The Networked Nonprofit Board | Beth's Blog

The Networked Nonprofit Board

Leadership, Networked Nonprofit, Social Media Policy

The last chapter of the Networked Nonprofit is on networked governance.  We thought this would be an easy part of the book to write – all we’d have to do is find examples of how boards online, opening up decisionmaking to outside influences.   There were no examples – so the last chapter of the book is speculative, based on the best thinking of the people who have looked at networked governance.  I dreamed up some scenarios of boards and social media in practice.

As part of my work as Visiting Scholar at the Packard Foundation and coaching grantees on becoming a Networked Nonprofit and using social media effectively,  I’ve also been talking to boards including the museum board above.   We had an amazing conversation about the ideas in the Networked Nonprofit around social culture, transparency, and simplicity.

When we moved from the theory to the on the ground nuts and bolts,   we took look at what the organization was doing on Facebook and the ladder of engagement.  I did ask how many were using Facebook, and almost everyone on this board raised their hands.   (And if I asked who was a member of the baby boom generation or beyond, I”m sure most would have raised their hands as well.)   The next question, “How many of you have “liked” the museum’s Facebook Page?”   Not too many hands went up.

While you may find strangers on Facebook who will climb the ladder of love and go from liking your page to being your organization’s best evangelist,  should your board on the top rung as well?   This prompted a very productive discussion about how this board could use social media to support the organization.

I think you have to crawl before you fly.  So, this is a great first step.  In addition a social media policy,  education and training, maybe a live demo showing how social media works and why it is important.   But getting to networked governance  governance is a big step.

The OnLine blog published an intriguing post called “Social Media and Accountability” where Zachary Wales imagined a couple examples where social media might be injected into governance of a nonprofit.  Not many examples of  live tweeting board meeting minutes or nominating committees looking for a slate of officers on LinkedIN or getting feedback for strategic plans We’re not seeing these governance tasks infused with social media as a  common practice in our sector.   Sounds like science fiction doesn’t it?

How can boards effectively incorporate the use of the social networks and social media to govern?

Great Governance:  How Board Members Can Use Social Media by Beth Kanter
Blogging and Tweeting An Open Board Meeting by Beth Kanter
Catching the Wave:  Twitter at a Packard Foundation Board Meeting by Beth Kanter
Social Media in the Board Room by Beth Kanter
Three Ways To Prevent Brain Drain from Nonprofit Boards by Smart Blog

6 Responses

  1. […] The Net­worked Non­profit Board | Beth’s Blog. The last chap­ter of the Net­worked Non­profit is on net­worked gov­er­nance. We thought […]

  2. Great thoughts about governance and the board work with social media … makes one think about bumping up or adding a communications/marketing team.

  3. Thanks for this post and for drawing out ideas that staff working with boards are already mulling over. I think it’s a question of how because in many cases board members are at the VP and CEO level and are time starved (or might not be using social media). For us, the starting point is following board members, brand influencers, employees and passionate clients and then retweeting their valuable industry info to our followers from our brand account (and saying thanks to this person and a short affiliation in the RT). That begins to build the engagement so that the board members/influencers start to mention our brand in their tweets, and hopefully eventually RT our brand’s message and become our ambassadors.

  4. […] We really struggled with the governance chapter. Beth wrote a great blog post about it a couple of weeks ago. Boards are such a “hands off” topic for nonprofits, there is such a level of deference […]

  5. Beth, I like your suggestion of a live demo showing how social media works. Specifically, I want to try illustrating for my own board, and the boards I consult with, the measurable impact of clicking “like” on a Facebook updates. I know Facebook figures likes in determining where an item will appear in the News Feed … but how much? If we had a figure, we could use that in an argument that “simply clicking like really does help us get our organization’s message out.”

  6. Beth says:

    John: You have to look at the whole ladder of engagement – and quantify the value all long. And honestly, it takes a second or two for a board member to post something about the organization on their FB profile – helps spread brand awareness. I think social media should be one way that board is an advocate for the organizations they oversee.

    Here’s more on the Ladder of Engagement on Facebook.