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The Infiltrator

Blending in a sea of souls

praying to coalesce

collector of tools

to use

against the corruptor

knowledge is power

they say

living in two worlds

most shutter

fall

fail

my will must prevail

use the tools

we conquer

the enemies language

among a sea of souls

I am the infiltrator

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While reading Kanter and Fine’s The Networked Nonprofit and Halvorson and Rach’s Content Strategy for the Web, there are several instances where the two books overlapped each other. Both spoke about listening being the key factor to building a relationship with an organization. Both books also mentioned stakeholders and the ladder of engagement. And finally, both talk about their form of “the influencer”.

The first overlap focuses in on listening skills. Both books mention listening being a huge factor to connecting with an organization. Content strategy talks about learning how to listen and who you should listen to. “The harder you listen, the better you’ll understand the rationale, politics, emotions, motivations behind the reasons content related decision are or aren’t being made” (10). The Networked Nonprofit also talks about listening being key. “The key ingredient to building any relationship is good listening” (61). That being said, listening to your organization will create a bond between consultant and organization because you are directly listening to their needs and emotions and what is or is not being done.

The second way in which both books overlap deals with the stakeholders and the ladder of engagement. In each book, the terms may be different but both terms have the same meaning. The question both books pose is who matters to the organization and who is associated with the organization. In Content Strategy for the Web, the term used is called stakeholders. Each stakeholder functions as a separate but is equally important. The stakeholders include: strategic decision makers, Money people, Champions, Showstoppers, and interested others (41). The strategic decision makers are the people who will most be impacted by your strategy. The money people are the ones who contribute the money to the cause. The Champions are the ones who will advocate for your project regardless to the relationship to the content. The showstoppers are the ones who have no real power but could stop the project and last but not least, the interested others. This group of people merely people who are interested in the project but may have very little involvement in the actual the project.

While Content Strategy for the Web has stakeholders, The Networked Nonprofit has the ladder of engagement, which is quite similar to the stakeholders. This ladder focus’ on the same information but is termed differently. Instead of the decision maker, there is the Happy bystander who blogs and friends of Facebook. Instead of the money people, there are the donors who fund the project. Instead of the champions we have the evangelists who reach out to other personal social networks. Instead of the showstoppers, there are spreaders who spread the word. And instead of the interested other, we have the instigator who has the power to create new causes or organizations. Both authors have the same concept of the book, and that is to know how each individual functions within the organization. This is true because no matter what type of organization there is, there will always be levels of people involved within the organization that are essential to the organization as a whole, no matter how big or little there role.

The third way in which the books overlap also has to deal with the people within the organization, but only in a slightly different nature. This nature deals with the groups of people who are connected to the organization whether it is a direct connection or an indirect connection. In The Networked Nonprofit, there are two main structures within the organization, the nodes-people and organizations and then there are the hubs- the influencers who know everyone and are known by everyone (27). The hubs are the people you want to get familiar with because they have the potential to get your organization known by other major hubs.

Although The Networked Nonprofit talks about the hubs being essential, it’s discussed in Content Strategy that the “influencers” are the power players and control most of the content of the organization. Within the influencers are: Trade Journals, Analyst reports, News media coverage, Bloggers, Social media sites, Celebrity speakers, family and friends (88) the influencers are the same as the hubs, only more defined in Content Stratagy.

Now that the two books are discussed and how they overlap each other, let’s go into how each one is unique. Let’s start with CSW. The most unique thing about this book is that it focuses around the issue of core strategy and it goes into each layer in detail. Core strategy being the main goal or mission of the organization. Although the components of the organization may change overtime; the core strategy always remains the same. This concept is applied and referenced throughout the novel and it is a great way to visualize an organization.

The unique thing about the Networked Nonprofit is that it talks about content a great deal just as CSW, but the main focus of this book is to build meaningful relationships. By doing so, many sections of the book have a sort of case study scenario on how an area of the book relates to an actual nonprofit organization. As an example, there is a portion of the book that references how the Smithsonian Institute practices transparency. By highlighting on this factor, it gives what the author is saying some capability because they are saying “look at his organization, they practice transparency and it works for them, so you should too.” It is a great strategy to use because it forces the reader to believe what they are reading to be true because of the credibility of the source that is focused.

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In a world full of billions of people, how does an organization reach out to just one person, or just one hundred people, or a million people? The answer is simple. Share. According to Clay Shirky’s video, How cognitive Surplus will change the world, he states “people like to create and people like to share.” There is so much truth behind this statement and it is highly visible on any social media network. Let’s look at YouTube as an example. Anyone has the power to post a video about pretty much anything they want and upload it to YouTube. Or as another example, take a look at Facebook. This site even designates a button that says “share” to share your pictures with your friends. Sharing is a powerful tool and there are also many different methods to sharing information. Something even more powerful is when a large group of people come together and share within the community, to the community, for the community. http://www.ted.com/talks/clay_shirky_how_cognitive_surplus_will_change_the_world.html

Impact Foundation is an excellent example of sharing. The organization’s foundation is built on sharing knowledge to nonprofits throughout the community that want to better help other people in the community through their organization. Impact Foundation would also fall into the phrase of cognitive surplus, or as Clay Shirky puts it, “the ability of world’s population to volunteer and contribute and collaborate in large, sometimes global projects.” Impact Foundation fits into this phrase but on a smaller scale of community as opposed to worldwide. Although, they have the capability to be worldwide with the power of social media.
https://bb.ndsu.nodak.edu/bbcswebdav/pid-2310462-dt-content-rid-9606804_2/courses/133-NDSU-8588/shirky.pdf

To talk a little bit more about sharing, “Sharing has typically required a high degree of communication through donor and recipient” (173). This is one opportunity that Impact foundation has yet to apply to their social media network which will highly benefit both the donor and the recipient. One goal Impact foundation hopes to accomplish is that the bond between donor and recipient is created and strengthened. This can be accomplished by simply sharing information with them. As an example, Impact Foundation shared photos on their web site of Giving Hearts Day (a hugely successful event in fundraising for non-profits) this creates a stream of visible proof that is shared from Impact (recipient) to the donor whom of which donated the funding to help the organization. http://www.impactgiveback.org/About?p=Giving_Hearts_Day

This type of sharing is called “public sharing.” The groups of collaborators actively want to create public resources to better help their community. Although this type of sharing is great, the ultimate form of sharing is called “civic sharing” (175). This type of sharing means actively trying to transform society and is designated to create real change in society. Civic sharing has Impact Foundation written all over it because the statement alone is one of Impact Foundations main goals as an organization.

Impact Foundations cognitive surplus is their social media networking, in particular, the non-profit organizations they have helped. In helping nonprofits become better at what they do, Impact Foundation is also bettering the community in which Impact Foundation and the organizations they help are all a part of, therefore, Impact Foundation is benefiting the community. In order for Impact Foundation to continue helping non-profit organizations they many need to expand and reach out to other organizations outside of their community to better help other communities. This will eventually create a chain effect and before you know it, Impact Foundation will be global.

In conclusion, Impact Foundation has the capability to become global because what they do, helps people do what they do, only better. They have a purpose, they have a drive to help people and they have the tools literally at their fingertips. They just have to share, which is something they are already great at achieving.
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Throughout the Electronic Communications course, I had to form numerous accounts which added to my work flow. The beginning of the course I felt a little bombarded with foreign sites and actually had to write down all of my passwords just to remember them all. But once I finally played around with the site and familiarized myself with them, it began to get a little easier. I still have trouble with all my passwords and log ins but the content became a little smoother.

One site suggested to aid in the navigation of workflow is Hootsuit. This site is designed to help manage all of your accounts in one place. I did sign up for an account, but have not actually used it for what it is intended. I take a more natural, realist approach to the media in which I take part in. I like to manually enter everything into my social media outlets because I believe it creates a more realistic outcome that people know I am a human being and not a robot behind the computer.

For instance, I follow fitness instructor Shaun T. Recently he has stepped up his social media awareness and posts on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube frequently. Although it’s great he posts daily (sometimes more) I have noticed his comments are exactly the same on each channel of media. He will have something posted on twitter with hash tags and mentions and it is carried over to Facebook. If you are on Facebook, you know this is not how the site works and honestly, all the tags and mentions are irritating on Facebook. This demonstration makes me think that Shaun T (or his assistant) is using a host to help him relay information out into the social media network. I’m not saying it is a bad idea, but through my eyes, it doesn’t seem genuine or real. It actually appears copied and not authentic. I felt a little betrayed once I had realized what was happening. It made me wonder,” Is Shaun T was actually composing the information himself, or is someone else doing the work and posting on his behalf through a host site? http://shauntfitness.com/

I can see the exact same thing happening to Impact Foundation if they were to choose a host with their social media. Although some things might work through a host like Hootsuit, at the moment, it might not be the best tool for Impact Foundation. Working with the organization, I know they are familiarizing themselves with a few social media outlets that are fairly new to them. Introducing a new tool may add a little frustration and unnecessary stress to their social media. I am not saying they should never apply this tool, just not right now. Taking social media one step at a time will help them comfortably ease themselves into the world of social media. http://www.impactgiveback.org/

Another reason why the organization might want to hold off on a host site is because they are all about being genuine and keeping things real and having a strong connection to their community. Managing each account will build on the relationship between the organization and their audience of other non-profit organizations. However, if they do choose to go with a host to manage all of their social media, it would be wise to be very careful what and how they post and tweet because it could have a reverse effect to their audience.

On the flip side, one could choose to use a host site. The pros to this site are these types of sites allow messages to be sent out at specific times. This may be beneficial to an organization. Maybe they have the event in the future. We all know how stressful any event may be and to have to update social media in the midst of chaos on an event day may be a little challenging. For that factor, a host site will provide help. Also, if a person in an organization and has a job title that consists of numerous tasks, a host site may be an option to consider looking into.

Like I had mentioned earlier, I am far from an expert at using any web site host, and I am sure there are much more capabilities then what I have talked about. Personally, I prefer not to use it, for now at least. I could understand if a person where pressed with time and they thought a host site would help with that time span, but I still feel a more concrete bond will be formed through social media if a person were to post and update each site themselves, not through a host.

To go a little more into social media, the question has come up about whether or not to use one own personal social media for work. To answer this question I have to say, yes, it is ok, but only with discretion. Referring to Impact Foundation once again, I believe this to be fine to do. It might even benefit them more so. Since Impact Foundation is such a community based organization, I think a personal account creates a more personal bond between the audiences. A lot of times, when one is tweeting, facebooking etc. to an organization, you really don’t know who you are talking to, only that the message is going to someone within the organization. With a personal account, this is not the case because you know exactly who you are messaging and hence, it seems more personal.

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In the beginning of the semester, our class was asked the question “who is your avatar?” Meaning, who are you online or who do you want to be while online. I don’t think I fully understood the question until I was nudged out into the world and asked to consult with a real life organization. Like a bird being push from the nest, I was forced out of my comfort zone.

Being pushed out of this zone was and still is frightening, nerve wrecking and up lifting with a twist of self-realization all at the same time. In my case, I had to find an organization to work with and ask them to hand over their social media for a few weeks. That is a lot of responsibility and trust coming from both directions. This seemed frightening and thrilling all wrapped into the same ball of emotions.

Once I actually “hiked up my mom jeans” and assumed my consultant avatar, it became a breeze. I met with some great, caring people from Impact Foundation who are passionate about what they do, and that is helping others. I enjoyed meeting with them so much, I actually thought (and still am contemplating) whether or not I can and should be a real life consultant. http://www.impactgiveback.org/

The funny thing about one of my first meetings with the organization was, I walked into the meeting feeling scared and nervous. But I dressed in my power clothes and carried my lucky green binder. We met in a meeting room with a long table. I think this was the point when I realized I was in an actual meeting with an actual organization. I wasn’t in class taking notes, I wasn’t siting behind a computer screen typing an email trying to sound professional. I was actually sitting at this newly built facility with a really great people having a grown up conversation. It was that point my identity as a student faded into the background and felt like a professional business woman, taking notes and talking with people who wanted to hear my thoughts.

Working with this organization and seeing people have joy in what they do made me want to go out into the world and help others in some way, shape or form. Yes this may sound a little cheesy and over the top, but it has been an eye opening experience. Especially being from a small town where the cattle outnumber the people, it seemed few people (and even fewer cows) had hope for me in the “real world. “ Yet, here I am. Consulting with this organization about ways in which I can help them. It really is eye-opening.

To answer the question from the beginning of the semester, who is my avatar? My avatar is still me, but only a better version of me. I have taken the person behind the computer and brought her to life by applying her to enthusiastic, consultant, me in real life. I guess you can say I have become my avatar.

Becoming my avatar is something that automatically happened. It will come easy if you are honest and sincere and also, participating in something you care about. I’m sure bringing my avatar to life would have been difficult if my consultant avatar were trying to be someone that I am not.

“Courage is being scared to death, but saddling up anyway” -John Wayne.

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What is content strategy? What is core strategy? Is core strategy the plan that I have to get the best looking abs on the planet? To sum it up, yeah, I guess that’s one way of looking at core strategy.

Core strategy sets the long term directions for all of your content-related initiatives- ensuring all activities, big or small, are working together toward the same magnificent future (Halvorsorn, 96). As you may be able to tell, I am a little into fitness and that is the first question that came to mind when I read the word, core strategy. In a way, the two core strategies can be the same plan.

In fitness, to work on your core, you have to plan and continue on with that plan to gain results. Sometimes, you may even have to change your workout to target your abs more, or you may have to change your (workout) plan because your muscles become attune to the same, repetitive moves and they began to remember, resulting in a more slow process of getting fabulous abs. This can be the same for an organization and core strategy. If the content that is put out into a web page, twitter or Facebook is not constantly changed and relevant, people become bored (96.) Just as a repetitive workout will become boring if not updated, revised and changed. Whether in fitness or an organization, both have a main goal, and that is always at the core. Therefore this is your core strategy. The only thing that may become modified is the (workout) plan. This plan could be called your content strategy.

To go a little further into core strategy, I wanted to look at an organization called Impact Foundation. http://www.impactgiveback.org/ The organizations core strategy is to help other nonprofit organizations by providing training, help with fundraising and overall, helping the people of the community in Fargo-Moorhead. Their core strategy, overall, is to help other organizations so those organizations can go out into the community and help the people. Impact Foundation is currently revising their content strategy by using social media as a tool of awareness to the community. With their social media, they are remodeling the main web site page and also, looking into setting up a blog page along with focusing more on Twitter and Facebook to connect with nonprofit organizations that they can possibly help in the future. All of the smaller adjustments the organization is doing are a part of their content strategy. They are updating content, refreshing content and adding more content. And all of these efforts are driven from their core strategy; helping nonprofit organizations.
To narrow in a little more on strategy, let’s take a look at Impact Foundations Facebook page. The first thing that is noticeable once browsing the page is they offer minimal visual ads such as picture or video. This is a huge opportunity for the organization to capture and focus in on because they have helped so many organizations. With adding images of organizations they have already helped to their page, it will help create a stream of knowledge and awareness to their “friends” on Facebook. With knowledge, comes power. And that is the power to spread the word that something is happening at Impact Foundation. The word to spread is they are helping people, help people! See what can happen with little inspirational images:)

The second issue is the organization doesn’t have a firm following, yet. These minor issues are linked to their content strategy. In order to gain a larger following, one must friend. So, in other words, to gain a larger “friend list”, they could search organizations that they may be able to benefit, and friend them. Another way to gain friends is to pin-point organizations that are connected to many other organizations and befriend them. That way, when the organization posts something or updates a status, many other people will also see it and a network will be created.

So, now that we know what content strategy and core strategy are, we can get to helping people, help other people. We can also focus more on our core strategy by always trying to make it better by constantly modifying moves to target our core strategy.

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The nonprofit organization I will be assessing is called Impact Foundation. For this assessment, I will be utilizing a technique called network mapping. With this technique, it will help in being able to distinguish the areas in which main ties are connecting the nodes (people and organizations), hubs and the networks edge or periphery in relation to the organization. In realizing who and where the hubs for the organization are, who the nodes in relation to the organization are, and where the networks edge is; it will be easier to pin-point how to provide further opportunity for the organization.

For starters I will define a few key words. Nodes are people or organizations. The organizations edge, or periphery is kind of like a little blind spot or grey area, so to speak. This area doesn’t get much attention but is should because it can be a valuable asset to the organization. The people in the periphery are important because they are likely to be participants or even hubs in other networks. They can help the organization grow by connecting it with other networks.(28) This bit of information is helpful because my next step in the assessment of Impact Foundation is to find out exactly who the periphery is and how they tie to the organization.

Now that we have caught up on our vocabulary, I would like to talk a little bit about this amazing organization called, Impact Foundation. Their main goal is to, “effectively identify, address and solve the critical problems facing our region through substantially improving the leadership, performance and ultimate impact of the nonprofit sector in North Dakota and Western Minnesota.” http://www.impactgiveback.org/impact_institute

In order to gain a further understanding of the organization’s needs, I first visited their website to get a feel on what the organization was about, who they worked with and also, who they have helped. In my research, I found the organization is partnered with three other organizations, the Dakota Medical Foundation, Alex Stern Family Foundation, and The Bush Foundation. Each of these organizations helps Impact foundation. According to the book, The Networked Nonprofit, these three organizations would be considered as the major “hubs” in which larger organizations within networks that have lots of connections (27). Another major hub would be Giving Hearts Day. This event happens only once a year and Impact Foundation along with Dakota Medical foundation is both the hub for this hugely successful fundraising event. Giving Hearts Day is a one day, twenty-four hour event on February fourteenth where participants can email, Facebook, or Twitter to donate to the organization of their choice. From there, Dakota Medical Foundation matches donations of ten dollars or more.

After distinguishing the organizations hubs, I know want to discuss the organizations Twitter and Facebook accounts to try to figure out which nodes have ties to other nodes and also, how and if they have a periphery that can be linked to a node.

The next step I took was scoping out Impact Foundations Twitter page. Once entering the page, I had noticed the content was a little out of date. This is ok for the moment because we are strictly on high pursuit for the organizations nodes, ties to nodes and periphery. To find this information, I checked out who the organization was following and also, who was following the organization. I found that Impact Foundation was only following one node and that node is hootsuite. Great to start out with but I can vividly remember Heather Mansfield stating in SMSG,”the more people you follow, the more followers you will receive” So, hootsuite is a great start because it may be able to integrate twitter, facebook and their web page into one, easy to manage site where they don’t have to worry about posting here or posting there. Also, while browsing their followers, I noticed many people from whom they helped with their organization also follow their twitter. For example, Fraser, LTD and YMCA of Cass and Clay follow Impact. I don’t think it was a coincidence that these two organizations both ranked top ten for Giving Hearts Day. They possibly follow Impact because of the donations that were made by Impacts sponsor, Dakota Medical Foundation. Other possible periphery’s may include: Ronald McDonald house, Hounds and Heros, and Blue Cross Blue Sheild. These organizations may be possible periphery’s because they serve as a “target” for next years Giving Hearts Day because of the tie between how similar the organizations are to the top ten list(see below) of who raised the most money for Giving Hearts Day. Another organization I noticed was Sundog. This organization is a marketing and technology company that delivers solutions to help you strengthen your brand, grow revenues, and measure your return of investment (according to twitter). This organization does not appear to be a nonprofit but maybe in some way there is a node there that is linked to this organization who may be a possible periphery? I will further develope this theory and see where it takes me. https://twitter.com/ImpactGiveback/followers

Now, onto Impact Foundations Facebook page…

According to Impact Foundations Facebook page, for 2013 the organization raised $3,679,655! That is a large amount of money and proof that Giving Hearts Day is an effective fundraising event that helps many people in many ways. Way to go Impact Foundation!

The top organization that raised the most money was First Choice clinic raising $249,787. The second was YWCA of Cass Clay raising $241,516 and third was Fraser, LTD raising $191,327. After researching Impact Foundations Facebook page and seeing how much the top organizations have raised, this fact also linked the organizations to being hubs to Giving Hearts Day. https://www.facebook.com/#!/impactfdn?fref=ts

Knowing the hubs, nodes, and periphery can provide key insights and can help create a firm understanding of who Impact Foundation can further reach out to during next year’s event of Giving Hearts Day. Until then, keep up the good work Impact Foundation!