Attempting to become more effective in my volunteer capacities with nonprofits and social media, I read “Measuring the Networked Nonprofit” by Beth Kanter and Katie Delahaye Paine. Published in Autumn 2012, I was hoping for something up-to-date and this book did not disappoint. Most of the references and tools mentioned are current. That hasn’t always been the case for me when reading books related to social media where things tend to change rapidly.
What is excellent about this book is it takes models and theories, for example “ladder of engagement,” and presents these in everyday language, tying in practical advice, current means of measurement, and examples. This helps make complexities of measurement more accessible to those in nonprofits who deal with social media and presenting its results to decision makers. My perspective is that of a volunteer for largely volunteer run organizations, so I had to translate for that regarding the small staff discussions throughout the book. I imagine the same would be true of mid-size nonprofit employers, having to translate back to a smaller scale concern, but I believe this book would be applicable for quite a range of nonprofits.
That is not to say I found the book perfect. For one, transitions between topics can be rather abrupt within chapter narratives, even for a nonfiction book about technical issues. Also, future editions of “Measuring the Networked Nonprofit” should correct the one key weakness within it – the examples were rather hit or miss. First, the hypothetical Katie’s Kat Shelter (KKS) was used so many times that it hindered rather than forwarded the points being made. How likely are such concepts and measures to work in the real world if the text’s examples have to be imagined to write about? Even the real world examples needed more care. The full-page SeaWorld example in the chapter on relationship building may indeed be applicable to social media for organizations in crisis, but SeaWorld is a business, not a nonprofit. That’s not to say that business applications aren’t applicable for nonprofits, it just wasn’t presented that way within this book specifically about measurement for nonprofits.
Those concerns aside, MEASURING THE NETWORKED NONPROFIT is an excellent resource for the times. Making complex analyses more accessible is a worthwhile contribution to those involved in helping nonprofits that seek to help in the world.