by Avrum Rosensweig on November 27, 2008

Starting a non-profit begins with romance. It’s crucial we always remember those days.

In 1994 I was working with the United Jewish Appeal of Toronto.  That year genocide broke out in Rwanda, which lasted 100 days and devastated the country. Estimates are that 1 million people were murdered, many macheted to death in that short three month period. I, like the rest of the world, was devastated.

I had grown up in the Jewish community. My father was a Rabbi in a small city called Kitchener and in my genes, was a passion for the Jewish people and the belief that what lied at our essence was the concept of ‘Loving thy neighbor….’, that when others are suffering we would respond to their needs.

I was the generation born into this world following the Holocaust, and grew up on the adage ‘Never Again’ – the idea that we, the Jewish people, had suffered in the world and would not allow others to go through the pain we had experienced.

So when ‘Rwanda’ happened, and the Jewish world was mostly silent I was disappointed and saddened. I approached my bosses and said we should co-ordinate a pharmaceutical drive for the Rwandan refugees who had poured into surrounding countries. To their credit, they said, “Yes, by all means.”

It was then my dream of launching Canada’s first Jewish humanitarian and relief organization – Ve’ahavta – was born.

Like romance, there is something magical about the genesis of one’s non-profit career. Those are the days when we are idealistic in a starry eyed way, and our objectives and mission statements are to the point – ‘save the world’, or ‘eradicate malaria’ or ‘stop hunger in Israel’.  Indeed those are special moments, not yet evolved into a lifestyle.

This is the first installment in a series of posts dealing with starting a non-profit and what to do once the phones have started to ring and people are asking you for the service you have always dreamed of giving.  As the founding directors of Ve’ahavta, my first piece of advice to you very cool people (who are forsaking the other Jewish dream of practicing law) is: always hold onto your memories of those romantic beginnings.

I say this, and do so with great commitment, because the day will come when you will simply not know where you’ll get the funds to cover payroll. Those days make their way into the nights! The time will come when you will be called upon to make a most difficult decision like letting go a staff member. A text message will sit in your inbox from a colleague working in the field asking you to make an ethical decision, sometimes dealing with life and death…. and you’ll stutter for a second, and then do your best to respond hoping your call, was the right one.

The tough, roll-up-your-sleeves, slug-it-out instants will become part of your daily to do list, and it is exactly in those times when you need to recall the romance, meditate on why you started your non-profit, and remember that it was for beautiful, pure reasons – with the hope and dream of enhancing the lives of others.

I am grateful for having the opportunity to launch Ve’ahavta. (I live in a country that makes a start-up NGO very possible. In Canada there are over 150,000 non-profit organizations, about half of them are operational. The non-profit sector in Israel consists of 25,000 organizations that employ over 230,000 people, quite an impressive figure).

I am also very proud of the fact that I had a dream, listened to it, and then, like you, acted on it. Writing this, looking back at those romantic days, when Ve’ahavta and I walked hand-in-hand on the quiet beaches of Canada’s social service needs, I am softened and all the tough stuff I have dealt with sort of dissipates.

Those were beautiful days. These are different, but equally as beautiful. Well done to all of you for falling in love!

Avrum Rosensweig is the founding director of Ve’ahavta: The Canadian Jewish Humanitarian & Relief Committee, based in Toronto Canada. The organization was launched in 1996 and its mission statement is to encourage all Jews and people of this earth to play an active role in Tikun Olam. Ve’ahavta has partnered up with a number of Israeli NGOs in its crisis response work including IsraAid. See www.veahavta.org

by ManagingTeam on November 2, 2008

You may have heard of twitter, the site where people post up to 140 characters about “what they’re doing.” Well actually, if they post about what they’re doing, like “Going to the supermarket” or “Brushing my teeth,” they won’t do to well on twitter. In any case, twitter is one of the hottest social networks right now, and it is generally agreed that it is a great tool for networking and marketing your business.

But how about promoting your non-profit or cause with twitter? Like many things in this age of social media, what works for businesses often works well for non-profits too, and the same is the case for twitter.

How twitter works

Every twitter user sets up a profile, where they get their own URL like www.twitter.com/username. Their profile displays their username, which can actually be different than what appears in their URL, a short blurb with up to 160 characters about who they are, and a display of how many people they’re following, and how many people follow them.

Here’s my personal/business profile on twitter:

As you can see, the main part of the screen displays my username and profile picture, and my latest “tweet” (update) is prominently displayed. Under there are all my previous tweets displayed chronologically. In the right-hand bar is my real name, location, bio, web site, number of followers and following. You can click on the word “followers” or “following” to see who exactly is following me, or who I am following.

You may also notice that my profile page has a unique design, with different colors than the standard twitter page, and my company’s logo displayed on the left. You can create a personalized home page design, which is recommended. It’s not too difficult, and just takes a bit of playing around with, but it’s a good way to expand your branding over to twitter.

When I view my home page, I don’t just see my tweets, but the tweets of everyone I’m following, displayed chronologically, like so:

Here are three quick tips for getting started with twitter:

  1. Provide useful information in your tweets: Never follow the twitter guide of What are you doing? Instead, post links to useful information in your field of interest, or that you think your follows will enjoy. Also, do not over-promote your cause. People will learn about your cause indirectly by following you and seeing you as an expert in your area.
  2. How to reply to other twitterers (also known as tweeple): When replying to someone on twitter, use the @ symbol before their username, i.e. @username. They will be able to see that in their @Replies section, which is available in the right-hand bar of their home page. It is important to have conversations with other twitter users to strengthen your network and meet others.
  3. Think carefully about your bio: Make sure you have a bio in your profile so people can see who you are. Trust plays an important role in the world of social media, so you must give people real, credible information so that they can see you are a real person.

There are many twitter and third-party tools that you can use to enhance your twitter experience. Brian Solis has a great overview at Twitter Tools for Community and Communications Professionals where he has published an amazing looong list of tools you can use to build up your twitter community.

Here are some links to other articles that discuss using twitter for non-profits and social change:

Twitter and NonProfits from Me Like the Interweb – this post discussses how you and your supporters can use twitter, and gives examples of non-profit success with twitter.

Twitter for Nonprofits from The Fundraising Coach – gives reasons why you should consider using twitter, with links to useful resources on the subject

5 Ways to Use Twitter for Good from Stepcase Lifehack – great tips for how to use twitter to get some good stuff going

How Some Non-Profits Use Twitter from Betsy’s Blog – links to some prominent organizations and how they’re using twitter. Good to see same case studies like this.

Twitter and Non-Profits from Zen and the Art of Nonprofit Technology – this post discusses why twitter ain’t for everybody

Twitter’s not for every business or organization, but it’s worth getting to know it so that you can assess whether it will help your non-profit, and if so, how.

amuta 2.0 on twitter!

In honor of this post, amuta 2.0 is now on twitter! Yes, there’s not much there right now. Ok, there’s nothing there, but come follow us, we’ll follow you, and we hope to provide some useful links there to good resources about non-profits and social media. Here’s the link to our profile: http://twitter.com/amuta2point0

Happy twittering (or tweeting, as we say in twitter-world)!

by ManagingTeam on October 30, 2008

(The following article was originally published in Haaretz, and is republished here with permission of the author)

The weekend after Rosh Hashanah, a TV show called “Shavuah Sof” (“Endweek”) ran a skit in which one of the show’s hosts complained that he had been overloaded with so many “Happy New Year” text messages that his phone continued buzzing for days. “If you really want to wish me a happy new year,” he concluded, “call. Let me hear your voice.”

Only a few years ago, one may still have received a few cards in the mail. But as our electronic address has taken the place of our physical one, expecting cards is expecting too much. Rootlessness – the high-frequency relocating of the present day – has become the norm for many of us, especially those who have been empowered by technology to travel in pursuit of opportunities without the fear of losing touch with those we love.

Few holidays are as reflective of our times, therefore, as the seven days in which we are commanded to sit in booths: Sukkot, the holiday of the ingathering of the autumn harvest, takes on new meaning today, with much of the world open to our temporary residencies, thanks to near-universal acceptance of Jews, and the power of information technologies.

Borders are open to us, and with debit cards, search engines and GPS-enabled maps at our disposal, we can find our way around most anywhere with ease, and pay our way in local currency. All this has increased the mobility of the average member of the first digital generation – especially the highly educated and opportunity-minded we have by the dozen.

What is remarkable is that Jewish culture, too, has been liberated from the restrictions of time and space. “In the past year I’ve traveled to Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia and the U.K.,” recalls David Abitbol, the Jerusalem-based founder of Jewlicious.com, an engine of young Jewish culture around the world. “I’ve been to Canada, and on both coasts of the United States. In all cases, I based my itineraries on availability of Internet access. I was able to continue working wherever I was.”

From a day-to-day communal point of view, however, the fruits of this change have been varied. “Increased travel has, at least for those Jewishly identified, resulted in more Jews becoming familiar with Jews and Jewish communities abroad,” says Prof. Chaim I. Waxman, a sociologist with the Jewish People Policy Planning Institute. “It has also resulted in some Jews being less personally involved in their home community, because they are increasingly away from it.”

This is a paradoxical effect of the digital age – a nearness when far, but a distance even when close. Yes, the Jews were historically known for wandering. Some traveled in search of opportunity, but the majority did so under threat of persecution. Either way, the wanderings of yesteryear were for a much longer term. Up until a half century ago, when one waved farewell from a ship, it was often with little expectation of seeing those left behind again. Once one arrived in a safe community, one’s life was built around its institutions: A Jew who arrived in Pittsburgh or Petah Tivka could see her grandkids grow up a short ride away, and would dedicate her time and money to building communal institutions.

This is certainly not the case today. Thanks to near-ubiquitous digital access, even when we fly off to Thailand, we’re no more than a Skype call away. And if we find ourselves in Pittsburgh, online social networks enable us to connect more quickly with people we share interests with for a short period of time.

And yet these flash connections rarely are as close as those of yesteryear – leaving us with the challenge, as our society becomes defined by the “first digitals’” frequent choice of “sukkot” over permanent dwellings, of adapting our community institutions for highly mobile members.

Our communal institutions – from the State of Israel to our local federations and synagogues – were built for the static life, distinguishing between “locals,” who are dues-paying members, and “visitors,” a smaller group that temporarily accesses services.

But the relative numbers have flipped, leaving us wondering, as the digital age increases our wandering and the relative numbers of “locals” lessens and “visitors” increases, whom are our physically bound institutions meant to serve? What communal institutions are necessary in a world defined by nomadic wandering?

Some organizations have found innovative ways to meet the new demand. Chabad has created a global network of way-stations where wandering Jews can stop for a bite – a gas station for the Jewish body and soul. These nodes are, ideally, financially supported by locals who are inspired by their impact, with strong international backing. But Chabad’s model does not depend on the obligation of those it serves most directly.

As such, with our world moving toward greater mobility, we might reflect in our temporary dwellings as to how we may better build institutions to address the needs of the near-strangers among us. That is, how do we adapt local institutions to the steady flow of visitors who have no intention of staying put? And can we create global institutions that provide services that aren’t bound by physical limitations?

Two directions may serve as a good springboard for further thought. Our tradition maintains the practice of ushpizin, a hosting of strangers parallel to the ethos of hospitality practiced by Bedouin and other nomadic societies. Second, we may learn from the wisdom of the regalim, the thrice-annual pilgrimages that defined the holidays of ancient Israel, and which inspired a sense of unity in a dispersed population through face-to-face contact. Because, no matter the power of social networking and mobile communication technologies, sometimes a text message isn’t enough to prove how much you care.

Ariel Beery is the founder and co-director of the PresenTense Group, which equips social ventures and communities for the information age.

UBUNTU: I am because we are

From secretlondon123's photostream on flickr

Socially responsible investments (SRI) have gained much prominence in the last decade. Businesses and corporations are recognizing their capacity and responsibility to social wellbeing and have chosen to invest where they see a social return. Recently, a more equalized investment scenario has emerged: “creative capitalism” (as coined by Bill Gates), which merges profit generation and maximization with social issue improvement. Creative capitalism is being recognized as THE way to tackle global problems such as climate change, water, disease, terrorism, and hunger.

Yet the Jewish world is still severely under-utilizing SRIs and businesses’ involvement to address our internal needs. Nor does it utilize creative capitalism. Particularly in the current financial climate, the concepts of SRI and creative capitalism should be increasingly examined as new methods for addressing the Jewish world’s growing needs.

Global Corporate Social Responsibility

Corporate socially responsible investments on the ACTIVE level point to the fact that companies have responsibility not only to shareholders but also to stakeholders, as well as the wide array of parties interested in the companies’ actions. These include owners, investors, employees, suppliers, clients, consumers, and the general public. A company has three levels of accountability – financial, social, and environmental.

SRIs are the method by which many businesses look to improve social and environment problems that impact all stakeholders, while also being fiscally responsible. It can range from responsible production, like Nike’s commitment to achieving or exceeding baseline sustainability from the design stage through to the manufacturing stage for all its footwear, to Community Development Venture Capitalist Funds which look to invest in underprivileged areas, generating profit while raising the quality of the neighborhoods (and presumably the standard of living).

Not only has interest in SRIs increased, but so have actual investments due to a growing number of institutional investors now supporting shareholder resolutions on social, environmental, and corporate governance issues, new products, fund styles etc. In the US, for example, SRI assets have risen more than 324% from $639 billion in 1995 to $2.71 trillion in 2007. There, one out of every nine dollars invested is invested in SRIs.

In this era of SRIs playing a key role in a company’s competitive strategy, two new models have emerged which combine corporate financial goals with social ones. The first model, Corporate Social Entrepreneurship, is the transformation of socially and environmentally responsible ideas into products and services (Bill Gates’s “creative capitalism“). It was under this model that Muhammad Yunus created the concept of microcredit, which won him the Nobel Peace Prize in 2006. The second model, Global Corporate Citizenship, has a much wider global perspective. It declares that corporations have a civic duty to cooperate with governments and civil society to contribute to sustaining the world’s well being and addressing its largest issues.

SRIs and the Jewish World:

In the Jewish world, we have traditionally looked to engage philanthropy and government to address our needs. With the decline in the traditional type of philanthropy, particularly amongst younger givers, and combined with the current and foreseeable financial climate, we must engage businesses as a third partner, use new models of philanthropy, and demonstrate that businesses’ financial interests can be addressed at the same time as internal needs.

The question remains: Can the global business concept of SRIs be integrated into the Jewish world, and if so, how? This is our challenge.

Bringing a sense of corporate social responsibility into this traditionally philanthropic realm is new for the Jewish world. Government intervention has been strongly rejected (except for amongst the Orthodox) due to the strong desire to maintain separation of religion and state in the US. Involvement by the Israeli government in broader Jewish issues is obviously in play in Israel and is just starting to emerge in terms of reverse philanthropy to the US. Now, we must engage the critical inclusion of businesses -not solely Jewish businesses and/or Jewish businessmen/women – that have their own strategic interests for addressing needs facing the Jewish community (ies) and engaging them.

Jewish education has been identified as THE key to addressing the biggest issues in the Jewish world such as decreased identity, knowledge, and sense of connectedness. Yet providing universal Jewish education and day school education for those outside of Israel is expensive, sometimes prohibitively so. Providing affordable Jewish education to every Jewish youngster can only happen with the involvement of businesses, particularly those businesses that have a strategic interest in building day schools and their enrollment. Major publishers of Jewish and Hebrew textbooks and educational software, such as Milon, have a strategic financial incentive to work with the Jewish community to increase the number of pupils in day schools. Despite huge incentives, what is still missing throughout this equation is business involvement. Globally, businesses represent the newest, most innovative powers in the quest to tackle major issues, yet the Jewish world has not yet harnessed their power effectively.

In these philanthropically transformative, financially uncertain times, how do we best integrate the business element into the social equation and make them real partners in our effort to tackle the largest needs in the Jewish world?

Ahava Zarembski is Founder and President of Yesod: Strategic Consulting Group and the Yesod-Masad Initiative, providing strategic on Jewish communities in Israel and around the world. For more information contact yesodcenter@gmail.com

CharityHappenings.org is an events directory that calls itself “The Official Master Calendar of Non-Profit Events, Galas, and Benefits.” A hefty title to bestow upon oneself, it does seem to live up to the name, if displaying lots of pictures of women in evening gowns is any indication.

[Personal rant: why do people have this need to be part of lush, ridiculously expensive, fashionable parties in order to feel good about donating to causes they supposedly care about? If they really cared, they'd forego the parties and donate all the money from the fashionable food, venue and attire as well. These galas should really be called "Let's party for the poor." End of rant.]

The site says that it offers the non-profit professional community, the philanthropic public and the media with a free, comprehensive and up-to-date calendar of charitable events. On the other end, the site offers event organizers and users a portal to display party pictures enabling charities to publicize the success of past events. And finally, the site offers an extensive directory of venues and suppliers.

You can post your event’s details and photos for free. A listing on the Supplier/Venue directory costs between $100-$225 per year, and ads run from $7500-$20,000 per year.

So break out your party dress, shell out a few thousand bucks on your favorite “look at my generosity” gala event, and maybe your pic will end up on CharityHappenings.org.

To capture a journalist’s attention and answer her questions, a repository of press releases plus some bios and head shots (which comprises the entirety of most nonprofit press rooms), just isn’t enough.

How to ensure you’re providing the timely, meaty information and insight journalists crave, enough to engage and motivate a call or email for a conversation? Every media pro worth her paycheck knows a great online media room means the difference between multiple column inches and a mere mention, if that.

Here’s how to do it:

Online Press Room vs. Media Kit

Online media rooms, and journalists’ expectations of them, have evolved. Many nonprofit organizations now feature “virtual press kits,” but an effective online press room is more than just a media kit.

The last thing you want is for a journalist to hit a wall, and become frustrated or annoyed, when trying to dig into your nonprofit or program online. Here’s the construct to follow to avoid that ugly scenario:

  • A press room is the area on your site expressly for the media, although other audiences may be interested in the content. Most of the content here is on the organizational level, rather than specific to a single program, service, location or event.
  • A media kit is a set of essential, easy-to-use and downloadable information focused on your organization, or a program, product, leader, service or event.

What to Include in Your Online Press Room

Your online press room should provide what you used to include in your hard-copy press kit, and then some:

  1. The absolute latest news. Journalists who’ve come to expect the most up-to-the-minute information from your site will seek out your virtual press kit; it’s a matter of consistently fulfilling expectations.Planned Parenthood makes its latest news accessible by topic and by date:
    http://www.plannedparenthood.org/media/
  2. Downloadable photos and graphics to accompany stories.Think leaders and staff, programs in action, product shots and more. Include several versions of your logo, and provide all downloads in high, medium and low resolution.

    Take a cue from the American Red Cross which provides clear terms of use and specs for its downloadable images:
    http://www.redcross.org/general/0,1082,0_129_,00.html

  3. A directory of your organization’s experts.Make it easy for journalists to get to the expert on the particular subject they are covering. The directory should be searchable by name and topic.

    The National Resources Defense Council does a great job with its Expert Finder:
    http://www.nrdc.org/media/

  4. Succinct backgrounders and fact sheets.Make sure the information in your backgrounders is relevant to the latest news you’re pitching, or responding too. Frequently, backgrounders are too generic to fill journalists’ needs.

    The Non-Profit Housing Corporation of Northern California provides a pithy snapshot on Bay Area affordable housing issues as a download, plus an experts directory and list of hot stories:
    http://www.nonprofithousing.org/about/pressroom/default.aspx

    Here’s a multi-page version from the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society:
    http://www.leukemia-lymphoma.org/attachments/National/br_1182779969.pdf

  5. Up-to-the-minute event calendars and timelines, updated daily if necessary. Make it easy for journalists to get the latest.Nothing is less impressive than an outdated listing. Keep your listing up to date like this one from Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE).
    http://www.sare.org/events/show_events.asp
  6. Guidelines on writing and reporting on your organization’s key topics or issue areas.The UCP’s (formerly United Cerebral Palsy) online press room offers useful interaction and etiquette tips for writing on people with disabilities:
    http://www.ucp.org/ucp_generalsub.cfm/1/9/6573
  7. Audio and/or video clips.Definitely include multimedia if possible, and transcripts for time-starved reporters.

    The Sierra Club’s press room offers audio and video clips of the org’s radio and television ads: http://www.sierraclub.org/pressroom/media/

  8. Awards and RecognitionLet your successes speak for your organization, rather than saying it yourself. ACCION does a good job of this:
    http://bbnc.accion.org/NETCOMMUNITY/Document.Doc?id=34
  9. Recent ClipsClips add credibility, and give the media an idea of what’s already been done (and the gaps they can fill).

    Make sure your clips are up-to-date, unlike those in this online pressroom (from 2005):
    http://www.nonprofithousing.org/about/pressroom/news/default.aspx

  10. News Feed for Automatic Receipt of Press Room UpdatesMake it easy for those who are interested to get press releases and other news hot off the press via an RSS reader.

    The American Cancer Society makes this very easy:
    http://www.cancer.org/docroot/MED/MED_10_RSS.asp

Of course, the more relevant information, the better. Resist flooding the press room with useless content. Above all, avoid going overboard with hype or flash. Hyperbole gets you nowhere.

What to Include in Your Program-Specific (or Product, Location, or Event) Media Kit

Pretty much the same big 10 outlined above, sans awards.

Consider adding any or all of these elements:

  • Milestones
  • History
  • Relevant statistics (impact or change generated)

Most importantly, make sure content is current. These kits need to be updated weekly if not daily.

More Tips for Your Online Press Room

  • Feature a highly-visible link to your press room on your home page, and on every page throughout the site. Include it in your site’s main menu bar.Press kits on current topics or programs should be highlighted on the home page.
  • Include clear contact information for your organization’s primary media contact, and the back- up.
  • Offer brief bios of your organization’s leaders and experts, to provide a context for quotes or coverage.

Online Press Rooms that Work

Review these nonprofits’ online press rooms for ways to strengthen your own:

ACCION
http://www.accion.org/NETCOMMUNITY/Page.aspx?pid=229&srcid=293

American Cancer Society
http://www.cancer.org/docroot/MED/med_0.asp

CivilRights.org
http://www.civilrights.org/press_room/index.html

University of Missouri
http://munews.missouri.edu/

But my best advice for what to include in your nonprofit’s online press room? Ask the journalists you work with most frequently what they want. They’re your customers and it’s all about meeting their needs.
© 2002-2008 Nancy E. Schwartz. All rights reserved.

About the Author
Nancy E. Schwartz helps nonprofits succeed through effective marketing and communications. As President of Nancy Schwartz & Company (www.nancyschwartz.com), Nancy and her team provide marketing planning and implementation services to organizations as varied as the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Center for Asian American Media, and Wake County (NC) Health Services.

Subscribe to her free e-newsletter “Getting Attention”, (http://www.nancyschwartz.com/getting_attention.html) and read her blog at http://www.gettingattention.org for more insights, ideas and great tips on attracting the attention your organization deserves.

by Rebecca Markowitz on October 6, 2008

Joel Katz, one of the participants at Amuta 2.0′s launch event, wordle-d Amuta 2.0 and produced this nice word cloud:

Of course I went to check out what a wordle is all about and started having way to much fun.

Wordle is an online toy for generating “word clouds” from text or URLs that you provide. The clouds give greater prominence to words that appear more frequently in the source text.

Aside from being a fun distraction, Wordle is a helpful tool for your organization to get a snapshot of any webpage and see which words are being used most. Then you can decide if the word collage reflects the essence of your organization.

Check out wordle

[hat tip: Debi'z blog]

Category Free Tools • Tags: , Leave a comment

Richard Macmanus, founder and editor of Read/Write Web, one of the most successful Web 2.0 business/tech blog/websites, has launched a new series of reviews and articles, titled, Religion and Web Technology.

He is going to write about churches and other religious organizations that use Web 2.0 media well. His first piece is about an Oklahoma church with the website LifeChurch.tv. It’s an interesting read and offers a lot of ideas that can be put to use by amutot – religious or not.
As part of that review, I wrote to him regarding things we are doing here at Shalom Hartman Institute, and which are summarized below. Let this stand as fulfillment of my promise to the Amuta 2.0 folks to recapitulate some of the points in my talk at the conference earlier this month.

Our website includes regular Op-Ed length essays by our leaders and scholars on topics of interest to the Jewish/Israeli worlds. We include “talkbacks” (reader comments) on our articles, some of which draw large responses.

We also stream lectures from our scholars and leaders both onsite and offsite. I have used Blip.tv for full-length videos, YouTube for short ones (we were named 2nd most-viewed Israeli non-profit on YouTube), and Jewish video sites Yideoz.com and JewTube.com for additional distribution (although both sites have their technical issues).

To upgrade the quality of our videos, which had been single-camera-plopped-in-front-of-a-seated-lecturer boring, we hired a professional cameraman this summer who intercut and edited the videos, as well as added intros and credits at the end. We have had interest in these from a Jewish cable TV network in the U.S., as well as have placed these on an online Jewish Internet TV network.

We have done video-enabled distance learning to rabbis, teachers and community leaders in North America for 5+ years via dedicated, non-Internet lines. We are transitioning this fall to online video via Ustream.tv and/or Mogulus.com. Some of our courses are for small groups, so we will keep those streams private for a while before making the recorded videos public.

I started an offsite blog for our site – http://hartmaninstitute.wordpress.com – to allow us to use Hebrew, to enhance search, and to give a less formal view of our activities.

I am working – with some frustrating lack of success – to launch an iTunes podcast audio and video versions – although I suspect the problem is more my lack of understanding than anything else (help appreciated!).

We have purchased URL’s that correspond with the names of some of our leading individuals – donnielhartman.com, and rabbihartman.com (not surprisingly, davidhartman.com was taken), and are building individual sites for them.

We also are working on enhancing the Wikipedia entries others have created.

We are developing a Facebook strategy, as well. I use my FB page (Alan Abbey – please ask to friend) to promote our content and videos, and have created a FB group for a group of North American rabbis studying with us. I regularly place our material on related Jewish/Israeli FB groups, as well as promote through Twitter.

We are weaker than I would like in social networking, however. Our existing audience is older than the standard online audience, and we are slowly making headway.

All this is not to say we are doing the best job in the Jewish world. There are some better funded, and larger organizations with intensive Web operations. We are probably, however, one of the better organized “mainstream” Jewish organizations online (i.e., not Ultra-Orthodox, not “messianic” Jewish, and not “New Age-y”).

I would love it, of course if our Amuta 2.0 users were to look at our ops and review, comment and critique. I could use some advice!

[Update: Read/Write web featured the Hartman Institute as part of its Religion and Web Technology series ]

This post was written by A lan D. Abbey, Internet Director at the Shalom Hartman Institutehttp://hartman.org.il/

by ManagingTeam on September 14, 2008

We all know what it’s like to go to networking events: Hi, How Are You? What Do You Do? Can I Have Your Business Card? Etc.

But collecting and distributing business cards that ultimately get slipped into a drawer is not enough anymore; it is important to create meaningful relationships both online and offline that people remember, even after the business card has been filed.

It’s about being part of a community and joining discussions.

Here are 4 tips that apply to social networking in real life and online.

1. Be real, be yourself

Real life: Think about how you want others to act toward you – with genuine interest, not with glances around the room to see if anybody better is coming along. This takes patience and good listening skills. Make sure that the friendly, not-nervous part of you that everyone loves comes out and shines – yes, you can even make jokes. We’re human, and connect to other humans who captivate us with their personality, not with their business suits and stiff business-like manners.

Online: Revisit your profile and be clear about who you are. Relationships are built on trust. Be aware that both colleagues and personal relationships will probably have access to your profile so make sure to be comfortable with whatever appears there. Try to have as much of a personality as is possible online.

2. Help others – don’t be pushy or sales-y

Real life: Make sure to get to know people’s names so you can introduce them to others if you see a good business match. Connecting people, or offering pearls of wisdom based on your conversations will give you instant fans. On the other hand, be sure to never aggressively push your website or product. People want to connect with you, not buy something.

Online: Listen to the questions being asked in your area of expertise. Can you help? If so, get out there and start offering tips, advice, resources, and anything else you’ve got hidden up your sleeve. Being persistent about offering help will bring you trust and friends, while being persistent about sales and products will only damage your reputation.

3. Prepare and research who will be there

Real Life: Try to find out who is attending and who will be on the panels, and look up some information about them. Think about how flattered you are when someone comes up to you and knows something about what you do or has read something you wrote.

Online: Before becoming part of a new network, get to know the site’s culture, rules, and style before jumping in. It’s often a good idea to “lurk” there a bit to see what types of information is being published, and they styles of conversations taking place.

4. Breaking the traditional networking rules

The line between social networking and real life networking has become a bit blurred. Are you supposed to meet people in real life and then connect online – or can it be the other way around too? Start rethinking how first meeting online and then meeting in real life can create an even more meaningful meetup at an event. Don’t stop the networking at the collection of business cards and the standard “follow up” email or phone call. It’s a social event. Feel free to take pictures or videos of people and then post them online so you can continue your relationship and help jog the ol’ memory if you forget what someone looked like.

Written by Miriam Schwab & Rebecca Markowitz of illuminea

illuminea is an internet marketing firm that helps companies create and optimize their web presence with comprehensive blogging and social media strategies.

by Dan Brown on September 10, 2008

E-mail, not the Web, is the key to raising money online. A strong Web site is absolutely necessary, but it’s far from sufficient. If you build it and just let it sit there, they won’t come.

Get out your pencil and notebook now. It’s time for a pop quiz.

Question: Which one of the following statements is true?

  • The most important thing for raising money online is the capacity to accept donations on your Web site.
  • E-mail costs so much less than direct mail that it is rapidly replacing it as a fundraising medium of choice.
  • Nonprofit organizations in the United States are raising more than 10% of their revenue online, and that  proportion is expected to rise to 50% by 2013.
  • The way to raise money online is to take your direct mail letters and send them out by e-mail to all your donors.
  • Almost everyone in the United States is now online, so it’s only a matter of time before nonprofits can expect their donor lists to grow exponentially through an influx of younger donors who will join through the World Wide Web.

Careful now—that was a trick question.

Have you got it? You figured out that not one of these answers is true? Go to the head of the class! But if you’re unsure about whether these statements reflect current reality, listen up. Fundraising online is a highly promising field, but it’s a world in itself, with its own rules, quirks, and culture. If you plunge in blindly, heedless of the idiosyncrasies and challenges of communications online, you may find that fundraising via e-mail and the Internet is anything but cheap.

Read more…

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