Category Archives: non profits

Collaboration and the Voluntary sector

There has been a lot going on in the UK in the field of collaboration and the Voluntary Sector while I have been hibernating.

Noticeably for Mentoring Worldwide a mention in the new published I-See-T project report to download as an Adobe PDF. It’s also available to read and comment on online in the style of the dotOrganize report: Online Technology for Social Change which says we are an organisation that has been monitored during the study.

How embarrassing – too much of our thinking of late has been done offline and my main new year’s resolution is to relaunch this project and blog.

I’d be the first to echo one of their findings…

There was however an acknowledgement that although the tools themselves might be free or low cost, a significant investment in time may be required to exploit them fully

A year ago I was full of excitement about all the new tools ( I still am) but now realise I don’t have the time or skills to test them all so am delighted to see the Orgnizer’s Tool Crib121 tools reviewed and rated…

Nancy White has reviewed the whole document, who better?

Advertisements

1 Comment

Filed under collaboration, ICT, non profits, pledger, research, Story

Links

More links to donating and volunteering online:

NetAid imentorvolunteermatchDonors Choose

Leave a comment

Filed under non profits, research, Resources

Taproot

TaprootTaprootI heard great things about Taproot when I went on my research trip to the US last May. But it wasn’t until recently I managed to speak to Aaron Hurst, founder and president. Aaron won an Ashoka fellowship in 2005 for his work setting up Taproot.

Why “Taproot”? A “taproot” is the core root of a plant (picture a turnip). It gathers nutrients from lateral roots and delivers them to a plant to enable it to flourish. We see ourselves as a taproot for the nonprofit sector, drawing nutrients from the community and delivering them to nonprofits to enable them to thrive

I had been told that Taproot preminantly had cracked the three key challenges a project like Mentoring Worldwide could face. The first is in the definition of what skills we can offer, and the second is what kinds of projects and people can benefit from what we have to offer. And there is a third – how can the mentoring be done in a timely way to deliver impact when it is needed in a project This sounds simple…and I was very interested to hear what Aaron had to say about their model when we talked on the phone.

Taproot provides a range of services to eligible (and screened) non-profits in three key areas: marketing; human resources and IT. They match skilled professionals prepared to offer pro-bono work, but not as single volunteers. Rather their methodology relies on a team of five. Their team of five would consist of a dedicated Project Manager (volunteer), an Account Manager (volunteer), a member of Taproot staff to handle the schedule of work, and two or three professional according to the project in question. If you have a team, Aaron pointed out, if one drops out then the project is not in jeopardy. The team commit 1 hour a day for six months – ie a very big committment. And in his own words the learning derived from what they have done so far is that it is “process driven, not talent driven”.

I can see why this model is proven, it is highly managed which is great for the volunteers and the non-profits involved. But in the case of Taproot the team are providing a free service, like publishing a leaflet, drawing up an IT strategy, or helping an NGO with its human resources issues over six months – a big offer and a big intervention. At present MW is looking into one on one or peer-to-peer relationships which will be more dependent on the relationship than the process, albeit there will be process beneath the surface in the selection of the partnerships, training available and in some other key areas. What I take away from this really helpful conversation is the importance of screening eligible non-profits, or recipients – something which KIVA and others have already highlighted.

His approach made me think about the Media Trust in the UK , in fact, I think I will connect them up and see what happens!

Leave a comment

Filed under non profits, research, social enterprise

Current TV – Seeds of Tolerance project and prize

wish I had spotted this sooner..but for any of you (residents of the US only) who have the time in the next two weeks and want to make a short video about tolerance , why not win $100,000 and give $15,000 to a charity of your choice.

Leave a comment

Filed under mentors, non profits

Nata Village Blog

Pledger Curt Hopkins alerted me recently to the Nata Village Blog, and put Jon Rawlinson in touch with us at MW.

Jon and I finally met this week and he told me how his travels in Africa, videoblogging along the way have changed his life.

Stopping off in a remote village in Botswana he chanced across a US peace corps worker who had set up home in Nata Village. With his travelling companian he chucked in his plans for a comfortable night at the lodge to visit the village and stay closer to the ground. The visit and people he met changed a lot and Jon has since set up a blog for the Nata Village project and Melody Jenkins’ many projects educating locals about HIV and setting up a clinic there.

Currently in London, Jon is looking for ways of using his considerable video shooting and editing skills to contribute more. Have immediately snapped him up as a mentor. But what did hearten me was to find that he has scoured this blog and has now been in touch with Kiva.org (see previous post) and it’s CEO Matt Flannery , and will be visiting them in San Francisco mid August to offer his help.

You can read about the two Microsoft Fellow’s findings (see previous blog post) here, or on Matt’s blog.

Without describing our whole conversation – all my old documentary making tendencies came pouring out as we discussed the power of narrative and the kind of storytelling video is good at. He is off too to meet Current TV who if they have any sense, will snap him up. Hmmm, got me thinking. Given they pay $500 per video used maybe I should take it up again to fund Mentoring Worldwide!

Glad our blog is working. Come September, following a real holiday, I hope others will want to start co-blogging here, and we work together to get our trial/ proof of conept up and running for real.

Leave a comment

Filed under Africa, communities, mentees, mentors, microfinance, non profits, pledger

serendipity – Kiva and Life in Africa

Friday June 2nd (apologies, blog is so out of synch). I am preparing to meet Fiona Ramsay of Kiva in San Francisco. Researching the organisation I find , on their front page no less, a description of Life In Africa…the project run by Christina Jordan …one of our pledgers! Something is definately going right. Christina is a pledger active in the Omidyar Network (and we have quite a few people from the Omidyar Network community who did pledge). She is also an Ashoka Fellow living in Uganda.

Fiona desicribes the groundbreaking work that Kiva is doing. Barely a year old they are winning plaudits, and pioneering an effective peer-to-peer microfinance organisation which as Fiona diplomatically puts it is “deceptively complex”. I leave inspired and with a new sense of how mentoring could make a difference. Perhaps not directly with entrepreneurs on the ground, but with the newer and smaller Micro Finance Institutions who report on the projects, write journals and suggest the entrepreneurs to Kiva. They have a great model and we will talk again. If you are interested in Microfinance I strongly encourage to take a look at their work and get involved.They have two interns blogging from Africa at present, and their founder, Matthew Flannery blogs at Social Edge.

Back in London I book a call with Christina. Life In Africa has potentially six mentees for us. I hear about the project, but also am immensly encouraged to ask for help. The time is coming and we’ll soon have a framework that people can volunteer into. I listen too , this time in the Omidyar Network, to her amazing efforts to work with the best of internet and computer providers in the area (Kampala and Gulu) BushNet and Inveneo and realise that while the solutions may be out there, getting people on the ground to join up the dots is still unbelievably hard, and patience, courage and perseverence are the name of the game. She has two Microsoft Fellows visiting to learn about the project and the difficulties and needs in the area of connectivity. Sounds fascinating.

It somehow did not seem so suprising when I called Fiona today a month after the conversation with Christina to find the same Microsoft Fellows about to report their findings to Kiva, tomorrow.

4 Comments

Filed under Africa, mentees, microfinance, non profits, pledger, trial

green tea in palo alto

Leaving Cisco and Netsquared behind, back on the Light Rail and Cal Train to Palo Alto where I met with pledgers and supporters John Girard of Clickability and Jan Leeman.

They listened hard and got their impressive brains working on who I should meet in my remaining two days. They suggested three companies and got me meetings, or phone meetings with all of them there and then!

Microfinance is an area many people have suggested might be fruitful in terms of finding mentees and I was put in touch with a new and very impressive company, Kiva. to start talking about the realities of this suggestion.

My quest to find a good user-centred design approach to our cross-cultural needs, the desire to keep things simple to use, and simple to manage led to a call to brand new start-up Ruby Red Labs.

And third Taproot, an organisation that matches volunteers with non-profits who need volunteers to help them with their capacity building.

More about all of these organisations in due course. In the meantime though – check out this elegant tea bag. green tea( hesitate to call it bag really made, as it was , from the finest muslin)!

1 Comment

Filed under design, microfinance, non profits, pledger, social enterprise