Open Community and Nonprofit Techies

We’re glad to have  Maddie Grant and Lindy Dreyer guest posting here on NetWits Think Tank this week. They’re doing a virtual book tour exploring concepts from Open Community: a little book of big ideas for associations navigating the social web. In this post, Maddie and Lindy answer a few questions for the NetWits Think Tank community (Oh, and please ask more in the comments. We’d love to chat!).

Why did you write Open Community?

Maddie: Lindy and I have talked to thousands of association executives who have voiced their frustrations about the social web — from the overabundance of tools and the disorderly experimentation of staff (and members!), to the lack of organizational support and the unwieldy processes for monitoring and managing social media, and that’s just the beginning. We decided to write Open Community as a way to address those frustrations and redirect the thinking about using social tools to build community online.

So, what is “Open Community?”

Lindy: Here’s the gist. Your Open Community is your people who are bonded by what your organization represents and care enough to talk to each other (hopefully about you!) online. Connecting with and supporting your Open Community is really important, because if you don’t, someone else will.

How does Open Community affect NPTechies?

Maddie: Well it’s kind of a shift in thinking. We’ve been so focused on our own platforms and tools that I think at times we’ve dismissed sites like Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter as afterthoughts.

Lindy: And that’s the opportunity. We’re hoping to see nonprofit technology vendors take a new look at the massive amounts of public data that are out there–where the Open Community is coming together on public sites–and find ways to help us make sense of it and use it to support the mission of the organizations we work with. Technologies like social sign-on, social monitoring platforms, and social media marketing tools will become vital for supporting an Open Community.

Maddie: We can’t wait for 11NTC, NTEN’s conference in Washington DC – where we know Blackbaud will be! – because we know there are several large nonprofits who are out in front of this stuff, and we want to hear their stories and talk to the vendors who are making it work.

What’s next?

Maddie: Well, we see the book as a conversation starter — we hope lots and lots of people will get the chance to read it, and think about how the concepts affect their organization.

Lindy: And we hope to gather lots of great stories about Open Community in action, which we’ll continue to share in lots of ways throughout the year. So here’s a question for all of you NPTechies to consider…

How is your nonprofit building community online? What’s your strategy for connecting with and supporting your Open Community? Is it working?

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  • Chad Norman

    Here’s how you know Maddie and Lindy walk the walk, and talk the talk: The Open Community Talkers Toolkit: If you or your organization are looking to join the conversation on Twitter and learn more about open communities, be sure to check out the #opencommunity hashtag.

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