In June 2011, I was looking to connect with other nonprofit professionals on social media. So I launched #fundchat, a weekly conversation on Twitter for people who work for a nonprofit in either a fundraising or marketing capacity. Over five years and hundreds of chats, a happy little community came together around #fundchat. It became a supportive group of amazing people who were quick to offer help, tips, tricks, and a kick in the butt when needed.
As the moderator of this group, I tried my best to keep our merry band together. It wasn’t hard work, but my endurance ran out! Plus, life is busy with work, family, civic commitments, and all the rest. Regular weekly episodes of #fundchat ended in September 2016.
Lately, I’ve been thinking about getting the band back together, without necessarily creating the same mousetrap as before. So today, I’m launching the fundchat community on Gitter. If you are familiar with Slack, it’s very similar, except the Gitter platform is open-source and doesn’t try to make money on subscriptions or by selling your data. The fundchat community can now come together on this platform and engage in ongoing, real-time chats about any fundraising or marketing topic they’d like, without also telling the entire world about their challenges via Twitter. This “closed” group is a safe haven for folks to meet and help create the next evolution of fundchat.
Here are some of the benefits of joining the fundchat community on Gitter:
What made the original iteration of #fundchat so worthwhile was the real-time, live discussion over Twitter about that week’s topic. The feedback was instantaneous and the conversation flowed. You can still have that feeling on the new Gitter platform. Whenever you are online you can engage in real-time discussions. As the community grows, the more people can chime in and share their experiences, opinions, or ideas.
You set the schedule
OR if you’d rather, check out a conversation thread on your own time. There is no “set” time for fundchat (no more meeting on Wednesdays at 12 pm EST). You can jump into the conversation at any time, day or night!
Just between friends (almost)
Having a conversation on Twitter is challenging. It’s hard to shout above the torrent of tweets on every other topic under the sun while having a topic-specific conversation. Some folks also felt constrained, not wanting to share so publicly their challenges or failings of their organizations. The fundchat community on Gitter is not private per se, but it’s “closed” in the sense that it’s just us friends. If folks want to participate, they have to join the community.
Take fundchat anywhere you go
There’s an app for that! Gitter is available via the web, desktop app, or by installing the Gitter app on your smartphone and take fundchat with you.
Choose your own adventure
We used to address one topic a week on #fundchat. But on this new platform, you can chime in on any number of topics or start your own. We’ve even setup specific “rooms” so you can head right to a specific area of interest. If you’d like to see a new room added, just make that suggestions in “General.”
Just like #fundchat itself, Gitter is a Do It Yourself platform. It’s an open-source solution, meaning that anyone who wants to offer an improvement or innovation to the source code can have at it. While it’s not a Slack-killer yet it has many of the same bells and whistles but without the price or suspicious terms of service agreements.
The one catch? The community is only valuable if you show up. It will take time to poke and cajole long-time #fundchat members to join this new platform. And of course, we’ll welcome new folks too! So sign up today and help shape the next stage in the evolution of #fundchat! Questions or feedback? Connect with me via Twitter @brendankinney.