Community-Driven Social Impact for Amplified Leicester
This is the presentation I gave at the July 28th, 2010, Amplified Leicester event in Leicester, UK. Visit the files section of my slideshare space to find the cards and materials needed to play the game included at the end of the slides.
Hi – my name is Amy Sample Ward and I’m a blogger, facilitator, trainer and general conversation starter about technology for social impact. I am also the Global Community Development Manager for NetSquared, an organization focused on the intersection of technology and social change. Last year I co-authored Social by Social, a handbook for using social media in social impact work – and you can read it for free at http://socialbysocial.com Who are you? Let’s take a couple minutes to have you all introduce yourselves as well.
I’m hoping that we can split the session up a bit so it isn’t all just me talking! The plan is to cover a bit of background and strategy as well as examples of community driven social impact and then we’ll have some time to play a game. I encourage you to ask questions in real time so that after the presentation we can dive into the game at the tables. Just raise your hand or shout it out any time – don’t be shy to stop me! Depending on how quickly we get through either part, we can enjoy some additional question and discussion time.
Let’s start at the beginning: what is “community-driven social impact” anyway?
All of the words probably have different meanings to each of us, but as a term, I mean programming, services, media, events or campaigns that emerge from the needs, actions and involvement of the community. CDSI is not something that you thought up inside your organization, even if you thought it up with your community in mind or at heart. It means honestly that the ideas, shape and even strategy came from the community and you as the organization are the ones to support it or nurture it.
But, like many strategies or best practices, it still isn't right for everyone. First, CDSI requires the right culture; unless your organization, board and staff are going to honor and support an idea that emerges from the community, there isn’t any point in trying to use CDSI strategies. Instead, the community will feel cheated or lied to. It also requires capacity/staff to make connections and support the community. If there isn’t any capacity to “hear” the ideas, especially since they aren’t usually given directly, then even a well-intentioned organization won’t have what it needs to make the programs or events the community wants. Often times the community’s ideas or needs are shared in ways that require translation, of sorts—someone that can bridge the community and organization, listening to the conversations and identifying the opportunities for the organization.
What’s the foundation of CDSI? You can see CDSI in many things, and most clearly in grassroots organizing or any non-organization led action. The needs and goals of the larger community are listened to by someone or a group of people and they create opportunities for action, service, and change. But, that doesn’t mean there isn’t real opportunity for organizations to act that part. Especially with the increased use of social media tools to help community building activity around causes or specific organizations.
So, what is that opportunity? Think of it like this: In “Community-driven Social Impact,” the driving is up to the community; but you can act as the vehicle and even the map for those &quot;drivers.” Using CDSI strategies and leveraging social media, you can harness the power of the network towards your mission.
What are those strategies? Well, you’ll find that much of the work that involves your community, whether it’s building up the community, working on engagement, listening, evaluation, or anything else, involves strategy that goes in a circle. Not exactly a strategy that’s as simple as the goldfish example, but one that after a few steps feeds back to the beginning. From listening, to creating, to evaluating and then back to the listening again so that you can modify and then evaluate, and so on.
The first step: Who’s your community? What are they like: what are the demographics, the data, the stories? Where are they: which platforms or tools do they use and when do they use them? What kind of action and interaction already happens, and what actions or interaction are they looking to find? Whether it seems important in the moment or not, it’s really valuable to make a list or chart or picture, whatever you want, of all the information you have about your community. The more you list and share, the more you’ll start to see patterns or clear paths emerge.
The next step is finding the sweet spot. To do that, you first identify what your community wants to do – what it is coming together around, whether it’s an event, an action, or a movement. Next, identify what you want to do, what your organizational goals are. Those two “wants to do” will overlap and that gray area is the sweet spot. It’s important to remember that not everything your organization wants to do or achieve, matches up with with your community wants to do, and vice versa. The key is that that’s okay! Maybe you provide services, and your community doesn’t want to be providing those services, but they are happy you are doing so. And maybe the community wants to endorse a specific candidate, and your organization doesn’t. But both the community and your organization want to see certain laws passed, things improved, programs created or groups supported. That’s the sweet spot where you can count on focusing CDSI energy.
After you know who your community is and what they want to do, you probably already identified which tools they're using. You can compare the tools they are using with the goals in the sweet spot to see if any will help reach those goals or if there are more appropriate tools to start using. Don’t ever go for a new, shiny, cool social media platform or tool simply because you’ve heard others talking about. Know where your community is and what tools they want to use, and use those. At least if you plan on interacting with them!
Lastly, you’ll want to identify what roles are needed. Just like throwing a party you need to have someone making food, someone pouring drinks and someone else showing people where the bathroom is. Just because your network is excited for the party and wants to come, it does not mean that the party can just happen. Someone has to host, someone has to clean up. If your organization has the capacity to do that, there’s a great chance a good party can happen – especially if you’re willing to leave the punch and party games to the community and the natural leaders that emerge, allowing for ownership of the party’s outcome to be shared with the guests, and not just your organization.
That’s a pretty simple four steps for being strategic in CDSI. But what are some best practices? This is an excerpt from a blog post I wrote quite a while ago that compares the roles of gardeners and landscapers in the context of community building. The idea is that as an over all best practice, you want to strive to operate in a way that supports the natural directions of the community, without trying to shape that growth. Here are 3 ways you can operate as a gardener: no short cuts, know your community, and strive to be replaced.
Not taking short cuts means to lead by example: interact with the community the way you want other organizations and the community members to do . It’s like the golden rule for community engagement. I like this picture for this point because often mother ducks will bring up the rear, supporting the ducklings and swimming along side them, instead of shooting ahead and expecting them to keep up.
Another way to not take short cutes is to operate in public. This means don't build it in secret and then &quot;launch&quot; it - regardless of whether it’s an online space, a program or a campaign. If it is really something that is coming from the community, you can’t just take the idea and run; you’ll want to co-create it from idea to implementation.
Lastly, not taking short cuts means asking for directions. This means being open to feedback and participation from the start. As I said earlier, often the ideas you have come from conversations or learning about the community and not from a specific recommendation (though you may get some of those, too!). So, you’ll want to share what you’re learning and thinking in real time back to the community so you can find out if you’re right on, or way off the path.
Knowing your community. Part of doing this well is letting your community know itself. That means don't take credit where it isn't yours, highlight the leaders and contributors in the community, and making connections across the network. It also means letting community members connect directly with one another, without going through you.
Knowing your community also means knowing your role in the ecosystem. It’s important, as I mentioned earlier in the strategy steps, to identify what your role or roles are as the organization and stick to them. Once you start spreading out, you squeeze out room for others to grow and develop or even to explore what’s possible. Not to mention create far more for yourself!
Knowing your community also means you help it grow. Sometimes that means making mistakes. Hopefully they are tiny and harmless, and that you’re there to learn alongside the community. But, it’s just to say that you are in it just like the community is, and not everything we try in life works smoothly. Instead, design for growth and sustainability from the start with lots of room for feedback, evaluation and iterations to continue developing and redeveloping. The best time to fail is early and openly – that way you can learn and build to move forward.
Striving to be replaced can be a tough one for most everyone. It isn’t exactly in our nature but it is key to the ethos of a community builder. One way to work on supporting your community to not need you managing the program, platform, or whatever else is to encourage interaction without you. This touches back on letting the community know itself. If you’re making connections and supporting conversations across the network, you’re helping the community create strong ties that will not require your time and energy to maintain.
Striving to be replaced also means rewarding and spotlighting leaders. Positive reinforcement is one of the best leadership development practices you can build into your work across the board, whether it’s online or offline, on your facebook page, newsletter, annual fundraiser or neighborhood events.
Lastly, the only way you can really operate in a way that prepares your community to take over for you is to share your toolbox. This is a lot like operating in public but that you are sharing the tools you use and the strategies you use. You can model behavior all you want but if no one can tell what tools you are using to be so successful, there’s no way they can jump in and help man the ship.
So, let’s look at a few case studies before we get to the game.
Community Driven Social Impact strategies for events – let’s look at the NetSquared Camps pilot. This is just a pilot and it is taking place right now, with three events that took place last week and two more later this summer. NetSquared had for a few years held a global conference in donated space in Silicon Valley and invited members of the community from around the world to come together offline to learn and share and build. It was great; the community loved it. Well, they loved the chance to get together offline and build things together, learn from each other and so on. They didn’t love when the government wouldn’t give them a visa to visit the states, or when the costs for international travel around the whole world were too expensive. So, we started listening and asking questions to learn more about what they really liked and what they didn’t need from the old model. And in collaboration with our NetSquared Local organizers, we created and launched the Camps pilot which allows Local organizers to opt-in, receive support and a bit of funding, and get all of our resources and branding to hold regional events that create the same opportunities for convening and collaborating as the global conference did, but without the high costs for travel and logistics.
350.Org is a terrific example of a CDSI campaign. When it emerged from the community, it wasn’t an organization at all but a group of people uniting under the call for 350PPM actions and legislation. Using 350 they rallied supporters around the world and it eventually became clear that longer-term “organizational” management could mean more integrated and impacting work from the community.
An example of CDSI media is connectipedia. This resource for funders, organizations and government agencies in the Pacific Northwest was created by the Meyer Memorial Trust in response to the need to capture, share, and retain knowledge from program officers and nonprofit staff that retired their experiences and knowledge with them when they retired from work.
For more information about specific resources or groups mentioned, follow these links. If you leave your business card at the end, I can be sure you get an email with all the links as well.
These are all the photo credits from the slides in this presentation.
How’s everybody doing? Ready for some conversation? Hopefully this game will let you think and share about what you’ve learned from the presentation but also about what you might want to do when you get back to work next week!
We are going to start in the top left of your grid. You’re going to have about 5-10 minutes for this section so don’t feel rushed. Write down anything and everything you can about your community. As people start to finish at your table, start sharing what you wrote with each other as you’ll probably start to think of more things to add!
Great! Now, let’s work on finding the sweet spot! Use the upper right corner of your handout to start identifying the goals shared by you and your community. Again, I’ll ask that you share these with each other as you start to finish.
This next part is where it gets fun. I’m handing out cards to each table and you’ll need to share around. These are just to get you thinking so if there is a tool you want to use, you’ll see there are blank cards too. The numbers represent the level of capacity needed to use the tool, and for the use in this game, I’m going to ask that you use 10 or less so that it’s realistic. Again, feel free to discuss at the table both if you have questions about the tools and which ones you’re choosing.
The last section of the grid is for roles. I’m passing out another set of cards to help get you thinking about the roles you may need but note there are always options for other ideas.
Thanks to everyone for participating; I hope it was a useful exercise and you’ll be able to leave the session with some great ideas to share with your team and your community. Is there anyone that wants to share with everyone what they came up with?
Thanks again to all of you for coming! Please feel free to connect with me online for more resources or conversation!
Community-Driven Social Impact for Amplified Leicester
AmySampleWard.org NetSquared.org Community-Driven Social Impact A workshop presentation for Amplified Leicester – July 2010
Welcome! I’m Amy! You can connect with me at: AmySampleWard.org NetSquared.org SocialBySocial.net @AmyRSWard And who are you? Please share: Name Organization / Passion Why you attended today
Agenda Part 1: CDSI, What? Strategy Best Practice Case Studies Questions/Discussion Part 2: Game Sharing Questions/Discussion
Best Practice Operate like a gardener, not a landscaper: “ The Gardener creates an ecosystem open to change, available to new groups, and full of fresh opportunities to emerge naturally. The approach is focused on organic collaboration and growth for the entire community. The gardener is simply there to help, cultivate, and clear the weeds if/when they poke up.”
Game <ul><li>Playing the Social by Social game for </li></ul><ul><li>Community-Driven Social Impact </li></ul><ul><li>Circle up in groups </li></ul><ul><li>4-part grid </li></ul><ul><li>Lots of questions and conversation </li></ul><ul><li>Sharing with the whole room </li></ul>