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Archive for the ‘missional’ Category

arm wresting competition

Soggydan

When most businesses think about their competition, they often identify businesses that offer similar products and services.

For example: HP thinks about Dell. American Airlines thinks about United Airlines. In essence, their competition is defined as those other businesses that compete for the same market share.

In a recent blog post, Shaun King highlighted that while this trend is true in business, it is not true for churches and nonprofits. In his post, “The MAJOR Disadvantage (& ugliness) of Non-Profits & Churches Misunderstanding Who Their Competition Is,” Shaun highlights that other nonprofits and churches are not in competition with each other.  He argues, instead, that the real competition is the factors that cause the problems.

For example:

  • If you are trying to fight hunger, the competition is poverty and access to food.
  • If you are trying to fight slavery, the competition is slave traders
  • If you are trying to fight drug crime, the competition is drug dealers

Unlike businesses, churches or nonprofits don’t compete against each other. Instead, they offer each other a partner for mission and work.

I really appreciated Shaun’s post and I would encourage other leaders to give it a read and to share it with their leaders in their organization. After all, operating a church is about changing lives, not fighting with other people who have the same goal.

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Social Media Magazine

some_communication

With so many people interacting online through social media (Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, etc) more and more companies and nonprofits have begun to develop their own social media presence and brand.

Usually the entrance into social media happens through the interaction of members of the organization, and then maybe someone creates an ‘official fan page.’  But quickly (and informally), many churches and nonprofits have found themselves expanding and creating online content, without creating a full vision of how they wish to use and maintain their social media presence.

This topic has been on my mind this week after I was asked by a pastor, “Do you have or know of a good social media policy for churches?”

I had to respond by saying, “No, but if you give me a day or so, I can pull some notes from the social media policy at our office, and share them.”  So here goes… I have cut an paste a few suggestions that are good rules of thumbs if your congregation wishes to have a social media policy for its staff, operations, board, and members.

Social Media Policy

Intro:

XXX (insert your church or nonprofit’s name here) encourages employees, directors and other partners to adopt social media as a means to engage others in our ministry in missional ways. Whether you’re on Facebook, Twitter, writing a blog, uploading (more…)

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On Monday, I talked about how technology can bridge the accountability gap that separates donors from beneficiaries, and in the post I shared that I would write 3 blogs showing how such examples can be used. This is the last of three posts.

When I talk with pastors and nonprofit leaders I often hear the complaint, “There is just so much to do, and it is really hard to keep our website updated.”

Having been a pastor and a leader of several nonprofit organizations, I totally understand.

Question: So how can an organization create a great website that has the normal static and important information, with a website that is updated frequently?

Answer: Using RSS Feeds, Blogs, and Twitter Feeds.

One of the best examples of this combination is Keep Indianapolis Beautiful ‘s website- www.kibi.org (Be aware that the organization uses green colors to match their environmental theme). By looking on the main page, you will see a twitter column (newsfeed) on the bottom right and a blog feed in the middle of their main page (the pic below is a screenshot- click to enlarge).

 

By using these tools, you can use blogs and twitter to help communicate the many ways in which your organization impacts your community.

Blog Notes: Thanks to KIB for letting me highlight their page.

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On Monday, I talked about how technology can bridge the accountability gap that separates donors from beneficiaries, and in the post I shared that I would write 3 blogs showing how such examples can be used. This is the second of three posts.

You might have heard of Mark Horvath if you listen to NPR, watch CNN, or if you are a SXSW junkie-  He is the guy who started the the nonprofit organization, InvisiblePeople.tv, in 2008 to help tell the true story of homelessness in America.

Mark started the project when he found himself homeless, and when asked why he launched the site Mark said (excerpts taken from an interview by Kevin D. Hendricks):

Two things,

1) When I started InvisiblePeople.tv, I was close to 19 months unemployed, moving fast forward into foreclosure. I don’t think I could have filled out one more job application, and I filled out a lot. I couldn’t find work and I had to do something to keep from going crazy.

2) I knew from my own experience that the homeless story wasn’t being told correctly. We needed to empower (more…)

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Yesterday, I talked about how technology can bridge the accountability gap that separates donors from beneficiaries, and in the post I shared that I would write 3 blogs showing how such examples can be used. This is the first of three posts.

Have you ever experienced listening to a member of  a church, or nonprofit organization, who can’t clearly articulate the mission or the impact of the organization?

Maybe the experience came as a friend asked you to donate money to support a charity. Or maybe, it happened when someone invited you to church, or as a friend described why they volunteers their time.

In many cases, these experiences are awkward attempts to tell the story of an organization. However, because most of these stories are told by volunteers or members, they often miss the true power of sharing the core mission and impact of an organization.

Given this experience, many organizations are now turning to technology to help them to:

  1. Tell the Story- Using their own words and images (pictures, blogs, videos, etc) (more…)

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Foothills Christian Church in Glendale, AZ has found a new way to promote itself and support its ministry.

Approximately a year ago, Pastor Erin Wathen was approached by a cell phone company, to see if the church would be interested in having a cell tower placed on its property.  The company said that they would be happy to pay for the construction of the tower, and to lease the space from the church.

The church was interested, and after talking through some of the details, the church accepted the offer.

As part of the process, the church and the cell company needed to select a design that fit the church and that would pass the city’s zoning codes.  In the past, the cell company had created a large plastic palm tree or giant cross at similar locations, but Foothills felt like the design didn’t match the look of their facility.  Instead, working with the church, the company designed the cell tower to look like a bell tower (see picture), and when presented to the county’s assessor, the assessor commented that, “it was the best design he’d seen.”

Cell Tower

Church's Cell Tower

Soon after approval, construction began, and so did the growing awareness of the church in the community.

“It was great,” says Pastor Wathen, “because it increased our visibility in the community (more…)

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I was recently visiting a church to assist them with some financial planning, and during my visit I asked them two questions:

  1. What is your niche ministry and mission?
  2. If I asked someone who is (name of org) how would they answer?

In response to the first question, the leaders had a difficult time naming who they were as a congregation and what they saw their specific ministry as (think uncomfortable silence). In response to the second question, the leaders were almost unanimous in saying, “People would ask you, ‘Who is that?'”

Not it could be easy to criticize this church, but in my experience, they are not alone. In almost 60-70% of the churches and other nonprofits I visit, I ask the same questions and I get the same responses.   For what ever reasons, many organizations have lost their focus on the mission that they provide.

In a recent paper, Success by Design: How R&D Activates Program Innovation and Improvement in the Nonprofit Sector, by Peter York, I found a similar reflection about designing a mission and program based on actual impacts. (more…)

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