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Continued Communication/Discussion Platform

  • 1.  Continued Communication/Discussion Platform

    Posted May 13, 2019 09:33
    Hi All,

    Every time I post I have received amazing feedback- So here I am again...

    I am looking to start a communication/discussion platform (similar to the one we are communicating on now) so our participants can continue their conversations and discussions from our in person trainings and offer a place to show their work for others to learn from or pose questions so that others can help answer...similar to Facebook groups. However, I don't want ppl to have to tie their personal with their professional networking and/or exclude those that don't have FB. Any thoughts on an affordable platform that will allow for this type of communication?

    Thanks in advance!

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    Kendall Charlton
    Virtual Learning Director
    HealthMPowers
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    2020 Nonprofit Technology Conference Logo  w/ Baltimore Skyline


  • 2.  RE: Continued Communication/Discussion Platform

    Posted May 14, 2019 07:54
    Hi,
    There are several tools in the Wordpress and Drupal space (buddypress, forums, etc) that could possibly work.  There are also standalone community platforms for this kind of interaction.  Do you already have a platform where your participants login?  If so it would be helpful to consider a single sign on solution that supports social login (FB, Google, etc) so users don't have to create new credentials.

    There are lots of options, obviously budget has a big effect on which solution can be used.

    -- Dave

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    Dave Schafer
    Founder / CTO
    BackOffice Thinking
    West Chester, PA
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    2020 Nonprofit Technology Conference Logo  w/ Baltimore Skyline


  • 3.  RE: Continued Communication/Discussion Platform

    Posted May 14, 2019 10:24
    I'm in a Slack community that came out of a training course I participated in. We have our cohort and then a group of all cohorts. I really love it.

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    Mary Getz
    MESG Marketing
    MESG Marketing
    Washington, DC
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    2020 Nonprofit Technology Conference Logo  w/ Baltimore Skyline


  • 4.  RE: Continued Communication/Discussion Platform

    Posted May 14, 2019 10:34
    I recently took a class that had its forum on Proboards. It seemed to work pretty well.

    Jean

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    Jean Gazis
    Nonprofit Communications Specialist
    Jean Gazis Copy & Content Services
    New York, NY
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    2020 Nonprofit Technology Conference Logo  w/ Baltimore Skyline


  • 5.  RE: Continued Communication/Discussion Platform

    Posted May 14, 2019 12:39
    Hi Kendall,

    The NTEN platform is powered by Higher Logic, one of the leading online community vendors in the nonprofit sector. Another nonprofit oriented online community vendor is Personify. Both of these companies understand nonprofits better than other online community vendors whose posture is directed at major brands, fan communities, or support-case deflection communities. Not sure what your definition of "affordable" is. As with anything in life, you get what you pay for.

    My company specializes in helping nonprofits use online communities to achieve their mission and earn ROI. I currently serve as the interim site operator for ReviewMyCommunity.net, and before that published an annual Online Community Software Selection Guide.

    Happy hunting, and cheers!

    Ben

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    Ben Martin
    Chief Engagement Officer
    Online Community Results
    Nashville, TN
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    2020 Nonprofit Technology Conference Logo  w/ Baltimore Skyline


  • 6.  RE: Continued Communication/Discussion Platform

    Posted May 14, 2019 16:29
    I'm going to second the Slack recommendation.  I'm a member of several Slack communities and I think it works well with a little bit of intro to how you use it, or if you have some people used to using Slack that way who can lead the way, but it's also fairly lightweight in terms of getting it set up.  And I'm on professional network Slack groups that use the free version -- if you simply want people to be able to connect and keep the conversation going, that will certainly do.  It also allows you to invite certain members to a private channel, which may be useful if you wanted a space for cohort discussions but still wanted to have a general channel for discussions with everyone in it.  People can also control their notifications (e.g. some groups I set to e-mail me or push notify on my phone, since I have the app, whereas others I don't have any notifications unless someone tags me by name or the whole channel), and it does allow people to directly message one another.  So if you simply want to have a way for people to connect with and talk with each other, with some way to sort among different topics, I think Slack would work well.  If you're looking for a more managed/moderated/facilitated community experience, Slack may be a little bit too freeform -- although that might simply how I've mostly seen groups use it.

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    Janice Chan
    Co-Organizer, NTEN Nonprofits and Data group
    Twitter: @curiositybone

    Consultant, Shift and Scaffold
    www.shiftandscaffold.com
    ------------------------------

    2020 Nonprofit Technology Conference Logo  w/ Baltimore Skyline


  • 7.  RE: Continued Communication/Discussion Platform

    Posted May 15, 2019 09:41
    Great thread here, and so many "it depends" in this kind of discussion.

    Over the past few years I've worked with a client to support a significant in-person training component by adding online discussions, and here are a few lessons learned:
    • The usual "laws" of online community management apply (e.g. 90-9-1 rule: 90% lurk, 9% respond, 1% initiate)
    • Some kind of user directory (with contact info) is helpful. Because of trust built up in the in-person sessions, people often connected outside of the "official" community tools. Yeah, it didn't help build up the official channels but it supported engagement goals.
    • Upvote for something lightweight such as Slack (or Google Groups?). Personify (Small World Community) is a feature-rich platform but I've found it to be more than needed to facilitate discussions with small cohorts. Other community platforms are similarly complicated. And a lightweight tool lets you experiment with minimal $ investment so you can see if your folks will even take to this. (see 90-9-1 rule above)
    • Email! The tool should support notifications via email and ability to respond via email. Enable notifications by default-- we saw an uptick in activity when we did this.
    • Sending emails to the group (e.g via Mailchimp or other email management tool) periodically can help drive people into the discussion channels.  Brief summaries of discussions that link back to the threads are useful here.
    Cheers,
    Steve

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    Steve Fleckenstein
    social sector digital capacity builder
    futurefactory.org
    Arlington, VA
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    2020 Nonprofit Technology Conference Logo  w/ Baltimore Skyline


  • 8.  RE: Continued Communication/Discussion Platform

    Posted May 15, 2019 09:55
    Second everything Steve said!  Those are all things to consider, but as he mentioned, starting out with a lightweight tool makes it easy to pilot and make adjustments.

    Speaking of what your participants will even want to use (and yes, I recognize people will say all sorts of things would be great in a survey and not necessarily actually use them in real life): 1.) Did this continuing conversations idea come from your participants? and 2.) Do your participants currently participate in other online communities?  If so, what are they familiar with?  (And if not, recognize that getting them there in the first place will be your first adoption curve.)

    Not trying to discourage you -- as an online community organizer myself, I obviously think they're great, but wanted to bring up the question of where your people are currently at in case that hasn't come up yet in your planning/discussions

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    Janice Chan
    Co-Organizer, NTEN Nonprofits and Data group
    Twitter: @curiositybone

    Consultant, Shift and Scaffold
    www.shiftandscaffold.com
    ------------------------------

    2020 Nonprofit Technology Conference Logo  w/ Baltimore Skyline


  • 9.  RE: Continued Communication/Discussion Platform

    Posted May 16, 2019 12:30
    A huge thank you to all for your thoughtful responses, advice and platform referrals! It is much appreciated!

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    Kendall Charlton
    Virtual Learning Director
    HealthMPowers
    ------------------------------

    2020 Nonprofit Technology Conference Logo  w/ Baltimore Skyline