Why I Love Social Media for Non-Profits

During many of the breakout sessions at NTEN’s 10th Annual Non-Profit Technology Conference in Atlanta last week I heard a lot of people from older, more established non-profits talk about their organization’s reluctance to embrace social media. My organization, Big Love Little Hearts, has had such great success with various social media platforms that I wanted to share our greatest ones for the disbelievers and stragglers out there.

Three Reasons Big Love Little Hearts has BIG LOVE for social media….

Building Partnerships – We rely on partnerships. We have provider partners, we have referral partners. We can always use more. Since we’ve been on facebook (9 months) and twitter (3 months) we have formed more than 30 new partnerships through those two platforms with very little effort.  Beyond building them, social media has been an excellent way to strengthen and personalize existing ones. We now communicate daily with partner organizations that we used to communicate with weekly or monthly.

Efficiency – We connect children with heart defects with people who can help them. Before our entry into social media that could take days…or weeks. Recently, we were stuck finding help for a boy in Mexico. We posted a plea for help on twitter and facebook and had a surgeon and hospital to help this boy 16 minutes later. Days before we made a similar connection in 24 hours. The speed with which we can perform our mission through social media amazes me every day.

Fundraising – I don’t believe social media’s best use by non-profits is fundraising. It’s a far better communication tool, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t work for fundraising. Last Saturday, April 10, we ran a campaign called #100X100 across three social media platforms – twitter, facebook and foursquare – and raised $25,000 in 24 hours. That’s more than we’ve raised in an entire quarter of our 9 month history let alone a single day! No one was more surprised (or more grateful) by this than me – we got to move a dozen children off our waiting list to have their heart surgery funded. 12 lives saved in 24 hours.

These are only three examples of the myriad ways Big Love Little Hearts benefits from social media everyday. If your organization is not using social media to its fullest, get them on board today…and if your organization is rocking social media, let me know how it’s been successful for you in the comments box below!


What Blew Me Away at NTEN’s Non-Profit Technology Conference

I am just now caught up from the awesomeness that was NTEN’s 10th Annual Non-Profit Technology Conference, and it ended a week ago! I could write a dozen posts about everything I learned there – or everyone I met there – but a lot of my fabulous fellow attendees have already done so. I don’t like to be repetitive so I’m just going to broadcast what absolutely blew me away there. It was very hard to narrow this list down to just three, but here goes!

People. What blew me away more than anything else were the small handful of nearly 1500 nptechies in Atlanta last week that I was privileged  to meet or hear speak. It was an incredibly energizing experience to be around that many amazing people, all of whom are passionate about the amazing things they’re doing. Here’s what I noticed about everyone I met there: they were soulful, intelligent, committed, passionate, honest, humble, collaborative and giving. Mutual admiration abounded. Partnerships were created. Lifetime friendships were forged. The non-profit tech community made this conference for me.

OpenAction. If you’ve met me, if you’ve read my blog, if you read my tweets…you know Development Mapping is something I care about. A lot. In the middle of Debra Askinese and Bonnie Koenig’s great Affinity Group on International Collaboration, Mike Wenger, co-founder of OpenAction.org started speaking about their project. After the session was over I walked over to Mike so he could demo OpenAction for me. I’m not sure how far in he was when enough light bulbs had gone off in my head for me to stop him mid-sentence and ask if I could hug him, but I don’t think it took very long! I created a Group for Big Love Little Hearts the next day and a Project within five minutes. This platform, in my opinion, is the future and hope of Development Mapping. That the founders (John Brennan is the other co-founder) are two of the coolest people I’ve ever met is secondary to the brilliance these two have created. Check out what they’re doing – and if you’re doing work in the developing world, sign up – here:

Clip Call. See3 and Charity Dynamics gave an excellent session on Innovations in Social Media. One of the things they demo’d was an incredibly useful – and just plain cool – tool that non-profits can incorporate into advocacy, fundraising, or other action-oriented endeavors. I can’t even begin to explain this so instead I’ll just direct you to the page the demo is archived on. Follow the instructions. Be amazed. Contact See3 to find out how your organization might use something like this (I have a meeting with them when I return from D.C. next week).

These were just my personal favorites, but there was an incredible amount of incredible information presented! Luckily for you (and me!) the #10NTC community did a fine job of tweeting, blogging and cataloging it. Browse the tweets in Twapper Keeper or view the session slides on SlideShare:

Effective Time Management…My Best Friend.

I’m writing this as I fly to Atlanta for NTEN’s 10th Annual Non-Profit Technology Conference. I intended to write about something else but the fact that I didn’t have time to do this until mid-flight made me change my mind….which means you’re getting my best tips for effective time management. *I’m publishing it ten days after I wrote it, which means I should do a better job of taking my own advice!

If you’re new to my blog – I’m the Founder/Executive Director/Everything for four non-profits. I’m a single mom to a 3 year old and am very involved in his life. In addition I’m actively involved with several other non-profits and actually try to have a life every once in awhile. Why am I telling you this? Because effective time management is how my entire life runs!

This can be hard when you’re the Founder and/or Director of a non-profit. There is always a list a mile long of things that must be accomplished. This list magically grows longer faster than you can cross anything off.  Everything on it is important and in many cases, lives depend on your ability to get your job done in a timely manner. If you’re a one or two person shop, your list encompasses every aspect of running a non-profit – all of which are necessary and important components of a successful organization. So how do you get them all done?

  • Keep a giant wall calendar in your office or wherever you spend the most time. I’m old school when it comes to this – smartphones, Outlook, or any other digital calendar just don’t give me the complete picture I really need. I have each month up on the wall and I plot out every part of every project as well as my personal plans for the entire year. I add to and change it all the time. It may take up a lot of space, but it’s what keeps me from missing deadlines. Obviously I still use the calendar on my Blackberry and sync it with Outlook, but those are just an adjunct to the heavy lifter – my traditional paper calendar.
  • Never spend more than 90 minutes on any project at one time. After the first 35 minutes take a 10 minute break to answer emails and after the next 35 minutes take a 10 minute break to give twitter and facebook some attention. Then no matter how much work you have left to do on that project, move onto the next thing on your “must-do” list for the day. This is a really important rule for me – it’s how I juggle all four of my non-profits, parent, blog, tweet, facebook, foursquare, maintain my house & friendships all in the same day every day. The only thing that gets more than an hour and a half of my time at once is my son. He’s not a project – he’s my life.
  • Learn to ask for help. Learn to be okay with accepting it. Understand that it doesn’t mean you’re not effective or good at your job – it means you’re human. We all are! No one is a superhero or a deity so don’t try to be one. If you know me personally, you know that above all else this is what I have to repeat to myself the most! I’m implementing this by expanding the scope of volunteer and Board roles in my organizations and by getting young, smart and energetic interns from local colleges and universities.
  • Put yourself on your to-do list. The time you spend on any one project will be more productive if you’re not ready to fall over, pull your hair out, or cry from sheer exhaustion and stress. Seriously – if it’s your job to take care of and/or lead other people, the person you need to take the best care of is yourself because your constituents depend on…you!

This is how I get everything done, but I should point out that all I said was I get everything done. I do not get everything done right away because, well, that would be impossible! Sometimes I don’t even get things done as quickly as I want to (like publishing this blog).

What are your best practices for time management and productivity? We talked a lot about this at the NTEN Conference in the Social Media Vets Affinity Group. If you were there (or even if you weren’t) I’d love you to add your tips in the comments box below…John Haydon, I’m especially looking at you!