Convergence

Research Friday: Social Media is all around us - How do we embrace the trend?

posted by
Robert Duea,
Professional-in-Residence
ASU Lodestar Center

Welcome to Research Friday! As part of a continuing weekly series, each Friday we invite a nonprofit expert from our academic faculty to highlight a research report or study and discuss how it can inform and improve day-to-day nonprofit practice. We welcome your comments and feedback.

If anyone ever once doubted the energy and organizing force of technology, rest assured they don't anymore. Social media, particularly, have proven to be powerful and exceedingly important, especially as we watch the uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt. I will long remember the images of so many people feverishly using their handhelds to discuss the death of Osama bin Laden in social media spaces. Within an hour (and with a huge helping hand from social media), thousands had mobilized and gathered all over the United States to celebrate, remember, and embrace. Clearly, participation is in, and passive observation is out.

Two weeks ago, I introduced readers to La Piana's "Convergence: How Five Trends Will Reshape the Social Sector."[1] In the report, the authors describe five trends that will dramatically alter how the social sector functions. In my previous post, I reviewed the first trend in "Convergence," which is "Demographic Shifts Redefine Participation." This week, I'll discuss the second trend, entitled "Technological Advances Abound.

"Convergence" makes the following assertion: "To have a credible voice in this [technologically advanced] environment, nonprofits need to empower everyone in their organization to be a spokesperson." The report emphasizes moving away from one stylized corporate message to a natural, multi-voiced approach to connecting with the public.

Research Friday: Do you feel the force of the demographic tsunami?

posted by
Robert Duea,
Professional-in-Residence
ASU Lodestar Center

Welcome to Research Friday! As part of a continuing weekly series, each Friday we invite a nonprofit expert from our academic faculty to highlight a research report or study and discuss how it can inform and improve day-to-day nonprofit practice. We welcome your comments and feedback.

Last year, I was introduced to a report called "Convergence: How Five Trends Will Reshape the Social Sector." Intrigued by the title, I decided to throw it in my "read while on an airplane" file. Once I finally packed my bags, boarded, and had a chance to read through the report, I immediately felt it was one of the most important monographs in the last two decades. Having been a member of the World Future Society for the past thirty five years, I have read a lot of literature focusing on trends, and I know it can be overwhelming to sift through all of the dialogue about what nonprofits should expect to see in the future. To alleviate some of this pressure, this week I will introduce you to one of the trends described in "Convergence," which was compiled by La Piana Consulting and commissioned by The James Irvine Foundation. The report was completed and published in November of 2009, and you can click here to download a copy.

Here's what we know: Many in nonprofit leadership positions have been hanging on by cutting more than they even thought possible. We in the academic community are likewise witnessing a Draconian withdrawal of public dollar support. In order to cope with the economic climate and achieve sustainability, we'll need to stay on the cutting edge of innovation and respond to sector changes, like shifts in giving and volunteering. Here's what we need to know: What can we expect the social sector to look like in the future? To answer this question, we need a meaningful understanding of what trends are going to have the most impact and reach. "Convergence" is a great place to start.

The report discusses the following five specific trends:

  • Demographic Shifts Redefine Participation
  • Technological Advances Abound
  • Networks Enable Work to Be Organized In New Ways
  • Interest in Civic Engagement and Volunteerism is Rising
  • Sector Boundaries are Blurring