Technology Advisory Board for Solutions and Attitude

A TABlab is a Technology Advisory Board "laboratory" ... a regular workshop for volunteer specialist to share digital ideas and inspiration for efficiency and attitude. This is not necessarily a space, but a commitment to regularly meet with potential partners who can bring answers to needed solutions. new ideas, and disruptive methods.  

There are at least 3 goals:

1- Discover technology platforms that help us be more efficient and effective in our daily routines and long-term goals. Leverage National's existing Digital Advocate Partners
2- Experiment with the most effective Digital tools and services to communicate with and engage younger (and younger-minded) participants, volunteers, funders, etc. 
3- Inspire us to think big... beyond our imagination for better ways to accomplish our mission. Consider the opportunities of a community-driven "Red Cross TV"...!
We can easily meet monthly for a lunchtime session up the street in Kendall Square at the Cambridge Innovation Center (CIC). These "startups" are eager to demonstrate and deploy relevant Digital projects with inspiring entrepreneurial attitude!

An example of the Red Cross already participating in a successful TABlab-like event is the Boston Innovation Challenge "hackathon" I produced. 

The 2nd place teams were Mobile Apps custom-developed for the Red Cross around Kat Power's guidance and Jarrett Barrios' judging

See an overview already posted here.

Below is a list (being added to) of relevant-only potential partners from around the region and around the world:

We will certainly engage with local projects with our big tech neighbors like Microsoft, Google, Akamai. EMC, etc.

Volunteer Connection - Volcon is our fantastic control center. Bob Bowers will soon have (almost) all the answers for who we are and how to communicate. The Digital Lab can add test projects to make it even better. - Currently being used by Kat Powers thu a Kendall Square Association project. The more we use this "Inbound Marketing" platform for content management, the more we will learn about what our communities want from our online communications. - Mobile platform for fundraising and support of partner comapnies - Volunteer and Team self-assessments  - Gamification elements to communications (“level up” thru ranks) - National control of communicaions/promotions thru support of regional community hubs - Connects people with their closes circles of friends, workmates and communities to report and solve daily problems and help them to avoid threatening situations. - Netsquared is a global organization with 60 groups in 18 countries connecting people and organizations interested in nonprofit technology. - is the local Meetup - Modern and nimble disaster recovery system for communities. See their early 2013 newsletter HERE we clarify next steps...

Get Cultured - For a Winning Office Environment

Google has earned a reputation as a great place to work for the best and brightest. Their "culture" is a top priority ... and their success is the result. (go HERE to see how Google does it).

Let's simplify...

The 4 Elements That Make Great Company Culture are:
1. Hiring People Who Fit Your Culture
2. Having Employees Know the Values and the Mission of the Company
3. Knowing That Good Decisions Can Come from Anywhere
4. Realizing You’re a Team and Not a Bunch of Individuals

Simple, right? 

Nope, this is the hardest and most important element of a thriving organization.
Netflix’s company culture document has become a manifesto for the Internet’s most successful companies with millions of views of the slides (below, at the end of this overview)
More than simply a management guide, it’s a window into a philosophy that thrives on uncertainty, creativity, and trust — a blinding contrast to the hierarchical culture that dominated much of the 20th century workplace. To the extent that innovation and the Internet play a role in the modern workplace, it is a crystal ball into the future of daily life.
Techcrunch summarized the most telling principles below:
Creativity is Most Important
In procedural work, the best are 2x better than the average. In creative/inventive work, the best are 10x. 

The technology industry, especially, is haunted by the ever-present fear of obsolescence. As Internet bandwidth speeds rapidly increased, Netflix had to figure out how to retrofit its entire DVD delivery service into a video streaming service that satisfies demand for instantaneous video.
The next big transformation in video and Internet capability is an unknown, and creative solutions to up-and-coming problems are nearly priceless.
The consequences for stunted innovation could not be greater: One of Microsoft’s flagship products, Office, got eaten alive by Google’s free office suite, Google Docs, after the company failed to follow users where they are now spending their time (the Internet).
Prioritize Discovery Over Job Security
Many people love our culture, and stay a long time. They thrive on excellence and candor and change….Some people, however, value job security over performance, and don’t like our culture.
Politically, this principle is the most fascinating: no major Internet company has a union, despite consistently ranking as some of the best places to work.
Creative enterprises have been able to replace the long-cherished values of worker compensation and stability with a challenging, enjoyable environment. “Risk” is an often-praised characteristic of tech founders, who are now asking their employees to jump down that same rabbit hole. The future of work is likely to be as insecure as it is unforgivable. For some, this is utopia…for others, not so much.
Poor Employee Behavior Is Caused By Misunderstanding

Managers: When one of your talented people does something dumb,
don’t blame them. Instead, ask yourself what context you failed to set. High performance people will do better work if they understand the context. 

Hierarchical 20th century management structure was modeled off of authoritarianism, a philosophy based on the idea that individual disagreements can only be settled through power. Like kings and dukes or generals and seargents, everyone needed a direct officer who resolved disputes, which, it was presumed, could not be settled through dialog.
An “over-foreman is to smooth out the difficulties which arise between the different types of bosses who in turn directly help the men,” wrote Frederick Taylor, the godfather of hierarchical management. “If two of these bosses meet with a difficulty which they cannot settle, they send for their respective over-foremen, who are usually able to straighten it out. In case the latter are unable to agree on the remedy, the case is referred by them to the assistant superintendent.”
Netflix takes precisely the opposite approach–that workers normally operate under consensus. Acting “stupid” is actually caused by a failure of communication. It is a profoundly different view of human nature.
Unlimited Vacation
Netflix Vacation Policy and Tracking. There is no policy or tracking.

Netflix’s radical approach to management underlies perhaps its most famous management policy: unlimited vacation. Employees are left to decide when and for how long they should go surfing in the Caribbean. Netflix also proudly replaced the entire bureaucratic apparatus sounding travel expenses with five words, “Act in Netflix’s Best Interest.”
Internet companies often see human nature and the world much differently. Sherly Sandberg evidently believes that Netflix’s humble management document reveals something profoundly essential to its philosophy.

Here is the original...

Shareable Promo . . . Give the Good Stuff this Holiday

Do you have a home to go to this Holiday?
 Thousands of disaster victims do not.
The Red Cross is there when we lose the things we take for granted.

While you are giving thanks, you can also give them something to be thankful for.

Please share the Red Cross Holiday Catalog with your family - and together you can "Give something that means something" this season. Give the gift of hope, compassion, and help. Check out all the ways you can give - Military comfort kits, access to shelter, vaccinations, and more.

You will also be able to share your giving (perhaps in your loved-one's name as a gift to them) with free emails and printed cards!

Here are 3 ways to start the conversation... 
1) Use the Social media buttons at the end of this page
2) Share this post -
3) Put this thumbnail image on your sites and emails. 
Make the link direct to
To embed this image, use the below code:
  <div id="red_cross_widget"><a
href=""><img border="0"

Role of Brand in the Nonprofit Sector

Here is a summary of the outstanding research and revelations from several papers and presentations about the "Role of Brand" in the Nonprofit sector from an 18 month study through 2012 by the Hauser Center at Harvard.

Goals were to determine: the role of brand in creating simplicity, clarity, identity and alignment; campaigns and movements as brands; the use of brand as a decision making tool; and brands within partnerships and at different points in an organization’s life-cycle.

The first and most controversial conclusion is that the concept of "Brand" is not and should be understood and embraced by Nonprofits. Brand Marketing is embedded at the center of everything ...not just external communications. 

Simplicity is the goal - for reference, see this Fast Company DESIGN report on the top 10 simpleist brands like Google, Ikea, Apple, and Subway. 

Four principles capture a Nonprofit's Brand I.D.E.A. 
                Integrity – Alignment between mission, identity, and image
                Democracy - Define and trust others to define and communicate the Brand
                Ethics – Deployment of Branding defines the core values of the organization
                Affinity – Attracts partners and shares credit and space

Key findings were presented in a video of the "Role of Brand" webinar. “Brand position” is what you are in the minds of the people in your communities. Ask them and listen to what they say about you. Create example personas and understand their wants and needs in general. Foster collaboration on “Our Mutual Brand” to make a difference.  

Funders should only be referred to as Partners for making a difference. The Nonprofit should not be selling... negotiating...proving. The relationship is not a sales Transaction... it is collaboration on motivating and inspiring and providing vehicles to make a difference.

It is important to train and inspire every employee/volunteer to be more comfortable representing/pitching the brand. Two items to keep in mind:
 - Empower their own individual brand using New Media and all Media.
 - Don't control messages - yes, have guidelines/templates - but trust them.

Below is a video excerpt from the one hour video presentation on Breaking Down Barriers: Using Brand and Fundraising to Build Collaboration and Partnerships


Jennifer McCrae nails her view on "Exponential Fundraising" in an 8 minute excerpt below... where ineffective funder/charity relationships are unfortunately money-centered and asymmetrical, built on expectations, needs, and external circumstances, ... and should shift to agreements built on mutual accountability, collaboration and internal growth.

BONUS Links - for our discussion: 
- 50 Wealthiest Bostonians
- BBJ's Philanthropy articles
- How to engage younger donors with "Inbound Marketing"

Tech-related giving info:
- Tech Gives Back (2100 event)
- Below Boston College study on ...
High-Tech Philanthropy

Boston College center on wealth and philanthropy

"Agent-Animated Wealth and Philanthropy: The Dynamics of Accumulation and Allocation Among High-Tech Donors." By Paul G. Schervish, Mary A. O'Herlihy, and John J. Havens, Social Welfare Research Institute, Boston College. Final Report of the "2001 High-Tech Donors Study." 
Through in-depth interviews, the Study sought to pinpoint the executives' motivations behind giving and the relationship between their business success and their charitable work. The Study looked to answer whether their views on giving represented a "new" philanthropy and whether the term "venture philanthropy" adequately captured their philanthropic approach.
"Hyperagency and High-Tech Donors: A New Theory of the New Philanthropists."
Paul G. Schervish. Presented at the annual ARNOVA conference November, 2003. This paper develops the theoretical concept of hyperagency and applies it to interpret the philanthropy of high-tech donors in particular, and wealthy donors in general.

Infographic - Social Media for Social Good

The below infographic, from the online MBA program at the Univ. of North Carolina,  highlights some of the causes and campaigns (including the toy sharing Tweet Drive) that have succeeded in recent years. While each campaign utilized online communication differently, they provide a look into how non-profits can harness social media and use it for widespread change. 

Here are some key stats from the infographic that highlight the evolution of charitable giving and how online activism is changing the non-profit industry:

  • – 80% of Gen Yers have donated financially or with goods/services in past 12 months.
  • – Nearly 50% of web users surveyed by the Red Cross said they would use social media in an emergency.
  • – 1 in 5 adults have donated to charity online.
  • – Prior to 2010, $1 million had been donated to causes through mobile devices. After the earthquake in Haiti, that number jumped to $50 million.

Info and Links on NPO "Crowd Funding"

Power to the people has never been more true... 
Now we can easily fund each other and projects that we believe in. 

Crowd Funding (per Wikipedia) describes the collective effort of individuals who network and pool their resources, usually via the Internet, to support efforts initiated by other people or organizations. Oh... and there is lots of money to be shared!

Here is my recent post on how to win at Crowd Funding - 

There are unique monetary issues for Nonprofits. Matt Rainone at Amp has an overview here. This is his summary of one service that gets it right, CrowdTilt ...

Crowd funding is by no means a new or novel concept; however, sites like Kickstarter and IndieGogo make it tough on charitable initiatives. While Kickstarter doesn’t allow for charitable projects altogether IndieGogo doesn’t offer tax-deductible donations – both issues creating problems for causes looking to generate funds quickly, similar to what we recently saw with Hurricane Sandy efforts. In comes CrowdTilt. Earlier this month, they started offering tax-deductible options for non-profits which makes it the “first crowdfunding site to fully support charity fundraising.”

Crowdfunding Platforms - For peer-to-peer (p2p)  fundraising for nonprofit organizations:

Below are key elements for "Cause" Crowd-funding:
  1. Have a content page for posting videos, pictures and news about your cause. 
  2. Use an email tool that shares posted content with your supporters. 
  3. Create tracking that lets you see how much money each post generates.
  4. Leverage "Fan" fundraising tools so that your supporters can also raise funds for you from their connections.
  5. Connect a direct connection between the tool and your bank so funds are directly deposited into your bank account when you request them.
  6. Supporters should be able to easily create fundraising pages on your behalf by filling out a short registration form or by using Facebook connect.  Ideally, you want the registration flow linked off of your website, not the fundraising platform's website.
  7. Supporters should be able to personalize their page by adding a message, videos and pictures.
  8. Supporters should be able to share their page via social media and email. When emailing, they should be able to easily import their address books.
  9. When someone makes a donation to the fundraising page, the page should get credited, the donor should automatically get a e-receipt, and the fundraiser should receive the contact info of the donor so that they can thank them.  The beneficiary organization should also receive the donor info, and should be able to easily thank the donor as well as further encourage the fundraiser.
  10. Should allow for team fundraising, where several individual supporters can fundraise as part of a team. This is useful in many scenarios.
  11. Events are also a great opportunity to leverage p2p fundraising (i.e. race/walks). Look for a platform that seamlessly connects the two together so that your event participants can set up pages and fundraise leading up to the event. 
  12. The fundraising page layout should look and feel like a natural extension of your organization's brand... not the fundraising software company's brand. Avoid platforms that do not allow you to remove their own logo or ask for a "tip" when your donors are processing their donation.
  13. Look at some of the best online fundraising nonprofits out there (Charity Water, Invisible Children, Movember for example), and see what platforms allow you to emulate them right out of the box.
  14. Get creative with content to inspire participation!

BONUS Links - Fundraising services 
Random list at More Of It

Our Prospect Persona Project - And Info on Millenials


What are the characteristics of Red Cross' target volunteers, employees, and Funders?  

The goal is to start with the top few types of prospects and really get to know their needs and wants... how we can use them... and, more importantly, how they specifically benefit from participation with the Red Cross. 

The best organizations provide an environment that is fun and inspiring - so, what are the characteristics of a great job? Here is a list of Glassdoor's 50 Best places to work. The Red Cross has some steep competition to attract the best and brightest. See my previous video post about what really motivates people (it's not salary and catered lunches... it's Autonomy, Mastery, and Purpose).

Since our goal is to understand and attract a younger audience, the first step is research accurate Personas... We will put them up on a wall to put a face on our prospects and inspire our communications and how to address their needs.

Creating a Persona is writing up a profile of everything you know about your prospect. Make sure you think beyond our agenda and understand their simplest desires and bigger picture concerns. See an overview on Persona creation and a template from Hubspot.

For example, students want resume-building experiences... Can the Red Cross provide these elements? Such as: Digital badges of accomplishment for their public profiles, internships with relevant skills to their agendas, letters of recommendation, etc.

This is a mock-up example of what we should have for each of our stakeholder categories -  "Samantha" is an advanced student:

Here is a breakdown of three major groups. Below are reports on those really cool kids we call Milennials... and their attitude about Causes...

Characteristics of Boomers, Genx and Millennials

Let's Look at Millenials...

Amp Agency digs deep into research for their clients. Go here for their recent summary for Bostinno about the mindset of the "Generation Stuck" 20-somethings. 

Get a summary here of the report that Amp produced with Boston University called,"How the Class of 2016 Will Change the World of Marketing." (Also, remember to check out the previous post on this site about the Role of brand in the Nonprofit Sector.)

These are the 4 topics Amp covered...

More on Millenials and Their Causes...

in 2006, Cone, Inc and Amp Agency presented a detailed study on The Millennial Generation - Pro Social and Empowered to save the world. Here is the full report. Below are the main points from Greenbook...

The Millennial Generation is by far the most analyzed, most marketed to and most intriguing generation to date. It is a generation that is comprised of individuals who are extremely ambitious and not only have high expectations for themselves, but also for those around them including their friends, families, communities and brands. It is also a generation that has been shaped by tragic world events such as 9/11 and natural disasters such as Hurricane Katrina. The result is a group that has developed a strong social conscience amplified by technology.
As you will read, Millennials are a generation of young people accustomed to choices and options. They are acutely aware of their marketing power and influence. They demand customization and instantaneous feedback. And their demands are usually answered. As the sheer number of media channels and advertisements has risen, it has become harder and harder to reach Millennials. We found that Cause Brandingsm has emerged as an effective tool for reaching and communicating with this complex generation.
Cone Inc., a strategy and communications agency that develops and executes leadership causerelated initiatives for companies and nonprofits, and AMP Insights, the strategic planning and consumer insights division of AMP Agency, set out to discover exactly how corporate cause-related initiatives can use these findings to influence Millennials as consumers, employees and citizens.
In particular, this study found that when a cause message is linked to a brand in an authentic and relevant way, it can gain the attention and respect of young people today. Furthermore:
  • A shared passion for a cause can foster a strong personal relationship between a brand and its target consumer.
  • Millennials are ready to reward or punish a company depending on its commitment to social and/or environmental causes.
  • Cause marketing should be considered as a loyalty strategy for engaging Millennials.

This report will not only continue to explore the themes mentioned above but also discuss key characteristics of the Millennial Generation and examine Millennials as consumers, individuals and employees. Additionally this report will profile some of today’s most effective brand ambassadors “the Doers” and define the Millennial Cause Engagement Paradigm.
The exact start and close dates of the Millennial Generation are much debated. While some believe this generation ended with the start of the new Millennium, others argue that the generation has not yet closed. However for the purposes of this research, the Millennial Generation is defined as consisting of individuals born between the years of 1979 and 2001. Specifically, this report looks at Millennials who range from young teens to young adults, ages 13 - 25 years-old.
It is estimated that there are 78 million Millennials in the United States alone. As a group, the Millennial Generation embodies a spirit of optimism and cooperation. Experts believe that this group is better educated as well as more disciplined and achievement-oriented than the generations that have preceded them.
In fact, survey respondents described themselves in terms that are consistent with the generally accepted persona of the Millennial Generation. They see themselves as friendly, open-minded, intelligent, responsible, socially minded and informed. Figure 1 highlights the Top 10 self-selected descriptors.
Adjectives for Millennials

There are high expectations for this generation and Millennials are happy to take on this challenge. Specifically, they believe that, as civic-minded and active participants in today’s world, it is up to them to assume the responsibility of making a lasting, positive impact on the future.
Technology has made this participation easier than for past generations. For Millennials, there is no life before computers or the Internet. As a by-product of being reared in a culture of speed, technology and choice, they are savvy early adopters who quickly master whatever new programs that come to the market. Growing up with the Internet has exposed Millennials to an entire Global Community and increased their awareness of news and world events.
Millennials have numerous ways to readily learn about world affairs, and it can be argued that this facility has made them not only more aware but also more involved. More than one-third (37%) of survey respondents stated that natural disasters have had a significant influence in their involvement with their community.

So... who are we?

What (Really) Motivates Us

Dan Pink's whiteboard presentation is a compelling 10 minutes... check out Drive: The surprising truth about what motivates us.

The answer is ... Autonomy ... Mastery ... Purpose

Boston University Million Hours Project - MarCom Idea

Boston University has pledged one million hours of community service to charities. Go Terriers (my alma mater)! See

They expect this to take 5 years... Here is an idea to fulfill it in less than half that time ... while giving Red Cross the services we need ... help reaching students around town and the world!

1- Allow students to volunteer for charities by spending time helping charities with Marketing Communications.

2- Rack up hours faster in the Million Hour Project by harnessing student's natural New Media-minded interest and capabilities.

3- Provide real-world MarCom experience for students to get resume-building knowledge and face-time with potential employers.

4- Help charities like the Red Cross with much-needed guidance in reaching younger volunteers.

I am talking with the BU team on the Million Hour Project.

Stay tuned...