‘Service’ is stodgy. What’s a better word for what we do?

As we honor Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. this week and people across the U.S. come together to help each other and work toward solving our common problems, we’d like to pose the question: what exactly is social good?

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What’s this guy doing? You tell us.
(photo courtesy Shutterstock)

At Idealist, we’re all about helping people find the information, connections, and resources they need to turn their good intentions into action.

As blog writers, we’re all about making keen, conscious word choices that we hope will excite, motivate, and paint a vivid picture for our readers.

At the intersection of these aims is one of our favorite essays by Idealist founder Ami Dar, published as part of Fast Company and Catchafire’s “Co.Exist: World Changing Ideas and Innovation” series in the spring of 2012. Here’s an excerpt:

Outside of the military, who goes to a dinner party and asks people where they “serve”? Only we, the organizations and foundations that make up the “service industrial complex” talk this way. People want to build, coach, teach, help, and if we want to engage them, we have to talk like them.

Read the whole thing on Co.Exist.

What words might better describe “service” to you? Tell us in the comments.

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Join Idealist on March 11 as we launch a new global movement for action and change!

 

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Webinar: How we survived the financial crisis

Update, 3/29/12: Watch the webinar via the Nonprofit Quarterly archives.

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So grateful for this community. (Photo: Daniel J. Sieradski)

“I need your help to save Idealist.org.” That’s the title of an email our executive director Ami Dar wrote just two years ago. It began:

Dear ___,

You know how sometimes in life you go through a bad moment, and when your friends hear about it later, they say, “Why didn’t you say something? Why didn’t you ask? We would have helped.”

That’s where Idealist is now, and I am writing to ask for your help.

Very briefly, here’s what happened…

Ami went on to explain that after the financial crisis in October 2008, thousands of nonprofits froze hiring – which meant that we could no longer depend on that revenue stream. We had to get creative. We expanded other revenue-generating efforts, including our Grad Fairs; made some painful decisions to streamline our operations and staff; and got by “on faith and fumes” and with a lot of help from our friends. By January 2010 we had no choice but to turn to you, the people who had attended our events, subscribed to our Email Alerts, and contributed to this community for more than a decade.

Ami sent the email to 500,000 people who had registered on our site. Your response—donations large and small, stories of how Idealist had touched your life, warm wishes—touched us immeasurably, and allowed us to get through that rough patch.

On March 28, the Nonprofit Quarterly will host Ami for a free webinar called When your Financial Model goes Bust: How Idealist Took a Risk and Pulled Through. Join us to hear more about this critical time in our history and to discuss how the lessons we learned might help in your own work.

Space is limited. Reserve your seat now at: https://www2.gotomeeting.com/register/220154626

And to all of you who pitched in back in January 2010: thank you again. We can never thank you enough.

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All about my mother

A couple of years ago the School of Professional Studies of the City University of New York asked me to do their commencement speech. It was an interesting challenge because their students are mostly working people in their 30s and 40s, so the traditional college thing was not going to work.

After visiting a couple of classes and hearing that many of the students are working moms, I decided to speak about my mother and about what I had learned from her.

In the video there is a brief intro and then I start. (The professor who spoke before me was supposed to say just a few words, but instead she gave a long and fiery political speech; that’s the context for my first few sentences.)

 

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Discount code for Social Media for Nonprofits conferences

“Forget concepts and theory,” say the organizers of Social Media for Nonprofits, “this is all about practical tips and tools.”

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Beth Kanter and co-author Allison Fine speaking at an event last year. Photo: Marc_Smith (Flickr/Creative Commons)

The conferences are coming up in seven cities—San Francisco, Washington, DC, New York, Los Angeles, Seattle, Chicago, and Atlanta—this summer and fall. They’ll feature workshops and panels, plus keynotes by (depending on your city) Beth Kanter, Guy Kawasaki, Alexis Ohanian, our own Ami Dar, and many others. Each conference will be followed by a book launch for Darian Heyman’s Nonprofit Management 101 (read Ami’s foreward here).

And if you decide to attend, you can use the discount code “idealist” and get $20 off registration!

Visit http://socialmedia4nonprofits.org/ for more info. And let us know if we should keep an eye out for you at the NYC event!

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