David B. Crowley's blog

Tech for Engagement: 7 Skills Needed

How can technology be leveraged to increase community engagement, and ultimately help transform our democracy? Building on its important Tech for Engagement grant funding, the Knight Foundation convened a Technology for Engagement Summit at MIT earlier this year. Fortunately, for those of us interested in the topic who didn't have a chance to participate, we can read about the summit highlights through this report released earlier this month. This report captures some of the innovative Tech for Engagement initiatives and discusses some of the challenges in building the field. Read more

5 Ways Nonprofits Can Build Social Capital...and Boost the Economy!

Last year's National Conference on Citizenship (NCoC) report highlighted the link between civic health and lower unemployment figures. This was certainly exciting news for an organization dedicated to increasing social capital and civic engagement. Now, the new NCoC report, Civic Health and Unemployment II: The Case Builds, released this week in conjunction with today's NCoC conference reaffirms the civic engagement and jobs link, and digs deeper into the dynamics that explain the relationship. The report highlights two aspects of civic health that seem to be particularly important for building community resilience during this difficult economic time: 1) social cohesion, the extent to which citizens trust one another and have a local network of friends, and 2) nonprofit density, that is, the presence of a thriving nonprofit sector.Read more

Practical Ways to Build Social Capital in Communities: 10 Handy Links

Ever been all fired up at a conference, eager to act on the ideas and inspiration created by the event? But then there comes the next day back at the office, and you're not so sure how to start taking practical steps to act on the inpsiration. Well, the increasingly clear relationship between civic health and lower unemployment rates being discussed today at the annual National Conference on Citizenship (NCoC) is sure to have folks eager to find ways to increase civic health. In particular, we are likely to seek ways to foster social cohesion and promote a vibrant nonprofit sector that can help create a community climate conducive to job creation and retention. In a nutshell, we'll be looking for practical ways people and organizations can help to build social capital. Well, that is in our sweetspot at Social Captital Inc. (SCI)! So we've put together a list of links to resources that provide practical steps people can take to build social capital. We start with our own articles, derived from our ten years of community building experience, followed by other links from around the web:Read more

Social Capital Lessons from the Sunday Globe

Volunteers creating a community garden

Feeling stressed by having too much to do? Maybe you should think about signing up to volunteer, or spend some time helping a neighbor with some yard work. Though this suggestion may seem rather counterintuitive, new research cited in Sunday's Boston Globe Ideas column, "How to make time expand", supports this notion. The study by three business school professors indicated that "Those who donated time, spent time doing tasks for others," felt more "time affluent" than those who wasted time or spent it on themselves. The article explains research that shows feeling time affluent is a key factor in happiness, and it is linked more to our perception of time and how we use it, as opposed to actually having free time.Read more

8 Reasons for Nonprofits to Get Social with Foundations

I probably shouldn't be writing this blog post. I ought to relish the news that most of my nonprofit colleagues are not using social media to connect with the foundations that fund them. According to a new report from the Center for Effective Philanthropy (CEP), only 16% of the grantees used at least one social media tool created by the funders included in the study. I believe the other 84% are missing out and giving a big competitive advantage to those of us that do see social media as a way to engage with funders.  I've come across thoughtful posts by the Knight Foundation  and the Patterson Foundation sharing the funder perspective on the benefits of engaging with grantees.Read more

Network Weaving: Have Lunch, Add Twitter

How's this for network weaving? Last week, I wrote about how getting together for lunch with SCI Fall River partner Wendy Garf-Lipp led to her leading a canning workshop for Woburn residents. Today Wendy shared this anecdote of how the workshop led to a neat new re-connection for her: "My former first and fourth grade student from Providence  was visiting her boyfriend in Woburn, saw your tweet and came to the workshop without knowing it was me. Turns out Hannah works for Farm Fresh RI and is doing very similiar work that we are doing in Fall River with Partners.  We have now connected and will be meeting to see where our work intersects."Read more

Reason #97 to Build Relationships: The Canning Connection

We often preach the value of relationship building for accomplishing our goals. But I'm also a big fan of the good things that happen serendipitously when we take the time to get know people. When Wendy Garf-Lipp and I made plans to meet for lunch, I certainly didn't suspect that one result would be people in Woburn learning how to can food from one of our community partners in Fall River. This unanticipated benefit provides yet another example of why it's important to focus on relationship building. (warning: don't go searching on this site for the other 96 reasons to build relationships, my point with the title is that I could probably come up with that many instances where relationship building has proven helpful...and also that a canning class is a neat outcome yet one far removed from the top-of-list things we are working on.) Read more

6 New Social Capital Articles Worth Reading

Important social capital readings seem to come in bunches, which lend themselves to roundup posts like this. These recent articles explore how social capital can address issues like health, obesity and poverty, and include some broader lessons on social capital and social networks. We also learned of a neat to app to encourage sharing among neighbors. Enough with the preview; on with our list of interesting social capital articles we've come across in the past few weeks. Please let us know if you've come across some good social capital reading that we should check out!Read more

Looking for a Spark...No, not like that!

We were looking for a spark to start this final week of our fiscal year, to help us raise the final $6,300 we need to get to our goal of $30,000 for our 10th Anniversary Leadership Fund. The lightning that struck by our office, setting a power line on fire, wasn’t exactly what we had in mind. Can you help provide the spark we really need?

Sparks of inspiration may fly frequently, but it takes leadership and relationships to convert a spark into sustained action. A cold winter night in Dorchester prompted Jaquan to mention to the other SCI Dorchester Youth Council teens that it was supposed to a very cold winter. They started talking about how in this economy people were struggling to meet basic needs. Trained to act on problems they see, the council quickly devised plans for a coat drive. Guided by the AmeriCorps member who mentored them, the Council developed an action plan that resulted in 600 winter coats being given out a few weeks later. One recipient, who clearly didn’t have enough clothing to stay warm, said simply, “This coat drive is a godsend”.
Read more

9 Tips for Putting Social Capital Into Action

Over 80 Massachusetts philanthropists gathered this week at Brandeis Unversity to explore the topic "Social Captial in Action", the theme of this year's Associated Grantmakers of Massachusetts annual meeting. Needless to say, I was pleased that the local funding community is focusing on this topic. I was happy to have a chance to moderate a panel following Tom Sander's excellent keynote presentation on the subject. Tom is the Executive Director of the Saguaro Seminar for Civic Engagement. He got everyone up to speed on some of the basic social capital definitions and trends, then focused on implications for funders. Tom also previewed some disturbing new data suggesting a widening "opportunty gap" among social classes in America. (This live blog of a recent talk by Robert Putnam provides more information on this research.) After hearing Tom's talk, we were all ready to think about ways we might build social capital and address the problems he framed.Read more

Syndicate content