Birthing a Curriculum for Building a Community | npENGAGE

Birthing a Curriculum for Building a Community

By on Nov 5, 2010


CommunityEvery org is different and must build its community to work toward its own goals and mission. But we want to give nonprofits with limited resources access to quality tools and training that will allow them to build a house social network even if they don’t have a big budget or a social networking guru on staff.

Devendra Shrikande and I are creating a year-long curriculum — a step-by-step DIY guide — to developing an in-house social network for nonprofits (a private online community for constituents). We want to broaden our thinking and I know that you can help with that.

If you’re not sure why your organization would want to build its own private social community online take a look at Frank Barry’s article “Four Reasons Why You Need an In-House Social Network” in Philanthropy News Digest.

There are plenty of articles to read and people to talk to for advice on social networks; is a fantastic resource for learning the basics of social networks. Material like this requires a level of pre-existing expertise or a person with a great deal of time to commit to teaching him/herself a complex new skills set. We want to create a step-by-step “how to” for the rest of you, i.e. do things 1 through 12 over the course of the next year and you should have yourself a thriving in-house social network.

Organizations of all sorts could use a guide like this: schools and youth groups want safe spaces where kids can talk and grow; advocacy organizations want to help supporters plan, network and act; health organizations need a place where people can learn and support each other. Some organizations want to raise money, some to reach a specific population more effectively, and some to expand their reach. And every organization wants to know more about what its constituents are thinking and feeling.

You can see the fun part here—we’re building something with so many potential uses and such diverse audiences. And you can see the challenge here (see previous sentence). We have a lot of expertise and experience to draw on but I know you can always benefit by including more voices; isn’t that the whole reason for social networking anyway?

What would you like to see in a 12-month DIY curriculum for building a house social network? Do you have worksheets you love or templates you hate? Questions you spent a lot of time figuring out or things you wish someone had told you before you started building your community? I’d love to hear about all of it!


Frank Barry, formerly worked at Blackbaud helping nonprofits use the Internet for digital communication, social media, and fundraising. He’s worked with a diverse group of organizations including LIVESTRONG, United Methodist Church, American Heart Association, Big Brothers Big Sisters, ChildFund Int’l, InTouch Ministries, Heifer Int’l, University of Notre Dame and University of Richmond. Along with writing for industry publications like Mashable and Social Media Today, Frank facilitates discussions, presents solo sessions and organizes panels for industry conferences such as NTC, SXSW, BBCon and numerous others. When he’s out and about he enjoys talking to interesting people about how they are changing the world – check out his interviews. Say Hi on Twitter – @franswaa or Google+

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