Dream big. When non-profits look at the world of Web 2.0 and begin to learn about all of its possibilities, I think you should dream big. This accomplishes two things:
- Can create excitement and a learning culture when presented to staff. If no ‘expert’ knowledge is really held by any, it can bond staff together in that everyone is experiencing a similar learning curve where all inputs and questions are equal and valuable.
- Shows that your organization or cause can be limitless and bigger than yourself and your staff. Oftentimes, it brings staff members back to the original purpose of why they are doing what they do by reigniting their passion.
Now, keeping dreaming big in mind, I also empathize with the Non-Profit Tech blogger, Allan Benamer whose post discusses Web 2.0’s barriers to entry in some non-profit worlds. Allan brings up some great points on how a non-profit can approach technology, all technology, and create a culture shift within organizations without the web 2.0 hype.
To share an experience, last summer I was a research consultant for a non-profit organization. This included conducting an e-communications training workshop for all staff, conducting a User-Interface study, gathering relevant case studies, identifying and researching a target audience (Surprise, the millennials), and drafting recommendations for the organizatioan’s e-strategy.
In brief, the whole project was a great success. We purposefully left out a budget section of the recommendations as the chief communications officer and I agreed that a budget section would limit the brainstorming process by placing the focus on what we can and can’t do, rather than bringing the staff together to learn, brainstorm and have fun.
From the experience, the staff as a group, came to the consensus that they were focusing too much on their inputs than their outputs in all their communications and strategy. It may seem like a simple outcome from the project, but it meant great changes for the organization. It brought everyone back under the original purpose of the organization – to help their clients, show how fun doing good can be and to share that with others. Instead of focusing on text bringing in donations and showing how each dollar would be used (which is important) and looking at what the organization could ‘get’ from their donors….they instead made a change. They started to focus on their outputs and what they are offering as a whole.
Now, the organization is changing for the better by the day. These changes include:
- Updates and additions to their website and e-communications strategy. Some of which include simple presentation changes but others include great uses of Web 2.0.
- A refreshed staff who is renewed by their passion and greater purpose of the organization.
- Increased organization internally.
- More ways for volunteers to get involved.
- Greater participation and interest in events by the millennial audience.
- And more!
All in all, yes, technology is great. Yes, Web 2.0 can be fun and helpful. But also:
Dream big. Remember your purpose. And, focus your energy on your outputs and your inputs will follow. (As a quick analogy, if you focused solely on blog traffic, would you get more traffic? Or, if you focused on offering great content, wouldn’t the traffic follow? Think Field of Dreams.)