Saturday, November 01, 2008

Equity Trustees CEO Awards

On Thursday night I was honoured to accept the national Equity Trustees CEO Award for 'Innovator of the Year' and thought I would share the news with you, as fellow travellers on the CISA-Connecting Up journey.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Stay Smart Online Alert Service

Handy free service brought to you by the gum'n't.

"It's not all about you, Kim!" Our organisation is sending two staff to this high quality conference on mobile technologies for social action in Johannesburg next month. This will be an important professional development opportunity for our staff and we look forward to them returning as ‘experts’ in this exciting new phase of the digital world.

In related news, we have also agreed to sponsor Kenneth Msiska from The Young Advocates for ICT Advancement in Malawi to attend the COMMACT conference in Brisbane in late October and to meet with him to see how we can assist their organisation in its development.

As Kath would say, “It’s not all about you, Kim!” and it’s important that we stay mindful that we are global citizens as well.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

The mobile social web

From the latest edition of NGO Pulse, the SANGONet newsletter

Trina DasGupta, mobile marketing consultant at loveLife, reports on the “Make Your Move” Campaign, which is helping young people “build personal initiative, strengthen their ability to negotiate day-to-day pressures, and find new links to opportunity”. An integral part of the campaign is MYMsta, the worlds’ first cell phone-based social network dedicated to youth empowerment and HIV prevention. Click here to read the full article.

Extract from article:

“loveLife - South Africa’s national HIV prevention programme for youth – has launched the “Make Your Move” campaign, designed to help young people build personal initiative, strengthen their ability to negotiate day-to-day pressures and to help find new links to opportunity. An integral part of the “Make Your Move” campaign has been the creation of MYMsta - the world’s first cell phone-based social network dedicated to youth empowerment and HIV prevention. loveLife has always recognised the importance of peer-to-peer networks in HIV prevention work. loveLife’s groundBREAKER and Mpinshti programme form a youth service corps of 6 000+ peer educators that reach over 500 000 South African youth every month with direct face-to-face interaction. Although nothing can replace that interaction, MYMsta is designed to complement loveLife’s physical network with an inexpensive and easily accessible virtual network, as the proliferation of cell phones in South Africa allows for peer-to-peer education to happen on a much larger scale. (75 percent of 15-24 year olds in South Africa own mobile phones, and 60 percent report using them every day, whereas only six percent of all South Africans have access to the Internet via computers.)”

Now that’s a social network!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Senate inquiry into charities

I rooly and truly promise not to be cynical about this exercise and my organisation will be putting in a submission. But I do wonder why they simply didn't dust off the Charities Commission enquiry of a few years ago. You know the one, where we decided only Poms and Kiwis would do something as logical as that, and we limped back to the Stone Age.

Mind you this one is more about what charities and nonprofits should be disclosing to the public, just like those nice men from Firepower, Visy, Westfield etc are required to do.

Seriously, on 18 June 2008, the Senate referred the Disclosure regimes for Charities and not-for-profit organisations to the Senate Standing Committee on Economics for report by the last sitting day of November 2008. The inquiry will examine:
(a) the relevance and appropriateness of current disclosure regimes for charities and all other not-for-profit organisations;
(b) models of regulation and legal forms that would improve governance and management of charities and not-for-profit organisations and cater for emerging social enterprises; and
(c) other measures that can be taken by government and the not-for-profit sector to assist the sector to improve governance, standards, accountability and transparency in its use of public and government funds.
The closing date for submissions is Friday 29 August 2008.
Notes to assist in preparing submissions are available from the website or telephone the Secretariat on 02 6277 3540, fax: 02 6277 5719, or e-mail at the above address.

I'll have more to say on thus subject as the process unfolds. In the meantime I look forward to the Senate Inquiry into how the Government can better fund and support the charity and nonprofit infrastructure that is expected to carry everything that's in the too hard or too expensive basket for governments.

Final note: I once posited a model of government funding to the nonprofit sector that equated it with the domestic violence cycle. It went something like this:
Phase 1 - Honeymoon - We love you and you'll always have what you need. (Smile for the media)
Phase 2- What do you mean you've spent all that money already?
Phase 3 - How dare you tell people we treat you badly. Whack!
Phase 4- Come back, we need you and we promise we'll never do it again.
Phase 5 - Reconciliation - We love you and we'll do our best for you in difficult circumstances. (Smile for the media unit photographer)
And so on.

But with a climate change for the future for working families I've got nothing to be cynical about now.

Computers Off (but not until you've read this)

Seeing it now seems to be generally accepted that we'll all fry together when we fry (apologies to Tom Lehrer), Australian efforts to make us all the more aware of the energy we're expending in the ether are very welcome. Check out Computers Off

Friday, June 27, 2008

Lisa Harvey's blog, Edward Harran's CU08 Facebook page and The Media Report

Check out the excellent blog started by Lisa Harvey on her site when she was a 2020 Summit delegate and she has continued on her great work. Also Eddie Harran started a Facebook page for Connecting Up delegates after the Brisbane conference. You can also hear interviews with Beth Kanter and Bill Strathmann from the ABC's Media Report.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

What's next in media

Excellent slide show on the new media from Neil Perkin, from the delightfully named Only Dead Fish (swim with the current).

The open source debate continues

Freelance journalist Angus Kidman attended Connecting Up and posted this great write up on ZDNet and in the process added kerosene to an ongoing debate about the merits of proprietary vs open source software. Why am I reminded of Gulliver's Travels, where nations went to war over whether you sliced of the pointy or the blunt end of a boiled egg?

Communities responding to emergencies

During my address to our recent Connecting Up conference in Brisbane, I mentioned the Hurricane Katrina response of nonprofits in New Orleans and wondered how ready our own communities were for similar experiences. I must have been inadvertently channeling the Stargazer site when I included that line. Check it out.

Whatever happened to disability access?

In the same week that I'm reading in the print media that the numbers of people on disability benefits are at record highs (partly because governments fall on rising unemployment figures, but I digress), I have been scouting for a new building for our organisation. We are obviously not in the league to be able to afford one of the new clean-and-green towers sprouting like steel and glass algae from the compost of former heritage buildings (but I digress again) but neither are we looking for a renovated broom cupboard with a single giraffe window.
Although we do not currently have a staff member with a significant disability (and I'll return to that later), it's our firm policy to always occupy premises that afford proper disability access and toilet facilities.
Call me naive but I have been stunned by how difficult it is to find such properties, with the ratio running at about one in five presently that fulfill both criteria (one in five don't fill either!). True, one or two have offered to convert an existing toilet for multiple use in return for signing a long lease (in other words pay me to value-add to my property) and some have one toilet available in the building to serve all floors.
I can only conclude that (a) there are no persons in wheelchairs working in these buildings and (b) there'd be no point in anyone in a wheelchair applying for a job for any of the companies that operate from these buildings (even if management were prepared to hire them).
So that leaves gum'n't, well-heeled companies and nonprofits with a commitment to disability justice to carry the can while the vast majority of small to medium businesses carry on regardless.
But a final puzzling point if I may. In the eight years I have been CEO of our organisation, I have only been approached once by an agency about the possibility of any sort of work for a person with a disability (Centrelink, for a person returning from a back injury, and we were happy to help) and we have never received a job application from a person with an observable disability. Yes, I know there are other challenges (nor the least being transport) but I do find it passing strange.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Connecting Up 2008 conference - Brisbane - the wash-up

Just back, tired but immensely satisfied, from our organisation's Connecting Up 2008 conference in Brisbane. Over 320 delegates attended over the 2 days, including the 2nd annual Australian Community ICT Awards and a full-day workshop with Beth Kanter on the third day.
This year's theme was 'Online and Off to the Future', with a special emphasis on the growing importance of the social web or Web 2.0 to the nonprofit sector globally and locally. Over 40 break-out sessions over the 2 days covered topics ranging from using mobile phones to connect to homeless young people, to saving the traditional languages of Indigenous peoples.

Keynote speaker on Day 1, Bill Strathmann (CEO, Network for Good) highlighted the way that social web tools are transforming the online giving and volunteering experience of US nonprofits. Book-ending the day was the vastly entertaining Australian futurist, Richard Neville, who enthralled not only those who remembered his days as a media enfant terrible but young people looking for signposts to 'where to from here?'

The conference dinner, at the Brisbane Ruby League Club overlooking the Brisbane River, included the 2nd annual Australian Community ICT Awards presentation. Proud winners accepted their Awards with both humour and moving passion.

Karma Currency, of Melbourne, was named Innovator of the Year for its pledge to cut down the billions of dollars spent on unwanted gifts by diverting these funds to charities using a web-based Charity Gift Voucher scheme.

Sydney-based GetUp! won the Best Web Strategy for its social activism site, which has successfully encouraged Australians to stand up for social justice, environmental sustainability and economic fairness. GetUp has made the most of the social web’s potential to influence and channel widespread opinion to gain political outcomes. It has even been credited with helping shape the outcome of the 2007 Federal Election. As GetUp executive director Brett Solomon says, “The GetUp culture is deeply Australian – a cheeky mate-to-mate callout for change in the face of bad leadership.”

Queensland’s Quicksites won for its use of ICT to connect to the community. The company’s UCare system began as an online database designed to help the local METRO church keep in touch with members and visitors, and has evolved into a smart, low-cost customer relationship management tool for any nonprofit setting. Unlike sales-oriented CRM tools, the judges said, “UCare has been designed to build a true sense of community, encouraging a profound sense of belonging”.

Young People Connected won the Telecommunications award for its mobile phone technology, which reaches out to some 46,000 young homeless people every night, across Australia. YPC is the result of collaboration between the Vodafone Australia Foundation (VAF) and three not-for-profit organisation, Barnardos Australia, Mission Australia and Father Chris Riley’s Youth Off The Streets, and their young clients.

The Arwarbukarl Cultural Resource Association and Support Link Australia were joint winners for Best Use of Software.

Arwarbukarl impressed the judging panel with the Miromaa Language Program, which uses technology to help preserve and reclaim our native languages. Miromaa allows users to gather all evidence of language in one place, whether the language is in text or audio formats. It was developed through a process of consultation with community based language groups from all around Australia and is now being used in programs in all states.

The SupportLink Referral Communication and Management System is a web based application that enhances early intervention outcomes for vulnerable individuals and families. It does this by establishing web-based ground rules for police officers and other intermediaries to proactively refer persons they come into contact with for social assistance.
This eliminates the need for people to self navigate their way to support. The system was designed to overcome agency and service fragmentation within the area of referral communication.

Day 2 keynote was Beth Kanter, who took us on a journey to the bleeding edge of the social web but in a way that that made sense and infected us all with her enthusiasm for blogging, Twittering, mobile web streaming and a myriad other tools. She was followed by Stephen Alexander, strategy advisor from End Point, who emphasised the importance of strategy in connecting with the people that are important to your organisation. At the end of Day 2 a panel involving Bill Strathmann, Beth Kanter, Aba Maison from the UK, Rufina Fernandes from India, John Fung from Hong Kong-China, Tina Reid from New Zealand, and Lisa Harvey from Australia shared their take-outs from the conference.

The excitement and energy coming out of the conference this year were palpable and it was clear that the social web theme had attracted a younger audience than normal. It was also clear that moving the conference from Adelaide to Brisbane was a popular choice. When I get my own full energy back I'll try to draw oigether some of the threads that emerged but, in the meantime of you were there it would be great to get your comments.

Friday, May 16, 2008

The Mundaneum

Many thanks to my colleague, Rosalie Day, for surfacing this gem about The Mundaneum

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
The Mundaneum was created in 1910 out of the initiative of two Belgian lawyers. Paul Otlet and Henri La Fontaine aimed to gather together all the world's knowledge and classify it according to a system they developed called the Universal Decimal Classification. Otlet and La Fontaine organized an International Conference of International Associations which caused the creation of the Union of International Associations (UIA). Otlet regarded the project as the centerpiece of a new 'world city' - a centrepiece which eventually became an archive with more than 12 million index cards and documents. Some consider it a forerunner of the internet (or, perhaps more appropriately, of the Wikipedia) and Otlet himself had dreams that one day, somehow, all the information he collected could be accessed by people from the comfort of their own homes. The Mundaneum was originally housed at the Palais du Cinquantenaire in Brussels (Belgium). The Mundaneum has since been relocated to a converted 1930s department store.”

Rosalie’s interest was sparked by an article by Paul Collins on the Mundaneum in New Scientist. Paul has also recorded this gem on his blog:
“Index cards used to be information technology's killer app... literally. In the US, for instance, the War Department struggled with mountains of haphazard medical files until the newly touted method of card filing was adopted in 1887. Hundreds of clerks transcribed personnel records dating back to the Revolutionary War. Housed in Ford’s Theatre in Washington DC - the scene of Abraham Lincoln’s assassination a generation earlier – the initiative succeeded a little too well. Six years into the project, the combined weight of 30 million index cards led to information overload: three floors of the theatre collapsed, crushing 22 clerks to death.”

And you thought information overload was a new problem!

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Too many nonprofits?

This article from Charity Governance tends to support an (unpopoular in some circles) view I've had for many years that there are far too many nonprofits around for them all to be effective and efficient users of donors and funders largesse. Given that our population is about 7% of the US, if the ratios in Australia stood true, that would roughly translate to 6,000 new ITE applications to the ATO per year, at a minimum cost to the sector of around $30m just to create those organisations, plus at goodness knows what cost to the ATO to assess them. And if the audit rate equates to the US, only 60 of them each year will ever be questioned about their future activities.
With no equivalent of Guide Star or similar sites here in Australia, and not even a national register of nonprofits, little is likely to change in the near future.

Is it just us or are they ignoring everybody?

This article from The Chronicle of Philanthropy supports what we are finding more and more frequently and when combined with spam filters (and who checks those regularly), getting through the email message at all, let alone to the person in that organisation its aimed at, is getting harder and harder. Perhaps returning to the 'novelty' of the old (if more expensive) technologies of fax and post are the answer for truly important messages. The bottom line is that what you have to say has to be more and more personally relevant and continuously of interest to the recipient drowning in unsolicited e-correspondence.

Leila's blog

Check out the new blog from my great friend and part-time CISA, DonorTec and Connecting Up PR person and all-round booster, Leila Henderson

Monday, April 21, 2008

2020 summit

1,000 Australians came together over the weekend in Parliament House in a government-organised attempt to create a community-driven policy agenda for Australia in 2020 in 10 key areas of public policy. It would be easy (and some have already taken this attitude, including, predictably, the Federal Opposition) to cynically dismiss this exercise but I prefer to take the more optimistic view that this represents a sea change in the way that Australian governments engage in public policy development. The proposals that emerged range from motherhood statements to specifics but as an exercise in energising public debate on complex key issues I think it is a model for the future in itself. If nothing else, the blanket media coverage it received means that many of these ideas will now gain a life of their own that one voice could never have achieved.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Linked In

Although I do have Face Book entry, that was more out of curiosity than anything else and I think I hold the world record for the least number of Friends on it :-). What I'm finding more useful, and more importantly being taken seriously by fellow professsionals, is Linked In. Check it out. The only issue I have is, what do you do when you get a Linked In request from someone you'd rather not be linked to, for a range of reasons? Any thoughts on the etiquette here?

Monday, April 14, 2008

Before the Devil knows you're dead

Saw this movie yesterday. Slightly overlong, as is the modern trend (bizarrely in a world of diminishing attention spans), but a stunning performance from that old stager Albert Finney who manages to show that other excellent performer Philip Seymour Hoffman that he still has a way to go. Well worth seeing but be warned of monents of extreme violence.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Upcoming nonprofit technology conferences

CISA's Connecting Up conference - May 19-20, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia
TechSoup's NetSquared conference - May 27-28, San Jose, California, USA

Report from NTC

For those of you not familiar with NTC, this is the annual conference organised by the US nonprofit Nonprofit Technology Network (NTEN). It is held in a different city each year and brings together some 1100 delegates, vendors and sponsors and is the premier nonprofit technology event in the US. I attended the conferences in Chicago in 2005 and Seattle in 2006. I missed last year in Washington DC because we were just getting DonorTec off the ground at the time.
The program on Day 1 consists of the Day of Service program (where visiting delegates volunteer to assist local projects with their technology needs e.g. building a network, website etc), Affinity Group meetings (i.e. orgs working on similar issues getting together), the Science Fair (i.e. booths from vendors and sponsors – over 80 of them), and the Welcome Reception.
It also includes an NTEN members lunch, at which I was presented with an Official NTEN Superstar Award (known as an Ntenny, complete with headband with stars on springs) as the delegate Most Likely To have Crossed the Most Time Zones in my time in the NTEN community. I was deeply moved and thanked my Mum and everyone at CISA before descending into a weeping mess. Truly.
Days 2 and 3 commence with a plenary session and then three 90 minute breakout sessions, providing literally dozens of options for presentations and workshops.
There is no formal dinner as such (delegates are encouraged to organise small dinner groups spontaneously) but there is large a party gathering at a local venue on the evening of Day 2.
2. What I did at the conference
Day 1 – attended the NTEN members lunch. So exhausted after all that had to go out for jambalaya and blackened catfish with the UK delegation (who said they enjoyed the chips). Serious references to the Science Fair below.
Day 2 – The opening plenary was provided by David Pogue, technology columnist for the NY Times, an extremely entertaining as well as insightful presenter.
He listed the three technologies to watch as:
• The continuing convergence of phones and the internet into multi-function single devices
• Mobiles that operate via VoIP (i.e. wireless internet)
• The (and similar technologies)

He also talked about the rise of Google in the phone space, though programs like:
- Grand Central, where you have one number and it calls all your phones at the same time.
- Google text search – text them with a personal name, organisation etc and get their addresses, weblinks, local weather, driving directions etc. Can get currency conversions, movie show times etc. Can’t text? Google 800 will do the same via voice recognition. And no ads in sight (yet).
Other phenomena to watch
• Voice-to-text e.g. Spinvox
and Call Wave
• Free TV online (with 15 sec ads)
e.g. Hulu
• Audience-created video, where video makers are paid by the number of views of their video e.g.
o Metacafe
o Revver
• Will downloads kill DVD’s? No, because:
o No-one wants to watch movies on a monitor
o Only 50% of US homes have broadband
o Limited selection of movies available
o Poor quality downloads because of compression issues

So what’s the key to Web 2.0, according to David Pogue? Information sharing! e.g. community sharing of loans micro finance for developing countries;guest sharing transport free online petitions
Who Is Sick tracking illness in your area

So what are the Web 2.0 Challenges, according to David Pogue:
- The interface challenge for mobile devices – big fingers and small screens i.e. where will all the features go?
- Copyright
- How to teach about ethics and privacy and to be constantly aware that what you put on the web is permanent.

Finally, he moved to the piano and entertained us with ditties like this one:

Day 2 and 3 Breakout Sessions
I won’t go through these in detail but I will dotpoint the key take-homes for me later in this post.

Day 3 Plenary
This was an extremely illuminating and moving panel presentation by three women involved in the rebuilding program following Hurricane Katrina – Laura Crochet, Deborah Cotton and Patricia Jones. Patricia’s home was in the Lower 9th ward, where all but 5 homes were destroyed when the levee bank burst and they were inundated with 23 feet of water in 25 minutes. Patricia moved back into her partially rebuilt home last week, some two and a half years after Katrina. She also runs NENA
They talked about the role of technology and communications in the painfully slow rebuilding program, especially the role of their website
Just some dot points:
- It was 10 months before they were even allowed to enter the affected area to inspect the damage and even then it was a ‘look and leave’ policy with everyone out by sunset.
- When the Road Home project eventually got under way, their site became the registration site and call centre.
- When Katrina hit only 60% of residents had email addresses and only 70% had mobile phones.
- Most residents are poorly educated so they set a 7th grade reading standard for the site and a maximum of 3 clicks to core information.

Some Key Vendors/Organisations at the Science Fair worth checking out
Ammado – global internet platform for charities, based in Ireland
Care2 – the largest online social network based on civic action and recruiting new members to your cause . Headed up by Joe Baker, former CEO of NTEN, who spoke at CU 06.
Foresee – using online customer surveys and the American Customer Satisfaction Index to improve web site satisfaction, loyalty and value
Idealware – provides consumer reports on nonprofit software – great little outfit headed up by Laura Quinn, who is keen to work with us on presenting low cost ‘webinars’ for our clients. Still trying to persuade her to visit here one day.
Nice Touch Communications – a telco where 5% of your bill can be re-directed to the charity of your choice
Salesforce – commercially developed CRM system that now sits under many nonprofit applications
See3 – create visual media and internet marketing initiatives – very impressive and hope to get Michael Hoffman here next year
This is a mere handful of the 90 booths but they are the ones I stopped to chat with the longest. There are now literally dozens of CRM, fundraising software and consulting companies displaying their wares, which is great news for the nonprfit sector.

So, What were the Take Home Messages for me?
1. We operate a national conference , Connecting Up, that like for like population-wise matches NTC for organisation, breadth and delegate sources and we should be very proud of that. However I’m green with envy at the spread of products and services available to US nonprofits and wish our compatriots would get off their backsides to match it.
2. We in Australia have barely scratched the surface of Web 2.0 when it is the fastest growing aspect of connectedness. If we don’t move soon we risk losing an entire generation of potential supporters.
3. We should expect to increasingly deliver into mobile contexts..
4. We need to keep in mind these principles from Brian Reich and Dan Solomon’s Book ‘Media Rules’
- Everything is fragmented and blurred
- Small can be big
- We are all connected


Media is the information, the experiences, the stuff that we consume and share - it is not the technology

5. Key Indicators that It’s Time to Change
You wake up one day and find yourself competing with groups you've never heard of before.
You are under increasing pressure to lower/waive your fees
Your audience asks for changes you cannot or do not want to make
Your competitors are leaving the market

6. Challenges in Personalising the Messages and Making the Connections

The average person is exposed to 5,000 messages a day
1.4 blogs are created every second,
YouTube uploads 65,000 videos every day
There are 55,000 possible drink combinations at Starbucks

Recent movies I think worth seeing

There will be blood
No country for old men

Recent books on my shelves

The Gathering - Anne Enright
Billy The Kid - Michael Wallis
Exit Music - Ian Rankin
Blood Meridian - Cormac McCarthy
The Price of Salt - Patricia Highsmith

Starting over

Having not long returned from NTC in New Orleans, I've decided that this time I'm going to make a real attempt to establish and maintain a blog as part of a tangible engagement with all things 'social web'. While from time to time I'll draw attention to what the nonprofit organisation I work for is doing in the information space, the views expressed here are mine alone and should not be seen as reflecting the views of the organisation, its Board or staff.