If you haven’t seen any of the posts about the We Are Media Project yet, it is a great experiment in working wikily from NTEN and Beth Kanter to “build a toolkit and instructional guides about how social media strategies and tools can enable nonprofit organizations to create, compile, and distribute their stories and change the world.”

This is week 5, which focuses on: Online Community Engagement Strategy and Skills.  I weighed in today on the first two questions, including Do you really need a community? Or something else? and What questions do you need to ask to guide your online community building strategy?, and hope you’ll check it out!

Here is one of the examples I contributed today:

Sometimes the best online community for your organization’s members/network, is one that has more direct benefits for the community members, than you. I know that sounds backward at first, but let me explain…

Here’s an example: You are an organization that focuses on after school programs and alternative programs for elementary school students. You have a large base of volunteers who run the after school programs, including mentoring and homework help. Creating a place on your website that allows volunteers to talk to each other, post questions, provide answers (peer to peer learning), share ideas and success stories, and more, means the volunteers have access to a huge pool of support (which for volunteers usually means better retention) and networking.

At first, it may seem the organization doesn’t really get much from the network. But, with a network of volunteers who are engaged and supporting each other online, interested people to your programs can be more inclined to get involved, you have resources in that network like best practices and success stories to share with other organizations and can even find leaders in the group to help advise the organization on new programs or changes to existing practices.

So, what do you think?  Does your organization need an online community?  What questions do you ask yourself to help figure it out?  If you decide you do need a community, what questions do you ask to help shape its development?

We Are Media Project: It’s week 5 already!
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  • Amy, thanks so much! This was has been a tricky module – trying maybe to merge two different ideas under the theme of engagement- more formal online communities and loosely coupled online communities.

  • Thanks, Beth! It’s a tricky module, but a very important topic for nonprofits considering social media tools, coming up with the right questions and framework is key.