June 3, 2011

Highlights of Craigslist Foundation Boot Camp 2011

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Craig Newmark
Craig Newmark at yesterday’s Boot Camp (photo by JD Lasica)

JD LasicaThe Craigslist Foundation Boot Camp, now in its eighth year, is always a great gathering of nonprofit thought leaders, community activists and others under the banner of social good.

This was, I think, my fourth straight year in attendance, and it was great to see folks like Arthur Coddington, Beth Kanter, Peggy Duvette, Micki Krimmel and others lead an interesting array of sessions.

I created a small Flickr set, including the shot of my compadre Craig himself, above. Here are a few other small snippets from the day.

LikeMinded & other highlights from the Boot Camp


• Booths everywhere were showing off LikeMinded, a new initiative of the Craigslist Foundation, with some financial backing from the Knight Foundation. It’s a promising site that spotlights community success stories and lets people share news about the projects they’re working on at the local level.

• I was jazzed to meet Milena Arciszewski, a New Yorker who founded and runs Pando Projects, a fascinating new collaboration platform for community projects. I interviewed Milena and will post the video here soon.

• In the session “Top 10 Fundraising Tips,” Darian Heyman and Nicci Noble, channeling some pioneers in the nonprofit field, had a few good lines, like: “People don’t give to you, they give through you,” to a cause or community.

• Heyman: “The fundamental concept of volunteerism is about to undergo a revolution. People want to donate their talents and networks, not just their time.” Absolutely right.

• Does your nonprofit sling a slew of grant applications to foundations and funders? “Never submit a cold grant request,” Heyman advised. “The odds go up at least 10 times if you’re invited to apply.” Get on the phone, go to a conference, set up a meeting, don’t be afraid to reach out to officials in the foundation. And don’t be shy about asking for the sweet spot of the grant and find out about the preferred timeline for submitting applications. Finally, he suggested, consider a Jedi Mind Trick: Ask the program officer to read a draft of the proposal before you formally submit it, thus coopting him or her into some degree of ownership.

• Good to see The Bay Citizen out in force as the Craigslist Boot Camp expands its focus from nonprofits to a wider ecosystem of community organizations as well. The Bay Citizen was founded in 2010 as a nonprofit, nonpartisan news organization dedicated to fact-based, independent reporting on civic and community issues in the San Francisco Bay Area.

• I was less than pleased with the “citizen journalism” session. Though the hands-on portion was fun for five minutes, the examples of citizen journalism shown (a violinist?) weren’t very on-point, and the speakers’ insistence that every video be kept to 2 minutes or less was unnerving (“I tune out anything over 5 minutes”), especially with no facts to back it up. I’ve created, and watched, tons of videos over the years that were far longer than 2 minutes.JD Lasica, founder and former editor of Socialbrite, is co-founder of Cruiseable. Contact JD or follow him on Twitter or Google Plus.

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