Social Media Free Agents – Crashing into Nonprofit Walls

Thank goodness free agents like Beth Kanter and Allison Fine exist! Their forward thinking has earned them the respect they deserve. More importantly, they lead the discussion, offer solutions and provide nonprofits with the tools they need to make a case for a new kind of engagement. They launched their new book, The Networked Nonprofit on June 21st.

But it gets better because Care2 hosted a webcast with Beth, Allison, and representatives from Autism Speaks and National Wildlife Federation. You can follow the Twitter feed #care2 and recording of the webcast and PowerPoint are available here.

What’s a free agent? We aren’t talking professional athletes here. They are volunteers in your network (or maybe outside your walls who found you). Free agents are passionate about your work, issues and want to make a difference.

Sooooo during the webcast there were lots of questions about Free Agents. Here’s my take and based on Beth and Allison’s great idea.

  • Free agents are likely to be digital natives who know, use and are comfortable using social media.
  • Free agents have great presence, followers, friends and relationships on line.
  • Free agents communicate well and often
  • While you can recruit Free Agents, they are more likely to find you because of your cause. EMBRACE them when they do!
  • Free Agents work outside of your organization’s traditional staff chart or plans
  • Free Agents can help you achieve your goals, invite them in, share your goals, ask for their advice and participation

Beth and Allison offered GREAT advice for working with Free Agents:
Italics are my comments.

  1. Don’t dismiss them
  2. Listen for good ideas – As you would from any donor, volunteer or supporter – IRL or virtual, right?
  3. Identify influencers
  4. Get to know them – See #2
  5. Let them get to know you – It’s a relationship!
  6. Be flexible
  7. They can be like Cheshire cats – Smiling and vanishing at will, well so do some Board members and in-person volunteers, right?

I may suggest a brief volunteer job description to: (next blog post)

  • Embrace their work and value
  • Show you are looking for and welcome Free Agents
  • Help set expectations on both sides
  • Create a format for mutual communication, assistance and success

Bring down those nonprofit walls! Let free agents help you help your community and make positive social change.

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