Governing Through Networks

22 11 2010

This is the final chapter of The Networked Nonprofit.  In this chapter the authors talk about governance and how it is critical to organizational success.  However, often governing boards represent only the view points of the elite and don’t seem to get much done.  This chapter outlines ways that social media can open up governance and make it more representative of the communities that the organization serves and to better guide the organization.  Here are some ways that governing boards can worked in networked ways:

  • Create a place where board members can share information online and have conversations with each other outside of the board meeting room.
  • Join a public online social network like Facebook.
  • Create an open invitation to meetings on your website and other social media sites you may have.
  • Post agendas online so others can see what the meeting will be about and offer suggestions.
  • Train board members how to use social media.
  • Share information and data from the meetings with other audience members.  If they are well-informed, audience members can better provide assistance.

I think these tips are excellent points.  Being a networked nonprofit means breaking down the walls and being truly transparent.  When I served as a board member of the Clemson chapter of PRSSA we implemented many of these suggestions.  Before member meetings we would post agendas and during our meetings we live blogged and tweeted so that people who could not attend the meeting could follow along from home.  Live blogging is very easy to use and could be a great way to broadcast what occurs in meetings without streaming video.  Nonprofit organizations like Safe Harbor could benefit greatly from implementing a few of these strategies.  Some organizations are still wary of being completely transparent, but things like posting agendas and minutes from meeting could be the start for these organizations to break away from their fears.





Building Trust through Transparency

8 11 2010

Transparency is one of the hardest things for organizations to embrace, but also one of the most important  if the organization wants to embrace a larger network of individuals and organizations.  Transparency is a way of thinking and being for organizations.  It is often very difficult for organizations to embrace being transparent because they do not want to reveal their mistakes and flaws to their audiences.  Also, being transparent allows someone to say anything they want about the organization and everyone can see it.  This chapter compares a transparent organization to a sponge.  The organization is anchored, clear about what they do and know what they want to accomplish.  They let people in and out easily and both are enriched by this ebb and flow.

Transparency builds trust.  It allows audience members to learn whatever they want about an organization.  It allows audience members to trust the organization because they are not hiding anything from them.  In addition to building trust, being transparent takes a lot of trust by the organization.  The organization has to trust that by being transparent its audience members will not be out to get them.  In a sense the organization needs to jump off the edge and hope that its audience members will be their to catch them and support them.

However, transparency can be difficult for some organizations because of the line of work they do.  For example Safe Harbor, a domestic violence shelter, would have a much a harder time being completely transparent because it needs to protect the confidentiality of its clients.  It can be transparent in other ways.  For instance, a news room on its website with fact sheets, press releases, photos, ect. would help audience members have better insight into this organization.  Also, I think Safe Harbor can be more transparent by sharing success stories of clients and by allowing a place for people to comment.  These would offer transparency while still protecting the safety and confidentiality of its clients.