or 9.7 per­cent of the U.S. economy?)

Even if you don’t work in a non­profit, there’s lots to absorb in this book. For instance, the authors lay out the dif­fer­ent kinds of crowd­sourc­ing — col­lec­tive intel­li­gence of crowd wis­dom; crowd cre­ation; crowd vot­ing and crowd fund­ing — and explain how each can be used to good effect. (One nit: It’s not the “1–10-100 rule,” as the authors describe it on page 123; it’s the 90–9-1 rule that applies to a typ­i­cal group of 100 people.)

You’ll find plenty of real-world exam­ples of where non­prof­its used social media to good advan­tage. The Hud­son Institute’s Cen­ter for Global Pros­per­ity, nudged for­ward by a young research asso­ciate, began a lis­ten­ing effort, set up a Twit­ter account and began a gen­uine con­ver­sa­tion with sup­port­ers. Over a six-month period, “They were lis­ten­ing and talk­ing to peo­ple on many chan­nels, includ­ing using an RSS reader to scan the Web for rel­e­vant blog posts, and find­ing and inter­view­ing young peo­ple on Face­book as part of the Index data col­lec­tion. They devel­oped case stud­ies for the annual report that involved more youngt peo­ple, and they dis­cov­ered new avenues for shar­ing results with peo­ple they weren’t reach­ing before.”

Again and again we see exam­ples of how non­prof­its that take down the fortress and embrace this brave new world help to move the nee­dle for their orga­ni­za­tions’ mis­sions. “The Net­worked Non­profit” is the per­fect guide to nav­i­gate this fast-changing landscape.

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