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What Social Media Can Teach Us About Sustainability

March 16, 2009

Social-media-men Thanks to Twitter, I've been reading (and learning) a lot about social media these last few months. If I were to recommend just one post or article on the subject to a nonprofit CEO, however, it might be the post ("How Nonprofits Can Succeed in the New Sustainability Paradigm: 6 Big Lessons From Social Media") Gayle Thorsen published on her ImpactMax blog earlier today.

Thorsen begins by reminding us that, as bad as it is, the current economic crisis shall pass. But, says Thorsen:

The current situation may not be so much a crisis as a paradigm shift. This isn't just a hard patch to work through in a few years then return to business as usual.  These changes are long-term, and they demand more of nonprofits than seeking new funding or cutting programs. They require the definition of a new normal, where flat is good.

Nonprofits are going to have to learn how to develop and evolve without the expectation of growth. (Down deep -- didn't we all understand that steady growth couldn't last?) Out of its ashes is rising a more democratic, healthy paradigm --sustainability.

So, how do nonprofits start thinking about and planning for this new paradigm? Not surprisingly, the world of social media offers some important clues. These rapidly evolving tools are creating a global conversation that's fueling the paradigm shift, and in the process they're modeling some of the behaviors that point to future success....

Her six lessons are simple but worth heeding:

1. Be nimble but think long-term

2. Experiment and analyze

3. Build and use networks strategically

4. Let the public in

5. Engage young people

6. Focus on impact

But don't take my word for it; read the entire post.

-- Mitch Nauffts

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  • "[L]et me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is...fear itself — nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance...."

    — Franklin D. Roosevelt, 32nd president of the United States

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