I’ve been facilitating a peer learning group with Packard Foundation grantees during the past year with a goal of improving measurement practice for social media and based on my book, “Measuring the Networked Nonprofit.” Each organization is working on an action learning project that is a small, doable measurement project that applies the frameworks and steps in the book. Each month, we go deep into a practice step – both on the individual practitioner level as well as the organizational practice level. As the facilitator and SME, I provide some content, but participants do a lot of sharing and presenting as well. This helps spread good practices.
This group started the process with doing the hard work of identifying success and key performance indicators, but applying a organizational process to get everyone on the same page and reporting back. Once settled, we took deep dives into understanding how to collect, analyze, and visualize data to apply to better decision-making. The spreadsheet above is from the Community Foundation of Santa Cruz County for an action learning project that focused on measuring the results of the recently launched blog.
On a call last month, participants shared examples of their measurement tools and spreadsheets. Another participant, Compass,also working on measuring their blog, shared their spreadsheet for tracking similar indicators. This inspired the team over at the Community Foundation of Santa Cruz County – even though their organizations are vastly different. They adapted Liz Neeley from Compass’s spreadsheet! They collected the data and now were ready to set up their dashboard.
On this month’s call, we focused on the sense-making process, which I’ll describe more below. But, the Luis Chabolla and Kim East were ready now to customized an Excel Spreadsheet to serve as their reporting dashboard. (See above). They worked with their web site designer/developer, Embolden, to identify what data they needed from Google Analytics and created the above simple dashboard. One of the topics the peer learning group took a deep dive into was selecting the right chart and techniques offered by nonprofit data nerds Stephanie Evergreen (who write a guest post on how to create great graphs) and Anne Emery’s tips on how to avoid boring bar charts.
What I always love about peer learning approaches is that we slow down, take it in small steps, and begin to build good practices. These small steps add up to good, hopefully sustainable organizational habits over time.
Slideshare how do i say it with charts from Beth Kanter
The second thing that I really enjoy about facilitating peer learning is that I learn along with the group. As you’ll see in the deck above, I shared my own little action learning project on how to improve my own data using Excel and Ann and Stephanie’s advice. The session was devoted to sense-making.
Sense-Making: Organizational Indicators
My Crawl, Walk, Run, Fly assessment has an indicator for the sense-making part of the measurement process. This is an organizational level of practice. But we also looked at sense-making from a practitioner level because most people in the peer group are either doing this work themselves or managing someone who is. You need both the skills and organizational level of practice to see a transformational change in the organization as a result of the capacity building program.
I enjoyed breaking down each step of the sense-making process because for some this is the mysterious part of the measurement process. The participants has a selection of resources to draw from for each step or just an overview – so they could go as deep as they wanted.
We then has a very thoughtful discussion about what part of the process was a challenge and where they feel they are doing a terrific job. One theme that popped up was that good sense-making happens at the organizational level when you have your team or others in your organization look at results.
I think sense-making is my favorite part of the measurement process, even though it can be difficult. And I love facilitating, designing, and delivering workshops on this topic!
What do you find easy in terms of sense-making of your data? What do you find to be a challenge?
Called the Greatest Good Donation Calculator, and developed by students and faculty in business and computer engineering, the calculator was adopted by the U.S. Agency for International Development, or USAID, the federal government’s international relief agency.
It’s because a lot of digital fundraising is rubbish"
tech club logo
Online community is pretty amazing stuff. But there's something about meeting together in person that sparks new ideas, deepens those online connections (and sparks new ones), and provides invaluable support from colleagues engaged in the work of social change.
Enter NTEN's 501 Tech Clubs. These are informal local groups of those working in the nonprofit sector that meet on a regular basis to network and connect with colleagues, share information, and develop a local professional support network. Meetings range from happy hours, to speaker presentations, to open discussions, and other formats and covering a range of relevant subjects. Recent group topics have included social media, nonprofit video, online payment solutions, SEO, and analytics.
Tech Clubs are driven by local leaders who step up to organize and plan group events with the support of NTEN. Debra Askanase leads up the Boston Tech Club as part of a a loose affiliation of co-organizers who represent programmers, database developers, salesforce/software apps for nonprofits, IT staff, and social media consultants. For about a year, Debra and team took over organizing duties, planning events approximately every month that always are networking-heavy, and usually also offer content. They've had great success in particular with "mini-Ignite" sessions, where the community can to present in Ignite-style around a topic (fundraising, technology, etc.).
Since the beginning of the year, Bethany Lister, along with Ivan Boothe and Sarah Lyman, took over organizing the PDXTech4Good group in Portland, OR. PDX organizers. Turnout has been terrific thus far and the organizers make it a point to learn from each event. They created a Google doc with information regarding event promotion, logisitcs, and planning as a resource for speakers. Post-event, they get together for lunch to go over the attendee evaluations and talk about what worked and didn't work and use that to plan details for future events. "[These lunches are] just an extra hour every month and I feel much more connected to my co-organizers and to our mission", says Bethany.
Some Tech Clubs have merged with NetSquared local groups who share similar group objectives. As Vancouver NetSquared/501 Tech Club organizer, Eli van der Giesson puts it, "Vancouver's Net Squared group is all about connecting nonprofits, activists and technology folk. So it makes perfect sense for us to affiliate ourselves with our natural partners who are doing the same work".
ConnectVA partnered with NTEN in 2012 in launch a local club in Central VA. Organizer, Rebecca Eisenman, reports the group has been really ramping up in the past year, developing nonprofit technology clinics, working with local sponsors for monthly events. ConnectVA also holds an annual larger event: The Social Media for Nonprofits Conference.
Other groups have formed just in the last few months. Peter Edstrom, co-organizes the new Minneapolis group that had a successful turnout for their first event and more events planned. Sue Anne Reed is in the very early stages of getting the Nashville Club started, with the goal of a first meeting sometime this summer. Sue has a potential venue space already lined up that even meets a key requirement: free parking!
But organizing is not without its challenges. Marcy Rye has been building momentum for the Los Angeles Tech Club with two other organizers, but the group faces geological challenges which has made it difficult to find a regular venue in a place accessible to people in disparate areas. As the group grows, they may consider having two groups in different sections of Los Angeles. Securing event sponsorship and locations has been a constant search for Boston and their goal this year is to secure a year-long sponsor and a single venue. Amy Quinn, Denver Tech Club organizer, found initially there was a big divide between techies and "nontechies" in the group, so uniting people around a shared purpose of technology education has been key to bridging these different groups together. As she puts it, "In the end, it's about the people anyway besides the exchange of tech information".
On a quarterly basis, Tech Club leaders get together on a call with NTEN to discuss news, events, and share challenges and successes. These calls give leaders a chance to connect with other organizers and get ideas for speakers, venues, event topics, and organizing strategies. Every year, Tech Club Leaders host a happy hour at the NTC to get together in person with organizers, club members, and other interested folks from around the globe.
A number of new Tech Clubs have emerged in just the past few months. Besides Minneapolis and Nashville, groups have started up in Ohio, South Florida, Salt Lake City, and Connecticut. You can find a group in your local area - and if you don't see one there - you can start your own! You can also follow the awesome Tech Club organizers on the Tech Club Leaders Twitter list.
A few days ago, I noticed that my long-time nonprofit technology colleague, Ruby Sinreich, had her digital life hacked and stolen from her. The hacker accessed many of her accounts and locked her out, and took over her Twitter, deleting her followers and changing the profile. Chronicled on her tumblr blog, it took her days to reach humans at different platforms to get help, faced many challenges, and all the while the hacker teased her and tried to sell her Twitter account on a hackers forum. She was able to finally take back control of her accounts after a very stressful ordeal.
This could happen to any of us. So, how can you make your social media and other account more secure?
Twitter and other social media services offer verification logins. That means if try to log on from an unfamiliar IP address, the service will send a code via SMS to your mobile phone and you enter that code. That way only you can log into your account. Here’s more on Twitter’s verification logins and here. You can enable this for both Google and Facebook. For Google, it’s under Account -> Security -> 2-step verification. For Facebook, it’s Account Settings -> Security -> Login Approval. Twitter, it’s under Account -> Account Security -> Require a verification code when I sign in. As soon as I read about Ruby’s ordeal, I enabled this on my accounts.
It was minor inconvenience at first having to reset these accounts on my desktop, laptop, tablet, and mobile phones, but better to be safe than face an ordeal like Ruby’s. There are also some issues if you want protect both your personal and organizational accounts, as the verification is one account per mobile phone number.
Every so often, it is a good idea to do security and privacy assessment of your Internet presence. Tactical Technology as a terrific resource, Security in A Box, that helps you do a security tune-up for personal or organizational accounts. Privacy is also important. Here are some best practices based on this infographic and the Me and My Shadow site from Tactical Technology. The shadow site has a terrific tool box that helps you understand what pieces of your identity are being left online if you are using the Internet.
Have you done a security and privacy audit for your personal and nonprofit’s accounts?
By Sophia Guevara
With so many apps available in the iPhone App Store and Google Play, it is difficult to find which ones could actually provide value for the needs of a nonprofit leader. With this being said, here is a list of five apps you may not already have on your phone but are worth considering:
- Lookout mobile security app - Lookout provides a free option to locate your device once it goes missing or is stolen. You can map the vicinity in which your phone is located once you lose it or activate a siren that sounds for up to a minute to help you locate it. For Android phone users, Lookout provides the ability to remotely lock and wipe a phone when the owner of the phone is unable to retrieve it. These advanced options will require access to the premium edition, which isn’t free. In addition, Android phone users who lose their phone without installing the Lookout app can install their Plan B option immediately by remotely installing the app through Google Play.
- Taxi magic app - This is a must-have for nonprofit leaders who travel. While you can use the app to book, track your taxi and pay for your ride with your credit card - you can also use the app to find local taxi services around the area and call directly for the ride if you prefer.
- HP ePrint service app - This is an excellent app for those who need to print documents or images directly off of their phone. This app allows you to identify and use HP public print locations like FedEx, UPS Ground, etc. You can upload your document and image and select the location nearest you that you would like to print them out at. You are provided with a special release code that unlocks your print job and allows you to make the copies you need.
- Evernote app - This free app allows you to save notes and ideas as an audio recording, picture, notes and to do lists. You can sync your data across multiple devices if you use Evernote on both your computer and smartphone. There is a premium version with additional features, but you need to pay a fee for this kind of access.
- Chrome browser app - This free Google browser app allows you to search fast and sync bookmarks on all of your devices. If you use Chrome as a web browser on your computer, you can send bookmarks to your mobile devices as well. This can be very helpful as you can have access at a moment’s notice to all your bookmarks just in case you need to share one with another colleague.
These apps can help the busy nonprofit professional stay productive and keep their phones secure while on the go.
What apps are you crazy about? What would you recommend to your colleagues?
Join the discussion and leave your tips and recommendations in the comments!
Sophia Guevara is the Chair of the Consortium of Foundation Libraries, and is a new member of the NTEN:Change editorial committee for 2013.
This article is part of the June, 2013 issue of NTEN:Change, which is all about mobile. Your executive director and board members should be reading this quarterly digital journal for nonprofit leaders!
Your audiences so often see nonprofit campaigns that lack any call to action so, no matter how compelling the issue or message, that they have no idea how to get involved. I know, because I see them too.
Your call to action is what connects your supporters and partners with your org—you have to have it and it better be clear and doable. Today I’ll help you get there.
Let me start with sharing some definitions of what comes first (examples here):
- Organizational goals (a max of three at a time) are the steps to take over the next year that will take your organization closer to achieving its mission.
- Marketing goals are the best ways you can put marketing to work to help achieve those organization goals.
- Calls to action come into play only after you have your marketing goals in place and have identified your target audiences—the three or fewer groups who can do the most to help you reach those goals, and/or who are most likely to do so.
Learn what’s likely to be acted on, before you ask
Once you hone in on your target audiences, your next step is to get to know them via conversations, surveys, how they interact with your emails, websites and social media channels and more.
These are your calls to action
Only then can you outline the specific actions you want them to take. Define a series of incremental, doable actions you’ll ask them to take. Make sure that each is linked clearly and strongly with your organization’s goals.
Ask in the right way, at the right time, in the right place
Ask your audiences—early, clearly and repeatedly—to act…to register online, participate in a program, give or share their stories.
Highlight what’s in it for them, and address any obstacles likely to be in the way of their actions. And finally—be as specific as possible so it’s easy to act with the least effort possible.
More guidance on setting useful goals:
Nonprofit Marketing vs. Organizational Goals—A Critical Distinction
Are Your Marketing Goals Easy to Reach or a Stretch?
How do your calls to action differ from your organizational goals? Are they working or not? Please share your CTA tips and questions, here.
P.S. Get this practical, doable marketing plan template to take you from goals to work plan, action and impact.
Check out this awesome infographic from the ASAE Technology Council. They will be sharing lots more information about the specific pieces of it on this site, but here it is in all its glory! From Rick Johnston (a long time colleague and friend, and my new manager at ICF!):
How to do data management right.:
At NTEN's 2011 Nonprofit Cloud Computing Summit, nonprofit technology guru Allen Gunn said that the single most useful cloud-based applications for nonprofits are, without question, project-management and collaboration tools. A non-profit that benefited from such a tool is CASA-Voices for Children in Oregon, which found a way for three people to do the charitable work of 45.
Since March of 2011, I’ve had the opportunity to connect with countless changemakers and nonprofit leaders in my role as NTEN’s Membership Director. It is with tremendous enthusiasm for our potential to make real impact together as a sector that I’ve accepted a new opportunity: to be NTEN’s CEO.
So, hello, again! My work will certainly be changing with this new role, but I can assure you that one thing remains very much the same: my focus on supporting NTEN Members and the nonprofit community in truly improving our world effectively and efficiently with technology. I hope there will be even more opportunities to hear from you, learn from you, and collaborate with you.
I couldn’t get started in this new role without saying thank you. Thank you to the NTEN’s board and staff for your dedication to our mission and including me in it with you! Thank you to the members who go above and beyond for sake of helping NTEN, your community, and me – you know who you are! And many thanks in advance to all of you for connecting and contributing to this important work.
I’ll be starting as CEO on June 1st, and plan to hit the ground running. We will have two positions open so be on the look out next week for information on joining the NTEN team.
Here’s to many more conferences, reports, case studies, and cat videos together!
Last month, Stephanie Evergreen wrote an awesome guest post called “Six Steps to Great Charts” with lots of practical tips for using the Excel chart feature to visualize your social media measurement data. The six steps:
Step 1: Which Chart is Best?
Step 2: Use Color To Emphasize
Step 3: Delete Data You Don’t Need
Step 4: Directly Label
Step 5: Save As A Template
Step 6: Annotate
For step 1, she suggested using Juice Analytics chart chooser tool. I wanted to learn more about what particular chart format is better suited to visualize a particular comparison or insight from social media data. And, can the process of selecting the right chart format help you better understand your data? To help answer those questions, I consulted a classic, ”Say It With Charts” written by Gene Zelazny, Director of Visual Communications at McKinsey which is a sort of Strunk and White for graphs and charts and used it to guide creating charts in Excel. Here’s what I learned:
When it comes to charts to display quantitative data, there are only a few basic chart forms to select from. Here’s the different formats and some pointers on when and how to use them for reporting on your social media metrics and data.
Pie Chart: Use a pie chart when you are making a point about the size or percentage of each component compared to a whole. The example of above is the percentage of gender for total audience. Your eye is used to measuring in a clock-wise motion, so you should position the most important segment against the 12 o’clock line. To make the most of pie charts, do not have more than 6 slices. Select the five most important components and make the rest into other. Pie charts are the least practical of the chart forms and most often misused.
Here’s more on how to use pie charts in excel.
As soon as you need to need to compare the components of more than one total, avoid using a pie chart and switch to a bar chart or column graph.
Bar Chart: When you compare different items, use a bar chart. The vertical is used to label and measure different items. In the example above, the bars are measuring the unique number of monthly web visitors from source. You have some choices in how you arrange the bars or items. You could arrange them in alphabetical order, or low to high or high to low (best to worst) as I did above. Think about what order best stresses the point you want to make and make sure you sort your data in excel the right way.
Use can also use color to reinforce the what the data is telling you or the title of the chart. In this example, I made the item with the best traffic referral a different color from the rest, using Facebook blue. I had to use format options in Excel and change the colors of the bars manual. Zelazny also suggests that the space between the bars be smaller than the size of the bars. The default in Excel is to have thin bars with a lot f space. I had to use the editing series option and reduce the “gap width.” Here’s how to do it.
You can add a scale at the top or numbers at the end of the bars, but not both because it adds clutter. Use the scale if all you want is a quick study of relationships, but use the numbers if they are important to your message. Sometimes, you might want to use the scale and the one number that needs emphasis. There are variations on the bar chart that you use in Excel, but these are used for complex data sets. Keep it simple!
More in bar charts in excel.
Time Series Comparisons
The pie chart and bar chart are used to compare different components with another at one point in time, but you have data that is showing changes over time, you can use a column chart or line chart. Zelazny says that picking between the two forms depends on how many data points you are plotting – fewer use the column chart, more (many years) use the line chart. Also, column chart is best for representing data that “reset” every month and line charts best for cumulative data.
I’ve created two different examples below with some notes about how to maximize each.
Column Chart: The chart illustrates click thrus on Twitter to links by month and each month starts over again. The suggestions for making the most of column charts are similar to bar charts.
Line Chart: The line chart is one of the most often used of the five charts. It is easiest to understand your data – whether the trend is increasing, decreasing, fluctuating, or remaining the same. It is best used when there is cumulative data, like growth in subscribers, followers, or fans.
Make sure your trend line is bolder or thicker than the horizontal grids, again requires changing the style of the lines in the chart format menu. Grids are there for reference, not dominate visual attention.
The line chart has a variation – the grouped line chart which compares the performance over time of two or more items. The challenge is figuring out how many trend lines you can show before your chart looks like a bowl of pasta. One technique to de-clutter is pair your trend lines, although this requires using more charts.
Column charts and line charts can also be used to comparison of frequency distribution these are called histograms (column) and histographs (line). This shows how many items fall into a series of progressive numerical ranges (distribution). Column charts are used for fewer ranges and line charts more ranges.
One thing I discovered: If approached representing data on a chart as a design process focusing on my key point and using the customization options (color, size, grids, order, title), my charts were vastly improved over the default Excel options. In other words, I used Excel to as a sense-making tool, not just a chart creation tool.
Want to go deeper in charts and graphs in Excel? Here’s a terrific resource from one of my favorite data nerds, Ann Emery. (Hat tip to Susan Chavez)
What are your tips for making sense out of your data?
How do you visualize your social media data in excel?
It is my pleasure to share some exciting news today: The NTEN Board of Directors welcomes Amy Sample Ward as NTEN’s new Chief Executive Officer.