I’ve spent most of the nonprofit portion of my career as a communications professional supporting the programmatic core of organizations. But I have also worked directly in program departments, creating and growing grassroots initiatives in the field.

While both program and communications staff are passionate about their work – and the mission of the organization they serve – there are often times when the two groups seem to be operating in two different worlds. As a communications staffer, I used to think, Why don’t the program people get it.

Then I went to work as acting deputy director of programs. After a few months, when my former communications staffers came to me with excellent ideas for promoting program work, I thought to myself, Why don’t the communications staff members get it?

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We are busy drafting the curriculum now for next year’s training series. Help us craft the workshops that best fit your needs by filling out our survey. Also be entered into a raffle to win one free workshop slot for yourself or your nonprofit organization for the 2010-2011 Capacity Building Training Series. The survey will take you only 5 to 7 minutes to complete.

Please help us to help you. Let us know what topics would be most compelling for future trainings and events.

We’ve been trying to leverage social networking sites to promote our various training opportunities, and are struggling to find the right way to utilize Facebook.

Facebook has a built-in event feature. The problem is that the event management is assumed to live on Facebook. TSNE hosts registration for most trainings on our own website (sometimes partner organizations host, as in last month’s Email Fundraising Bootcamp with Idealware), because we have a maximum capacity and some events cost money.

The challenge we’re running into is how to use Facebook to drive people to register on the TSNE site. For example, last year several people had been invited to a conference via Facebook, and just clicked the RSVP button on the Facebook event page without actually visiting the TSNE/NonProfit Center website. The conference charged a small fee. So none of these people were actually registered or had paid for the conference (because they didn’t realize they needed to), but thought they were registered — and the conference sold out through regular registration, so we had to juggle to make room for these people.

There are events where an exact count doesn’t matter – June’s NonProfit Center Ice Cream Social, for instance. We needed a rough headcount so that we could provide enough ice cream, but there wasn’t a hard limit in terms of capacity like there is in a conference room for a training. So some people RSVPed via email, and some via Facebook, and we had an idea of how many people to expect. The viral aspect of Facebook worked wonderfully, and everyone had a great time.

But looking forward to this next year’s trainings, we’re trying to brainstorm the best way to use Facebook for events that require pre-registration on the TSNE website. While a “group” (TSNE Events) can create an event but block the ability to RSVP on the event, that setting also prevents people from inviting others to the event – so the entire point of networking is lost.

We are currently experimenting with creating a group specific to each event, but are afraid that this method will quickly become tedious and inefficient. I personally receive a dozen group invites per week, and rarely pay much attention to them.

What methods have you used on Facebook to promote an event with registration that is hosted elsewhere? What worked? What didn’t?

Email Fundraising Bootcamp

September 29, 2009

At the Email Fundraising Bootcamp, you will learn everything from how to develop the appropriate strategy for your email campaign to avoiding spam filters and tracking your success. Read the rest of this entry »

As part of the new lecture series, Conversations with …, the Diversity and Inclusion Initiative of Third Sector New England hosted a presentation by Dr. Michael Eric Dyson for the region’s nonprofit community. The professor, CNN commentator, author and pundit spoke of the central role diversity and inclusion play in building cohesive and effective organizations – and strong communities.

He shared his insights on issues such as the politics of inclusion; the privilege of invisibility; institutional perpetuation of racism; challenging other “isms”; stereotypes and forms of bigotry; and rethinking the paradigm of race, bias, and class prejudice vs. concentrated poverty.

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This video was originally shared on blip.tv by tsne with a No license (All rights reserved) license.

We are busy drafting the curriculum for next year’s training series. Help us to craft the workshops that best fit your needs by filling out our survey, and be entered into a raffle to win one free workshop slot for the 2009-2010 Capacity Building Training Series.

A recent Boston Globe article suggested that the nonprofit merger rate has increased due to the economic downturn. In a letter to the editor, TSNE’s Hez Norton, who oversees our new Organizational Transitions program, suggests that there are many other — and often more effective — ways for nonprofits to share resources to better serve constituents.

In “More nonprofits engage in mergers for survival” (April 15, 2009), The Boston Globe examines one way that nonprofit organizations are collaborating – through mergers. While this may be a viable alternative for organizations with compatible missions, it is important to understand that merger is just one of many ways nonprofits are collaborating across the sector.

Third Sector New England was privileged to play a role in the two merger situations profiled in the article. Through our Executive Transitions Program, we placed the interim executive director at Dorchester CARES, who supported that merger process. We also placed the interim executive director and helped lead the transition process with Concilio Hispano that led to merger.

It is critical that nonprofit organizations explore an array of options as they look to meet their mission and best service constituents, especially during these difficult economic times. These options include joint ventures, shared services, merger, shared administration, shared programs and fiscal sponsorship.

The bottom line: Nonprofits need always to be creative in serving their constituents effectively – while keeping mission front and center. Looking at new models of collaboration and partnership has always been important. Now it is more important than ever.

Hez Norton, manager
Executive and Organizational Transitions