Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Three Research & Presentation Tools for Your Small Nonprofit

Papers, presentations, and social communications content all require that you do research and turn your findings into something that's eye-catching and memorable. So here are three tools to help that along:
  • Google Power Search
  • Kippt
  • Sketchnotes
Google Power Search

By now, most everyone knows that Google is a search engine - a way of searching the internet for the information you want. But how do you get the maximum benefit from it? In the olden days, we combed through card catalogs just to find a range of books that might provide the data we were looking for. These days, finding what you want can be a lot quicker - if you know what you're searching for. This webpage with its demos and challenges is an instruction in how to ask the right questions. Or rather, how to enter the right search terms and become a Google search power user.

There are two curricula - one for learning to power search, and one for advanced power search techniques. I took the advanced power search class and my tip? Start with a very general search and gradually narrow it down. If you start with a very specific search, you may - oddly - miss what you're looking for.


Our content is seldom the result of one person's effort, even if only one person is responsible for bringing everything together in a paper, a presentation, or an article. With the growth of mobile applications, it can be harder than ever to keep track of everything involved in a project, which is where Kippt comes in. To paraphrase Kippt's press page, Kippt is for:
  • Collecting design inspiration
  • Keeping track of Resources
  • Researching new subjects
  • Building a library (for example, founder stories)
  • Becoming better and writing and storytelling
And probably for a lot of other things that require collecting information. It's new, and right now it's not completely stable (when I tried to log in with my Twitter account, I got a page of code). It's also oriented towards designers and code developers, but that doesn't mean it can't prove useful to you. At this point it's free, but looks like there will eventually be tiered pricing, with a Pro account starting at $25 a year. Here's their demo:


Also called 'graphic recording', sketchnotes are a way of using drawings to capture important information and present it in a way that is more visually interesting that a set of typed up notes. When notes are captured in a graphic way, they can become a picture or slide show or even an animation that can be easily shared on social sites. And if you're really lucky, it can go viral and bring new eyes to your blog, FB page, or website.

As Rob Cottingham points out on the Social Signal Blog, graphic recordings of speeches have been used by workshop facilitators for years, and some companies expend serious effort to capture discussions in a graphic format. But if you aren't a graphic artist, that should not deter you. What's important is that the information you want to share gets highlighted in a visual way - even a doodle can help with that. As Cottingham puts it:
And those sketches don't require any special artistic training or cartooning skill. Books like The Sketchnote Handbook and The Back of the Napkin set out simple techniques you (or someone in your organization) can use to illustrate a message with clarity and power, even if you haven't dared to doodle since grade school. And the Sketchnote Army website offers inspiration on demand, with tons of examples to learn from.

Are you a Google power searcher? Have you used a tool like Kippt or employed sketches or doodles to help get your message across? What works for you and what doesn't? Drop a comment and let me know.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

A Few New Tools For Your Small Nonprofit

Having a cold on a rainy day is great, right?

Anyway - some new things to look at

  • Tweegram
  • Downgram
  • Statwing
  • Pinterest Analytics
  • Alternatives to Google Reader
  • Video: The Way We Think About Charity is Dead Wrong

Requires an Android smartphone

By now you know that what gets the most attention is text with image, like those great quotes you've been seeing around the internet. Tweegram is an Android app that lets you put one of these together and share it in a snap.

You download the app to your phone and then put together their style (picture, text style) with your words and then send it off to Instagram, FB, or Twitter. Their page also says you can share it other places, and I would hope that includes Pinterest.

Tweegram is getting pretty good ratings. What would be a nice improvement is being able to upload your own pictures of your nonprofit events or programs.

Requires an Instagram Account, Zip file open utility (standard on Windows)

If you're already a fan of Instagram, you may have already thought about how nice it would be if you could get your hands on the photos you've uploaded without having to first post them somewhere and then copy or download them from the post. Downgram is your answer.

All you have to do here, is go to their page, log in to your Instagram account, and select the photos you want to download. Downgram packages them into a zip file for you to unzip on your desktop or tablet. You don't have to download pictures one at a time or even set up another account.

Requires a free account

You know Big Data is the newest buzzword, but you may be still trying to figure out what to do with the data you've already got. Maybe you've loaded it into a spreadsheet, but you aren't sure you're getting the most out of it. Here to help is Statwing.

You log into your Statwing account, upload your data in the form of a spreadsheet or .csv file (comma separated values - most data tools like FileMaker Pro have an export feature that does this), and Statwing analyzes the data and provide different ways of looking at it, including statistically significant relationships. If you're new to statistics and analyzing data, Statwing may be a good place to start learning how to look for patterns and conclusions. There's a demo on the front page that deals with statistics from the Titanic disaster.

Pinterest Analytics

Although I have a Pinterest account, I use it for self-gratification rather than social media outreach, so I haven't been avidly following the new development of Pinterest offering analytics. But if your small nonprofit has a Pinterest page, their analytics should interest you, helping you define your social communications strategy and tactics. Here's Mashable's take on it: Pinterest Analytics.

Dan Pallotta - TED Talks

Do you think your small nonprofit gets more points from potential funders and donors for how little you spend instead of what you accomplish? If so, then Dan Pallotta agrees with you and thinks it should stop:

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Social Communication and Barriers to Using It

I don't know that I've mentioned it here, but I serve as a volunteer on the Santa Cruz County Emergency Medical Care Commission, which advises our County Supervisors on emergency healthcare issues. I got interested in this area when my late husband was going through a lot of hospital visits, some of which involved ambulances and helicopters. I've continued to volunteer (as the consumer representative), because the Commission has done so much valuable work and I love being part of that.

Over the last couple of years, I have worked to make a case for enlarging knowledge and use of social communications, particularly with respect to public education and information. So, I keep an eye out for news items and discussions that relate to using social communications to further good health care. Here's one I found a couple of days ago about a doctor's idea for follow-up and how well-intentioned curbs on social communication could hurt that idea.

Healthloop: How Medical Liability Slows Down Health Care from National Journal on 

Are there barriers in your use of social communications in furthering the mission of your small nonprofit?