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The networked nonprofit

September 08 2010 | Modern Activism, Jim's Blog,
by Jim

If you work at a non-profit you probably already know of Beth Kanter. She and Allison Fine have connected to create, what could be, THE guide on the potential opportunity that networks (social and beyond) represent for organizations. Buy it now. The reason all nonprofits should invest heavily in social media (and building/nurturing all forms of networks) is very, very simple... to amplify their impact. Networks aren't about technology any more than books are about paper. People can get caught up on the "hows" of networks and end up missing the larger point--the "why." At Surfrider this is simple--we know that we can ratchet up the impact of our mission of coastal protection if we can increase the number of participants IN that mission. In 2004 I'd guess we had 40,000 people connected to that mission. Today, that number is about 8x greater than that with more than 300,000. Networks enable more people to connect AND connect in ways that are more personally aligned with their interests. For example, we're currently looking for a dozen or so stunning photographs for a website rebuild.  We can easily throw that ask out to the network and give the people that love photographing coastlines the chance to connect in a personal way by plugging in their talents. Networks simply offer an increased opportunity for this engagement to happen. The reason Facebook matters is because that's where people live, period. It's hard to connect with someone without them being able to hear your message. Lastly, I have to give Beth and Allison a large thank you for including us in the book. We are stoked to have any mention in a book dedicated to a concept we align with so tightly. The fact that she opens the book talking about surfers, Surfrider and our network-orientation is an honor. She goes so far as to say "Taken in total, Surfrider resembles a social network rather than a traditional stand-alone organization." Exactly right. Kudos to Beth and Allison on a great book for all organizations seeking to maximize their impact.
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