31 July 2008

What I'm Reading

Aside from a ton of RFPs - I think everyone's starting to think about what they might want to accomplish this fall after people get back from summer vacation:
  • Jo's post in the BFWire about feeling overloaded. Can I get an amen? (Jared has a different but really excellent take on this topic this week, too. Good stuff in comments.)
  • The WaPo coverage of the latest Republican scandal. With Dems, it's almost always about sex. With Republicans, it's almost always about money. Draw your own conclusions.
  • Ben defying conventional wisdom (again - or is it still?).
  • Scott Turow's The Laws of Our Fathers - I haven't read anything of his since Presumed Innocent, which I really enjoyed when I read it about 15 years ago. So far, this one's pretty good, too.
  • I Hate the Dallas Cowboys, And Who Elected Them America's Team Anyway?, edited by Bert Sugar. Shout out to Barb & Eric (die-hard Redskins fans) for loaning it to me.

30 July 2008

Shhhh....It's a Secret

There will be a SECRET SESSION at the upcoming ASAE & the Center for Association Leadership Annual Meeting in San Diego next month. Be there or be, well, out of the loop on the role of social media in associations.

ASAE Social Media Contest

ASAE & the Center for Association Leadership is running a social media contest to see which member can use social media most creatively to talk about what ASAE membership and involvement means to her. Showcase your skillz and win valuable prizes (really - free reg to ASAE conference of your choice or a $500 Amazon gift certificate)!

29 July 2008

Always the Last to Know - Cuil

Cuil: they're taking on Google - and it looks WAY cooler too.

Always the Last to Know - Agency Tool

Need help with anything for your website? You can find it here, at Agency Tool.

See something missing? Tell them about it.

25 July 2008

The Friday Top 5

Top 5 Reasons to go to Boston this weekend:

1. To escape the mess of construction around here for a few days.
2. The weather. Even though the past few days have been better in DC, it's 74 in Boston right now. 74!!
3. Running along the Charles.
4. Seeing a bunch of old friends, because....
5. Claire & Andy are getting married tomorrow. Congratulations, you crazy kids!

23 July 2008

Coming Attractions - Bridge Conference

I'm not presenting this time, but I will be attending the Bridge Conference here in DC Thursday and Friday. If you will be, too, drop me a note so we can meet up.

PS - Posting will probably be light over the next few days, as I'm not planning to lug the laptop to Bridge (since I'd like to actually pay attention and learn something in the sessions), and as I'll be in Boston this weekend celebrating the nuptials of my dear friend Claire and her darling honey, Andy, and will be too busy drinking champagne and toasting the happy couple to post. But I will be blogging the conference sessions next week, so check back to find out what I learned.

What I'm Reading

  • Salon.com on the Bush administration's historic abuse of power in domestic spying. Time for another Church Commission?
  • Maddie's Top 10 List for the upcoming ASAE Annual Meeting. I'm planning to do at least 7.
  • Job descriptions - I know two organizations that are hiring. One is a small ed-tech association in DC looking for a Director of Membership & Marketing with about 5 years' experience. The other is a large healthcare association in Dallas looking for a VP of Finance with 10 years' experiences and a CPA. If either of those is you, drop me an email at ewengel at yahoo.
  • Philly.com's coverage of the Eagles. 2008 Season training camp started Monday!
  • Ben's heterodox position on the role of associations. Good discussion in the comments section, too!
  • Jonathan Franzen's The Corrections. Yes, I'm about 6 years behind the times on this, but you should see the stack of To Be Read books on my nightstand.

22 July 2008

Always the Last to Know - PicLens

It's a tech-a-palooza at T4P today. On the topic of amazing Firefox plug ins, check out PicLens. It turns sites with a lot of images (like, say, Flickr) into amazing easily navigable 3-D image walls. Having just installed this, my mouth is literally hanging open here at my desk.

Hat tip to D, for sharing this with the BF staff.

About Your TPS Reports...

song chart memes
more graph humor and song chart memes

Hat tip to K for sending me the link...

Always the Last to Know - Kronomy

Kronomy (which is currently in Beta) is a new software package that enables you to create a time line of anything you want - like maybe the history of your organization? - with descriptions, pictures and video, which you can then share. Kronomy also supports the usual socnet functions like commenting, sharing, and friending.

How might you be able to use this to promote your organization's good work to your volunteer leaders, members, and prospects?

Hat tip to Guy Kawasaki's blog for alerting me.

Always the Last to Know - ASAE YouTube Channel

Did you know that ASAE has a YouTube channel? Me, either.

Interestingly, This Week in Associations doesn't appear there...

Edited on July 22 and 3 pm to add: Amy Hissrich provided two additional pieces of information for me. One, ASAE also has a Flickr account you mighht want to check out. Two, there is a strategy in the works to migrate the This Week in Associations vodcasts to the YouTube channel eventually.

21 July 2008

Always the Last to Know - BlogHer

I *just* listed T4P with BlogHer, so it's not even showing up yet, but all you other Women Who Blog need to join me over there and list your blogs.

Hat tip to Beth Kanter of
Beth's Blog for the link to BlogHer.

NTEN's We Are Media: Resistance is Futile

NTEN's ongoing project to create a social media curriculum collaboratively (how meta!) is on to Module 3: Dealing with Resistance. As part of this module, they'll be considering some key questions:
  • What are the signs of organizational resistance to social media? What are some of the common misconceptions?
  • How do you get your whole organization to own the social media strategy? (From legal departments to senior managers who may not understand social media). How do you become an effective, but responsible social media evangelist in your nonprofit?
  • What are appropriate social media policies and how to create them?
I KNOW some of you have great ideas on and experience with this topic, so get on over there and contribute!

Carbon Offsets for Flights: An Idea Whose Time Has Come (but not to the US)

Peter de Jager recently started an interesting discussion/poll on the ASAE Executive Management Section listserv on carbon footprints. He asked listserv participants to respond to a short survey via email (so you didn't have to come clean to the entire list).

  1. Do you know what a 'carbon footprint' is..
  2. What is your Carbon footprint?
  3. How often have you calculated your Carbon Footprint?
  4. What... if anything... you doing ANYTHING to reduce it?
Surprisingly, I had never calculated my carbon footprint. So I went to the Climate Crisis online tool to get the info.

Even though I live in DC, where our electricity is provided almost entirely by coal (thanks a lot, Congress!), I was doing great until I plugged in my information about flights, which just killed me.

So I clicked on the link to purchase carbon offsets. I realize that the whole buying carbon offsets thing is controversial. But what surprised me is that it's pretty cheap - about $150 a year to completely offset all my carbon emissions.

And I got thinking - why don't the airlines make purchasing enough carbon offsets to make your flight carbon neutral available for each flight as an optional part of the transaction?

Which is what I mentioned to Peter, who pointed out to me that some carriers already do. Unfortunately, virtually none of them are US carriers (Continental and Delta are the only exceptions).

Why do we ALWAYS have to be the last ones to adopt green policies? This would cost the struggling US carriers nothing and gain them an enormous amount of good will and good press. What's the holdup? The world can't wait.

20 July 2008

Blogging the AMA Conference: Are You a Movement?

Bill Toliver, Executive Director of the Matale Line, led an amazing session on movement building on Tuesday, July 15.

What a movement is NOT:
  • Slapping your logo on a bunch of stupid crap.
  • Campaign of the week/season/year.
  • Augmenting your list (of members, of donors, of constituents, of activists).
  • Presenting a service.
  • Asking for a donation.
Movements create social change. Political leaders don't. Campaigns don't. One-off donations or volunteer opportunities don't. Corporate contributions don't.

Toliver took nonprofits to task for being too tactical, too focused on statistics and data, too willing to accept a response rate increase of .05% as a measure of success, and too afraid of taking risks. As he pointed out, every major influential company has a Research & Development department. Why don't we?

A movement, according to Toliver, happens when somebody motivates a critical mass of the right people to commit to changing the world.

So how do you create a movement? Once you figure out who the right people are, how many of them you need, and what you're trying to get them to commit to, you have to put yourself in their shoes and answer the following questions:
  • Is it worth my time?
  • Is there a solution to this problem?
  • Should I trust that your organization has the solution, and trust you to implement it?
  • What will you do with my money?
Only if you have solid answers from the perspective of your desired constituents should you move forward. And remember - this is a marathon, not a sprint, and you need partners to complete it.

19 July 2008

18 July 2008

The Friday Top 5

Philadelphia Eagles start training camp out at Lehigh University on Monday. In honor of that, the Top 5 Best Things About Football Season:

  1. There's always something good on TV (even if there's no game, there's SportsCenter, NFL Replay, games I've TiVoed, and the NFL Network).
  2. I get to see my friends more frequently (when they come over to watch the games every Sunday).
  3. Traffic picks up on my NFL blog.
  4. Jim (aka Chef Spouse) gets his cook on in a big way.
  5. Ever year, THIS could be the year my beloved Iggles win the Super Bowl.

Blogging the AMA Conference: Attracting Diverse Audiences

Speaking of storytelling, Donna Walker-Kuhne of Walker International Communications Group inspired us all with her stories of bringing diverse audiences to the performing arts in New York City.

First of all, I was completely impressed at the amount of creativity and energy she brings to a very tough job.

Secondly, she presented some really useful and practical information.

According to Walker-Kuhne, the two keys to genuine diversity are Vision and Listening. You have to picture what your desired audience looks like. The device she uses is: "How do I make my event or my organization look like the people I see on the subway?" And you have to pay attention to what they say and what they want. It's Epictetus's two ears/one mouth principle.

Walker-Kuhne then provided 10 concrete tips for building diverse audiences:
  1. Investment - of time and resources over the long term
  2. Commitment - to expand my own frame of reference
  3. Research - learn about my target markets and confront my own prejudices and stereotypes
  4. Analysis - synthesize my learning into "What can I do?"
  5. Follow up - deliver what I promise
  6. Partnerships - we are equals, I'm not coming in to "save" or "better" you
  7. Educate - reach out creatively to my desired audiences and supporters
  8. Build a Bridge - provide progressive actions my desired audience can take to increase their comfort level and ownership
  9. Create Value - free is not always the best choice
  10. Appreciation - find creative, genuinely valuable ways to say thank you
Her final word of advice was to concentrate envisioning on the possibilities. To quote her: "You'll figure out the how. You're all smart people."

Blogging the AMA Conference: The Power of Storytelling

Andy Goodman delivered the conference opening plenary on the concept of Storytelling as Best Practice. His presentation itself was entertaining and held the audience's attention (you can see a clip at his site), but the really cool part was that he had pre-seeded the audience with storytelling volunteers. Some were more polished, some less, but all had compelling tales to relate.

Then, after a brief break, AMA did something completely out of the ordinary for a plenary - they actually had attendees TALK to EACH OTHER and practice crafting and delivering their individual stories.

Goodman helps prospective story tellers answer 4 key questions:
  1. What makes narrative such an exceptionally powerful tool?
  2. What are the structure and qualities of a good story?
  3. What is the role of stories versus data when the goal is education or persuasion?
  4. How can you build a lasting storytelling culture?
At the end, the story tellers feel a stronger connection to their audience and to themselves, as they speak not only from the mind, but also from the heart.

What's your organization's story? How do you ensure that you're telling it well, and to the right audience?

Always the Last to Know - NPR API

National Public Radio has released a content application programming interface (API) for the web.

"NPR's API provides a flexible, powerful way to access your favorite NPR content, including audio from most NPR programs dating back to 1995 as well as text, images and other web-only content from NPR and NPR member stations. This archive consists of over 250,000 stories that are grouped into more than 5,000 different aggregations.

The API is for personal, non-commercial use, or for noncommercial online use by a nonprofit corporation which is exempt from federal income taxes under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code."

So get out there and add some cool NPR content to your organization's site!

NPR logo courtesy of NPR.

Webinar - Why Your District Needs a Chief Technology Officer

OK, the above topic may not be terribly relevant to association management, but my presentation on it from the 2006 Association of School Business Officials International annual conference was selected for online broadcast. I presented the session while I was VP of Marketing for the Consortium for School Networking.

Check it out the webinar, which syncs my slides with the recorded audio.

17 July 2008

CAE Action Team member and vodcast star

Check out long-term CAE Action Team member and Assistant Executive Director of the American Industrial Hygiene Association Peter O'Neil, CAE, as he's interviewed about Decision to Volunteer for ASAE's This Week in Associations vodcast series.

Blogging the AMA Conference: The Future

Something really charming happened to me at the AMA conference this week. Read about it in the BFWire.

16 July 2008

What I'm Reading

I know I gave it huge props last week, but you have to check out the July/August issue of MIT's Technology Review. Not only does it always make me feel smarter after I've read it, but this issue focuses on the technology and finances underlying web 2.0. Read it! I'm not kidding! You have to purchase a subscription, but it's just $20, and it will be the best $20 you ever spent.

Maddie's NTEN Office Hours chat. Wish I'd known about this project earlier - I probably would have volunteered, because I just can't get enough of volunteering.

The US airlines' desperate pleas for help in the fight against oil speculation. Yeah, deregulation's a GREAT idea.

More bad news on the economy. In other news, 28% of Americans still think GW's doing a good job. Did they get dropped on their heads as children?

In print, I'm on to Ariana Franklin's Mistress of the Art of Death. Entertaining historical fiction.

What I'm NOT reading is the WaPo's 9 billion part series on the unsolved Chandra Levy murder. It's tragic, I'm sure her family is still very upset, and yes, it's sort of sexy - DC intern, an affair with a crooked Congressperson, death under suspicious circumstances. But if the WaPo actually wants to do something useful, why don't they do a 12 part series on all the unsolved murders in DC's Anacostia and Trinidad neighborhoods? Or even better, a 12 part series on the socio-economic forces that convince so many local young people that crime and violence are their only possible life choices?

Blogging the AMA Conference: Shirky

I have a confession to make: I think business books are useless crap. I know that's a strong statement, and everyone always has some favorite they're sure will change my mind. "Oh, you'd love Good to Great!" I didn't. "First Break All the Rules really changed my life." Not mine. "Now Discover Your Strengths will deepen your understanding of yourself and others." Not really. "The World Is Flat is groundbreaking!" It's not. "The Tipping Point is brilliant!" Not so much. Call me a curmudgeon (or, more realistically, someone who spent way too much time in grad school), but they were a universal waste of my time.

The latest book to go all fanboy over is, of course, Clay Shirky's Here Comes Everybody. And I have to tell you, it's NOT on my summer reading list. But I'm reconsidering (heresy, I know) for one simple reason: "The old systems get broken long before the new ones are stable."


Now that is pretty profound.

Let's face it: social networking is the wild west, much like the Internet itself was 15 years ago. And organizations, particularly associations that have the completely justified reputation of not always being right at the cutting edge on new technologies, are nervous about adopting this new, unstable system. Think about the objections you hear when you try to promote this in your own organization: "There are too many options - which platform should we use?" "People are organizing without us!" "What if someone writes something we don't like or - even worse - something critical of our association?"

"We can't control it!"

No, Sherlock, you can't. And you shouldn't try. It's scary out here trying to figure things out as you go and devoting resources to projects you aren't sure are going to work, but it's also reality.

The train is pulling out of the station as I type this. Are you on? It's time be become part of the revolution.

For more on Clay Shirky, check out Matt Baehr's BlogClump.

Edited July 16 at 2:46 pm to add: Jeff De Cagna of Principled Innovation interviewed Shirky in April 2008. Check out the podcast.

Blogging the AMA Conference: 1-to-1 Marketing

My colleague Michael Cervino and Steve MacLaughlin from Blackbaud (makers of Raiser's Edge donor management software and recent purchaser of Kintera) kicked off the AMA pre-conference with a terrific highly interactive presentation on One-to-One Marketing. I wrote a post about it for the BF Wire, so rather than reproducing it here, I'll just point you to that post and recomemnd that you download Michael and Steve's excellent slides (which are linked from the post).

15 July 2008

Technorati claim

Because their interface is screwed up and quick claim won't work.

Technorati Profile

PS - lots of good stuff on the way from the AMA nonprofit marketing conference, but too tired to post it now.

14 July 2008

Blogging the AMA Conference: Green Meetings?

I arrived at the beautiful Mandarin Oriental here in DC early Monday morning to pick up my exhibitor registration and set up Beaconfire's booth for the American Marketing Association's annual nonprofit marketing conference here in DC.

At the reg table, AMA staff handed me the standard badge, this very groovy slim unbleached organic cotton conference bag with high-quality printed giveaways from exhibitor Hershey|Cause and storytelling master proponent and keynoter Andy Goodman - and then they handed me a GIANT binder containing single-side, single-slide-per-page, printed copies of every single presentation at the conference.

I was, frankly, stunned. Green meetings have gone beyond "trendy" or even "trend" to REQUIREMENT. I guess someone should have pointed them to the Convene Green Alliance a few weeks ago. Hopefully, they'll check it out before their next event.

What is your organization doing to go green? (A tip: downloadable or USB-drive distributed presentations are pretty much the minimum you should be considering.)

12 July 2008

That's Soooo DC - Cap Fringe

Those of you who *won't* be tied to your under-construction house for the next 3 weekends should get out and check out some independent performing arts at the annual DC Fringe Fest. The Fest runs July 10 - July 27 (although Studio Theater's Secondstage production of Jerry Springer, the Opera runs into August), tickets are mostly around $15 a pop, and it's a great opportunity to see some cutting-edge art in a town more known for the Kennedy Center, Brooks Brothers suits, and Ferragamo pumps.

Fringe up, people!
(And, if you do go, feel free to use the Comments to tell me what you saw and what you thought of it.)

That Was Then, This Is Now

Every year, I make at least one New Year's resolution, and the only rule is that it has to be fun. No "lose 10 pounds" or "save the baby whales" or "become a better boss/spouse/friend" - if I'm going to do any of that stuff, I'll just go ahead and do it. No, New Year's is for thinking of cool stuff you've always wanted to try that will make your life more interesting. Past resolutions have included learning to drive a motorcycle, learning how to mix proper cocktails, taking trapeze lessons, and getting to all of the Washingtonian's 100 Best (DC) Restaurants I'd not yet visited.

This year, for the past 6+ months, I've been in the process of trying out for the
DC Rollergirls. The tryout process is multi-stage, and I haven't even managed to clear the first hurdle - the basic safety assessment - yet. While I've had a little trouble mastering T-stops on skates, the thing that's actually been killing me is that there's little warning of when the next assessment is going to take place (so I've been unable to attend four so far) and practice dates, times, and locations seem to be in constant flux. I'm slowly coming to the realization that my life just can't accommodate that level of uncertainty, and I've been wondering why I seem to be the only one who has a problem with it.

Then I remember that the majority of the DCRG are 10+ years younger than I am. That's not so much a problem from the athletic side - I'm in decent shape from 12+ years of running and 10+ years of yoga, so I can at least keep up - but it explains the scheduling problems. And I remember that when I was in my 20s, I was passionately devoted to something, too, to the exclusion of most other activities - swing dancing. (Yes, that photo at the top of this post is of me, and yes, that sign behind me is for the
Montreal Jazz Fest 1999, where I danced on stage at the Blues Tent about 1/2 the nights during the 10-day event.)

In my current reality of career-rather-than-job, professional and personal volunteer commitments, a cranky nearly 100-year-old house to maintain, chronic DC overscheduling, and all the other trappings of "maturity" that come with being on the up side of 35, I find myself nostalgic for the days when I didn't know what I was doing this evening - forget tomorrow or next weekend or next month - and that was just fine. I often danced 6 nights a week and wouldn't know from one night to the next where and when that would be taking place, and that was just fine with me, too.

Does being a "responsible adult" remove the possibility of spontaneity? As I contemplate the difficulties I've had commiting to the DCRG practice schedule (something I very much want to do and am enjoying when I can get there) because it's not set months in advance, I start to wonder. How does one make space for abandon in a busy professional life? How do you protect a place in your life to be carefree (at least sometimes)?

11 July 2008

The Friday Top 5

Top 5 Useful Applications of Facebook

I love Facebook. You love Facebook. We all love Facebook. Except when we hate it. It’s a great way to keep up with people and to organize events and all that good socnet-y stuff. On the other hand…lots of really goofy apps…”invite 20 friends”…pictures your friends post in which they tag you (and you’d rather be anonymous, Ms. Keg Stand and Mr. Shots While Wearing a Coconut Bra and Grass Skirt)…the ads…the occasional disappointingly bad shoes on
Shoe of the Day.

I do find (and I suspect I’m not alone) that over time, I’m dumping some of the silliness and trying to use my profile in a more directed way for professional reasons. To that end:
  1. Employees – people can have profiles, organizations can have pages. But until now, it was not easy to create a formal relationship between the two (aside from becoming a fan or joining a group). Beaconfire (my company) has developed an application that allows you to link your staff profiles as staff to your organization’s page. Sweet!
  2. Blog RSS Feed Reader – because it’s all about getting the word out, right?
  3. Causes – a FB app that facilitates raising awareness and ACTUAL money and engaging in activism to support a wide range of causes.
  4. YAP – OK, it's not technically an app, but you know you want to join. I quote: “Network with your peers in the association/non-profit industry. Meet cool people. Talk about interesting association-related issues. Host or attend YAP events. Interact and experiment in social media with us.”
  5. Vampires – It's Friday...it's summer...give me a break. They couldn’t all be serious, and I’m nearly a Mistress Vampire. How cool is that?