Creating a communications plan? Gather your flock

Posted June 2, 2015 by Kristin Antin
cunning planning

cunning planning (Credit: benefit of hindsight)

All advocacy organizations do communications work. Whether you are fundraising, mobilizing supporters to take action, raising awareness, or educating your representatives – communications plays a substantial role in these efforts. For all organizations, particularly small ones with limited resources, it’s really important to focus your communications efforts on what makes the most impact to help your organization reach its objectives. The best shot you have at achieving impact is to make a plan.

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Sparking projects with Matchbox: our learnings from partner selection to matchmaking

Posted May 26, 2015 by Anneke Victorica
Representation of the work of the Research and Advocacy Unit. Credit:   Maya Richman

Representation of the work of the Research and Advocacy Unit. Credit: Maya Richman

Since we launched in October of last year, a lot has happened at the engine room’s Matchbox Program. We’ve provided in-depth support to six organizations and light-touch support to 29 organizations. We don’t want to just do the work: we want to learn and share how (and if) this demand-driven model of support works. In this blog post, we are sharing a few of the things we have tackled since October and what we’ve learned along the way.

The engine room’s Matchbox is a pilot for what is surprisingly a pretty novel concept: providing organizations with strategic and tech support that is based on their unique needs. We meet great transparency and accountability projects, match them with the diverse expertise they need to get their innovative ideas off the ground, and learn critical strategic approaches in the process.

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Bringing a text to life: 6 platforms for annotating text online

Posted May 19, 2015 by Zara Rahman
Credit: POP

(Credit: POP)

In September, a group of us got together to write a book on Responsible Data in international development. As we’ve written about already, it was a great experience, and we’re pretty proud with the product too – a collaboratively written book, from start to finish (including design!) – in 5 days. But, as we’ve noticed in the last few months, few people among our desired target audience have enough time to read an entire book, and – perhaps more importantly – we want the book to be the start of a conversation with a broader group of people, too.

So, the engine room asked me to take a look at how the book could be put online, to facilitate this conversation online, and try to make the book a little more engaging for people we’d love to learn from and hear from. This blog post is a summary of what we learned along the way.

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From election monitoring to POINT: the engine room does the Balkans

Posted May 15, 2015 by Tin Geber

We’ve been spending quite a lot of time lately in the Balkans: more precisely Bosnia & Herzegovina, Serbia, Macedonia and Montenegro. And let me tell you, sibling: the Balkans are teeming with activists for transparency, accountability and civic engagement.

The story so far

It all started in August 2014, when the Bosnian organization Zasto Ne called us to participate in a hackathon to try and make sense of the Bosnian election with data:

For the love of bureaucracy. Courtesy of the  Bosnian Election Hackathon team

For the love of bureaucracy. Courtesy of the Bosnian Election Hackathon team

Our pattern master Tin Geber, project manager and resident Balkan, joined an international team of coders and storytellers for a 5-day sprint and deep dive into the most complicated electoral system ever invented (School of Data wrote a great blog post about it). While in Bosnia, we got to know the awesome folks from Zasto Ne and learned about ActionSEE, a coalition of organizations involved in tech for transparency and accountability spanning the Western Balkan region. Evolved out of CommunityBoostr and with support from TechSoup Europe, ActionSEE was just kickstarting the Balkan Data Academy, a region-wide project for transparency and accountability: we hopped on the chance to support it like a feline on a cardboard box.

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