Tech Tip: How to sign up as a Connector (video)

If you’re not a Connector yet or want to give someone else a hand with signing up, this short-and-sweet instructional video will show you how easy it is to get started.

 

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Video: “Together We Can Do More”

Our video team recently hit the sunny springtime streets of New York to ask Connectors why they’re excited about the Idealist Network.

Here are their top takeaways, in two bite-sized minutes:

What excites you about the Network?

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Tech Tip: How to update your Idealist profile

Completing your profile on Idealist is one of the best ways to connect with the Idealist community.

Through your profile, you can message other people and organizations doing good; create Email Alerts to hear about new opportunities for action; and view people in your area who share your passions—to name just a few.

Additionally, as a Connector, maintaining a colorful, informative profile will help you in your work.

Displaying more of your interests and areas of expertise will help more people to find you, and they’ll feel more invited to connect with you if they know what you’re about.

Creating a stellar profile is easy—Kat from our video team walks you through it in this short video:

 

How has your Idealist profile helped you in your work as a Connector?

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How this creative director turned “no skills” into “no problem”

On Idealists in Action, we love to tackle your biggest obstacles to doing good. One we hear a lot is, “I don’t have the skills or knowledge to start something.” This week, we’re taking that behemoth down.

Another way you can defeat the obstacles in your path is by joining the Idealist Network—a new online and on-the-ground platform we’re designing to help people everywhere connect and take action on any issue that concerns them, locally or globally. Sign up to attend our online launch on March 11 and see what it’s all about.

“In 2010 I was in the middle of a failing sabbatical,” begins Derick Tsai, founder and creative director of hip content development studio Magnus Rex.

“The brutal truth was I had bumped up against the limits of my abilities. I was going to have to drastically up my game if I had any hope of realizing my projects. In an unfamiliar space and out of my depth, I was reduced to moping around in sweats all day and constantly stressing about running out of money.”

“Then something woke me up and put everything into perspective.”

How did this visionary artist rise from the depths of not knowing to a new pinnacle of creativity? Read his story on GOOD.

 

Tell us about a time you didn’t know what to do, but turned rock bottom into your launch pad.

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Have you ever wanted to change the world, but didn’t know where to start?

On Idealists in Action, we love to tackle your biggest obstacles to doing good. One we hear a lot is, “I don’t have the skills or knowledge to start something.” This week, we’re taking that behemoth down.

Another way you can defeat the obstacles in your path is by joining the Idealist Network—a new online and on-the-ground platform we’re designing to help people everywhere connect and take action on any issue that concerns them, locally or globally. Sign up to attend our online launch on March 11 and see what it’s all about.

We can help with that.

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

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VIDEO: How disaster can feed inspiration (the Shore Soup story)

Back in October, Idealist video producer Liz Morrison blogged about the Shore Soup Project, a new nonprofit in Queens, New York.

Right after Hurricane Sandy in 2012, Robyn Hillman-­Harrigan made the simple decision to begin cooking hot meals for her Rockaway neighbors who had no heat, no electricity, or no homes. That first step started a life-changing journey that combines her passions for healthy food and community building.

In the year since, Robyn has established the project as a nonprofit and become its executive director. Shore Soup continues to cook and deliver healthy food to home-bound neighbors, but its scope has grown to include restoring a community garden, building an urban farm, hosting workshops on nutrition, opening a summer food truck, and planning a restaurant-slash-community center to provide healthy pay-­as­-you­-can meals for residents and visitors alike, no matter how much is in their wallets.

Watch Robyn’s personal and powerful story in her own words, and get inspired to start taking action on something you care about. As Robyn says, “It’s cliche to say every journey begins with a single step, but it’s true. You never know where it will take you.”

Robyn’s story is just one of countless examples of people in the Idealist community taking small steps that make a big difference. Do you have a “small steps” story to share? Email it to april@idealist.org.

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Reframing Fear: Jonathan Fields on how to picture risk, failure, and judgment

Stuck? Feeling hopeless? Unsure of your next step? For the almost two decades Idealist has been around, we’ve been asking you—our community—to tell us about the obstacles you face when trying to turn your good intentions into action. We’ve compiled a short list of the top-reported obstacles, and now we’re blogging about them one by one.

This Halloween week, we present: fear.

Jonathan Fields helps people be “more agile, creative and innovative and embrace action in the face of uncertainty with a greater sense of ease.”

As a father, husband, author, speaker, wellness industry entrepreneur, former hedge fund lawyer, innovation consultant (and more!), he’s no stranger to making ideas happen.

He describes his Good Life Project (GLP), in part, as “a voracious commitment to move beyond words and act.” Very Idealist!

 

In this video from GLP TV’s third season, Jonathan talks about countering fear and inaction by “reframing” our thoughts to push past our natural inclination toward negativity bias (concentrating on what could go wrong), and focus on the opportunities—not the pitfalls—that await in any challenge.

A few of our favorite quips to whet your appetite for action:

  • “Disruption is the seed of innovation, possibility, and opportunity.”
  • “Yes, if you fail, some people may judge you. But you’ll also learn an extraordinary amount about how to do better as you progress. Separate the emotion from the data.”
  • “Fear of loss: what if I lose money? Prestige? Do ask those questions, but also ask: what if I succeed? And: what if I do nothing? That one is often the most horrifying scenario.”

When have you been able to shed fear by focusing on opportunity?

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Nonprofit Video 101: 3 tips to keep your videos on point

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Lights, camera, questions: three things every video producer needs
(photo courtesy Isaac via Flickr’s Creative Commons)

It was my first week as the brand-new, in-house video producer at Idealist and I was super excited about all the possibilities ahead. So when our executive director Ami mentioned that a woman he just met had a fabulous Idealist story, my video mind starting working on overdrive.

Apparently, Kate Horner had not only found her current job on Idealist, she had also found her grad program at an Idealist Grad Fair, and she had a long track record of finding internships and volunteer opportunities through the site.

I was so excited, I jumped straight into preparations for making a video.

With my co-producer Sean, we scheduled a day-long shoot with Kate that involved an almost 90-minute interview. When we returned to the office afterward, we realized the daunting task that lay ahead: how would we craft a three-to-five minute video with great details that stayed compelling AND ended with a clear call to action?

I sorted through the interview footage and assembled my first cut. It was over ten minutes long, and was confusing and unfocused. While I had gotten in every last detail of Kate’s journey—from volunteering to working for veterans like her brother—it wasn’t a video I would want to watch. And it didn’t leave the viewer with a clear message about why they should look for jobs on Idealist like Kate did.

We tossed that version out and narrowed our focus. We honed in on the moments where Kate spoke honestly about her fear, excitement, worry, and hope—themes we hear all the time from the Idealist community. We also keyed in on the little things Kate had learned when she used Idealist in her job hunt that could be useful tips to share.

With these things in mind, we were able to craft a very personal and relatable story, while weaving in an Idealist pitch.



 

Lessons learned

In the increasingly crowded online video playing field, content needs to be focused, compelling, and clear. (Short doesn’t hurt either.)

In this case, I let my excitement get the better of me, and lost sight of those tenets. The result was that I ended up having to do probably four times the amount of work to get to the end product.

But not for naught—I’ve taken this experience with me as we plan out our next videos. Now, before we do anything, we make sure to use the following advice as a guide:

1. Answer these four questions.

When you’re thinking about making a video, planning is half the process. It’s imperative to answer these questions before you even think of touching a camera:

  1. WHY are you making the video? Fundraising? Awareness? To increase your membership?
  2. WHAT are you trying to say? What is the message or information you want the viewer to come away with? The more focused the better. Try to keep it to one message per video.
  3. WHO is your intended audience? Donors? People who already know something about your cause? People who don’t know anything about it? Event attendees?
  4. WHAT IMPACT do you want to have on your audience? What do you want them to think? Feel? Do?

2. Keep it personal.

Once you’ve thought about the end goals of your video, use that to inform the storytelling. Try to frame your video around someone’s personal story—that always helps the viewer form an emotional connection with your message.

For example, the Girl Effect: the Clock is Ticking is a great video that shows how framing a larger issue around an individual story can lead to a very compelling call to action.

3. Make a specific ask.

So now, let’s say you’ve done your homework and invested a lot of time, money, and brainpower in creating a personal, compelling video that the viewer watches all the way to the end—congratulations! But if you don’t make it easy for that viewer to take the next step, they probably won’t.

So make it clear what you want them to do. Maybe that’s sign your petition, visit your website, join your organization, or donate to your cause. In any case, don’t beat around the bush: ask them directly.

As a general rule, I suggest ending videos with your website URL so everyone knows where to go for more information. (YouTube’s Nonprofit Program allows you to add annotations around the URL that can turn it into a clickable link.) For example, in Kate’s video, we added a screen at the end that summed up our message and made a direct ask: “Find your dream job on Idealist today. Search now.”

***

While the process of making this video was filled with ups and downs, the experience did make me a better producer. And now I get to put what I learned to the test: we’re looking to find our next “Idealist Story” to film. Maybe you can help!

How have you used Idealist to imagine, connect, and act? Share your stories in the comments below (or email me at liz@idealist.org) and if you’re in NYC or Portland, Oregon, you could be the subject of our next video. How cool is that?

For more information and resources related to nonprofit video, check out Vimeo and Stillmotion’s video storytelling series and See 3 Communications and YouTube’s study about video in the nonprofit sector, complete with tutorials and tips and tricks.

For more Idealist Videos, check out our Youtube channel at www.youtube.com/idealist.

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Participating in National Volunteer Week? Film your project!

A school made of plastic bottles in Guatemala. Blind woodworkers in Boston who are defying odds. A firsthand look at the recent protests in Egypt’s Tahrir Square. Intrigued? Check out our Making Good Ideas Travel channel on Vimeo to learn about all this and more.

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Right now on Idealist.org there are 500+ video- and film-related volunteer opportunities. Photo by Marcin Wichary (Flickr/Creative Commons).

Since it’s National Volunteer Week, I’d thought I’d highlight some volunteering-related gems:

The Lowestoft Christmas swim
‘Tis not the season, but I found this video so charming I had to share. It highlights 250 bold Brits running into the ocean on Christmas day to raise money for a handful of charities. It’s full of great music, superhero costumes, and interesting twists on the Santa getup. Maybe it will spark some ideas for other holidays.

Flying Colours
Akhona is a young student and mother who wants to go to college. Siyabuelela is studying business at the university and volunteers his Saturdays to tutor youth like Akhona. Their two stories are linked by IkamvaYouth, a South African nonprofit that helps learners lift themselves out of poverty. The film gives an intimate glimpse into their lives and highlights the good work the org is doing – and will make you want to go to South Africa right now.

Picking up America
This short documentary follows a group of twentysomethings walking across the United States and picking up roadside trash. A movie featuring garbage across the country’s most ignored areas may not sound all that appealing, but the youthful, idealistic energy of the volunteers is inspiring.

National Volunteering Week ends tomorrow! Have you picked up a camera to film any festivities?

Inching its way toward 1,000 subscribers, the Making Good Ideas Travel channel has 153 videos and counting. We welcome submissions not only about volunteering, but all things social change: nonprofits, community involvement, and good ideas. So if you have a short video that’s reeling to be shared with the world, message us or post a link to our Shoutbox and we’ll be sure to take a look.

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Headlines: After the 11NTC (Nonprofit Technology Conference)

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Panelists from the "Free Agents" session. Photo via Beth Kanter (Flickr/Creative Commons).

Elise and I went to NTEN‘s annual conference in Washington, DC last week. It was great to meet many of you there! Here are some of the takeaways we’ve spotted thanks to the still-buzzing #11NTC Twitter stream

Change doesn’t have to be scary

Online fundraising

Kudos for transparency

Be nice to your tech people

  • Maybe I just have it easy? (Bailey Kasten, Wish You Worked Here). At the National Society of Collegiate Scholars, muses Kasten, “operations and technology have a voice.” She offers some advice to the folks in workplaces where that’s not true.

Storytelling through specific channels

  • DoGooder Video Awards Announced at NTC! (Maddie Grant, SocialFish.org). Thinking of incorporating video into your organization’s communications strategy? Check out the winners of “best thrifty organization video,” “best small organization video,” and more categories.
  • Using Location Based Services for Your Nonprofit (John Haydon, SocialBrite) recaps a session about how services like FourSquare can be included in your strategy to raise awareness and money.

And these are just the beginning!

Are you blogging about your 11NTC experience? Leave a comment below with a link!

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