Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Blogging in the Philanthrosphere

This morning, Lucy Bernholz over at Philanthropy 2173 asked "What foundations are blogging" and "Which foundations or donors are doing anything in virtual worlds or social networks?"

I had just finished reading Phil Cubeta's blog this morning in which he writes "Philanthropy blogging is becoming an awful lot like reading way too many professional journals: The official story told by the officials in official upper middle brow language that will upset no one and change nothing, often accompanied by advertising, or a business model that ties the words back to an influx of cash and a nice soft life. "

So in response to Lucy's question and to Phil's point, I ask "What foundations's representatives or donors are saying anything interesting or world changing on their blogs?" The list then becomes small if not almost entirely non-existent.

What I take from Phil's post is that bloggers who represent foundations, donors, charities, whatever, they must actually ENGAGE. And this starts ultimately by being able to talk about what's wrong with the sector and/or specific programs and interventions... It means throwing out ideas fearlessly that break the status quo and it means one of us philanthropshere bloggers actually being the ones to break the Gates Foundation story not just commenting on the story.

And you know, by being "out-there" it may mean you're less popular at the next schmoozefest, but guess what? You'll be headlining the event, because people crave the real deal.

On the Social Networks & Virtual World's Question

I have blogged previously about canceling my MySpace account. As someone who consults to many charities about IT and media strategies, I can tell you that if any charity or foundation representative boasted that they were spending time on MySpace or Friendster, let alone Second Life or any virtual world, I would tell them they are wasting their time.

Organizations are far-better served investing resources in making their own sites more interesting, including having content and activities that encourage that organization's supporters to be the ones creating a new audience. Kiva and DonorsChoose have introduced blog badges to some success but even the big sites have a long way to go to leveraging their content to turn their supporters into their spokespeople.

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