What I’m reading this fall to help me change the world

Cozy up with a book this fall (Photo Credit: Madeline Tosh, Creative Commons/Flickr)

Didn’t get the chance to dive into your summer reading list? No problem; it’s already back-to-school season, making now the perfect time to get back into the habit of curling up with a good book. For those who may need a few simple suggestions or inspiration to get started, I’ve gathered a few non-fiction titles that sparked my interest as educational reads.

From tips on how to leverage social media to change the world, to a simple feel good tale mixed with important life lessons, here are a handful of books I plan on checking out:

GirlDrive: Criss-crossing America, Redefining Feminism by Emma Bee Bernstein and Nona Willis Aronowitz

Two women, Emma Bee Bernstein and Nona Willis Aronowitz, hit the road in 2007 with an important question to ask young women: what matters to them the most. The authors describe the book as a focus on “how young women grapple with the concepts of freedom, equality, joy, ambition, sex, and love—whether they call it “feminism” or not.” GirlDrive shares the stories of 127 very diverse women through vivid photos, profiles, and diary entries, who all have more in common than expected.

You Had Me at Woof: How Dogs Taught Me the Secrets to Happiness by Julie Klam

Julie was thirty, single, and working part-time as an insurance clerk, wondering if she would ever meet the man of her dreams. Then she met Otto, her Boston Terrier. Even though she has made a few additions in her life — her husband and daughter —  she was surprised and delighted to find that her dogs had more wisdom to convey to her than she had ever dreamed. And caring for them has made her a better person-and completely opened her heart. You Had Me at Woof is a humorous account of how one woman discovered life’s most important lessons from her canine companions.

The Righteous Porkchop: Finding a Life and Good Food Beyond Factory Farms by Nicolette Niman

Accepting an offer to head an environmental organizations “hog campaign” took Nicolette on a odyssey into the inner workings of the factory farm industry and helped mold her transformation into a environmental lawyer who takes on the big business farming establishment. The book dives into the an industry gone awry and offers a bit of romance when she’s swept off her feet by a cattle rancher.

Twitter for Good: Change the World One Tweet at a Time by Claire Diaz-Ortiz

In this book, Twitter’s head of corporate innovation and philanthropy, Claire Diaz-Ortiz, shares the same strategies she offers to organizations launching cause-based campaigns through Twitter. Twitter for Good is filled with dynamic examples from initiatives around the world and practical guidelines for harnessing individual activism via Twitter as a force for social change.

Have you read any of these? What other books would you recommend?

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A message to the class of 2012 from the Idealist community on Twitter

Yesterday, one of our interns shared her reflections on Michelle Obama’s commencement speech to the class of 2012 at Oregon State University. While many of us were inspired by Michelle’s words, we wondered what advice our community of change makers would give to this year’s graduates.


What advice can our community on Twitter offer to the class of 2012? (Photo Credit: Eldh, Creative Commons/Flickr)

To that end, we asked our friends on Twitter to complete the following sentence: “Dear Class of 2012, if you want to change the world, remember…” Here is the advice they shared:

“Dear Class of 2012, if you want to change the world remember to find friends to help you out. No one can do it alone!” ~ @aimee587

“…if you want to change the world, remember you must change yourself first.” ~@SummerStrauch

“…remember to live humbly and compassionately.” ~@MAWGtheFROG

“…remember to start small but think big and watch the ripples reach a nation.” ~@KaulanaNC

“…remember to listen to those you seek to help.” ~@NonprofitJen

Thanks to everyone who shared their advice! You can read all of the responses by searching for #idealist12 on Twitter. Be sure to follow us @idealist and join the conversation.

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Is "social media" on your resume?


Image via Gavin Llewellyn, http://www.onetoomanymornings.co.uk/ (Flickr/Creative Commons).

12.12.2011: The bullets in this post have been updated to include the percentages of social media jobs (out of all jobs posted on Idealist) each year.

Fellow Idealist Jeremy and I recently ran a little test to see how frequently “social media” appears in job postings on our site. Here’s how many listings have included the phrase over the last several years:

  • 2007: 25 jobs, o.01 percent.
  • 2008: 125 jobs, 0.27 percent.
  • 2009: 507 jobs, 1.67 percent.
  • 2010: 2,115 jobs, 4.98 percent.
  • And in 2011 so far, 3,467 jobs, or 7.7 percent of all jobs posted this year.

Curious what the very first jobs to include “social media” were? Reaching all the way back to November 2006, we found four jobs from three trailblazing organizations: a Content Producer at WGBH Educational Foundation; a Social Network Designer-Manager at Games for Change; and two web developer jobs at Feminist Majority Foundation.

When I was hired in 2006, there are at least a few people on staff who were creating social media, but I don’t think they would have called it that. For example, our editor Eric checked all of the copy on our site, but he also served as a curator of news about the nonprofit sector and posted articles from around the world every day. He was blogging before we had a blog. Now social media weaves naturally into the jobs of many folks here, whether they’re writing emails for multi-channel campaigns, blogging here, or using social networking sites to learn about and grow our community.

Questions for you, dear readers:

  • What has this evolution looked like at your organization? Is your organization so new that the majority of your work takes place through social media, or have you spent a lot of time convincing people of the value of this type of engagement?
  • Are blogs, social networking sites, and other social media included in your job description? How much of your work time do they consume?
  • If you’re a hiring manager posting one of those 3,400+ jobs, what matters to you with regard to filling those roles? How do the best candidates showcase their experience in this area?

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Can social media help you land your dream job?


Social networks can help you with your job search. Photo by Dean Meyers (Flickr/Creative Commons)

Remember when people said you should hide your social media profiles during a job hunt? Now I would argue the opposite. Become active in social media – just remember that the person reading your tweets, blog posts, etc. could be your future manager! Here are some tips.

Twitter: Follow the organizations that you’re interested in working for, and the causes that you’re passionate about. Tweet about topics that are relevant to the job you want to land. Interested in fundraising? Follow, RT, and engage in conversation with people already in fundraising. Staying on top of new developments in your field, and being public about it, highlights your growing expertise to future employers.

Facebook: Stop reading and go check your privacy preferences. Put up a photo that’s at least semi-professional and make sure to include your past work and education experience in your profile. Unlike pages that might scare away a potential employer and replace them with the pages of the organizations that you’d like to work for. Engage with their posts when the opportunity presents itself; it will help demonstrate that you’re knowledgeable about their work if and when the time comes for them to hire.

LinkedIn: I’m not even job hunting and I’ve received offers for interviews just because I have an up-to-date LinkedIn profile. Take the time to make your LinkedIn profile as beautiful and informative as your résumé. Keep it up to date with your accomplishments and find and connect to everyone that you know professionally. It can definitely pay off, especially when you’re applying to jobs and looking for someone in your network at a company or organization.

Google profile: For whatever reason, you may have something showing up in a Google search that you don’t want employers to see. Cultivate online content that you control by creating a free Google profile. (And read my last post to learn more about how free Google tools can help you manage your job search.)

Idealist: Create a free profile and let hiring managers see your skills, interests, experience, and the causes that you’re passionate about. You can also connect directly to the organizations that you’re interested in so that you’re in the know when they post new opportunities.

Free blogging tools: If you’ve got a skill, a talent, or a passion for something that is related to your career, start a blog on a free blog service like WordPress. A well-maintained blog is an awesome way to show off your expertise, writing skills, and personality to potential hiring managers. (Not sure where to start or how to maintain your blogging mojo? Lots of folks have written about these topics, including Rosetta Thurman, Badi Jones, and Allison Jones.)

And finally: Put the networking back into your social networks. Whenever you apply for a job, check your social networks for contacts that you have at the organization, or even friends of friends of friends at the organization. If you’re looking for a job, be proactive and message your contacts on all of your networks to let them know what you’re looking for. People usually want to help, and if they know what you’re looking for, they’ll think of you first if something similar opens up at their organization. Knowing someone that can vouch for you to the hiring manager is the easiest way to land an interview.

Your turn to weigh in! What other ways can you use the social web to make your job search more successful?

Other posts you might enjoy:

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Four ways to make your job postings pop

I recently saw this observation from Twitter user @paulinechu:


This reminded me of a post called There’s a high likelihood that your job postings suck, from the blog Ask a Manager. (Ask a Manager is a great read, whether you’re a seeking employment, looking desperately for a way out of a toxic work environment, or just pondering age-old questions like what to do when your teammates over-share in their out of office reply messages.)

Alison Green counsels employers to “talk like a normal person and think like the candidate you’re looking for.” Steer clear of jargon, she writes, and think of your posting as a marketing document. Why will this job be exciting for the right candidate?

I figured our Community Support team—the friendly folks who answer your questions when you call or email us—might have some advice, too. Here are Jeremy’s tips for posting your jobs on Idealist.

  • List a salary range, even if you think the salary might be low. This is one of the biggest complaints we get from our community of job seekers. Candidates are much more likely to apply for your position if they know roughly how much it might pay and don’t forget to include information about the benefits your organization provides its staff.
  • Be clear about required experience. Ours jobs go out in email alerts in the format of Job Title / Organization Name. If you need an experienced Director of Development, you could put directly in the title “Director of Development – 10 Years Experience.”
  • Take advantage of the space that we provide. Fill it up with keywords and all the other information that you can to make your listing more searchable.
  • Promote beyond Idealist. Don’t forget that once you’ve posted, you should share the listing with your networks through newsletters and on sites like Facebook and Twitter. Your biggest fans can often become your best employees.

Here’s hoping you can stretch that $60 investment a little further.

[This blog entry appeared on an older version of Idealist; any broken links are a result of having re-launched our site in Fall 2010.]

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Trends in Nonprofits' Use of Social Media

Use of social media has surged in the nonprofit sector in the past year, according to the Nonprofit Social Network Benchmark Report by NTEN, Common Knowledge, and ThePort Network. Most interestingly, social media use is becoming much more varied as organizations commit more staff time and resources to their presence across various social networks.

Facebook headed up the list of most popular social networks with 86% of the 1,173 small to large sized nonprofits that were surveyed saying they maintained a page there. That’s up 16% from 2009. Twitter was second with 60%, and was the social network with the highest percentage growth with a year-over-year increase of 38%.

Via NTEN.org

Almost 85% of organizations are committing at least one-quarter of a full-time staff member’s work hours to the management of their social networking accounts, demonstrating the importance that nonprofits find in using online social networking as a tool in an overall media strategy. Overwhelmingly, organizations are using their social networks for traditional marketing purposes (92%), but increasingly they are starting to delve into fundraising (45.8%), program delivery (34.5%), and market research (24.3%).

Although it’s gaining popularity in the nonprofit sector, there are still a lot of unknowns in social networking. Since social networks are often housed with marketing or program staff, instead of development or fundraising-focused staff, there’s little data about their return on investment when it comes to donations. Although social communities are thriving around nonprofit issues, it is very difficult to quantify how organizations are engaging their members or increasing the reach of their message.

Here at Idealist, we’re working on some new features to make our site more social; it’s one major way we hope to strengthen the connections among organizations, people, resources, and ideas.

[This blog entry appeared on an older version of Idealist; any broken links are a result of having re-launched our site in Fall 2010.]

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The Making of Our New Social Media Posting Policy. Like?

By Flickr user Beck Tench (Creative Commons)

One of the biggest changes coming when we launch our new website this year will be how our members—individuals and organizations—will be able to interact with each other. With dynamic new connections soon to be possible on our own site, we thought it might be time to better define the interactions we are hoping to foster across our larger community.

We have profiles on a several sites—including Facebook, Myspace, Twitter, LinkedIn, and others—each with its own personality and its own community. We want our new public posting policy to serve as general guidelines for all of our online fans, followers, and friends.

Our first steps in creating this policy: introspection, and then research, research, research. What kind of communities are we trying to encourage? What is the focus of having a given profile? What possible issues might come up? How do other, similar organizations address these points? What policies are already offered by the hosting sites? What tone do we take?

We found an impressive compilation of published social media participation policies listed at http://socialmediagovernance.com/policies.php. After all of our reading, we ended up being most inspired by the guidelines issued by the American Red Cross and by Easter Seals.

We reworked our past internal procedure (which dealt primarily with offenses and consequences) into more understandable, reader-friendly language, and stated explicitly what our goals for our communities would be. We followed this writing by a few rounds of intense revision. After much discussion, and much finessing, we have a final (for now) draft of our public posting policy that we are adding to each of our profiles this week.

We intend for these guidelines to be as vibrant and evolving as our communities are. We welcome any questions, comments, or proposed revisions you might have. Let us know what you think!

[This blog entry appeared on an older version of Idealist; any broken links are a result of having re-launched our site in Fall 2010.]

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Twestival: Think Globally and Online; Act Locally and Offline

Okay, if there’s anyone out there still doubting the power of the internet to build community and affect real change, please check out Twestival on February 12th. Twestival is an entirely volunteer-driven campaign to raise awareness and funds for an organization called charity: water, which has the worthy mission of helping to bring safe drinking water to developing nations.

The coolest thing about Twestival: it’s being hosted by Twitter communities in 175 different cities around the world. (What’s a Twitter community? Members of the microblogging site Twitter who happen to live in the same city.) Each Twestival event is different; but all proceeds go to charity: water. If you can’t attend on February 12th, or if there isn’t one in your city, you can still make a donation, donate your music, or enter the t-shirt design competition.

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