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A 'Flip' Chat With...Allison Fine, Co-Author, 'The Networked Nonprofit: Connecting With Social Media to Drive Change'

September 30, 2010

(This is the eighth in our series of conversations with thought leaders in the nonprofit and philanthropic sectors. You can access other chats in the series here, including our conversation with Liz Dwyer, education ambassador for the Pepsi Refresh Project.)

In the blink of an eye, it seems, we have gone from "the Information Age to the Connected Age, from silent majorities to connected activism." So writes New York-based social entrepreneur Allison Fine in her first book, Momentum: Igniting Social Change in the Connected Age, the 2007 winner of the Terry McAdam Book Award for Outstanding Contribution to the Advancement of Nonprofiit Managment.

That connectedness, argues Fine, is being driven by a set of digital tools -- e-mail, cell phones, blogs, wikis, and social networking sites
-- collectively known as "social media." And the interesting thing about these tools is not their whiz-banginess but their low cost and ubiquity, which makes interaction, and therefore social change, "massively scalable." But in order to succeed in the Connected Age, says Fine, each of us will have to leave behind our old ways of managing and controlling information and learn, in every aspect of our work, how and when to use these tools to achieve an end.

In her new book, The Networked Nonprofit: Connecting With Social Media to Drive Social Change, co-written with Beth Kanter, author of the long-running and widely read Beth's Blog: How Networked Nonprofits Are Using Social Media to Power Change, Fine introduces the concept of the "networked nonprofit" -- organizations that are comfortable with the social media tool set and use those tools to encourage two-way conversations, simplify their work, and make themselves more transparent to stakeholders, constituents, and potential donors. The book is also a wonderful how-to guide for nonprofits thinking about testing the social media waters or looking to further leverage their social media efforts.

Earlier this week, I had a chance to sit down with Fine to talk about what makes social media "social," why so many nonprofits have been slow to embrace it, and whether social media and social networking are here to stay.

Update: After further consideration, we decided to split the video into two parts. Enjoy!

<Part 1>

Q1: What makes social media "social"?
Q2: Is social media here to stay?
Q3: Why are so many organizations reluctant to embrace it?
Q4: What is social capital and how can social media be used to build it?
Q5: Nodes, hubs, ties -- what's the most important thing nonprofits need to know about social network architecture?

<Part 2>


Q1: What are the characteristics of a networked nonprofit?
Q2: Is online fundraising replacing traditional offline fundraising?
Q3: Which of today's popular social media platforms is likely to be around in five years?
Q4: What advice would you give to a nonprofit getting ready to test the social media waters?

(If you're reading this in an e-mail, click here.)

(Producer: Regina Mahone; running time: 10 minutes, 22 seconds)

If Fine is right and blogs, YouTube, and social networking sites (Facebook, MySpace, Twitter) are here to stay, what is your organization doing to get with the program? How are you organizing that work? And are you happy with the results? We want to hear from you....

-- Mitch Nauffts

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Posted by Beth  |   October 03, 2010 at 11:15 AM

Mitch - aren't FLIP cameras wonderful!! Thanks for writing about the Network Nonprofit - we appreciate it!

Posted by Renee Westmoreland  |   October 03, 2010 at 12:12 PM

Hi Beth. It was our pleasure. Just wish we could have spent more time with Allison really digging into the book. (I'll get into some of that in the review I'm working on.)

Speaking of time, I had planned the chat with Allison as a two-parter but at the last minute decided to go with a single-segment presentation. But at 10+ minutes, I think it may be too long -- especially in light of recent data which show "optimal" length for Web video -- i.e., the median point at which people start bailing -- at about a minute and 50 seconds. Have you written anything about that? Any thoughts or resources you can point me to? Thanks in advance...

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