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The power of librarianship

November 20, 2010

The Nonprofit Management Resources project (NPMR) has been very lucky to work with Jennifer Koerber, a web services librarian.  I haven’t met her in person, but I’ve pored over her analysis of  the content developed for this project by Third Sector New England, the Boston Foundation, and the Massachusetts Nonprofit Network.

There’s nothing like getting some solid recommendations from a the point of view of a profession that has a long history with taxonomies and classification systems.  There’s a body of knowledge out there, the cumulative result of years of research and praxis, and we have been fortunate enough to benefit from Jennifer’s immersion in it.  Just as every nonprofit manager should not have to start from scratch in looking for up to date and authoritative answers to frequently asked questions, our team is well-advised not try to start from scratch in inventing the basics of knowledge management. Read more…

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To do: Take Jason Mott to lunch

November 10, 2010

Denise, Bethany, Ndlela, and I had a very good conference call with Jason Mott of Ronin Tech Collective today.  The four of us were in a conference room together, and Jason was calling in from Brattleboro, Vermont.

Jason is one of two worker-owners at Ronin Tech Collective, Benjamin Bradley being the other.  Jason was the lead on developing the Social Actions search and aggregation engine, working with Christine Egger and Peter Deitz.  When we started working with Ronin on using the Social Actions engine for Nonprofit Management Resources, Jason passed the baton to Benjamin, who has passed it back Jason this week.  In fact, both Jason and Benjamin continue to be involved in the project, but we always have a specific point person at any given time.  We are now aiming to have a conference call with one or both of them on a monthly basis.

We’ve never met Benjamin or Jason in person, but we really want to! Read more…

In praise of receptionists as information managers

November 8, 2010

As I implied in a previous blog article, I feel like receptionists are the unsung heroes of nonprofit management support organizations and community foundations.

I can hardly overestimate how much I’ve learned from Anna Gallothe Boston Foundation’s receptionist.  It’s not that she tells me any family secrets, but she is a rich source of insight about how TBF works, where the internal expertise lies, and what the stakeholders in Greater Boston ask of their community foundation. Read more…

Putting the TSNE nonprofit management videos in context

November 6, 2010

Third Sector New England’s nonprofit management videos (which are available both on TSNE’s main web site and on its vlog) have attracted a lot of favorable attention.  A few folks seem to be confused about the videos’ relationship to the overall Nonprofit Management Resources project, so I have drafted a Venn diagram to assist the visual thinkers in understanding the big picture:

Venn diagram of the Nonprofit Management Resources project

I’d be very interested in feedback about whether this makes the relationship between different streams of content clearer. Read more…

The big picture

November 4, 2010

As I’ve mentioned in a previous article, I see the Nonprofit Management Resources project in the context of a larger (and highly collaborative) quest for online tools that assist nonprofits and philanthropies in capacity mapping and resource matching. Once it dawned on me that NPMR was matching answers to questions, and that timely knowledge was another valuable resource that could be delivered to nonprofit organizations – not entirely unlike an extra filing cabinet or surplus office space – then the larger context seemed obvious.

There are a surprising number of individuals and organizations who would like to deploy online tools in our sector to ensure that no resource goes unused and no need goes unmet.  What’s also surprising is how often these folks are unaware of each other’s efforts.  It’s been a pleasure to gather some of them into an informal brain trust.  In a way, that brain trust is a kind of meta-collaboration.  As we all seek to build tools to share resources and meet needs, we need to share information with each other about what we’re doing and look for ways that our tools can share data streams, become interoperable, and perhaps even eventually have a common login.  It would be great to have one virtual shopping cart, and be able to draw upon many tools to put together the elements needed for a successful outcome – such as gifts in kind, expertise, volunteer assistance, strategic alliances, funding, and community outreach. Read more…

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