I recently had the pleasure of attending an event for Beth Kanters’ new book Measuring The Networked Nonprofit, Using Data to Change the World. If you are a person interested in nonprofits, you have probably heard of Beth, sometimes known as “The Queen of Nonprofits.”
I interact with hundreds of nonprofits a week. A common theme is that they all want to have a bigger positive impact in this world, in one way or another. Inspired by Beth’s talk and book, I want to share a few thoughts that might inspire you. One thing she said was that technology changes fast, people change slower, and organizations change at a glacier rate. A funny thought to some, but one that resonated with me very much. I know that when many of us feel stuck in the middle of a project and do not see change or progress happening fast enough, we often want to give up. Beth and her co-author Katie Paine stress the idea that “incremental success is not failure” and encourage us to “not give up in the middle”. This point was made specifically in regards to social media. Their point is that many nonprofits experiment with this social media, but when they hit an obstacle in the road, the organization often sees it as failure and gives up on the new strategy. They remind us that “everything looks like failure in the middle.”
Does this theme seem familiar to a project or campaign in your organization? Perhaps it hits a nerve for you personally? Has there been an event or campaign that you finished that did not bring you the desired results? I speak to a handful of clients every month that have tried our auction management platform for one year and then, because it did not produce the expected results, the organization decides to call it quits. Social media and auctions have something in common. The more you share, listen, and build them through small caring steps the more powerful they can become over time.
Beth and Katie would recommend that you should not give up on your next social media campaign at the half-way point if it is not yielding results. I would also encourage you to not give up on your big campaign or personal goals because they have not produced the immediate results you wanted. Be patient, practice, measuring what you can and improve upon it again and again and again. Nelson Mandela said it best "it always seems impossible until it's done."
Beth Kanter (@kanter) is the author of Beth’s Blog: How Nonprofits Can Use Social Media, one of the longest running and most popular blogs for nonprofits. She co-authored the book titled “The Networked Nonprofit” with Allison Fine (published in 2010) that received Honorable Mention for the Terry McAdams Award. Beth has over 30 years experience working in the nonprofit sector in technology, training, capacity building, evaluation, fundraising, and marketing. Her second book, “Measuring the Networked Nonprofit”, with co-Author Katie Paine, will be published in October 2012.
Over the last year, we have been talking about the concept of a Smart Auction. This idea was introduced around the launch of our Smart Bidding offering. Being able to bid on a mobile device at a live event has brought very exciting changes to the world of fundraising auctions and we've been right there, bringing the latest and greatest to our customers. Smart Auctions bring together the best elements of silent, live and online auctions and are enabled through any device, from anywhere, at any time.
So along with a new way to think about auctions and to talk about auctions we are also renaming our blog to best represent our world of Smart Auctions. Over the last year, we've actually had two different blogs- Online Auction Central and Goodness in Action. Online Auction Central has been the place where we have shared tips and tricks about running successful online auctions. Goodness in Action has been the place where we have put the spotlight on organizations and ideas that embody the notion of Goodness In Action. As a company we are committed to both sharing best practices, supporting our customers throughout the process of running their fundraising events AND to thought-leadership and sharing provocative ideas to inspire more "Goodness in Action".
So next week our blogs will come together into one blog called Smart Auction Central. We will continue to do what we've always done in these blogs and will continue to share what we know, inspire success and celebrate the great work of nonprofits and schools. As always, we invite you to share as well, to comment on what you're reading, and to spread the good word. We're very committed to our mission which is all about helping you be more successful in your fundraising so that you can further your mission as well. Rock on.
Each week, we like to recap the philanthropy stories making headlines in our Goodness in Action blog. This week’s headlines represent all facets of the philanthropy world including the Global Philanthropy Forum, National Volunteers Week and the charitable focus of the Boston Marathon. Let’s dive in!
The Global Philanthropy Forum
The Globe Philanthropy Forum was held this week in Washington, DC and focused on the changing roles and responsibilities in the new social contract. Forbes contributor Rahim Kanani (@rahimkanani) reports that former British Prime Minister and Philanthropist Tony Blair spoke and emphasized that “21st century philanthropy must continually innovate and adapt to our rapidly changing world.” His reflections on the philanthropic sector particularly resonated with us here at BiddingForGood. A video of Tony Blair’s full address is available here and below is an excerpt we particularly enjoyed:
“First, the best philanthropy is not just about giving money but giving leadership…. It is creative not passive; it seeks to disrupt not follow conventional thinking. It steps into areas Government is too fearful or too risk adverse to go. It uses technology and its power to change the world in innovative ways. It is visionary, seeing the connections, the trends, the patterns that others don’t.” – Tony Blair
National Volunteer Week
This week was National Volunteer Week, which was established by President Barack Obama to urge all of us to make giving back part of our lives. At BiddingForGood, giving back is part of the reason we all get up in the morning. Huffington Post put together a beautiful slideshow of reader submitted images highlighting volunteerism across the country. You can also view a copy of the Presidential Proclamation here. Did you partake in any activities as part of National Volunteer Week? Tell us about them in the comments.
Here in our neck of the woods, we watched the Boston Marathon on Monday in record breaking 88 degree weather. The heat was not the only hurdle many runners had to overcome. Charity runners make up a huge portion of the field and many have to raise a minimum of $4,000 to run as part of a charity team and obtain an official number for the race. The Boston Marathon has had a charitable history for nearly 100 years, and as reported in the Nonprofit Quarterly, the event raises more than $10 million annually for charities within Greater Boston. In 2011, 2,285 charity runners raised an average of nearly $7,000 each. Congratulations to all of this year’s runners and fundraisers on this major accomplishment!
I listened to a very powerful sermon yesterday at the Unitarian Universalist Church in my community. I love this church. It is incredibly inclusive and makes room for all faiths and all beliefs. The topic of the sermon was angels. No matter what your faith, there are many who like to believe in angels - or at least ethereal beings with special powers. One way that the minister described them was that they are beings who "lean into the good."
Lean into the good. Now that's an interesting concept and it made me think about our BiddingForGood community of nonprofits and generous bidders. Our entire ecosystem is comprised of organizations and individuals who "lean into the good." If we extend the notion of angels into our world, what does that look like?
I'd like to propose a broad definition of an angel for the purposes of this blog. A definition that encompasses guardian angels, archangels and yes, even angel investors. The word angel comes from the Greek word "angelos," which means messenger. Can we accept that angels are messengers who spread the good word? They are protectors, who watch over us and look out for our well-being. If you believe the minister who I listened to yesterday - she believes angels are right here among us and help guide us along our path. An angel is one who helps you think about your world in a new way, who pushes you to be your best self (dare I say most generous self). I would offer that many of our clients and partners do exactly that. They challenge us to consider those less fortunate than ourselves. They challenge us to consider where and how we support important causes in our life. And when they do it well, it is powerful indeed. They can inspire us to be angels for others. We can be messengers and protectors. We can be attuned to a greater good. I don't know about you, but this holiday season, I'm going to be keeping an eye out for angels in my life. At BiddingForGood, I'm going to appreciate the angels that are swirling around our marketplace and are helping our clients raise more money for worthy causes.
Every week, we like to bring you stories about the great ways people are giving back to non-profits and charities. But this week, we start with a warning for you.
The holidays are the most beautiful time of year, but there are some grinches out there who want to try and ruin the season for us. The Better Business Bureau has kindly highlighted the 12 Schemes of Christmas as a heads-up to consumers. Here are a few warnings we found most helpful:
Wrong Type of Cards: Open greeting cards from friends and family, but don’t bother opening mailings about high-interest credit cards, costly layaway programs and payday loan traps.
Suspicious Santa: He knows if you’ve been naughty or nice and he already knows where you live, so be careful if cute Santa sites ask for too much personal information.
Deceiving Deliveries: Don't accept notices about delivery delays or confirmations on unordered packages; phishers often pose as well-known retailers or shipping companies to gain false credibility.
We’ve talked enough about the bad guys. Let’s talk about the good ones. Since 1956, Globe Santa has been The Boston Globe's annual appeal for needy children in Greater Boston. The Globe Santa Fund collects donations to purchase holiday gifts for underprivileged children. This year, they also have some great auctions items for you to check out. By buying these gifts, you will not only be crossing someone off your shopping list, but also you’ll be donating to this wonderful cause.
Last but certainly not least, you may have a Secret Santa game going on in your office or with you family, but we have a story of one very generous Secret Santa that we found on MSNBC. A mystery shopper in Plainfield Towship in Michigan, walked into Kmart and paid off three lay-away bills for people. The families were surprised and overwhelmed by this real life Santa’s generosity. We were too. It’s nice to know that there are grinches out there, but there is true kindness to make up for it.
In a recent post written by BiddingForGood CEO, Jon Carson, he stated "Occupy is a peaceful protest now, but where it ends up is anyone’s guess."
Peaceful? Yes. Responsible? Not so sure. I was deeply saddened to learn this important (my mom begs to differ) protest, has been poaching from the very people our company helps. At BiddingForGood, we strive to help non-profits in troubling economic times. We realize the importance of resources, of any kind.
BiddingForGood recently ran a unique online auction for the Pine Street Inn at the State House in Boston. Pine Street Inn outreaches to over 1,300 homeless men and women each day. Founded in 1969, Pine Street is the largest resource for homeless men and women in New England. What does this have to do with Occupy Boston? Homeless shelters are reportedly being depleted of resources by Occupy Boston protesters.
The other day, The Boston Herald broke a story on Occupy Boston and how the protesters are using services intended for the homeless. The story reports "Occupy Boston has been encouraging protesters to take showers, hot meals and shelter meant for the homeless, prompting a St. Francis House manager to ask the downtown campers to remove directions from their Internet newspaper."
St. Francis’ policy is to turn no one away, leaving the shelter's staff of volunteers with bittersweet feelings. Homeless shelter’s overarching goal is to help people, whoever they may be. Their mission is to serve the homeless.
Let me state for the record, I am for everyone, including protesters, having food, hot showers and basic necessities. I will also add that a fellow employee reminded me that it is not a very long journey from unemployed to homeless. I can't pretend to have the answers of right and wrong here.
I hope since the story broke, Occupy Boston’s newspaper has stopped directing fellow protesters to these homeless shelters. At the end of the day, these people CHOSE to be a part of a protest and the corresponding hardships. The mission of these homeless organizations is to help those not fortunate to have this choice. I have to ask, what happens when our unseasonable fair weather turns bitter cold? I hope there is a way for protesters and homeless alike to stay warm.