Note from Beth: Yesterday, I was the honored guest at a Google Hangout hosted by the Packard Foundation to celebrate the work that I have done over the last five years as Visiting Scholar at the Packard Foundation. It was wonderful to see colleagues in the room and online, reflect on the work, and talk about next steps. Kathy Reich, Director of Organizational Effectiveness Grantmaking at the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, write up this summary of the session. I am looking forward to the next chapter of work which will continue to focus on networks, but how they can be used by nonprofit for learning that leads to greater impact. Stay tuned.
Guest Post: Celebrating Beth’s Five Years As Visiting Scholar at the Packard Foundation by Kathy Reich
Five years ago, the Packard Foundation was trying to figure out this whole social media thing. The idea of using social media for social impact was still pretty new, though it was certainly playing a pretty big role in the Presidential election. We sensed that we needed to figure out the role that technology and social media could play in the social sector, and that we needed to help our grantee partners figure it out too. And fast. But we didn’t quite know how to begin.
The job of figuring it out within the Packard Foundation fell to the Organizational Effectiveness (OE) program, which works closely with our grantees to strengthen their ability to adapt and thrive in complex environments. OE grants help nonprofits strengthen their leadership, organizations, and networks. They can, for example, provide executive directors with leadership training, organizations with skills and tools to develop strategic plans, and networks with training on the latest technologies to scale their work across the globe.
If anyone was going to help nonprofits learn how to use technology and social media to advance their missions, it should be us. The only problem was, we were just as lost as the nonprofits we wanted to help. If not more so.
Luckily, two visionary colleagues of mine, Stephanie McAuliffe and Chris DeCardy, had the great good luck to connect with Beth Kanter. An online conversation led to a phone call, and in March 2009, Beth arrived here for what was originally envisioned as a nine-month Visiting Scholarship.
Almost five years later, it’s hard to quantify the impact that Beth has had on the Packard Foundation, its grantee partners, and the nonprofit sector as a whole. She’s advised literally hundreds of Packard Foundation-funded organizations around the world on social media strategy and what it means to be a networked nonprofit. She’s written two books, The Networked Nonprofit and Measuring the Networked Nonprofit. And she’s taught me, and countless others, how to do the failure bow!
But what’s truly extraordinary about Beth is how she does her work—the humility, kindness, and generosity of spirit that she brings to every interaction. She manages to make everyone feel like they have wisdom to bring to the table (or the wiki). She makes everyone feel like failure is okay.
Yesterday, we hosted “The Beth Effect”, a Google Hangout filmed live from our headquarters in front of an intimate studio audience of Beth’s local friends and colleagues. Maybe you saw it (#thebetheffect was trending on Twitter). It was a time for us in the nonprofit sector to reflect on what Beth means to us—to appreciate what we’ve learned with her as our teacher, mentor and friend.
John Kenyon (@jakenyon), nonprofit tech guru and frequent collaborator of Beth’s, did a wonderful job interviewing Beth – teasing out the stories, A-ha moments, failures – and giving Beth the space to talk openly about her next chapter. Also with us were three nonprofit sector leaders—Luis Chabolla (@cfluis) from the Community Foundation of Santa Cruz County, Jenifer Morgan (@ssireview) of Stanford Social Innovation Review, and Rachel Weidinger (@rachelannyes) from Upwell—who have worked with Beth during her Visiting Scholarship and have a few Beth stories of their own.
Thanks to Beth, we all crawled…or maybe we inched into using tech strategies and tools. Then we walked. Then we ran. And now, with Google Hangouts and Twitter Chats and hackathons, even the most technophobic among us are starting to fly. I feel so honored to call Beth my friend, and I know thousands of other blog readers and Twitter followers do as well.
Kathy Reich is Director of Organizational Effectiveness Grantmaking at the David and Lucile Packard Foundation. She tweets at @kdreich.