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How We Jumped (Pushed Actually) Into the Social Media Waters

Posted by: Luis Chabolla on 2/21/2013

Truth be told, Beth Kanter pushed us.

Like a pool we saw inviting, but our brains cramping with excuses.

John KenyonDan CohenAnn-Marie Harrington, friends at the Communications NetworkCommA and you keep us going.

Plus our own nagging inner voices, hey, you wanna be the last community foundation on the block using an Etch-A-Sketch to connect?



Wandering Lost or Searching?

In 2010, we looked for something easy.

Ok, Flickr . . . that was a failure.

Maybe it works for you, but not for us.

We didn't have a plan, we just thought, yea, photos are fun.


Friends and Colleagues to the Rescue

Lance Linares, our CEO, saw our future tied to a different kind of communications.

He wasn't thinking specifics or how social media fit in, but he provided leadership and trusted us to move it forward.

Same time Beth arrived at the David and Lucile Packard Foundation as scholar-in-residence. We got invites from Linda Baker and other to connect.


Beth said, Crawl, We Crawled

This time we started with a plan.

Nonprofits, one of our audiences (along with donors and professional advisors), were the low-hanging fruit we guessed most using Facebook.

We needed to know for sure.

A research volunteer after a week found over 100 on it.


Beth said, listen, We listened

We began reading posts, how often and how they wrote.

We pulled together a cross-department communications team and a simple social media policy, just in case we got serious.

We started with Facebook, then YouTubeLinkedIna blog and Twitter.

With Beth's help we found free tools to map and measure. Like iGoogle, SocialMention, Google Alerts and those at Socialbrite, Idealware and NTEN.

We adapted a content curation calendar, shared by Craig Van Koorlar on, and brought to our attention by Zan McColloch-Lussier, a connection thanks to Beth.


Going Forward We See the Game is Tennis, not Golf

Rebecca Leet posted on Nancy Schwartz's Getting Attention blog communications today is tennis, not golf.

It's a two-way exchange.

We invited local nonprofits to share the learning and will again.

We ask for help.

Like Embolden that shed our antiquated website for a modern, mobile friendly version. They're always there for questions about Google Analytics, content writing and social media.

Sure, it takes time. Yes, we had more flops.

To use Beth's Crawl, Walk, Run, Fly model, some days we're still stumbling on our knees.  

We're All In Now

It can't be a one person operation.

Kim East helps move us forward. Lance blogs and tweets. Randy Balogh, philanthropic services director, started blogging and writes Philanthropy Connect, enews for professional advisors.

Even Christina Cuevas, our program director dipped her toes in the water with Twitter.

Other staff have gotten into the fun, a blog post or comment on Facebook.

We have no more excuses.

Luis Chabolla is the communications officer at Community Foundation Santa Cruz County and determined to prove you can teach an old dog new tricks. 

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We have to make education as essential as other things are in our life because education is a key to success. It unlocks the doors of achievements. A person can see the reality of his or her dreams.
Beth Kanter
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Here's to learning to swim! And wow, you are ready to swim some races! Keep up the great work.
Luis Chabolla
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Thanks, Beth! You're an inspiration, patient coach and teacher. Special thanks to our colleagues at the Packard Foundation for making this possible for so many.
John Kenyon
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You're doing a great job and continue to be a model for other community foundations who are still hesitant. Great job being open and transparent!
Luis Chabolla
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Thanks, John! Our colleagues at the Kalamazoo Community Foundation ( and Rhode Island Foundation ( paved the way for us and whatever small successes we're finding. And you! I always remember your line, no need to be another fool with a tool.
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Thank you Luis. A nice, clear statement on the steps, back-steps and planning needed. I will share with the Early Childhood Councils in Colorado!
Luis Chabolla
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Thanks, Stacy!
Greg Pepping
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Very well written Luis! And inspiring. And chocked full of useful links. Now I'm off to read them and see if we can learn from your lessons as well. Thanks!
Luis Chabolla
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Hi Greg. Thanks for the comment. We're not experts, but you know we're always willing to share what we've learned and show you our bruises.
Luis Chabolla
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Thanks Stephanie! In past peer groups Beth Kanter helped us work with local NPOs to get a handle on Facebook and deal with the common challenge of not enough time and being overwhelmed with the mechanics of so many social media tools. With Measuring the Networked Nonprofit as our compass, we want to answer the big "So What?" question and look forward to getting ideas from others in our area.
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