Service Learning: The Networked NonProfit Assignment

The Networked Nonprofit Assignment

Learning goals.

  • This assignment should put your tool knowledge and your rhetorical knowledge, developed during the first half of the semester, to practice.
  • You will also learn to use those and new tools for collaboration, and you will learn to work professionally as a content and social media strategist for an organization.
  • You will learn how to write and present a web content and social media plan to an organization. This assignment is a professional writing assignment and might build on skills you learned in English 320, 321, or 459.
  • The document you produce, in other words, needs to be well-written, well-researched, well-designed, and carefully edited.  I’ve had groups get feedback that they produced a report and plan better than most of the professionals working in social media around Fargo.

Timeline at a glance.

  • Week 8:  form teams and make initial inquiries and contact with an organization.  Plan a meeting for immediately after spring break.
  • Week 10: meet with organization.  Listen carefully to what they have to say about their current website and social media strategy.  Listen carefully to what they say about their comfort level with social media, and their work flow. Your team will send me one “Listening Report” (i.e. what did you learn, in detail) by the end of week 10.
  • Week 11: conduct a thorough audit and analysis of their site and strategy.  Your team will send me one audit and analysis of your organization by the end of week 11.
  • Week 12.  Your team should draft a content strategy plan and share that with me and your organization by the end of week 12.
  • Week 13. Your team and I will meet early in week 13 to discuss your content strategy plan; you will revise and deliver it to your organization.  If you didn’t get feedback from them during week 12, you can still get feedback from them at this point.
  • Week 14-16.   Execute the relevant parts of your content strategy plan.  Doing this work will likely require a mix of long form and short-form writing, perhaps some (visual) storytelling, perhaps some tool training: each group might be doing very different work.
  • Week 17: turn in a revised final strategic plan if a) you learned some important lessons during the three week trial period and b) you’d like to earn a higher grade on your assignment.

download (1)

Back to the start:
Once you have a group formed and an organization chosen, contact the organization, introduce your whole team, and remind them of, or introduce them to, your task. While email might seem like the easiest way to communicate, recognize that a face-to-face meeting or at least phone call might be more effective. Attending a board meeting or staff meeting might be really valuable.

Deliverables: this should look like the timeline above, but focus more on the work you will do and less on the schedule.

  1. A listening report from your meeting with your organization.  Your team should asks good questions and take detailed notes when meeting with your partner organization.  Use the assigned texts to help guide your interviews. Content Strategy for the Web, for example, has a great diagram on page 29 that help you generate questions about all aspects of content strategy: be sure to ask about not just substance, but workflow, structure, and governance.  Include a work load breakdown for your group with this point. Eg. TEAM Member 1 did 40% of the work; asked most of the questions, wrote up 50% of the report.  TEAM Member 2 did 30 % of the work: took notes during the meeting, shared with team, wrote up 25% of the report.  TEAM Member 3 did 30% of the work: set up the interview, wrote up the questions, followed up with the organization, wrote 25% of the report.  It will be up to you as a team to negotiate this part of the report.  (25 points; end of week 10; likely 2-4 pages singled spaced.  )
  2. A memo to me from your team that contains a network map for your nonprofit + a content analysis of their website and social media guided by CSW’s chapters 4-6 and generated from a close examination of your organization’s web presence.   Click here for a spreadsheet for doing the kind of assessment described in CSW.  Include a workload breakdown with this report (see above for an example). (50 points, end of week 11; likely 3-5 pages, with a full page map and maybe two pages of tables for your content analysis).
  3. An assessment report and strategic web content plan.  A fairly traditional report, but delivered through Google Docs or some other collaborative writing space. Assessment and plan should be informed by Social Media for Social Good, Content Strategy for the Web, Strategic Social Media  and other relevant sources.  Work with one or two key members of the organization to develop an enhanced social media strategy that makes sense to the organization. The assessment report and strategic planning document can be combined into a single document that should be delivered within three weeks of initial contact with your organization.Draft due at the end of week 12.  Meet with me week 13, final draft due end of week 13.   Click here to see an example of an assessment report and strategic plan and to see tips for writing your own.  Send me a workload breakdown separate from the report.  (175 points: 10+ page report, professionally designed and written).
  4. The plan in action.  The writing / communicating / developing you have proposed.  Could include Facebook strategy, Twitter strategy, Google Earth strategy, blogging strategy, video strategy, attempts at creating viral messages, newsletter strategy, as well as enhancing organizational communication. Once the organization is comfortable with the plan, enact the plan.  Aim for three weeks of implementation, but do not put your plan into action until the organization gives you the green light.  Send me a workload report and a final project assessment at the end of week 16 suggesting each individuals’ score out of 50 points and make any revisions to the strategic plan based on what you have learned over these three weeks. A revised strategic plan can receive an improved grade.

You might still be wondering, “But what exactly am I producing?” The answer is an assessment report and strategic plan that will document the state of your organization’s web content and provide them with a plan or strategy for more successful use of social media and the web.

This is a model that looks great, is great, but puts a bit too much of an emphasis on the social media channels and posting TACTICS rather than on the organization’s communication STRATEGY.  You can find other models and guides online: AJM Consulting Assessment Report Social Media Platforms Final_edited

8 Responses to Service Learning: The Networked NonProfit Assignment

  1. mariejdillon says:

    I am not sure which nonprofit I am interested in working with yet, but I would like to work with Alyda and Jess, assuming they want to work with me. 🙂 Alyda, Jess, would you like to be my partners? 🙂

    • AlydaSerene says:

      Sure!! And I like Jess too, so she can also join our club if she wants 😉 hehe 🙂

      I currently have no specific preference for an organization…if none of us do, maybe we should each pick 2 and see if any overlap.

      • mariejdillon says:

        Great! 🙂 That’s a good idea to each pick two.

  2. jadesandbulte says:

    I sort of have an in with the SugarLabs project since I help out with that — it’s strongly connected with the English department, so I really recommend that project to anyone who is thinking about going to grad school here (and it’s totally fine if Alyda, Jess and Marie decide to steal this project).

    I’m also interested in Project English and the New Sudanese Community Association.

  3. PammyPearl says:

    Does anyone still need a partner? I have an e-mail into Peggy Stordah at Wellpring for the world to see if she still needs assistance.

  4. northerndom says:

    Hey Jade! The SugarLabs project looks awesome (I checked out the website). I would be definitely collaborate with you if you’d like, on any of the projects.

    Otherwise, I am free to work with anyone on any project!

  5. oxgar says:

    Does anyone want to partner up for Charism?

  6. Jade Sandbulte says:

    Dom and I are partnered up to work with the New Sudanese Community Association–there’s still room for more people if somebody is looking for group.

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