I had the opportunity to present some of my research at the ARNOVA conference this year. You can find my powerpoint under the presentations tab. I wanted to update a bit about my perspective of the conference and what I saw as this was my first time attending this conference.

First, I was fortunate enough to meet some very nice people from universities around the country. Most of these individuals are from different academic disciplines than mine, but we all have similar interests in studying the nonprofit sector.  Several of the individuals are interested in social media and its use in this sector as well. It was extremely refreshing to talk with them about research opportunities in this area, as I have not had as much success with people being interested in social media in general. I hope to be able to continue a dialogue with them in the future.

The conference overall, was extremely interesting. I gained new insight into the nonprofit sector and it’s relationship with government. I also learned how volunteering can often lead to new donors, which is something I had suspected but had confirmed at the conference from research done in Korea. Tweeting this information out also yielded information that corroborated these findings from previous years. I think that was something else that was interesting from this conference. That is the coverage of the conference via twitter.

I and many others would use #ARNOVA10 to tweet and share information. There was also a tool created to see a running update of the tweets using that hash tag. You can see the site here. I thought it was great to see this use of social media at the conference. I also thoroughly enjoyed the conversation in the sessions I attended around using social media in the nonprofit sector. I think it is fascinating that much of the research in my session seemed to yield similar themes. The fact that nonprofits continue and want to continue using social media because they feel it has a lot to offer their organization.

A critical theme that also seemed to emerge is around what I call managing/maintaining organizational identity in the digital environment. There was also a session on the dangers of social media that I was unable to attend, but wish I could have as I am sure there was a great dialogue. At any rate, organizational identity in this new environment is something I hope to do some further research on. The fact that nonprofit organizations have existed for decades and they have a certain identity in the community, means that they need to be cognizant of that identity in the online environment. This is one reason I think it is important for organizations to create a profile on Facebook, Twitter, or YouTube; even if they don’t do anything with those profiles, at least they have them and can occupy them instead of someone else occupying them in their place. Someone was said, if you don’t manage your social media profiles, someone else will.

There were some other interesting notes to the conference as well, and I only wish I could have been there for the entire weekend. I look forward to next year in Toronto. Be sure to check out some of these blogs for more on the ARNOVA 2010 conference.


About jimmysw
Associate Professor of Social Work with a focus on the Future of Social Media, Social Work Education and all things technology.

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