QR Codes: What’s It All About?

A QR code, or Quick Response code, is a black and white code that smart phone devices can read through a free app. Shipping companies first used QR codes as a tracking device. Consumers and smart phone users have used QR codes increasingly in the past years to compare retail prices, share information, and connect users to Facebook pages to name a few.

To use a QR code, download an app on your phone. The camera of your phone sees it and links you to the destination of the code. As a Blackberry user, I use the QR Code Scanner Pro by The Jared Company or Code Muncher by Motek Americas Inc. downloaded from the Blackberry App World. Iphone users can search the app store for QR Reader for iPhone by TapMedia Ltd. or RedLaser – Barcode Scanner and QR Code Reader by Occipital. Droid users search the Android market for apps such as QR Droid by Droidla or RedLaser Barcode & QR Scanner by eBaymobile.

QR codes are created easily online on any QR generator site by providing the link, text, or other data that you want the code to contain. I suggest using The QR Project or QR Stuff.com. Basic QR codes are free from these sites, however customizable QR codes with a company logo or other graphics are available for a fee. As a student at the University of Virginia, I have seen increased use of QR codes on flyers around grounds. I can scan a QR code to sign up for the Fight Cancer 5K, 'like' Challah for Hunger’s page on Facebook, or find out more information about an organization. I have walked around grounds and seen students seizing this opportunity, and have also started to use QR codes in my own organization’s marketing approaches. QR codes are becoming more prevalent by users of smart phones, especially by people in my 'millenial' cohort. I believe that the Jewish community can use QR codes effectively to aid in marketing and communication strategies. The key to QR codes is they link printed physical material to online material. So next time you're printing up a flyer or newsletter, think about where you can include a QR code. With QR codes, you can:

Promote your organization creatively: The United Jewish Appeal (UJA) in Canada launched an iWalk mobile challenge where they asked participants to scan a QR code at registration that detailed instructions on two iWalk challenges: a trivia question and a challenge urging participants to take a picture at the event and email it back. This event gave the UJA website over 500 hits and about fifty people chose to subscribe to receive future UJA event notices, promoting their organization in a creative way.

Take an active step: TSA at the St. Louis Airport uses QR codes to link people waiting in security lines to their website, download an app that will tell them approximately how long security lines are at different airports, and a page that gives the most up to date information as far as what can be brought through security checkpoints. Using QR codes in these ways, participants can actively connect to and engage with the organization or cause.

Network: NTEN put a QR code on each attendee’s name badge at their 2011 Nonprofit Technology Conference with a link to their personal profile and contact information. Attendees could network and get each other’s contact information by scanning each other’s QR codes. Organizations are using QR codes creatively to coincide with their organization’s strategy and goals. The key is creativity and pinpointing how to best utilize them in your organization.

Other examples include:

  • On your next event program, put a QR code that allows users to sign up for your future events.
  • Place a QR code at your event registration table that attendees scan to donate a specified amount to your organization.
  • During your next mailing campaign, add a QR code that has participants start following your organization on Twitter.

Jewish organizations can use QR codes to increase social media in their marketing and communication approaches, shift focus from printed material to online content, and specifically engage those primarily online generations. QR codes are gaining popularity in the social media world and will be on the scene for a while so start developing some fluency in the use of QR codes and begin to integrate use of them in your organization’s strategies. It's easy, cheap and a great opportunity to be (slightly) ahead of the curve! Try it out and see how your organization will reap the benefits.

Kate Belza is the Darim Online student intern for 2011-12. She is a third year at the University of Virginia, majoring in religious studies with a minor in leadership. She is an active student leader at UVa Hillel, and co-founded a Challah for Hunger chapter at UVa, where they bake and sell challah and donate the proceeds to charity. She also serves as the fundraising chair for Relay for Life at UVa, and is Director of Philanthropy for her sorority, Alpha Phi. Kate serves as a student representative to the UVa Hillel Board of Directors.

Making Facebook Groups Rock

Facebook groups have changed a lot in the past year or so, and they’re more powerful than ever. Here are some helpful hints to make your Facebook group a truly vibrant platform: Maximizing group features for networking and engagement: Tagging individuals in posts. This is an excellent means of publicly introducing two (or more) folks within your group. Include bragging rights – what makes these members unique? Give them a question to explore together, and encourage the dialogue. This means you have to know your group – who they are, what they’re up to, what they need, etc. Think:

  • How can I encourage others to use the group in the same way, not just as a means for marketing/broadcasting information?
  • How do I go from network weaver to empowering others to weave one another?

The power of pictures. Facebook is a “picture economy” (whereas Twitter is a “link economy”); pics are the most engaged content, the most in-demand. Pictures are great conversation starters. Tagging folks in pictures and asking them to tag themselves also increases engagement, puts a face to a name, and humanizes the process by bridging online and on-land worlds. Questions and polling. Thoughtful, simple, directed questions can be a powerful engagement mechanism. Think about allowing others to add their own options to the poll – when is it appropriate, and when is it unnecessary or confusing. Expect to get answers both in the poll itself and in the comments, and run with both! Group chat. Facebook groups mostly function asynchronously, but a synchronous activity now and again can really rally the troops. (Note: this feature does not function with groups of 250 members or more.) Consider the following:

  • What are the deeper conversations your group seems inclined to have?
  • Can you assign someone to host that conversation and empower them to lead the charge?

Docs. Docs are like super-simple wikis, and probably the most truly collaborative aspect of a Facebook group. Because they are collaboratively editable, they are great for anything that requires a teasing out a group voice – agendas, statements or announcements, etc.

  • Docs live in a designated place within your group and are therefore not as subject to the news feed, which is more timely. Docs are great for posting information that you plan to come back to again and again.
  • Conversations will naturally spring up in the comments section of your document. It’s important to manage the flow between what is being written in the doc and what’s happening in the comments.

Events. Creating a group event for actual in-person meetings makes a lot of sense, but there are other ways the events feature can be used – general publicity, announcements, calls to action, booking a time for a group chat, etc.

  • Events need not be restricted to members of the group. Use them when you want to introduce a broader audience to your group’s good work.
  • Bear in mind – events can be great, but tend to get lost in the new Facebook layout. Timing is key. Be conscious of who you are reminding of the event and how often. Remember you can also post the event’s unique link to the group or your personal profile page.
  • Finally, events, like docs, also have a comment stream attached. Monitor accordingly.

Other big ideas: Have a goal for the group, or at least a project everyone can rally around. Give the group a sense of purpose. No one person “owns” a Facebook group. It belongs equally to all the members and should be treated as such. (Think about using the Docs to build a group statement of values – decide as a community how you will use the group and treat one another while active in it.) It’s easier to post than to reply. Engagement takes investment. Try setting aside a specific block of time every day or week to monitor and engage the group. Ask other members to do the same – spread the responsibility around and see what kind of ROE (return on engagement) you get. No medium exists in a vacuum. Think about the relationships between what happens in the group, on Facebook in general, over email, on the phone, in person, at events, etc. To be truly effective, the online experience should be tied – topically, in culture, in voice, in attitude – to the experience(s) of the group in other spaces. Groups don’t provide hard analytical data the way Pages do, so it’s up to you to gather both the qualitative and quantitative results. Consider asking:

  • Who’s posting most often? Who’s replying?
  • What topics are folks posting about? What topics are getting the most feedback and engagement?
  • What times of day are people posting?
  • Are members typically sharing links, photos, videos, event invitations?
  • What else can you learn about your members through their activity? What do they care about?

How have you made Facebook Groups work for you? What are your success stories?Making Facebook Groups Rock

Free Inspiraton for New York Area Congregations

UJALogo 300 CThanks to an ongoing collaboration between Darim Online and SYNERGY: UJA-Federation of New York and Synagogues Together, we’re pleased to bring you the next series in our Social Media Boot Camp for New York area synagogues. All staff and lay leaders from congregations in the UJA Federation of New York catchment area are invited to register for the series free of charge. Not in the area and interested in learning with us? Become a member of Darim Online! Last year’s series focused on the uses of specific social media tools, such as Facebook and Twitter. This year, we’ll be focusing on the implications of these social media tools and their impact on society and business, with the goal of evolving your congregation for success in the networked age. Our 6 webinars will focus on strategy, staffing and leadership as they pertain to the mission, function and sustainability of synagogues. Join Lisa Colton, founder and president of Darim Online, and special guests, for a tour through Evolving the Synagogue as a Networked Nonprofit, inspired and informed by Beth Kanter and Allison Fine’s valuable book, The Networked Nonprofit. October 26, 2011 The Synagogue as a Networked Nonprofit Given shifts in society, culture and technology, successful organizations are evolving the ways they work to be more nimble, efficient and social. The synagogue’s origins are as a network — a group of people in a similar area who have similar observances, needs, values, and goals. Thus, today’s empowered culture is a great opportunity to realign the synagogue’s work with its origins, and to help the organization function more successfully in our networked age. Join us to learn about the principles outlined in Beth Kanter and Allison Fine’s book The Networked Nonprofit, and to explore case studies of organizations making this shift, from synagogues to local and national nonprofits. This webinar will set the stage for the next 5 in the series, and will inspire you to think differently about your work. November 17, 2011 The Skills and Mindset of a Success Community Weaver Every synagogue seeks to build community among its members and beyond. A rich and successful community leads to achieving all other aspects of a synagogue’s mission and goals, from education to tikkun olam, membership dues and event participation. One of the most important functions of leadership is to weave and support this community. Today, these responsibilities are often embedded in positions with titles like “Program Director” and “Membership Coordinator”. Join us to learn about the value of community weaving, the attributes of a successful community weaver, why both staff and board members need to be involved, and why your congregation needs to be in the business of weaving. Eager to learn more? Check out June Holly’s blog: http://www.networkweaving.com January 11, 2012 Staffing Beyond the Accidental Techie Oftentimes, congregations find someone on staff who’s good with technology, or at least likes to play around and can help out others. Sometimes this is an educator or preschool director, sometimes it’s the youngest person on staff, sometimes it’s the rabbi! This is what we call the “accidental techie”. They weren’t hired to do this, but have fallen into it. As your congregation is beginning to participate in social media, who has stepped up to lead the effort? Is that position really the one that should have this responsibility? Is that the best way for them to spend their time? And how is everyone on staff empowered to use today’s tools to do their work (like they do with email and the telephone)? Join us to discuss staffing needs, how to evolve to the right place, and how everyone should have at least some role. February 9, 2012 Social Giving How and why is the rise of social media affecting philanthropic giving? While the fundamentals of development haven’t changed significantly, the ways you go about storytelling, generating enthusiasm and motivating donors has been turned upside down in the last few years. Accordingly, as a networked nonprofit your approach to marketing a fundraising campaign needs to evolve as well. Join us to learn about the tools, strategies, and opportunities of social media based fundraising, and learn from interesting case studies in the field. March 14, 2012 Social Media for Jewish Learning: The Social Sermon Let’s consider 2 common functions of a synagogue: Jewish learning, and Shabbat services. In both cases, the dynamic is based on a hierarchical model, rather than a networked one: A teacher at the front of the class, and the rabbi talking to the congregation from behind a podium. Let’s consider how social media tools can help us evolve these dynamics to create conversation, support collaboration, and engage more voices in our community. Join us to learn about The Social Sermon and explore how rabbis and educators can put blogs, Facebook and Twitter to use in some creative ways to discuss the weekly Torah portion and build relationships, participation and engagement in your congregation online and in person. May 17, 2012 Return on Engagement: How to Measure the Impact of Your Socializing ROI ROI ROI. We’re always hearing about the return on investment of time, energy and dollars. How do you measure what something is worth? Reflecting back on our previous 5 topics, we’ll look at how to measure engagement, why it’s essential for your success, and how focusing on it can be the key for evolving your synagogue to thrive in the networked age. Interested in learning more about how Jewish organizations can function as networked nonprofits? Join the conversation in our online book group!

Tune Up Your Facebook Page For The High Holiday Season

facebook logo2The High Holidays are just around the corner. How will you use Facebook as an entry point for prospective members seeking to engage in the holiday season, and as a point of connection for current members? How can your Facebook Page be educational, and help your community prepare for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur to make the most of these powerful experiences? Darim is pleased to offer a webinar and webinar/consulting combo to help you tune up your Facebook Page for maximum impact this season. REGISTER HERE or use the form below. WEBINAR: Friday, August 12th 1-2pm Eastern In this one-hour webinar, we’ll walk you through how to use Facebook to engage constituents during this important time of year when you have more of their attention, including marketing your page, when to post, what types of updates are most successful, how to develop a content strategy for the holiday season, how to be personal with Facebook, and more. The webinar recording will be available to all who register to replay or revisit at your convenience. CONSULTING PACKAGE: To provide more support and customized attention, we’re offering one-on-one coaching for up to 8 congregations who want to review their current Facebook activities and strategy in more detail with a Darim consultant. Along with this one hour coaching sessions, you’ll receive a self-evaluation form that will help us identify your organization’s Facebook goals and current challenges using Facebook and a written follow up including tips and suggestions to help propel you forward. Price includes the webinar for up to 5 representatives from your congregation. Webinar: Only $20 Webinar coaching and support: $150 (only 8 seats available!) REGISTER FOR EITHER PACKAGE HERE. Or see the form below. A great kick in the tush to get your Facebook house in order for the busy season! What are you waiting for? Sign up for the webinar, or the full package with coaching and customized support! Our Presenter: Debra Askanase is founder of the social media strategy firm communityorganizer20.com. Debra blogs there about social media, nonprofits and community organizing. A frequent conference speaker, Debra can be found chatting away as @askdebra. Debra has worked with nonprofits for 20 years as organizer, program director, executive director and fundraiser. Debra has worked with many Jewish organizations, synagogues, day schools and other organizations in the US, Canada and Israel.

Linkedin for Nonprofits

Guest post by Debra Askanase, Community Organizer 2.0


I had the privilege of presenting a webinar to the Darim Online community June 1, 2011 about how to use Linkedin for nonprofits. When I was preparing for the webinar, two things struck me: why cause-focused groups may not work well on Linked (more on that below), and how much Linkedin offers. The presentation focuses on five ways to best utilize Linkedin professionally: be goal-oriented, optimize both your personal and company profiles, utilize groups, and use Linkedin Answers.

If I had to offer three tips about using Linkedin effectively, they would be:

  • Think about why you and your company want to be one Linkedin, and how you use it will follow
  • Identify a combination of 10 keywords and keyword phrases that best describe you, and 10 others that best describe the organization. Integrate these keywords and keyword phrases into your personal and company profiles
  • Complete all employee personal Linkedin profiles to 100%, as well as the organizational profile

Start with your Goals

The key to using any social media platform effectively is to use it to meet your goals. Decide first why you (or your organization) would want to use Linkedin (such as finding collaborators, funders, or colleagues). Once you know why you want to use Linkedin, how you will use Linkedin follows. For example, if you want to use Linkedin to connect with foundations then you might:

  • search for people who work at those foundations
  • join groups that they have joined and participate
  • ask for introductions through mutual Linkedin connections
  • use Linkedin Answers to ask a question about contacting foundations

Identifying your goals will dictate your Linkedin strategy.

Optimize your personal profile

One aspect of optimizing your profile is completing it fully. Be sure to include your photo, a summary of who you are, keywords and interests, and a summary of what youve accomplished in every position. Its also important to have at least five recommendations, since you can search Linkedin by number of recommendations.

Use the advanced search option to understand how you can be found, and include those in your profile. Some of the search parameters are by industry, geographic location, number of recommendations, and position titles.

Optimizing your profile also means placing important phrases and keywords within your profile. Think about 10 to 15 keywords and keyword phrases that describe you professionally. Specifically, place keyword-rich content within the summary, specialties, and interests sections.

Optimize the company profile

If your organization doesnt have a company profile, create one on Linkedin. Identify the 10-15 keywords that best describe your organization, and integrate them into the company profile for the profile to be search-ready. If your organization has a blog or Twitter presence, be sure to add those to the company profile to personalize the company. Also, if you want to highlight specific products or services, do so through the new products and services feature.

Utilize the power of groups

Real connecting happens within groups. Search for groups related to your profession and industry. I also recommend joining groups your professional colleagues belong to as well. If a group is inactive or not valuable, leave. If it is, spend time within the group answering questions and offering help. When you find yourself in an interesting discussion, invite your colleagues to connect with you personally on Linkedin after the discussion has concluded. I tend to see the same group of people commenting on group discussions, which helps me to know them through our participation.

When groups are managed by nonprofits, and the discussion is about the nonprofit or a specific cause, they tend to be inactive. I looked at many public nonprofit-administered groups while researching this presentation, and most were very inactive or not lively. (I cannot comment on private groups, though.) I suspect that cause-specific or nonprofit-specific groups arent very active because Linkedin users want to discuss professional issues, not organizational mission. I also think that mission-based discussion has limited appeal while industry-based discussion has much broader appeal and basis for discussion. Additionally, Linkedin is not best used as a platform for recruiting people to become direct stakeholders; there are other platforms much better suited to cause-focused discussions.

There appears to be two exceptions to the inactive nonprofit-administered groups rule: One is Autism Speaks, which has a very lively Linkedin group, though Im not able to comment on why this is the case. The other exception seems to be professional associations. For example, the alumni group of the Princes Scottish Youth Business Trust (a youth business mentoring program) is a very active group for business class alums to connect with others and possibly do business together.

Linkedin Answers

Linkedin Answers is both a wonderful research tool and means to find new connections. By subscribing the the RSS feed of a certain category of questions (such as Social Entrepreneurship) you can stay up to date on the latest industry discussions, and also answer questions yourself. If your answer is selected as the best answer, you win the best answer designation, which enhances your professional credibility. Also, questions reach the entire Linkedin community, not just your personal connections.

Other Linkedin goodies

I love looking at whats going on in the Linkedin labs. Most recently, Ive enjoyed Linkedin Maps (visualize your own network) and Signal (trending news stories shared by your connections) from the labs. Check back each month for new labs products.


Joanne Fritz of nonprofit.about.com published a great article with many tips for nonprofit professionals using Linkedin. Fast Company also published an article with five Linkedin tips you didnt know. Read the excellent Net2 Think Tank discussion about using Linkedin for change. Allison Fine interviews Amy Sample Ward and Estrella Rosenberg on how nonprofits can use Linkedin on the December Social Good podcast. Drop in on the informative weekly Linkedin Twitter chat at 8pm every Tuesday, hosted by @LinkedinExpert and @MartineHunter.

If youd like to watch the recorded webinar that I presented with Darim Online, you may view it here.

What is your Linkedin tip? What is the most useful thing about using Linkedin that youve found?

The Value of a Social Media Policy

Consider the following tale: Gloria works for a large and respected nonprofit organization. She tweets occasionally for the organization, but also has a personal account. One day, in an innocent slip of the fingers, she tweets about drinking at a party from her work account instead of her personal one. Not registering the error, she finishes her day as usual. June’s colleague suddenly starts fielding messages from the organization’s constituents about the, ahem, unexpected tweet. How should he react? Or perhaps this little story will capture your fancy: Tom recently Googled his organization and found that there were several blogs discussing a project his team was implementing. He was pleasantly surprised to find such an enthusiastic group advocating on behalf of his organization, but the blog was hosting by an organization with explicit political leanings, and Tom’s organization is specifically non-partisan. Should Tom take advantage of building the organization’s network and strengthening relationships with individuals who could contribute a lot to their work, or should he steer clear of anything that could be interpreted as political? How should Tom respond? Both June’s colleague and Tom could really use somewhere to turn for guidance. The way many organizations are facing these and other questions is by developing a social media policy (we recently blogged about the excellent policy developed by the Avi Chai Foundation here: “Avi Chai Foundation Gets Social”). A social media policy is essentially a document that helps define how different groups associated with an organization should conduct themselves online. It is a valuable and powerful tool. A social media policy helps outline both expectations and possibilities for social media interactions. It acts as a go-to document for any questions or conflicts that may arise. A social media policy can provide a sense of security, knowing your team is approaching social media from the same set of assumptions. It can also, somewhat counter-intuitively, foster a sense of freedom in the use of social media – you can jump into the game with more confidence when you know the rules. Perhaps even more valuable than the document itself is the process of developing a social media policy. It encourages a big conversation, an honest discussion of the values and character of your organization and how they should be reflected online. As Beth Kanter explains on her blog, “…if you want the policy to truly work, you need a process, especially if your organization is still grappling with fears and concerns.” The process can present an amazing opportunity for listening, sharing, and reflection among the people who make your good work possible. Darim is here to help you have this conversation and implement your own social media policy. That way, Gloria’s accidental tweet (a true story which you can find out more about here) and Tom’s political blog posts won’t seem so daunting – with the right approach, they can become opportunities for learning and increased connection with the people who care most about what you do. To dig deeper into this topic and start the conversation, Darim is offering a webinar on social media policies (and because it’s our tenth anniversary, you’re welcome to join us for free). Here is all the information: Social Media Staffing and Policies Tuesday, May 17, 1-2pm Register here: http://bit.ly/lZTGph And we want to hear from you! Does your organization have a social media policy? If so, what did you learn, or how did you grow through the process of creating your guidelines or policy?

What’s that [email protected] ?

No, I’m not trying to swear in the headline of this post, though the three symbols in a row might have led you to question my professional judgment. More and more, I’m seeing people drop a period before the @ when starting a tweet with a username, such as “@estherk I wish I could be at #tribefest”. You might, as I did, wonder why some tweets appear like this “[email protected] reports on #tribefest”. (By the way, I’m making up these tweets as examples).

One Forty to the rescue! Laura Fitton (@pistachio) runs this smart “Social Business Software Hub”, which recently blogged 5 Common Twitter Mistakes and How to Fix Them. It’s worth reading. I’ll share the fifth one with you here, since it’s a juicy factoid I’m betting many people are curious about:

@ vs. [email protected] The way that Twitter is constructed, only people that also follow whoever you are @replying can see that @reply. Sometimes, people will start a Tweet with @ when its not intended to be an @reply, though. For instance, @CNNs coverage of the Egyptian riots. If you Tweeted that, only your followers that follow @CNN will see that Tweet in their timeline.

HOW TO FIX: Want everyone to see those Tweets? Use the [email protected] trick: stick a period in front of the @ sign and itll send the Tweet into the main Twitter stream for all to enjoy.

See? Simple and brilliant explanation. Now go check out their blog for many more.

[email protected]’all, see you on Twitter!