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A Practical Tech Strategy for Nonprofit Leaders

Lori Halley 15 December 2010 5 comments

Are you wrestling with how, exactly, technology can help your nonprofit organization do more with less? Farra Trompeter, VP at the nonprofit communications firm Big Duck , has created a presentation on Nonprofit Leaders and Technology to help you create a social media and online engagement strategy that directly supports the goals of your organization.  The presentation gives nonprofit leaders a practical step-by-step approach to planning a purposeful use of web technology.

Online Engagement Priorities diagram

To get started, Farra suggests, set your goals and priorities for programs, for fundraising, and for advocacy. If you need a little help with this step, see also How to Create Measurable Objectives by Amber Naslund over at Brass Tack Thinking, and the extensive Writing Measurable Goals training materials from the Association of College & Research Libraries.

If you don’t have time right now to fully absorb and act on all of the information in this presentation, do at least spend a few quality minutes with Slide 6. It’s a terrific diagram of online engagement priorities for nonprofits to help you to keep your day-to-day Internet activity in line with your communications goals and the offline action needed to meet your mission. You might even want to put a copy of this diagram up on the wall above your desk for easy reference!

Secondly, listen online for keywords/phrases relevant to your organization and your cause. There are many listening tools to choose from, obstaclessome of which Farra mentions in this presentation – Google Alerts, for example, which we’ve already talked about in some detail here and here, is best for blogs, news, and website mentions; while Twilert gives you Twitter alerts. (These two tools are also featured on Janet Fouts’ lengthy list of tools for social media monitoring, which is well worth checking out as well.)

Next step? Revisit your goals and priorities and revise them as needed, based on what you learn by listening.  

Identify barriers you’ll need to work around – and we know there will be barriers!  Some of the kinds of obstacles you might need to tackle are covered in Michele Dane’s Overcoming Barriers to Plan Implementation at Suite101.com, and Using Social Media in Your Nonprofit: Overcoming Objections by Debra Askanase. Every nonprofit organizations will be a little bit different, but I think you’ll recognize some of your own challenges there!

Social Media Tactics and Tools Finally, you need to decide what technology to use, based on what suits your mission – for example, professional associations are less likely to find MySpace useful than youth groups and arts organizations – as well as based on what will match your budget and your available staff or volunteer time and other resources. 

Helpfully, drawing on Beth Kanter's presentation on Creating Your Organization's Social Media Strategy Map, Farra divides social media tactics and tools by their primary purpose – tools for listening, for engagement, for publishing “social content” on the Internet, for generating “buzz” about your organization, and for social networking and building an online community around your cause.

View “Nonprofit leaders and technology” below, or on Slideshare where you’ll find more of Farra Trompeter’s presentations.  And for more tips, case studies, and nonprofit social media marketing ideas, see also our round-up of 26 great social media presentations for nonprofits here on the Wild Apricot Blog.

Lori Halley [Engaging Apricot] Lori Halley [Engaging Apricot]

Posted by Lori Halley [Engaging Apricot]

Published Wednesday, 15 December 2010 at 7:04 AM


  • Mitchell Allen said:

    Wednesday, 15 December 2010 at 3:40 AM

    Rebecca, this is a great post that can be applied to anyone using websites and social media to "get their message out".

    Prioritization is key. Putting the cart before the horse ensure us that, if the poor beast doesn't get run over, it'll never get past the barricade.

    Thanks for sharing the slide presentation.



  • Farra Trompeter said:

    Wednesday, 15 December 2010 at 4:16 AM

    Rebecca--Thanks so much for this post. Even though you didn't hear it in-person, you really did an excellent job summarizing the big ideas.

    The 'online engagement priorities model' (that you've captured the image of above) was something we created a Big Duck to help answer the frequent question of "where to start/focus?" This model is based on a typical nonprofits who is likely to have limited time/money to invest. Organizations should try to customize this approach based on their own resources--and even more, based on their own mission, goals and audiences.

    One quick thing to note--the image and idea to divide social media tactics and tools by their primarily purpose is courtesy of Beth Kanter (see her presentation on creating a social media strategy map here: http://beth.typepad.com/beths_blog/2009/01/creating-your-organizations-social-media-strategy-map.html)

    There are a few other resources in that presentation from other gurus in the field--noted throughout!

    If folks have questions, feel free to comment here or tweet me (http://www.twitter.com/farra)

    Best, Farra

  • Lori Halley [Engaging Apricot] Lori Halley [Engaging Apricot]

    Lori Halley [Engaging Apricot] said:

    Wednesday, 15 December 2010 at 5:00 AM

    Mitch, thanks for the very apt horse/barricade analogy!

    Farra, one of the things I most appreciated about your presentation was how easy you make it for viewers to get to the meat of the matter through the slides alone, without benefit of being present at the event. big Duck's 'online engagement priorities model' is going to be tremendously helpful for anyone trying to figure out how to make the most of limited resources - and that, of course, particularly applies to our friends at very small nonprofits. Thanks, too, for noting Beth's contribution to the "tactics and tools" concept/image: I'll edit my post add a direct link to her piece, so no one will miss it!

  • John Haydon said:

    Wednesday, 15 December 2010 at 7:42 AM

    Rebecca - this is awesome! I especially like Farra's online engagement priorities.

  • ktalavera said:

    Thursday, 30 December 2010 at 4:09 AM

    a very useful information thank you for sharing that information.

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