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How Network Orgs and Free Agents Are Reinvigorate Social Change

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How Network Orgs and Free Agents Are Reinvigorate Social Change

  1. 1. How Network Orgs Are Re- invigorating Change Organizing 2.0/501 Tech NYC May 2012
  2. 2. About Communicopia Who we are About us We are a boutique digital consultancy working globally for change. We lead transformational digital projects that help social mission organizations increase their impact & effectiveness in a networked world. Our clients Include Human Rights Watch, NRDC, Net Impact, City of Vancouver, the UN Foundation, The Elders, & the TckTckTck global climate campaign. We also founded the Web of Change community.
  3. 3. We live in times of massive systems change The web & networks are creating new models
  4. 4. Audiences have tuned out
  5. 5. Faith in institutions is at all time low
  6. 6. Complex world. People see connections
  7. 7. They expect more. Want to give more.
  8. 8. Rapid growth of networked orgs
  9. 9. Rise of “free agent” changemakers
  10. 10. The web has changed advocacy comms
  11. 11. Initial web = publishing
  12. 12. Networked web = conversations
  13. 13. The web past & present Traditional Web Today’s Web
  14. 14. Most institutions lack the people, structure, & culture to lead in this new world
  15. 15. Networked Nonprofits A term coined by Beth Kanter and Allison Fine Simple & Transparent Orgs Networked nonprofits are easy for outsiders to get in and insiders to get out. They engage people to shape and share their work. They don’t work harder or longer than other orgs, they work differently. They engage in conversations with people beyond their walls to build relationships that spread their work through the network. Relationship building is a core responsibility of staff. They are all comfortable using social media to encourage two way communications between people.
  16. 16. Networked Nonprofits Institutions born in a post-institutional age Beth’s Three Attributes: Social culture. Transparency. Simplicity. Other attributes: •Smaller budget, less reliant on staff-driven model •Focus on doing one thing well •Hold back resources to jump on big opportunities •People working there are ambidextrous + younger •Listen well. Many are member-driven •No barriers between “online” and “real world”
  17. 17. How are they different?
  18. 18. Traditional Nonprofits Driven by policy, run by experts, focused on elites Create & promote policy solutions Find the right policy answers. Run a lot of long term campaigns promoting or defending them. Policy Expert based culture Program / policy professionals drive the ship. The “real work” of the institution. Senior leaders were often wonks previously, not managers. “Grass-tops” audiences Communications & campaigns typically targeted at senior decision makers or media.
  19. 19. Traditional Nonprofits Additional attributes •Very silo’d structures: deputies compete for resources, disincentives to collaborate, even turf wars •Hierarchical, top down cultures: young/web ppl not asked •Small donor fundraising drives “regular people” work & owns the lists. Sometimes even runs parallel programs •Typically very protective of & conservative with brand •Incentive to always promote their own experts/reports/wins, acting somewhat narcissistically •Often work in isolation, or in cumbersome coalitions
  20. 20. Nonprofits & Online People are a means to an end Online = List Building: We run campaigns to grow our lists, ask for simple online actions, & convert activists to donors. Online programs are often made up of: •Email lists bought from big providers •Facebook friends gained via advertising •Cookie cutter, endless online “crisis” actions. Clicktivism •No personalized communications; no engagement ladders (no programs to support higher engagement) •Don’t know what supporters care about; don’t ask
  21. 21. Online is a faux grassroots strategy
  22. 22. NGO’s struggle with digital It’s not about “pounding the list” Online is separate: Run within one silo, it struggles to keep up with publishing demands, much less drive new campaign models based on engagement Other challenges: •Dept that does “real world” is separate from “online” •Online lives in communications, driven by content needs •Communications is under-invested in across the sector •Culturally, staff built careers being experts, being perfect, being professional, being the best, having control
  23. 23. Network orgs are built around a high engagement model.
  24. 24. Network Orgs People lie at the core of their Theory of Change Social culture Co-create or improve solutions along with partners & people outside their walls. People Transparent model Openly share theory of change. Comfortable with emergence, testing, & learning in public. Simple focus A clear goal and limited program areas. Also stronger investment in comms, messaging, UX.
  25. 25. The model suits our times Maybe we centralized too much social change in NGO’s Model maps directly to web values: More conversational style. Meets people on their terms. Enables self-organizing systems. Offers meaningful participation. Other benefits: •Complex world, difficult issues take many players •Can stretch fewer resources a long way •Engages talents locked up in our communities •Can turn on a dime; focus big attention on opportunities •Innovation doesn’t always come from experts; front lines
  26. 26. The limits of network orgs Small isn’t always beautiful Not a panacea: Network orgs often lack the scale, reach, or capacity to really drive an agenda that doesn’t already exist Other limits: •Don’t do the grinding, long term policy framework work; don’t have experts to do it •Can be seen as “ambulance chasers” •Hard to have impact without large scale of community •Difficult to fund; don’t fit into existing models •What is the sustainable business model?
  27. 27. Lets look at some stories.
  28. 28. Let’s stay connected Thanks for listening. I also ramble here: Jason Mogus Communicopia @mogusmoves communicopia.com twitter.com/communicopia facebook.com/communicopia

Notes de l'éditeur

  • Cultural. Over-marketed to. feel manipulated. Too many options, everyone sounds the same. Interrupting and Shouting, as Seth Godin says.
  • People don’t believe large institutions are there to help them any more. Washington-itis. Liberal elites. Harper’s regime. No matter what kind of institution we are, they don’t easily believe in our claims. Youth aren’t joining non-profits anymore!!! I see it across the board.
  • Not interested in single issues anymore. Don’t believe single orgs can solve big problems. They see interconnections. They also seek meaning, many, esp youth and baby boomers, want to be more engaged, feel more of a connection. Bowling alone no more.
  • More responsiveness, faster. Working on their timescale, in real time, 24/7. Customer service orientation. Authentic voice from institutions. Institutions, esp policy oriented NGO’s, also don’t have the world of change locked up anymore. Engaged volunteerism.
  • Organizational: Rapid growth of a new kind of organization with people-power at the core of their business model. Big ones, MoveOn and Avaaz. New global development models like Kiva and Charity.water. Climate networks like 350.org and TckTckTck. I saw both sides working for Tck, Youth movement. How nimble small groups of mujlti-skilled young professionals with few titles, programs, or hierarchy accomplished in many ways more effective things than NGO’s 100X their size. Organized in very different ways. These are member-DRIVEN organizations, where members tell them where to focus.
  • Not just NGO’s making change anymore. People who are disengaged from traditional structures, random passionate actors who use the power of the web and networks to organize things. Shit Harper Did has 4 M views in 2 weeks. Ontario drunk driving laws, 140,000 joined FB group and in a week Premier changed the law. Assange and Wikileaks. Sarah Palin has 7 staff. Many of the NGOs on the previous page can be seen as this.
  • The 15 years since the start of online advocacy with NGO’s. Internet has been the vanguard of change and new models many times. From fundraising to constituency building, meme-spreading to supporting actual grassroots organizing, the web offers opportunities that advocacy orgs have rarely seen in one place. But most is just “clicktivism”. The web is not a communications channel, it’s your whole organization.
  • Finally let’s get back to the reason for this strategy. Let’s look now at the technology drivers of change.
  • You’ve heard all this before.
  • Supernova vs. Red Dwarf.
  • Professionalization, control, and centralization.
  • For orgs that started off being grassroots driven, but have overly professionalized, this is a cheap and easy grassroots organizing program. Low cost. Low effort It makes them feel good. Sometimes (rarely), it even works.
  • Last bullet: Experts = not asking for help. Perfect = not making mistakes. Professional = boring, inaccessible policy wonk voice. Being best = erosion of influence. Control = you can’t control the web.
  • To add to Beth, 4 th attribute: People lie at the core of their Theory of Change “ Focus on what you do best, and network the rest”.
  • I’m not saying we should all be networks, or there should only be network orgs. There should just be more of them.
  • I’m not saying we should all be networks, or there should only be network orgs. There should just be more of them.
  • Nothing But Nets $64M. TckTckTck 17M supporters. Web of Change 11 years, 1,000 leaders trained, all network campaigns. Avaaz. 350.org. Sumofus.