Category Archives: social media

Philanthropy411 List of Foundations and Funder Networks on Twitter

Since publishing my first list of “90 Foundations That Tweet” in July 2009, I’ve been sporadically keeping track of foundations, foundation staff, and funder networks that are joining Twitter.  I’ve created the Philanthropy411 List of Foundations and Funder Networks on Twitter (Part 1 and Part 2), which at the time of this post publication has 607 Twitter users. I’ve kept this list private and am now making it public for anyone to follow.

There are other resources for finding foundations on Twitter that you should definitely check out. This includes:

  • The Foundation Center’s fabulous Glass Pockets site, which provides links to foundations that seek to be transparent using social media and other tools, such as their Facebook pages, blogs, Twitter accounts, etc.  It is continually updated by the foundations themselves.
  • @OnlyFoundations, which is a twitter feed from Cindy Bailie, Director of the Foundation Center Cleveland. It is a continuous stream of content from foundations and corporate grantmakers.
  • 17 More Foundation Resources on Twitter is another post I authored which provides links to Twitter accounts of some useful philanthropy resources, such as the Foundation Centers, media outlets covering philanthropy, and organizations such as Charity Navigator and Guidestar that help donors find excellent nonprofits to support.
  • The Foundation Center’s report “Are Foundation Leaders Using Social Media?” which highlights the social media activities of over 650 foundations.

I will continue to add to this list, and will occasionally update this blog post with the latest number of list members.  It includes the “official” twitter feeds of grantmaking foundations; foundation staff who identify themselves as working at a foundation or tweet a lot about their grantmaking, grantees and causes; staff at funder networks (e.g., national and regional associations of grantmakers, funders who come together to address a particular issue); and the occasional foundation board member such as myself. One caveat: since this list was started in 2009, there are likely people who have changed jobs and no longer work for a foundation. Unfortunately, I don’t know of an efficient way to continually review the list and remove those who no longer fit the criteria.

It is my intention that this list only includes foundations and other organizations that give grants (or affinity groups and networks of such organizations). However, this list does not include United Ways. I have much respect for United Way organizations and their contributions to communities, but there are so many of them on Twitter that it makes more sense for someone else to create a separate United Way Twitter list. I have also excluded foundations that raise money for only one particular organization, such as the foundations of hospitals and universities.

If you think you should be on this list, or if you know of a foundation who should be, please contact me with the name and link to the Twitter profile. And if you see an organization that should not be on this list, let me know too!

If you found this blog post useful, please subscribe. On Twitter? Follow me @Philanthropy411.

Posted by Kris Putnam-Walkerly © Kris Putnam-Walkerly and Philanthropy411, 2011.

Bringing A Narrative Eye to Philanthropy – Part 2

Philanthropy411, is currently covering the Council on Foundations conference with the help of a blog team.  This is a guest post by Jorge Cino, Social Media Fellow, at the Levi Strauss Foundation.

by Jorge Cino

Note: You can access the first part of this post here.

While in Philadelphia for the national conferences of Emerging Practitioners in Philanthropy and the Council on Foundations, I shared the Levi Strauss Foundation’s social media strategy with other emerging colleagues. Most were surprised to know we focused our efforts on blogging and not on “viral” tools like Twitter and Facebook. I explained that, like Beth Kanter suggests in her book, “The Networked Nonprofit,” we prefer to narrow our focus on one element of social media and concentrate on using it to its full potential.

To develop the unique and challenging art of blogging successfully, bringing program staff aboard and acclimating them to the process of storytelling has proven key.

I will expand on this format’s particular demands in my next post. In the mean time, I wanted to share how I helped grant makers look at their grant portfolios with a narrative eye.

I proposed the following method:

Which stories?

Which five grants in your portfolio immediately stand out to you? Focusing on a discreet number of grants served to reduce the intimidation factor.  By allowing us to examine each story opportunity in greater depth, it made the project more manageable. 

What makes each grant resonate with you? To help them think through this question, I suggested that grant makers consider the following lynchpins: 1) the people they met at the organization, 2) the personal stories they encountered on the ground, 3) the unique value or contribution offered by the organization involvement, and 4) the impact the grant or organization generated.

What story angle?

When you are able to convey: “Why does this grant matter to me, and why does it matter to people on the ground?” you have implicitly honed in on the “so what?” of each story.

The storytelling process has thus begun.

As you talk about a grantee, think about: 1) the particular work it is carrying out, 2) the persons who are making this happen, and 3) one or two revealing moments you witnessed while on-site.

******

At the Levi Strauss Foundation, our goal was not to morph everyone into a natural storyteller; rather, it was to foster a collective sense of ownership and accountability over this project. As program staff participated in this culling process, we made it clear that it was my role to develop an original frame for each story, filter out jargon and connect the narrative to the organization’s core values (originality, integrity, empathy and courage), rich legacy (spanning 157 years) and pioneering spirit.

In the third and final part of this series, I will outline five guiding principles to bring a narrative eye to foundation storytelling.

Is your organization blogging? Who in your staff is encouraged to blog? Has your organization designed guidelines to maximize the use of this new media outlet?


Trust is Cheaper than Control: Social Media Adoption Challenges

Philanthropy411, is currently covering the Council on Foundations conference with the help of a blog team.  This is a guest post by Beth Kanter, author of The Networked Nonprofit and co-founder and partner of Zoetica.

by Beth Kanter

I participated on a panel called “Digital Age Giving: How Technology Impacts Everything & What You Can Do About It

The description:   New technologies are changing the world and impacting grantmaking areas as diverse as economic development, human and civil rights, civic engagement, education, the environment, arts and culture. This session helps you protect your investments and maximize your social return by simplifying the hottest topics and providing small group expert consultation.

Social Media Policy:  Best Practices

This panel featured Geoffrey Blackwell, chief of the Office of Native Affairs and Policy, FCC; James Rucker, cofounder and executive director, Color of Change; and Michael D. Smith, vice president of Social Innovation, The Case Foundation. We each gave a brief overview of how social media and technology is impacting our work. I talked about it from the lens of nonprofits.

We broke into four small groups and I facilitated a discussion. The themes that came up:

* Culture change that is required to embrace a new technology
* How address the digital divide when the people you reach are not using the technology
* How social media is impacting governance

We talked quite a bit about culture change and social media policies. A question that came up, “What are the Best Practices for Creating An Effective social Media Policy” My advice came from a recent post that I wrote on the topic titled, “Trust Is Cheaper Than Control“. We discussed that it isn’t a matter of “giving up control,” but to think in terms of “sharing control” and that well-crafted social media policy as part of an internal discussion process can be invaluable.

If you found this blog post useful, please subscribe. On Twitter? Follow me @Philanthropy411.

Posted by Kris Putnam-Walkerly © Kris Putnam-Walkerly and Philanthropy411, 2010.

Nonprofits, Social Media, and ROI

Philanthropy411, is currently covering the Council on Foundations conference with the help of a blog team.  This is a guest post by Beth Kanter, author of The Networked Nonprofit and co-founder and partner of Zoetica.

by Beth Kanter

I participated on a panel called Face, Tweet, Link – Social Media, Grantmaking & A True Social ROI. Laura Elfurd, Vice President and Chief Community Investment Officer at ZeroDivide moderated a panel that included Stephen Downs, Assistant VP, The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation; Alexandra Mitchell and Jeff Pryor from Pathfinder Solutions, and Kathy Reich, Program Officer, Organizational Effectiveness & Philanthropy, The David & Lucile Packard Foundation.

I started with an overview of the state of social media measurement and ROI in the nonprofit field, outlining some of the challenges and the needs:

* Social media measurement goes hand in hand with good practice

* Slightly more mature practice for measuring business results vs. social impact

* Social media measurement is a discipline, not a task, and it needs to be part of the organization’s culture

* There’s a big need for more training/capacity for measurement discipline and improvement of practice and sharing the stories

[View Beth’s Slideshow here:  Council on Foundations ROI Panel]

Jeff Pryor and Alexandra Mitchell from Pathfinder Solutions shared some specific case studies about how 30 nonprofits in Colorado are measuring the ROI of Social Media, specifically what they are learning from some preliminary research results. This will be very valuable information to the field.

Next, colleague Kathy Reich of the Packard Foundation, talked about their how the foundation has embraced social media as a true experiment. This started in 2008, and as Kathy notes, “We didn’t know what we would learn, or how it would change our own work and our work with grantees. The initial dollar investment was modest, as was staff time. And we are committed to trying many different approaches to help our grantees, and our own staff, understand social media and what it could do for all of us.”

Kathy shared one of those experiments, The Organizational Effective Program wiki.

They started the project using the concept of a “see-through filing cabinet, an experiment in transparency.”  They put information about their program, things they have learned and resources they like out on the wiki.   The idea was that why keep this goldmine of learning locked up?

Now they are starting to use it to engage with other grantmakers and professionals working on the organizational and network effectiveness.  They’ve started their first evaluation of the Organizational Effectiveness grantmaking program in more than a decade.  They’ve posted their research questions and research plan on the wiki.  As they start to generate findings, they will share what they learn and invite feedback and comments.  They are especially interested in knowing what how people interpret and getting actionable suggestions.  They’ll keep you posted on how it is going, so stay tuned.

As for ROI—well, they are starting to think more about it, but feel that learning and shared learning is the most valuable return on investment.   At the Packard Foundation they are very rigorous about measuring their return on investment on grantmaking strategies.   But as Kathy pointed, “The thing is, social media is not a grantmaking strategy. It’s culture change—a new way of working. So when we think about using social media, for individual grants, strategies, or our own work, we try to stay very open to trying new things.” Their key measures of success with these experiments: 1) Did anything bad happen? 2) Was it worth the time and effort we put into it?

Stephen Downs shared how Robert Wood Johnson Foundation is using social media as part of a larger strategy for becoming a “Web 2.0” philanthropy. He gave an overview of how the challenges of measuring social impact versus business results and what they have learned so far.

How are you measuring the return on investment of social media for your nonprofit or foundation?

View more presentations from Beth Kanter.

If you found this blog post useful, please subscribe. On Twitter? Follow me @Philanthropy411.

Posted by Kris Putnam-Walkerly © Kris Putnam-Walkerly and Philanthropy411, 2010.

Three Examples and a Prize

Philanthropy411, is currently covering the Council on Foundations conference with the help of a blog team.  This is a guest post by Daniel Silverman, Communications Director at the James Irvine Foundation.

by Daniel Silverman

I am in Philadelphia enjoying  this historic and world-class cultural city before the conference kicks-off with the opening luncheon plenary on Sunday (I highly recommend the Chagall exhibit at the Philadelphia Museum of Art). I suppose it’s a bit odd for me to blog about a conference that hasn’t even started yet, but I was hoping to plant an idea before you begin attending sessions at the conference. As you attend plenaries and concurrents, site visits and social hours, I invite you to notice and share examples of insights and experiences that transcend the traditional “expert at the podium” approach. Specifically, I encourage you to share examples of the following;

  • Interacting and learning from other conference participants in sessions that include audience participation, or in your conversations between sessions
  • Divergent viewpoints, even active debates, that deepen your understanding of some aspect of philanthropy, and maybe even change your perspective
  • An unplanned, serendipitous interaction that led to a new insight or new connection that deepens your understanding of the breadth and diversity of philanthropy.

I know that the Council has worked hard to refresh the traditional conference format and provide for the kind of interaction I mention in these examples. The agenda looks quite promising in this regard. As a communications professional, I’m pleased that they have recognized the power of multiway dialogue and new types of sessions, including audience interaction and debates. (BTW, I hope they play the theme song from “Rocky” when the closing plenary debate begins. We are in Philadelphia, after all!)

So, what’s the prize, you ask? Well, it turns out I have an ulterior motive with this post (my colleagues will warn you to watch out for my ulterior motives.) I’ll be helping plan next year’s annual conference, and we hope to push the envelope even further in regards to interaction, use of social media and technology, and tapping the wisdom of the audience as much as the wisdom of the official speakers. So, whoever shares the best example of  any of the types of experiences listed above – audience interaction, real debate, serendipitous connections—and has an idea for expanding that type of experience at next year’s conference, we will fast track your idea right to the planning committee to turn it into a real, live session next year. Okay, so that’s not quite as exciting as the X Prize or an Emmy, but hopefully it’s enough to get you to share an idea or two. Plus, the real prize will be an even better conference in 2012 for you and your colleagues.

So I invite you to leave your ideas as comments to this post. Let’s also get the conversation going on Twitter. I’ll post a link to this blog on Twitter (@DanielOlias) and use the hashtag #2012Ideas. When you leave a comment, post it to Twitter as well and use that hashtag. We should also use the hashtag for this conference, #2011Annual. If you don’t tweet, I’ll check for comments and post them on Twitter as they come in. I look forward to spending some time with all of you over the next few days!

If you found this blog post useful, please subscribe. On Twitter? Follow me @Philanthropy411.

Posted by Kris Putnam-Walkerly © Kris Putnam-Walkerly and Philanthropy411, 2010.

Fountain of Youth

Philanthropy411, is currently covering the Council on Foundations conference with the help of a blog team.  This is a guest post by Richard Woo, CEO, of The Russell Family Foundation.

by Richard Woo

Tonight a boatload of folks celebrated the ten year birthday of EPIP: Emerging Practitioners in Philanthropy. I’m serious, it was a boatload because we were singing, dancing and celebrating on an historic clipper ship anchored along the Philadelphia waterfront!

If you’ve been unplugged for the past decade and haven’t yet heard of EPIP, its vision is “of a day when all generations in philanthropy collaborate effectively to build better foundations for a better world”. Its mission is to “develop extraordinary new leaders for foundations to enhance organized philanthropy and it’s impact in communities.” Rusty Stahl, EPIP’s executive director, the national staff, it’s board of directors, and throngs of EPIP members and supporters across the country can feel proud of the progress they’ve made in marching on that mission. The Russell Family Foundation is fortunate to have at least three of our staff of nine attending this year’s EPIP annual conference held in conjunction with the COF conference. I say “at least” because I feel like an EPIP conferee in spirit even though I’ve worked in philanthropy twice as many years as EPIP has existed.

During tonight’s gathering, an EPIP member asked me in all earnestness (for he had just turned 40): “What’s the secret to staying young?” Considering that I’m turning 60 next year I paused a moment, then told him about the workshop I attended earlier today on adaptive leadership for 80 foundation CEO’s and board trustees. The session is a two day pre-conference workshop designed by the Council to help folks “lead in the new normal.” I told the EPIP’er that my board president and I shared a case study from our foundation of an issue that “keeps us awake at night” in front of the rest of the workshop members–after which the audience offered feedback, critiques, and possible solutions. I told my 40 year old EPIP colleague: “Experiencing that kind of transparency and trusting 80 strangers was really scary–but I felt really enlivened by all of the questions, suggestions and differing perspectives offered up. That is the secret to staying young.”

If you found this blog post useful, please subscribe. On Twitter? Follow me @Philanthropy411.

Posted by Kris Putnam-Walkerly © Kris Putnam-Walkerly and Philanthropy411, 2010.

Bringing A Narrative Eye to Philanthropy – Part 1

Philanthropy411, is currently covering the Council on Foundations conference with the help of a blog team.  This is a guest post by Jorge Cino, Social Media Fellow, at the Levi Strauss Foundation .

by Jorge Cino

“You’re here to connect storytelling to social change,” Daniel Lee, Executive Director of the Levi Strauss Foundation, bluntly told me during our introductory work meeting in January.

It was a tall order. He believes––as he states on his blog post, “Mutual Frontiers”––that, in the context of social media, storytelling can serve as a handmaiden to advance the Foundation’s goal of communicating its work in original and better ways.

Program staff knew their portfolios were brimming with compelling narratives. They were eager to shine the spotlight on the pioneering work of the foundation’s grantees.

The challenge was how to tell these multifaceted stories in an accessible, succinct and engaging way—no doubt, in a manner that resonates with my “Millennial” peers, who are defining the zeitgeist of the online social marketplace.

We initially held a series of meetings to introduce me to each grant manager’s portfolio. Daniel urged the entire team to attend each session and collaborate on the vetting process.

As the Foundation’s writer, my first charge was to ease the team into “storytelling mode”—in short, to persuade each member to begin talking about their work as they would to family and friends.

In two forthcoming posts, I’ll detail how this project is coming to fruition. Next up, I’ll outline how I helped grant makers parse their portfolios and enter the “mindset” of storytelling.

I would also like to welcome the input, comments, or questions of any and all readers. Is your organization interested in entering the social media space? What are some of the strategies and practices you’re implementing?

If you found this blog post useful, please subscribe. On Twitter? Follow me @Philanthropy411.

Posted by Kris Putnam-Walkerly © Kris Putnam-Walkerly and Philanthropy411, 2010.

How Rec.fm Can Change the World

This blog was written by Brenton Gieser, and was posted on his website, brentongieser.com, on December 31, 2010.  We are re-posting it here with his permission.


A little over a month ago I began a stint as a consultant with Rec.fm, a new start-up out of the valley that is dedicated to merging social commerce with cause donations.  A month later I am becoming more and more aware of the Non-Profit landscape and the themes of creativity and innovation.  The majority of the charities I talked to sparked from a possibility, an idea that would make the world a better place…most got to where they are today through innovation and ingenuity.  Rec.fm is based on an idea that we direct a slice of the billions of dollars moving by way of social commerce to causes that better our world!  The vehicle of product recommendations is the innovation needed to gain a slice of the bigger pie.  Just the type of innovation these NPO’s spawned from.

How it works:

Go to Rec.fm and start recommending products you love and find product recommendations from your friends and other people.  You can also ask the community for specific recommendations on product types.  For most people, the real exciting part is choosing a cause to give back to.  You can browse from our partner charities to find a cause you care most about and contribute to that cause with every rec you make.  In my eyes much of the beauty of Rec.fm is that it gives people an alternative way to give back.  Forget digging into your pockets to support entrepreneurs in a third world country (I contribute to Kiva.org), instead do actions you do on a weekly basis anyways (chat about a movie, talk about your Mac Book, etc.) and through that…give to those entrepreneurs in third world countries.

How it can change the world:

Success stories like the Facebook app Causes and Charity Water are proving that many people want to and can change the world with the use of social media.  Bring social commerce and an individual’s social equity together and you have something powerful.  Rec.fm facilitates social powered buying based on recommendations from trusted sources…THE PEOPLE YOU KNOW!   With 90% of consumers participating in peer recommendations, (stat from Nielsen) we look to our friends for product recs than we do Google.  Now allow those people recommending products to their social circle to give back to causes they care about and you have a natural behavior followed by an altruistic motive.

If we as consumers began to consume intelligently and recommend product for a purpose we can make a huge difference in the world.  With Rec.fm donating over half of all site earning to the causes of a user’s choice, just a few recs from you can make a large impact.  One tweet and one shared link on Facebook can bring in hundreds or potential thousands of dollars to an important cause.

There are infinite possibilities.  Rec.fm can be a clear and simple way you and your friends connect when it comes to recommending products, it can be a source in searching for what celebrities buy (all in support of the charities of those celebrities).  It’s a powerful tool to use you “social equity” to do good!

I encourage everyone to use Rec.fm in 2011 (and beyond for that matter).  Start sharing with friends…ask your friends what they recommend and give back to causes you are passionate about.  I would love to hear back from you with any feedback you may have on how Rec.fm can better change the world!

Note: Kris Putnam-Walkerly is also an Advisor to Rec.fm. You can learn more about Rec.fm and my involvement in my recent blog post.

If you found this blog post useful, please subscribe. On Twitter? Follow me @Philanthropy411.


Latest Ideas About Philanthropy Communication

Philanthropy411 recently covered the Communications Network 2010 Fall Conference with the help of a blog team. Altogether there were 41 conference attendees who tweeted, blogged and conducted on the spot video interviews about the latest developments and challenges in effective foundation communications. Below is a list of all blog posts published for this event, and you can check out highlights from the video interviews here. A great is example is this video of Daniel Silverman, Director of Communications at one of our favorite clients, The James Irvine Foundation, discussing what he learned about “crowdsourcing” at the conference.

1.  Announcing the Communications Network Conference Blog Team!
By Kris Putnam-Walkerly, President of Putnam Community Investment Consulting; Twitter: @philanthropy411

2. Translating the Philanthropy and Social Capital Market Sectors – a ComNet010 and SOCAP10 Cross-post
By Adin Miller, owner of Adin Miller Consulting.  Twitter:   @adincmiller

3.  Flying into a Paradox
By Lucas Held, Director of Communications at the Wallace Foundation;  Twitter:  @WallaceFdn

4. I Got out of Bed for This: Leaving Home for LA
By Sylvia Burgos Toftness,Communications Lead at the Northwest Area Foundation;  Twitter:  @NWAFound

5.  The Comm Network’s Gone Hollywood, Should Foundations?
By Adam Coyne, Vice President, Director of Public Affairs at Mathematica Policy Research;  Twitter:  @adamcoyne

6.  The Search for Wisdom
By Larry Blumenthal, Web and Social Media Strategist at Open Road Advisors; Twitter: @lblumenthal

7.  Can Surowiecki Help Us Make Wiser Grantmaking Decisions?
By Daniel Silverman, Director of Communications, The James Irvine Foundation; Twitter: @IrvineFdn

8.  Can Philanthropy Truly Embrace the Wisdom of Crowds?
By Adin Miller, owner of Adin Miller Consulting;  Twitter:   @adincmiller

9.  Tell Me a Story
By Lucas Held, Director of Communications at the Wallace Foundation; Twitter:  @WallaceFdn

10. How Do We Know What We Know – and Do We?
By Sylvia Burgos Toftness,Communications Lead at the Northwest Area Foundation;  Twitter:  @NWAFound

11. Parting Shots
By Daniel Silverman, Director of Communications, The James Irvine Foundation; Twitter: @IrvineFdn

12. Upsetting the Foundation Apple Cart
By Larry Blumenthal, Web and Social Media Strategist at Open Road Advisors; Twitter: @lblumenthal

13.  Reconnecting with my Relaxed Self
By Cindy Schulz, Director of Public Affairs and Strategy at The Cleveland Foundation.

14. We’ll Always be Beginners
By Lucas Held, Director of Communications at the Wallace Foundation; Twitter:  @WallaceFdn

15. From the Social Media Toolbag: ComNet010 on Twitter
By Adin Miller, owner of Adin Miller Consulting;  Twitter:   @adincmiller

16. Meetings Making you Dumber? Try This… By Stefan Lanfer, Associate for Strategy & Knowledge at The Barr Foundation;  Twitter:  @stefanlanfer

17. Disruptive Philanthropy – How Can Foundation Communicators Help Spur “Adjacent Possibilities”?
By Allyson Burns, Director of Communications at The Case Foundation;  Twitter:  @allieb37

18. A Year for “Firsts”
By Rebecca Arno, VP, Communications at The Denver Foundation;  Twitter:  @tdfcommunity

19. First Impressions
By Dan Brady, Communications Manager at the Forum of Regional Associations of Grantmakers;  Twitter:  @givingforum

20. Wisdom of Crowds – Succeeding in Practice?
By Chris Wolz, President and CEO of ForumOne;  Twitter:  @cwolz

21. Stories and Change
By Joan Mazzolini, Communications Officer at the Sisters of Charity Foundation of Cleveland.

22.  Applied Crowdsourcing
By Dan Brady, Communications Manager at the Forum of Regional Associations of Grantmakers;  Twitter:  @givingforum

If you found this blog post useful, please subscribe. On Twitter? Follow me @Philanthropy411.

Posted by Kris Putnam-Walkerly © Kris Putnam-Walkerly and Philanthropy411, 2010.

A New Source of Funds for Nonprofits: Product Recommendations!

The Great Recession has hit nonprofits hard. The most recent Chronicle of Philanthropy survey found that donations to the nation’s biggest charities dropped 11 % last year — resulting in billions of dollars in lost revenue. It’s the worst decline since the survey started 20 years ago.

The good news: There is a large, promising, and rapidly growing new source of funds to support great causes — and you probably never thought about it before (I sure hadn’t): Product recommendations, through a cool new service called Rec.fm.

Rec.fm, a 2010 SXSW Web Award finalist, is an online service where you can recommend products you love for the causes you care about. It works like this: You love a product (a book, iPad, watch, Coach purse) and you write a brief 140-character recommendation of that product on the Rec.fm site.  You can leave the ‘rec’ on the site, share it with your friends or post it on your Facebook profile like this:

When someone else buys that product by clicking through on your recommendation, the merchant (e.g. Amazon) gives Rec.fm a referral fee (this usually ranges from 5% – 25% of the purchase price, and can be even higher!). You choose from one of Rec.fm’s many nonprofit partners, such as Grassroots.org, Water.org, American Red Cross, Kiva, National Foundation for Cancer Research, and Autism Speaks, and Rec.fm gives that nonprofit 51% of the referral fee! This 55 sec. Rec.fm Video gives you a quick overview.

Rec.fm has the potential to be a huge source of revenue for nonprofits. It’s designed to take full advantage of the viral “sharing and helping” nature of social networks like Facebook and Twitter, and active users of social networks spend about $150 billion annually (yes, billion with a B)  buying products online — an amount that is growing 52% per year.  Social network users are also increasingly concerned about helping people and communities in need.

Full disclosure: I’m an advisor to Rec.fm. But don’t just take it from me — Rec.fm has been featured twice on Mashable, including on their Spark of Genius Series,  other national blogs such as LifeHacker and JustMeans, and they were a 2010 Web Awards finalist at the South By South West conference. The service is fully operational in public beta, and integrated with Facebook and Twitter, as well as with major commerce networks such as Amazon.com, Apple iTunes, and Shopping.com.

You can check out my  recommendations for all my favorite baby products  here on my Rec.fm profile page which looks like this:

(When I am not consulting to foundations I’m caring for my totally adorable twin babies — see photo above!). If you have little ones in your life or upcoming baby showers, you can click the product links to purchase them, and the nonprofit I chose — Water.org — will receive a check for 51% of the referral fee!  You can also buy a recommended laptop or Play Station 3 to benefit the American Red Cross, an iPod Touch or a digital camera to benefit the National Center for Cancer Research,  or organic snail repellent to benefit Kiva, etc., etc.

Rec.fm isn’t the only site where you can use your purchasing power and knowledge to help great causes.  Here’s some other sites you should check out as well:

  • Endorse For A Cause – turn your online shopping habit into a fundraiser for the cause of your choice.
  • SocialVibe – donate money to your selected charity based on participation in branded activities like surveys

If you are a nonprofit and want to learn more about partnering with Rec.fm, leave a comment and I will be sure to make the introduction to the Rec.fm team!

If you found this blog post useful, please subscribe. On Twitter? Follow me @Philanthropy411.

Posted by Kris Putnam-Walkerly © Kris Putnam-Walkerly and Philanthropy411, 2010.