October 24, 2011

12 tips for social innovators

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kiwanjaFor the past two years I’ve been incredibly fortunate to work with some of the most inspirational, talented social innovators (aka Pop!Tech Social Innovation Fellows). This year, good friend Erik Hersman and I returned to Camden, Maine, to work with the 2011 Class. Sharing our own experiences of 2008 – when we were both fellows – and lessons we’ve learned on our journey is a large part of why we were there.

Here’s a brief summary of 12 key lessons I shared with the fellows before the retreat wrapped up late last week.

    1. Don’t be in a hurry. Grow your organization on your own terms.
    2. Don’t assume you need money to grow. Do what you can before you reach out to external funders.
    3. Volunteers and Interns may not be the silver bullet to your human resource issues.
    4. Pursue and maximize every opportunity to promote your work.
    5. Remember that your website, for most people, is the primary window to you and your ideas.
    6. Know when to say “no”. Manage expectations.
    7. Avoid being dragged down by the politics of the industry you’re in. Save your energy for more important things.

  1. Learn to do what you can’t afford to pay other people to do.
  2. Be open with the values that drive you.
  3. Collaborate if it’s in the best interests of solving your problem, even if it’s not in your best interests.
  4. Make full use of your networks, and remember that the benefits of being in them may not always be immediate.
  5. Remember the bigger picture.

What would you add from your own experiences?

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Social mobile: Myths and misconceptionsKen Banks is founder of kiwanja.net, a site that helps nonprofits use mobile technology to serve their communities’ information needs. See his profile page, visit his blog, contact Ken or leave a comment. Follow Ken on Twitter at @kiwanja.

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