Digital Insights: Creating better digital strategies, programs & teams.

You are here

Tapping the power of networks.

Insights on strategy, campaign innovation, and team transformation.

The essence of Web of Change - revealed!

Oct 3, 2012  |  by Jason Mogus

After attending 12 Web of Change conferences and seeing it all from the inside, I've often found it difficult to describe who we are, what we do, and why it matters to people who haven't been there. We're just one of those organic, non-linear, hard to pin down things that has a big impact on people's lives but can be hard to quantify.

So it was really great this year to welcome Micah Sifry among the 115 others who made the schlep to Cortes Island last month. If anyone would have a unique perspective on Web of Change it would be a guy who co-founded one of the highest profile online politics conferences Personal Democracy Forum in NYC), runs a consulting firm helping major institutions adapt to tech and open systems, and runs the go-to blog for online politics TechPresident).

In his thorough wrap up post, Micah not only says he's "never experienced anything as soul-, heart- AND brain-satisfying as Web of Change", I think he really nailed our essence and purpose.

Update and focus your content strategy to reach influentials

Jul 4, 2012  |  by Jason Mogus

Many clients are asking whether it still makes sense to have a blog in today's busy world. Related questions about how to focus diffuse social media experiments, what the point of their website is, and whether they need to refresh their email newsletters all point to the lack of an up to date organizational content strategy. Most folks I work for are in the business of influencing decision makers, and they have important solutions, analysis, and commentary on the major issues of our times to offer, so the answer is clear: yes you need to do it all well!

But it's smart to ask hard questions about whether our legacy publishing models are having impact today. If you're just publishing to an audience of everyone without a clear message that consistently supports your core expertise, you're probably wasting your time. Worse, if you're not using the mediums that matter today, people with much less expertise than you, or even your opponents, are probably filling in the gaps.

Here are some trends I've noticed on how to execute a modern content (also known as a thought leadership) strategy that will have impact:

Guest Post: Experiments with learning as 350.org grows

May 2, 2012  |  by Jason Mogus

This is a guest post from 350.org's Executive Director May Boeve, who is speaking at Communicopia's event today in New York. May wanted to share recent insights into how 350, a still very young networked organization, is approaching organizational learning and staff development while maintaining its nimble culture.

Learning about learning is fun. And after reading a whole bunch of interesting articles about "organizational learning," it seemed like a good idea to go public with some experiments, ideas, and stories of our own.

350.org was founded in 2008 by a small group of friends and writer and environmentalist Bill McKibben, and has since grown into an international network encompassing hundreds of thousands of supporters worldwide, including active local volunteers in almost every country on earth.

Home page from MomsRising.org

NYC Event: How network orgs are re-invigorating social change

Apr 13, 2012  |  by Jason Mogus

If you're in New York in early May, check out "How Network Orgs and Free Agents are Re-invigorating Social Change Movements". In it we share some of our latest thinking, and then we'll hear real world, really awesome stories from May Boeve, the Executive Director and co-founder of global climate campaigners 350.org, and Monifa Bandele, a senior campaigner at the 1M (engaged) member strong MomsRising.org. It's a free community building event (with free drinks!) thanks to some of our awesome partners.

This event was successfully test-marketed in Vancouver, and we plan to do it in DC and San Francisco later this year.

Why your non-profit won't make a KONY 2012

Mar 13, 2012  |  by Jason Mogus

There's been a lot of ink spilled about the KONY 2012 video, the most successful cause video of all time (and most viral video ever). But I haven't seen a lot of discussion around the campaign that surrounded the video, that is at least as responsible for its success. And while Invisible Children has faced controversy - in my opinion much more than they deserve - I'd rather turn this into a constructive dialogue on how other causes can learn from their incredible success.

In my view, most of the larger, more well known NGO's won't produce a communications piece this successful, unless they radically change their structures. Here are 6 reasons most NGO's will never make a KONY, and some lessons we can take to improve our campaigns for this exciting new world.

If you think all Network Orgs do are online petitions, you are wrong

Mar 1, 2012  |  by Jason Mogus

I've been writing a lot about "network orgs" that are popping up like mushrooms after a rainstorm in nearly every movement. But one of the common critiques I hear about them from those who work in more traditional non-profits is "all they do are online petitions". This then connotes their work with simple clicktivism, also known as "slacktivism", and nothing more weighty. And it's wrong.

The three pillars of a digital team's work

Feb 5, 2012  |  by Jason Mogus

Today's digital teams have evolved far beyond merely being a publishing shop for the institution on the web. Today there are three primary, and strategically critical, functions of internal digital teams:

  • Publishing - from making simple text pages, keeping important content up to date, to writing and creating rich media like photos, videos, and infographics that tell the stories of your work
  • Mobilization (or engagement, if you're not an advocacy org) - pushing content out to various supporter lists and social media, content promotion, as well as community listening, volunteer management, and organizing
  • Strategic consultancy - working hand in hand with various internal clients to figure out the most effective way to publish and promote their work, while also leading larger institutional priorities

Why your internal team needs better positioning

Jan 22, 2012  |  by Jason Mogus

A client asked me recently what was the #1 issue holding organizations back from stronger digital performance, across all sizes and industries. I hesitated a few seconds before arriving at leadership. Inside web teams, which we make a case for as the foundation of most digital success, face increasing responsibilities to not only serve the whole organization with publishing, but also lead entirely new engagement or mobilization functions, while driving innovation across all programs.

What is a netcentric campaign?

Dec 15, 2011  |  by Jason Mogus

There are few progressive issues we can look back at over the last 10 years that show measurable and sustained progress. This fact alone should greatly humble NGO campaigners, consultants, and funders alike. Yet at the same time there have been some incredible successes – from the growth of Avaaz to 12M+ members, to the Arab Spring, Obama’s election in 2008, and the early days of the Occupy Wall Street movement, that may point to the power of new, networked models of campaigns showing a new way.

The common thread among initiatives that are struggling is centralized leadership in strongly hierarchical, highly independent, professionalized organizations. Many recent growth leaders take more of a network-centric approach to campaigning, with more flat, nimble structures, strong reliance on partnerships, and importantly people-powered engagement models at their core.

The 7 patterns of nonprofit digital teams

Oct 24, 2011  |  by Jason Mogus

This is the third in a three part series on digital teams for nonprofits published in the Stanford Social Innovation Review. You can download the benchmark report referenced in the article below for free.

We have been planning and building websites for social change institutions for nearly two decades, and over that time have worked with some of the most well-known social brands in the world, as well as hundreds of lesser-known groups. What we’ve seen across all organizations, regardless of size, is that digital teams—their structure, leadership, and how they are affected by the culture of the institutions where they work—are the biggest predictor of online effectiveness. Without well-structured teams, strong leadership, appropriate skills, and an aligned internal culture, you simply can’t do all the great things you want to do online, sustainably over the long term.

This summer we set out to learn more about the state of digital teams in the nonprofit sector. Finding few resources on the topic, we decided to create the world’s first digital team structure benchmark for the nonprofit sector. We did this in order to start a conversation about the importance of building better teams and the importance of investing in them.

Senior online leaders from 67 nonprofit organizations contributed to the final report. Here are seven of the most important patterns we observed:

Pages