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

February 12, 2014 at 8:15 am 1 comment

networked nonprofitI just finished this thought-provoking read and wanted to share some of the biggest take-aways with you that can help improve the way you do business.

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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!

Entry filed under: Commentaries, Philanthropy Ohio News, Professional Reading.

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