Lessons from the field

Kjerstin Erickson who was the founder of an NGO called FORGE blogs regularly on SocialEdge.org about her organization, sharing how it is to work in the field. Currently they are in a dire situation and I guess almost all her energy goes into figuring out how to turn it around.

In her last post she gives her analysis of why they got into a financial crunch that they are in. There were two things that came into my mind in what she wrote.

One of them is that they didn’t have their source of revenue secured once they went into an organizational change that would refocus their fund-raising efforts. From my yet limited experience this is one lesson that I have learnt – always make sure that the financial bottom-line is covered, if nothing else works properly this will at least allow you to survive. Often you will feel that there is a “pipeline” of potential deals, but unless you have a very structured sales/fund-raising process probably this pipeline is worth very little. I have learnt to not trust the pipeline, as it often leads you into a false sense of security.

Secondly, many organizations are very naive about the information systems & websites. Online marketing is a serious challenge which requires a lot of knowledge and investment. Furthermore, she points to visitor numbers which is for sure an important metric – but an even more important one is conversion rates, how profitable they can make their website? (where “profit” can be measured both in raised awareness and donations)

Yet again, it seems to me, from the very little information I have, that a great infusion of a more business like mindset would be useful for them to grow and prosper.

I am, however,  really impressed by her openly sharing like this and I wish her all the luck in successfully completing her organizational transformation, I think that she seems like an amazing individual and that the organization is strong and delivering results so the change should definitly be possible to complete and deliver on.

Reflections on Ramadan

While this is a bit late, I actually didn’t have time to reflect much right when Ramadan ended, as I got way to busy. As some of you will know., on the last of September the holy month of Ramadan was declared over and the festivity Eid-al-Fitr began.


Feeling connected

For me, I had decided to fast the month of ramadan in order to try and experience a little bit of what it might be like. I managed a little more than 3 weeks of fasting, so not the full month, and at the end of it I realized my workload was so heavy that I had to have full energy for that.

From this month I had a couple of observations that I would like to share with you.

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Radio just changed

A friend of mine (Daniel Ek) started a company a little over two years ago called Spotify with the mission to connect people to the music they like. For all this period they’ve been in a very limited invite only beta, but today they’ve finally managed to launch their service and more and more invitations to use the service will be available – with a ad-free and freemium model, where the basic version (ad-supported) is free and with monthly subscription & day-passes to get ad-free versions.

I have been using it for a little more than a year and I must say I love it. Previously I was a big fan of Last.fm but Spotify beats it (even though it’s a bit like comparing apple & pears I use them for similar purposes – music discovery & sharing). With Spotify playback starts immediately (no buffering to be seen) and the music archive is huge (though it lacks my girlfriend’s Russian pop).

They have been working hard to enable their service to be legal, and from what I can see they have succeeded. I think they’re doing a good job (together with other sites like last.fm etc.) to bring music into the 20th century. So, go sign up and get your invitation to start listening now 🙂