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Volume I  Issue 2  April 2009
In This Issue
Extend the Reach of Your Stories with Social Media
Top Tip: Turning Your Virtual Communities Viral
About Us
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bonsai

Greetings!
 
Twitter, Facebook, blogs, LinkedIn, RSS feeds, podcasts.... I'm sure you've heard all the buzzwords.

If you're like me, at first glance this proliferation can seem alternately overwhelming or irrelevant. Faced with this welter of new options, I admit that sometimes I've just wanted to throw up my hands.

But just then, of course, my BlackBerry will vibrate, telling me that I've received the latest comment in an on-line thread I've been following. Or my RSS reader alerts me to the newest blog on the  fiscal stimulus plan and its meaning for nonprofits. Or I tune in, cup of tea in hand, to participate in an interactive training webinar about conducting effective e-mail fundraising campaigns.

So, after all, I've come to accept and even embrace these new technological tools. Social media, I'm finding, can offer an effective, lightweight, inexpensive, and powerful way to reach supporters, build community, expand knowledge, and extend influence.
 
In this issue of Furthermore..., FTW's Chief Operations and Technology Officer, Glenn Miller, discusses why and how your organization can benefit from the use of social media. He'll even help you get started on a few popular applications.
 
And as always, we welcome your comments and questions - e-mail us any time, at info@furtherthework.com.
 
All the best,
Rebecca's signature
Rebecca Brown, MA, CFA, CFRE
President, Further The Work 
Extend the Reach of Your Stories with Social Media
Blue arrowsby Glenn Miller, Chief Operations and Technology Officer, Further The Work

It's a truism that regularly staying in touch with your supporters is a proven best practice. Social media allows your network and your messages to gain momentum and reach. It's an opportunity for community.

The New Front Porch
People want to interact, to relate with each other about things that matter to them. Social media reveals new ways for them to be heard, and to hear others. So go ahead and use this new mechanism to tell your story. Transform your narrative into an opportunity for ongoing conversation, and watch it blossom into something entirely new.

A Lightweight Touch
Direct mail, live events, personal pleas - these are cornerstones of fundraising and recruitment, to be sure, but they are all high-cost: they demand a lot not only of you, but implicitly of your recipients, as well.

Social media tools, but contrast, are electronic - virtually free for you, and demanding little psychic commitment from the reader. Arriving via the users' chosen RSS news feeders, on their Facebook pages, on their cell phones, or in their e-mail inboxes, your messages can be viewed on a reader's own time, as if by invitation.

Pervasive, Non-Intrusive, and Relevant
When your message is both lightweight and relevant, recipients become disposed to respond to and share it with others: growth begets growth. On your soapbox in the city park, your voice can never carry beyond the reach of the public square. But when your listeners carry your brochure home on their PDAs, or forward your e-mail to a colleague, or add a link to your Facebook cause, or join your group on LinkedIn, or converse with you in your blog's comments section, they add another node to your extended constituency, while building community for all concerned.

Speak Their Language
This is not a time to ask your constituents to adopt new technology. That wouldn't be lightweight. Instead, take the free ride on the tools they are using now. Since many are already using cell phones and PDAs for text messages, engage them with Twitter to announce tomorrow's community meeting in the neighborhood park. Others read news feeds with RSS, so write a blog that compels them to subscribe and comment. If they hover at Facebook, invite them to join your cause, using Facebook's Causes portal.

Sure, some of these tools are generational, for now, but each one has passed the tipping point. Each has momentum: your opportunity is to use that momentum to carry your story to an audience intimate enough to care, and wide enough to make a difference.
Our "Top Tip" Of the Month

Turning Your Virtual Communities Viral 

Blue paper dollsMany people use only the basics of the popular social media tools. The methods below explore features that amplify the tools in play. Sometimes the goal is to create conversation and engage your supporters; sometimes it's to educate yourself and strengthen your organization; sometimes it's to ask for donations. But each method always allows you to add contacts to your mailing list and new nodes to your web of community.

1. Facebook: With over 25 million users, the Causes application is now the Facebook standard for promoting nonprofit endeavors. At the Causes page, users can start and join the causes they care about. With this application, nonprofits can not only send lightweight announcements to those who have joined their cause, but can also extend their network, invite donations, add photos and videos, and engage in conversations with their supporters. For free.
 
Take a look at the Facebook cause for Oasis for Girls to see these elements in play. If you administer a nonprofit, you can add the Causes application, then build your own page in less than an hour. All of the tools for announcements, donations, and invitations are built-in.

2. LinkedIn: It's not only your supporters that you need to be recruiting. Sometimes it's a network of professionals who can make a difference. Within the professional networking site LinkedIn, its Groups directory lets you tap into communities of like-minded professionals who share a common interest. The ongoing discussions among members of the Fundraising Professionals Group or BoardSource are just like panel discussions at topical seminars - except that you're invited to participate! Joining is simple, and even if you don't participate directly, you can still have periodic highlights of the group discussions sent directly to your in-box.

3. Podcasts: Sign up for this social media podcast from The Chronicle of Philanthropy. Each monthly episode of Social Good explores how charities and foundations can more effectively use social-media tools to spread their messages and raise money. Archived topics include using text messaging to raise money and making the most of social networks during tough economic times. The brief podcasts - ten to fifteen minutes - are timely, relevant, and practical.
About Us 

Further The Work maximizes the capacity and efficacy of nonprofit, educational, and philanthropic organizations that are working for the greater good. We accomplish this mission by providing strategic planning, project management, and fundraising & marketing services to  clients throughout Northern California. 
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