My southern grandmother often said, “Well begun is half done.” She also said, “Darlin’, it’s fine, fine, fine – finer than a frog’s hair split three times,” but that’s another story. What she meant by the first idiom stumped me for a long time, until I realized that if you start out with meaning and intent for something to be great, you really are halfway there. The second phrase, well, truly that’s another story for another day.
But I’ve discovered “well begun” isn’t something that happens alone, not in an organization like Philanthropy Ohio. To illustrate this point, let me share with you the process my first Let’s Talk Philanthropy webinar endured from creation, modification, delivery to evaluation.
For this first webinar, we decided to continue a conversation on “Disruptive Innovation” I began at our statewide conference last fall – how philanthropy is being disrupted by innovations in giving trends, technology and globalization. As a former marketing professor, I prepared my lecture, complete with PowerPoint slides and a hefty dose of facts, figures, lovely tables and charts. I considered it “well begun.” And perhaps it was – if I was delivering it to an audience 20 years ago. What I neglected to consider were the innovations in webinars and what the research shows makes a great one.
Fortunately, the staff at Philanthropy Ohio isn’t shy and they are quite apt in making sure our brand and our messages are of a high caliber. While the script remained fairly consistent with my original thoughts, the visuals changed dramatically, with bells and whistles replacing the tables and charts. I learned four very important things:
- You can’t plan enough, and Murphy’s Law will follow you everywhere. Technology isn’t foolproof, and you’ve got to prepare for all calamities. For example, the perfectly working camera we tested the day before had issues during the actual webinar. But due to prior planning, we had a solution. We used all slides and no interactive videography.
- Promotion is critical, and social media is a must! Not only did we conduct the webinar but another staff member Tweeted. Audience identification will drive the marketing strategy because it’s not what the presenter knows: it’s all about what the audience wants to learn.
- Interactivity is important, and one way to engage your audience is through polls. We conducted three during the webinar and it was actually a lot of fun!
- Use more slides to ensure the webinar is interactive. I know, it goes against the traditional thoughts, but really, the more slides the better! I’ve learned that for a 30 minute presentation you should have about 75 slides (1 hour, around 150 slides) that build on what you are presenting. This way there is constant movement and the participant is completely engaged and wanting to see what comes next.
As I started this virtual journey with my sense of “well begun is half done,” I learned from some very smart people that a great webinar is carefully planned and is a wonderful engagement tool which ultimately enhances our brand. The positive evaluations we received reinforced these lessons: I’m told my delivery wasn’t bad, my mother (who is a lot like my grandmother but a little more gracious), said it was good, and the staff didn’t seem terribly embarrassed. But I’m committed now, and every month I hope my webinars get better and better. And I’d appreciate your feedback.
Now – to quote another favorite relative – although I was as “nervous as a long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs,” we are persevering with my next webinar on March 7, “It All Started With a Girdle.” See you in Philanthropy Ohio’s virtual world of webinars!
Suzanne T. Allen, Ph.D.
Our work to create a tax credit to encourage gifts to community foundations took a big step forward when we recently gave proponent testimony supporting House Bill 408. Our initiative – Endow Ohio. For Good. For Ever. – began during last year’s budget hearings and continued as a stand-alone bill in the Senate, where it had three hearings late last year.
Now, we have moved on to the House, where Representatives Sears and Amstutz are joint sponsors of the bill. We are excited by the reception we received during Tuesday’s hearing: committee members made many comments about the good work being done by community foundations around the state and asked lots of questions about the purpose and structure of the bill.
Since Chair Amstutz videotapes his committee meetings, you can watch a replay of the Feb. 18 hearing, including the questions and answer period that went on for over an hour. You can also read the testimony given by all five of us supporting the bill: in addition to me, Cara Dingus Brook (Foundation for Appalachian Ohio), Tom Johnson (Community Foundation for Perry County), Jan Ruma (Hospital Council of NW Ohio) and Keith Burwell (Toledo Community Foundation) explained the bill and spoke about the potential impact it would have.
A number of other foundation leaders also attended the hearing to show support: Ted Vander Roest (The Springfield Foundation), Brad Britton (The Columbus Foundation), Shiloh Turner (Greater Cincinnati Foundation), Brian Frederick (Community Foundation of Lorain County) and Bill Lane (Delaware County Foundation).
Help us make Endow Ohio a reality: contact your Ohio legislators and ask them to support SB 211/HB 408.
Measuring the Networked Nonprofit: Using Data to Change the World, by Beth Kanter and Katie Delahaye Paine, and My Thoughts for 4 Take-aways You Can Use Today
Now four years ago, Beth Kanter co-authored with Allison Fine a book that reshaped some widely-accepted thinking in the nonprofit world when it came to the value of social media. The Networked Nonprofit (Jossey-Bass, 2010) introduced the concept of creating a social network as a strategic endeavor, and the authors brought the information together almost as a primer, providing all the tools any nonprofit would need to get started with social media – a game changer at that time.
In my very first webinar last week (whew, glad the first one is over), I mentioned Beth Kanter’s newest book as one of my current reads. This time, she’s teamed up with Katie Delahaye Paine, a measurements expert, for the follow-up book, Measuring the Networked Nonprofit: Using Data to Change the World (Jossey-Bass, 2012). And I believe she again will change the way nonprofits think when it comes to data, with this book.
Return on Investment (ROI) is one of Kanter’s major themes in all her works, and particularly as it pertains to social media. Her contention is that social media will never be fully mature or even fully accepted until there are very clear and very effective ways to measure it. In this book, she and Paine use great organizational examples and offer helpful tips and information for any nonprofit that is either thinking about, or actively engaged in, the social media world.
Here are 4 thoughts from the book that really resonated with me:
- Let Data Inform, Not Drive Your Organization – Kanter and Paine make the compelling case for nonprofits to be “data informed, not data driven.” By focusing on strategy, and keeping ROI and measurement squarely in the service of your nonprofit mission, you will keep your organization from being consumed by the numbers.
- From Baby Steps to Full Flight – The authors are truly cognizant of the nonprofit world and know that not every nonprofit will have a sophisticated board and/or staff who understand the importance of having and measuring data and social media. So they suggest these stages, which are explained in greater details in the book: Crawl, Walk, Run, and Fly. Each stage has steps which prepares the organization for the next level of engagement and understanding, with the thought that failures are just part of the learning model.
- Create a Data-Informed Culture and Measurement is Power – In these chapters I nearly depleted a new highlighter! Kanter and Paine include many examples of how small nonprofits are using data to help accomplish their missions. Using the “Ladder of Engagement,” which they equate to a marketing funnel, they illustrate the stages that people move through to become real stakeholders in an organization’s cause, and they remind us that each stakeholder group has different communication and relationships needs. Remember AIDA from Marketing 101? Here it is revisited:
• Awareness – when someone becomes simply aware of your organization and what it does.
• Interest – when a person gets actually interested in learning more about your cause.
• Desire – for a nonprofit, this might be when someone starts to identify with your cause as something that he or she wants to support.
• Action – the point when a prospect actually donates, volunteers, shares information about your cause with others, signs a petition, or takes some other action on your behalf.
- Advanced Measurements, But Not Until You’re Ready - The last section deals with more advanced measurement concepts, network improvements and influence measurements, all of which are important, but as the authors remind the reader constantly, you have to crawl before you fly.
What are your social media stories? Your successes and failures? Your best practices? I think it’s fair to say that we are all working on this to some extent, and I hope we can learn from each other.
For real-life examples and more tips, pick up a copy of Kanter’s book. Happy reading!
Never has making it through the first month of a new year seemed such grounds for celebration – or to take so long! But it is a new year and with it comes many ways to make the most of your Philanthropy Ohio membership. (Not a member? Join now.) Here are 10 ways to increase your skills, further your career and build your network of philanthropic peers across Ohio.
- Attend the inaugural Philanthropy Ohio Learning Institute on July 9. The new Institute is our major statewide convening in 2014 and will be held at the Blackwell Center at The Ohio State University. Look for next year’s annual conference in Cincinnati.
- Join a leadership initiative. We have 4 different leadership initiatives underway related to health reform, education policy, a tax credit for gifts to community foundations and diversity. Call Claudia at 614.224.1344 to find out more.
- Come to Foundations on the Hill. On March 5 – 6 we’ll be visiting members of Ohio’s congressional delegation.
- Write a blog post. Our Let’s Talk Philanthropy blog is a platform for discussing current topics so consider sharing your thoughts and ideas as a guest blogger. Contact Claudia Herrold if you’re interested.
- Volunteer for a committee. Serving on a committee is a great way to build your leadership skills and your network. We have room for you on our public policy or membership services committees. Call Susan at 614.224.1344 if you’d like to volunteer.
- Check out the new website. With its hundreds of sample documents, resources, publications and calendar of events it’s a treasure trove of all things philanthropy.
- Send us your news. We love to hear about your accomplishments, your new staff and news coverage. Email us at email@example.com.
- Register for our Corporate Funders series. National expert Bea Boccalandro’s monthly webinars this spring focus on different aspects of High Impact Corporate Giving.
- It’s time for bootcamp. If you’re new to the community foundation world, this is a can’t miss opportunity to learn the basics with your staff and trustee peers from across the Midwest.
- Tune in to Suzanne Allen’s monthly talks. Grab your lunch on the first Friday of the month for an informal conversation about hot topics in philanthropy.
I hope you’ll try out a few of these options this year!
Do you ever find that a song or a quote sticks in your head? I do, and the one that is currently making the rounds in my little gray cells is one from Wayne Dyer that goes like this: “when you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.”
With the New Year now in the rearview mirror, and the resolutions made, I thought you might like to know what changes or “things” the staff and I at Philanthropy Ohio are working on and how these “things” can impact you and the work you do.
First, we reaffirmed our mission to provide great service to our members in meaningful ways and we have a staff advance (not retreat) planned to implement this belief. We are also looking at how we work, how our work is organized and how we can focus our efforts so that we meet the many and varied needs of our members. Here are a few of our big “things:”
- A new calendar of events – watch your mail boxes – that lists all the programs, webinars, convenings, collaborations and other learning, leadership and networking opportunities for the year.
- One of the exciting programs is our inaugural Summer Learning Institute, which will be held at The Ohio State University’s Blackwell Center. Save July 9th and plan to join us in Columbus to engage in intensive learning opportunities for building capacity, increasing impact and bringing new resources to bear as advocates for change. The Summer Learning Institute will serve as our statewide gathering in 2014; we look forward to seeing you at the annual conference in Cincinnati in 2015!
- A big “thing” we’ve spent a lot of thought and time on is our website, which was constructed as a massive project with 16 other regional associations.
- A truly creating “thing” is how we’ve rebranded and reorganized our monthly electronic newsletters for each organization type, bringing the latest and best resources to your inbox, and our quarterly Philanthropy Review magazine, special reports and hundreds of sample documents.
- Another “thing” is a yearlong Core Competency webinar series to build essential skills and strategies to support your work.
- More “things” include our regional funders’ interests groups, with focus ranging from arts and culture to education to the Appalachian region.
- We’re also working to provide collaborative programs with national and regional partners including National Center for Family Philanthropy, Grantmakers for Effective Organizations, BoardSource, Midwest Community Foundations’ Ventures and several others.
- We’ll be continuing our advocacy work on your behalf in the areas of education, health care, tax reform and organizing an Ohio delegation for Foundations on the Hill in Washington, DC in March.
- Also, I’ll be hosting a monthly webinar called “Let’s Talk Philanthropy” in which we can discuss areas of interest and concern and share great ideas and work from our members.
We are changing the way we look at “things” because we are committed to helping people engaged in philanthropy become more effective, powerful change agents so that our communities and our region are strengthened. The “things” we are looking at are changing, and I think that’s great!
I’d love to hear from you.
The Cleveland Foundation kicked off the year-long celebration of its 100th birthday on January 2, announcing an array of special activities and gifts to mark this historical event. Chief among the planned celebrations is a series of monthly gifts to the community, all of which will highlight community assets the foundations has helped to build through the years. The first such gift: a day of free rides on the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority, which the foundation first supported in 1981. I can’t wait to see what other gifts will be made: stay tuned for announcements, to be made on the second of each month throughout the year.
You can read much more about the planned activities – including addresses by Henry Louis Gates, Jr. and General Colin Powell – online. And be sure to check out the new website that shows the growth and development of the foundation since its founding, complete with period photos and key events presented a decade at a time. Its searchable, interactive timeline is packed with interesting facts, stories and videos.
Happy birthday to you, Cleveland Foundation!