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Webinar – Why Research Matters to Grantseekers – 2013-01-18

Webinar – Why Research Matters to Grantseekers – 2013-01-18

Kyla: Hi, everybody, and welcome to
Why Research Matters to Grantseekers. Today is January 18, 2013. Thank
you, everybody, for joining us today. Just a little bit about ReadyTalk which
is the webinar tool we’ll be using today. If you do have any questions, either
about the content or about using ReadyTalk or anything like that, you can go ahead
and type those questions into the chat pane. Becky from Tech Soup will be on
there to collect the questions and kind of respond if you do have
any trouble using the webinar tool. If you do lose your connection at any
time, you can reconnect using the same link that you just joined with. And if you do, you should
be hearing the audio through your computer’s mic and speakers. There is an alternate
phone line if you would like to call in, and Becky can share that. If for some
reason you do lose that phone connection, if you choose to dial in,
you can rejoin by redialing. Just as a reminder, we are
recording today’s session, so the webinar will be both on our web site
and will be emailed to all the registrants that registered for the webinar today. So if
for some reason you do need to drop out early, you will still have access to the recorded session,
as well as all of the materials and links for today. So again, welcome to Why
Research Matters to Grantseekers. My name is Kyla Hunt. I am the facilitator for
today. I am the webinar program manager here at TechSoup. With me today is Lisa Brooks
and Gabriela Fitz from the Foundation Center. They’re going to be talking about both
social sector research and IssueLab, which is a free service
at the Foundation Center. Also assisting with chat is Becky Wiegand, and
you will see her name pop up in that chat box. So, a little bit about today. We are going to be
talking about social sector research in general. We’re going to be talking about using
research, finding research, sharing research, and we will be talking about
this in the context of IssueLab which is a really, really fabulous free
service that you all can take advantage of. And again, we will be collecting questions via
that chat pane, so if you do have any questions throughout the webinar, just whenever they
pop into your head, type that into the chat and I will be collecting those questions to ask
the speakers about halfway through the webinar, and at the end of the webinar. If for some
reason we do not get to all of your questions, we will be collecting them to make
sure the presenters are aware of them, and we may be posting some answers
in our community forums as well. I will share that community forum
link near the end of the webinar. With that, I want to go ahead and give it to Gabby
and Lisa to just kind of take it away. Thanks. Gabriela: Thanks so much for the introduction,
Kyla. And thanks also to Tech Soup Global for hosting the webinar. We’re really excited
that so many of you could join us today, especially the day before a three-day weekend,
and hope that what we have to share with you is useful to your work. As Kyla said, if you do
have to drop off early or if you have a question that occurs to you later on, please
feel free to email us at any time and we’d be happy to help you out. A little bit of introduction, Lisa
Brooks and myself began IssueLab in 2007 and became part of the Foundation
Center, actually, just last year, which was a really great opportunity
to actually combine some similar efforts that we’ve both been doing over these
years, and consolidate some of that activity, and make it easier for our users. Essentially, IssueLab’s mission is is to gather,
index, and freely share the collective knowledge of the social sector. What we do is we
find and gather research and resources from across thousands of organizational
websites and online information centers. Then we index those works with a standard
taxonomy, making it easier for other people in the field then to find and search and explore
and eventually share those resources with each other. What we do is we actually, as Kyla mentioned,
we make all of this work available on IssueLab for free. It is both free to find research
and download research from issuelab and also to share research through IssueLab
and our distributed network of partner websites. Our purpose is to make the collective intelligence
of the social sector much easier for nonprofit and foundation professionals to
access and use in your own daily work. Today we’re going to spend some
time talking about what we even mean by social sector research, how we can use it
in our work in the sector, where to find it, and then also how to share some of
the knowledge that your organization may be producing or
collecting on your own as well. That sort of begs the
question of what we even mean when we say the term “social sector research.”
What are we even talking about there? We’re not so much talking
about prospect research really. What we’re talking about is the often-overlooked
R&D function of the nonprofit sector. It might be useful to start
with an actual example. This is a report called “From Page
to Stage to Screen and Beyond.” It’s produced by the Social Impact Research
Center which is a research organization here in Chicago. And it’s one of many such reports
that organizations share through IssueLab. Social Impact Research, and this may be
a scenario that’s familiar to some of you on the phone, Social Impact Research was
hired by a group of youth media organizations to summarize the landscape of
youth media activities in Chicago. They were hired to do that, really, as kind
of a baseline for further evaluation efforts. This report, which is a pretty simple
report really, includes a ton of information that you might begin to think about how
something like this might be useful to you. It includes everything from a map of youth
media organizations working in Chicago, to an explanation of some of the
challenges that youth in Chicago are facing, some of the background on the actual
social issues that are bringing young people to youth media organizations in Chicago. This
piece of research just is a place to start the conversation of what we
mean by “social sector research.” This kind of research is actually a
perfect example of exactly the kind of R&D we’re going to be talking about today. The fact is that most people actually think
about the nonprofit sector and the social sector as either providing funding or providing
services such as housing, food, or — in the case of an organization like
“Kaboom!” — the building of local playgrounds. What most people don’t know or recognize,
or what they often take for granted really, is that the social sector
also provides knowledge. And that’s knowledge about what the
problems are and about how we, as a society, might organize to solve them. So we don’t just provide solutions. We actually,
as a sector, test them, observe them, analyze them, and then try to understand and explain them
to people who aren’t necessarily working on what some people might call “the front
lines” or on the ground daily with these issues. That’s something that actually makes
social sector research pretty unique. It’s often produced by the very organizations
that are delivering those services. So there’s not that divide often between the people
who are sort of understanding the issues in action, and then testing, and observing, and describing
what they’re learning from their activities. We think about this as R&D for social change. This
body of research is often called “gray literature.” It’s called that because
there’s no formal commercial or sort of widely accessible publishing system for
it. This body of gray literature is fast-growing, and it covers issues about the sector as well
as issues that the sector aims to address. It’s a body of literature that’s produced
by organizations, really large and small, by associations, foundations, small community-based
organizations, large national nonprofits, u niversity-based research centers that
are publishing for non-academic audiences, really for sort of research in action, think
tanks, and also a whole sort of sub-sector almost of evaluators
and research consultants. The body of research also uses
a whole range of methodology. You’ll see this in the work that we include
in IssueLab, and I’m sure you’re familiar with in your own use of research in the work
you do. But it can include everything from rigorous longitudinal surveys
as well as community ethnographies, participatory evaluations, or even
more academic literature reviews. It takes many forms which should be familiar to
you; case studies, evaluations, lessons learned, toolkits, white papers. We’re often asked
or we engage in writing these ourselves or we rely on them to do our work. But you may
not ever have really thought of this all as a body of literature, but it is. And it’s a
body of literature and a body of knowledge that’s actually incredibly useful to
our daily work in the social sector. I want to talk a little bit about what that
means, that it’s of use in our daily work and sort of the when and how of using
research to improve our own work, so really answering the question or considering
some different possibilities for how people in positions like yours use social sector
research. The first scenario I’m going to present should be pretty familiar to anyone
who’s ever written a grant proposal. This is a picture of Adam Eisendrath.
He’s actually the Development Director for the Good Shepherd
Gracenter in San Francisco. He uses the Foundation Center services,
but I’m using him a little as an example because people in positions like Adam’s
are often asked to write what’s known as a “needs statement” in a proposal. Again,
I’m sure most of you are familiar with this. But we’re essentially asked to explain what
is the problem your organization is addressing. We’re asked to explain the issues to potential
grantmakers and we need to present the facts and evidence that support both the need
for the project but also that establishes that our organization, the organization
that’s applying for the grant understands the problem and therefore
can reasonably address the problem. This information used to support the case
can come from authorities in the field as well as from your agency’s own experience.
Somebody like Adam needs to be able to answer what facts do we have about the social
problem. Is there a need for these services? Is that need already being
addressed in some other way? Where are the gaps in existing services?
What makes our program or approach unique? Then finally, how do we know that? This can’t just be purely based in hunches.
I think that often we do rely on knowledge that comes from experience and
what we might call “hunches,” but what we need to be able to do is
support those hunches with some data about both the problem and the
larger context for that problem. So Adam’s research could include a combination
of recent research on women and drug abuse that provides a bigger context for the problem.
His organization specifically addresses those topics in San Francisco. His research might
also include internal organizational data about growing need or gaps at the community
level; comparative data from the city or state about need in local communities; recent white
papers on successful or promising interventions and their possible applicability to San
Francisco; and then maybe even research through something like the Foundation
Directory Online to see who else has been funded by this same grantmaker to do similar work. That’s
one scenario that might resonate with some of you about how research is directly
applicable to our daily work. The next scenario is a little bit different. It’s
another potential use for social sector research. In this case, consider the case of Mike
Rodriguez who’s the Executive Director of an organization here in
Chicago called Enlace that works with a largely Mexican-American
community on the West Side. People like Mike have to do a lot of development
work because he’s an executive director, but we’re considering his role in a more
strategic programming role for the moment. People like Mike, or people in those positions,
are often asked to design new programs and interventions that can make a difference.
In order to do so, he really needs to know what other organizations are doing.
What are they learning from their work? How does his community compare to others?
And again, how does he know any of this? If Mike is looking, for instance, at
developing let’s say a new green jobs program for the little village community, he needs to
design a program that doesn’t reinvent the wheel. So his research might include a combination
of census data about his community regarding youth employment, or
regarding even the youth population as compared to other neighborhoods and
cities. It may also include recent white papers about potential for growth and that’s part of
the economy, some research that’s being done about green jobs and green job development. And
then he’d be interested in including examples of similar programs in other cities.
What are their common challenges? What are the lessons that they
are learning at the ground level? So he doesn’t have to go through not
only the pain of repeating those mistakes, but also the populations he’s trying to
serve really can’t afford for the organization to make those same mistakes. The last scenario that I want
us to consider about the use of research to improve social sector practice
gets to a particular kind of social sector research that I touched on a minute ago, which is
really the research that’s about the sector, instead of research about
the issues we address. Somebody like Kathryn McKee, again, a
user of the Foundation Center services, she’s the President of Business Development for
the Arts. People who are in positions like Kathryn’s serve at the executive level, leadership
level are often looking for information about what sorts of innovations
are being developed and tested, what new kinds of funding models are out there,
what are others learning from their own work about important organizational issues.
And finally, how do I know that? Again, trying to support hunches or
inclinations with a broader context, with a broader understanding of what’s
happening outside of her organization. In short, she really needs to
understand what others are doing well, what’s around the corner, and how
she can improve her own practices. Her research might be a little different than
Mike’s or Adam’s. It might include case studies about what organizations similar to hers are
doing differently. But it may also include research about larger trends in funding and programming
models, as well as practical hands-on advice and toolkits for improving practices
around tasks like impact measurement, capacity building, or
leadership development. Again, sources like the Foundation Center’s
grant-based service actually provide a lot of that. That gets us to the sort of “what is social
sector research” and when is social sector research useful to us in our work, but it leaves us
with questions about how, the how of doing this. So how can I access this
research and how can I find it? Finding the research you need —
sorry, I just jumped ahead a slide. Finding the research you need can
feel like hunting for mushrooms. It’s sort of a funny metaphor
but if you’ve ever done it, the fact is that if you don’t know where to
look, or you don’t know what you’re looking for, you’re just relying on luck which by
the way, is not a research strategy. Googling a topic is a great starting place. It’s
a great launching point for a research project, but it can’t be the whole strategy for finding
research related to the issues and tasks that matter. Librarians obviously
know this, and most of us intuit this, but most of our organizations don’t have librarians
on staff, and most of us don’t have the time to say, “You know what? This is what I’m getting back off
of Google, but I’m not sure whether I can trust it. I don’t know whether it’s comprehensive.
I don’t know what it includes, and most importantly, what it excludes.” The fact is really that social sector
knowledge, because of what we said earlier about it being this sort of body of gray
literature that’s largely not indexed, the fact is that social sector knowledge for
all sorts of sociological and technical reasons is highly distributed. It can be found in
everything from issue-specific clearinghouses, or sector intermediaries like Bridgespan, Center
on Charitable Statistics, The Foundation Center, Guidestar. It’s often also
found in nonprofit websites, in the Related Links & Resources sections on
nonprofit websites, or even in the grantee profiles on foundation websites. It’s also in
the sort of, often mentions of research, or mentions of toolkits and lessons
learned, or inside of the grants themselves that certainly can be found through
resources like Foundation Center. And then finally it’s also often shared through
social media channels like Facebook or Twitter, LinkedIn, RSS feeds. Finally, it’s also found
and shared through good old human contact. So we’re starting a program and
what do we do? We call people we know who did similar sorts of programming or we
call people we know and ask them who they know. It’s a pretty labor-intensive and pretty
highly distributed knowledge sharing system. But the question is sort of what if we
want things to be a little less scatter-shot and a little less labor-intensive. What if
we don’t just want to find the mushrooms, but we actually want them to be easily
identifiable, and we want them to be well organized so that our work doesn’t go so much into sorting
it, as it goes into really reading, understanding, and applying the knowledge
that we’re finding there. This is exactly the problem that
prompted us to start IssueLab. We designed IssueLab really simply put,
to make the hunt a little bit easier. We recognize that knowledge will always, and
believe actually that it always should be shared in many places by many people, but it
doesn’t need to be as hard as it’s been. Research can make a difference as to how
we do our work, and we want to make sure that it can be found, used, and
shared as easily as possible. I’m going to turn the reins over to Lisa Brooke
to give you a little more information research. about how IssueLab can actually
help you find and share your But I think Kyla wanted us to take a couple
of minutes for some questions at this point before we move on to the
next part of the presentation. Kyla: Thank you, Gabby, that was
great. We do have a couple of questions that have already come in. One is from Farley. He
asks, do you have plans to include publications, etc., from environmental organizations? Gabby: We do. We actually have the energy
and the environment as one of the topic areas that we do cover right now in IssueLab. We are
always eager to get more work into the collection. That’s something that Lisa’s going to go
over in the next part of the presentation, about how you can add research
yourself to this collective pool, this public and openly available
collective pool of research from the sector. Environmental concerns are
definitely one of those topics that people are coming to
the site to learn more about. Kyla: Okay, great. The other question
that had come in I think you spoke about, and I know Lisa will as well, but I
wanted to mention it. Kathy N. is wondering if we can recommend new
resources for IssueLab. Gabby: Absolutely. You can, if it’s resources from
an organization that you have no affiliation with, you can just shoot us an email and make
the suggestion for us to include it, and we’ll do that work. Or if it’s an
organization that you work for, or volunteer for, or been on the board for, you can actually
set up a free account and add it yourself. That’s something that Lisa is going to show a little
bit about, and I’ll talk a little bit about as well. But yeah, we absolutely are relying on
people to tell us what’s useful to them so that we can make sure it’s
useful to other people as well. Kyla: Okay, great. We did have one
other question come in, from Alicia. She’s wondering how you suggest one
can use research to solidify a project that is not a nonprofit
organization yet. Gabby: Well, I think that hits on a couple of things.
I think it hits on the About the Sector research and then the About the Issues research.
I think that research is incredibly useful in describing what you’re identifying
as the problem to begin with, and in understanding whether there’s a real
need for another organization or project to be formed to address that problem. I think we
are often in a position of sort of recreating work that others are doing in the field.
Sometimes that’s really necessary because we’re filling a real need. Sometimes
we just don’t know what else is happening. And so I think that research can
help us make that case so we can say, “Look, there is a real need out here, and this is
how I know that and it’s based on this research.” But the second piece gets to the question
of establishing a nonprofit to begin with, and that’s something that I would
point you actually to Grant Space, and to some of the Foundation
Center’s work on that topic. That is what sort of funding models are out
there, what organizational models are out there, how do I decide whether to pursue a
project as an independent 501(c)(3). Those are all questions a lot of people
have produced super-helpful materials on, and toolkits on. Some of that’s in IssueLab. Some
of that’s in other Foundation Center properties, but I think that question hits on exactly
this breadth of the research that’s out there. Kyla: Right, and I’ll make sure
to include the links to Grant Space and those kinds of resources as well in the
follow-up messaging so people can have easy access to find out more about those services. I wanted to go ahead and handle one more
question before we hand it over to Lisa, and then anything else we’ll
handle at the end of the webinar. Jeffrey was wondering if you will be including
research that will pertain to intersections between social sector information and the
arts, or economic development through the arts. Gabby: Yeah, you know Lisa again is
going to hit on that a little bit, but one of the other main motivators for
starting IssueLab is that a lot of the knowledge that is in the sector is very siloed
currently in one issue area or another. One of the things that we do on IssueLab
is we do cover 41 different issue areas and cross-reference work within them, so you
can find work that is existing both in economic and community development as well as the
arts. That’s why we actually index everything that comes into the collection. Lisa is going
to get into a little more detail about that. Kyla: Okay, fabulous. Thank you, Gabby. I really
appreciate it. With that, we’ll hand it over to Lisa. Lisa: Okay. Hi, everybody. I am going to walk
us through a bit about IssueLab’s website, as well as how we’re sharing things, and
thinking about distributing and sharing. But first I wanted to recap IssueLab’s
mission that Gabby touched on a little earlier. What we’re doing is to more effectively gather,
index, and share the collective intelligence of the social sector. We provide free access
to all of the resources that we collect, and we’re also committed to increasing access
to this knowledge by making it broadly available through the IssueLab website, the Foundation
Center website, distributed knowledge centers, and also content-sharing partnerships we have
with libraries, archives, and online communities. To give you a better sense of what we’re up to,
I’m going to give you a quick tour of the site. And also in a minute, I’ll be giving
you our view of our approach to sharing. This is the IssueLab homepage, or I should
say it’s a representation of our homepage. We’ve collected more than 12,500 white papers,
research reports, case studies, evaluations, toolkits, surveys, issue and policy briefs, annual
reports, and actually even more document types in IssueLab to date. The collection
grows in number every day. The home page updates whenever a new
resource is added and approved for inclusion, so what you’ll get whenever you
visit the home page is a snapshot of recent additions to IssueLab. Now I’m going to move on to a listing
page. This would be describing any resource that is added to the collection. We, meaning
our community of users and IssueLab staff, attach metadata to each record that
we collect. The metadata we collect includes metadata on authors, funders, publishing
organizations, copyright, date published, keywords, geographic location, document
type, and of course an abstract. We make all files that we collect
available to download for free, so you can always get access to the
full document, not just an abstract. The download links you’ll find on the
listing pages. When technically possible, meaning we’ve received a file that
can be converted into other formats, we create scrollable dynamic documents that let
visitors assess the resource before downloading, and that’s what you see here on this screen
is one of these kind of scrollable docs. Okay, I want to move us into
how you can explore IssueLab. We have a variety of ways that you can enter the
collection and start to learn about what we have. One way is through an issue inspect.
Right now, I’m showing you our issue area called “Arts and Culture.” IssueLab
taxonomy covers 41 issue areas, and they’re geared toward the social
sector. Big, thorny issues that you’d expect when you think about social change
like community and economic development, education and literacy, energy and the
environment, housing and homelessness, hunger, immigration, poverty, prison and judicial
reform, welfare and public assistance, we’ve got all that in IssueLab. We also covers
issues like arts and culture, athletics and sports, consumer protection, journalism and
media, parenting, transportation. We have a really good mix of the kinds of issues,
problems, opportunities that are available, and how the social sector kind
of attacks these, and benefits, or takes advantage of
these particular issues. Resources can be indexed under up to three issue
areas. This gets back to I think it was Farley’s point about cross-referencing. And we did design
our system to allow for that cross-referencing in ways that highlight this interdiscipline
of social service and social change efforts. I hope that’s helped to answer
that question a little bit more. The next way I want to talk about exploring the
collection is through our organization index. We have 2200 publishing organizations that are
sharing resources through IssueLab right now. Every organization gets an organizational
profile page. That’s what you see here. It includes contact information, website
or web address, mission statement, and it also lists out all the authors
affiliated with an organization, issue areas that the organization covers and
of course provides access to the actual resources that the organization has published.
Every single one of our organizations has one of these profile pages. The next index is our author index. When
we launched the latest version of IssueLab, which would be last fall, we exposed a new data
point that we felt warranted its own section. This new author index includes over
9,000 individual writers and researchers who are considered to be social issue
experts. It’s an unrepresented group of research professionals. Their work is not
indexed in academic journals for the most part, or captured centrally anywhere else that we
know of. This is a pretty unique index online. Every author gets a profile page, and that includes
not only the resources authored by that individual, but also lists out the co-authors, the organizations
that this individual is affiliated with, and the issue areas and topics that the
individual covers. It’s a really unique data set and it begins to outline who knows what
in the sector as well as what we know. The last index I want to bring your
attention to is a geographic index. We currently have over 700 geographic areas
in use. When we apply geographic metadata to resources, it’s when the resource
pertains to a particular location. An example would be let’s say we get in a
case study that focuses on a charter school in San Francisco. We would apply San Francisco
as the geographic metadata for that resource. And our goal in collecting this geo-data
is to enable our visitors to find resources based on what the social sector is doing and
what the sector is finding in specific regions around the world. You can visit IssueLab,
click into our geographic index area, and get started searching
geographically right now. The last part of my little tour here is
going to focus on special collections. We create special collections in a couple of
ways. One is by mining the data that we have. An example of this is our special collection on
annual reports which I’m showing you right now. This currently holds over 700 reports from a
variety of foundations and nonprofit organizations. Any resource that’s added to IssueLab
and indexed as an annual report automatically will become a
part of this special collection. But we also curate special collections. For
example, this is our gun violence special collection. We launched this in December and we created it in
response to the shooting in Newtown, Connecticut. The collection includes 30 hand-picked
reports published by 23 organizations. We went out and found these reports online
in various places, all over the place. We’re going to continue to add to this collection
as we discover new, applicable resources. And this is another place where maybe
you might know of a report or case study, some type of publication that should
be in that collection, you think. Please shoot us an email and let us know
about it, and we’ll definitely check it out. And if it’s applicable, we’ll add it
to the particularly special collection. So that’s what offered at IssueLab. Now what I want to talk about is
how we share everything we collect much more broadly than just through our website.
First I’m going to make a quick assertion, which is that we create knowledge in
order to share it. In some circles, maybe knowledge is shared with a small group or
it’s shared secretly, but in the circle we work in, which is the social sector, knowledge
is generated in order to be shared. To my mind, that’s why the sector has
categories of information such as best practices, or lessons learned, toolkits, evaluations. It’s
about trying things. We succeed. We fail. We analyze. We learn. And then we
share what we’ve learned. In this piece of the talk, I’m not really going
to get into the communications side of sharing, for instance, through social media
or the blogosphere or websites. I’m going to focus on how you can share
through IssueLab and offer you the reasons to hopefully consider sharing
your work through IssueLab. What we’re trying to do is simplify
and augment the sharing process, and we come at that
work in a couple of ways. One is through centralized
indexing. People come to IssueLab; they add their resource to the
collection; they describe it with metadata; and then the resource becomes a part of the
larger data share that we provide visitors who use the website to find and access
knowledge. Those visitors are practitioners. They’re direct service providers.
They’re advocates and researchers, grantmakers, policy professionals. But in addition to centralized indexing
and providing a destination to learn about and access the knowledge, we’re actively
pursuing a decentralized distribution approach. When you add your work to IssueLab,
your knowledge gets shared automatically through a network of distributors.
Those include websites owned by groups that are using IssueLab’s
Knowledge Center service which lets any group host an
IssueLab-driven library on their own website. We also share through OCLC’s WorldCat
service. We have an open archives initia tive-compliant data provider service.
That’s a mouthful, but it’s a real thing and it’s regularly harvested by WorldCat.
That means that it actually gets shared through thousands of library
systems around the world. That’s a pretty big data share,
just encapsulated in WorldCat. We also have Data Partner sites. For example,
we provide online communities like which works in environmental issues and has
an online community of close to 75,000 members. We provide them with a data feed of resources
titles that they share with their members directly from within
their website pages. We also share all of our resources with a
number of Foundation Center online properties, including the Foundation Center’s Gain Knowledge
section, GrantSpace, Foundation Directory Online which Gabby talked about a little bit ago. Each of
these properties has its own audience type as well. I’m going to show a slide here that gives
you a sense of how many folks we’re reaching. This gives you a sense of page views on
the various Foundation Center websites, including IssueLab, also our social media
outreach that we do through Twitter, Facebook, e-news alerts, all to say we’re working really
hard to mainstream the knowledge we’re collecting. Now I want to just briefly walk you through
how you can get started with sharing your work, which I’m hoping you’ll
find is pretty simple. First of all, anyone can create a free user
account at IssueLab. It takes just a minute or two. Once you’ve got your account and you log in,
you affiliate yourself with the organizations you’ll be adding resources for. Then it’s just a matter of filling out a couple
of forms to describe your resource with metadata, which we discussed. You can upload your
files. Our system automatically generates cover graphics and the scrollable documents
that I talked about earlier and other collateral. We also have an approval process to
ensure that what people have added is appropriate for distribution
to all of these various audiences. Once the approval process is complete,
your resource becomes available on IssueLab and also through all of the sharing channels that
I just talked about. So it’s a pretty good deal. You drop it in one place and it shoots
out to a lot of places around the web. The last thing I wanted to
talk about is open licensing. It’s one option that we built into the add/edit
process. It’s the ability to apply an open license to any resource. To do this, we have a
Creative Commons License available for use. We really urge everyone to use Creative
Commons licensing to let people know what they can do with your resource. If
you don’t know about Creative Commons, if you have questions about this,
you can always get in touch with us. We also have a link to a great video by
Creative Commons that explains open licensing from soup to nuts. You can check
that out once you log in to the site, or go to and find
out about the good work they’re doing. Gabby: Okay, this is Gabby
again, and thanks, Lisa. That was like the “down
and dirty” super fast tour. That should give you a sense not
only about the breadth and the value of what’s out there concerning social
sector research, but also how you can use it to maybe better inform your own strategies and
practices, as well as to educate your supporters, whether those are individuals or grantmakers
you might be working or collaborating with. Finally we do hope that the short tour
of IssueLab will at least encourage you to check out the system. Use
it in your own research efforts, and think about how you’re sharing what
you’re learning with the rest of the sector. So that question of how do we know, that there
are things that you all know about the work that you’re doing, and IssueLab can be a real
important resource in terms of sharing that out with a broader audience, and helping
the sector as a whole to improve. That concludes our formal
presentation. I’ll hand it back to Kyla to take some additional
questions. That’s about it. Kyla: Thank you, both Gabriela and Lisa. This
is a really, really informative presentation. Before we get to the questions, I
want to go ahead and share a comment that we got that I think
points to how great this is. Bridgette was saying, “This is really great
information. How did I not know that this existed?” I kind of felt the same way when I was talking to
you both when we were preparing for this webinar because this is a really, really great
resource that hopefully we can get the word out to more people to both
contribute and to use. Looking at some of the questions that are coming
in, Leslie was asking, What is the actual website for the open sourcing? Do you
want to take a stab at that, or do you want me to get
more clarification for that? Lisa: I think we need just
a little more clarification. Kyla: Yeah, so Leslie, if you want to type
in, do you mean the actual IssueLab website, or did you mean something more
specific? While we’re waiting for that, we have somebody else saying, I think
she’s referring to Creative Commons. Lisa: Oh, the open licensing. Right? If you were
to Google Creative Commons, it will come right up. I believe that the website
address for Creative Commons is creativecommons (all
one word) dot org, dot org. Gabby: To me that’s a really good resource on just
sort of understanding why open licensing matters. But also I think if you do enter the IssueLab
system and you start to actually add research, there’s also a link to a video. We
can send that out as a follow-up, too. That explains the importance of open licensing.
I’m hoping that’s something that as a sector, we can begin to be a little bit more educated
about it as a real option for sharing. Kyla: Definitely, and Becky from Tech
Soup shared out that link to everybody, and I will include that link to Creative
Commons and to the video in the follow-up message so everybody will have that information. I was
wondering actually if you knew a rough percentage of sharing organizations on your site who
actually do use that Creative Commons licensing. Lisa: You know, it’s actually a very
small percentage of organizations that are using Creative Commons licenses
that we know of through Just as a kind of a side note, but it’s relevant.
We recently archived the work of two organizations that went out of business. They no longer
exist. One was Public/Private Ventures. They went out of business this past
summer. Another was Public Education Network which went out of business
on the 31st of December. The reason I bring them up is that as part
of taking on their collections of works, which in the end will number somewhere
around 600 documents between them, we worked out a scenario where they
agreed to use the Creative Commons license across the board on everything
that they had published. The reason that that was — we’re learning
today what is kind of a great thing is that we’ve had people get in touch
and say, how can I use this stuff? And we’re able to say it’s licensed through
Creative Commons. Here’s the license information. Esentially what they can do is actually
everything that you would hope you could do. You can cite it, you can replicate it and
hand it out and what not, and it’s very clear. The Creative Commons license is very clear, which
is why we really love it, and really promote it. But I would say in terms of group
using Creative Commons in IssueLab, I wouldn’t even think it’s maybe 5%.
It’s not very many out of the 2200 groups that we’ve collected from. Gabby: But I do want to say that
I do think that number is growing. I think that people are beginning to understand
the options that come through Creative Commons. Some exciting things that have happened also
as we became part of the Foundation Center, is that actually all of the metadata in IssueLab
is licensed under Creative Commons license. Organizations that add their research to
IssueLab maintain their rights and their licensing over their own work obviously, but the content
that we create independently on IssueLab is under a Creative Commons license. We also had a wonderful opportunity when we
incorporated all of the Foundation Center’s reports that come out of their Research
Department. We actually licensed all those under a Creative Commons license as well. And
we’re beginning to see some larger organizations like Bridgespan beginning to use Creative
Commons licensing, and Foundation Center too, really beginning to adopt it in ways
that make sharing that much more possible. Kyla: Yeah, and Becky was mentioning in the chat,
which is true that all of Tech Soup’s resources, including webinars and webinar archives, are all
issued under Creative Commons License as well, so we definitely agree with you. Let me take another look at questions. Kathy
M. I believe was wanting me to pass along kudos for your mushroom analogy. She really
liked that. That’s good to know. Gabby: We hope you’re not the only one. Kyla: Laura Ann was saying, this is both
a comment and a question. She was saying, This is wonderful. I’m really
excited to share this with our staff, and thank you for putting this together. We are
thinking a lot lately about how to share the impact of our work in our community and sharing
that impact, after we figure out how to do it is an important part, which
brings me to my question. Does IssueLab collect information on evaluation
and data collection in the nonprofit sector? Gabby: That’s a great question, also a multi-tiered
one. I think the first thing I do want to say about showing the impact of our work in the
sector generally and especially showing the impact of the research that we produce and
the knowledge products that we produce, one of the things that we do provide
people when they add research to IssueLab is that you do actually get statistics on
how many times it’s been downloaded or viewed. At this point in time, that’s sort of the
measure that I think at the communications level we’re often working with, how many people viewed
this. Obviously that doesn’t measure the full or real impact of what research does at the ground
level, but it’s a sort of proxy measure at this point. But I think you’re asking a little
bit of a different question as well, which is do we collect research about
evaluation and do we also collect evaluations. And the answer on both of those fronts is
yes. We do collect, and we collect research about how to do evaluation better. So there are
some that actually also just worth mentioning there’s a service out of the Foundation
Center called TRASI, T-R-A-S-I, which is actually all about measuring social impact
and it’s also a really interesting collective pool of knowledge about social
impact measurements. One of the things we do is any kind of piece
of research is added to the IssueLab collection, we do note whether it’s an evaluation. So
you can, in the advanced search on IssueLab actually search on just evaluations.
That should get you part of the way. You could also do just evaluations that
are also within the issue area of nonprofits and philanthropy, and you would end up
with research both on evaluation in type, but also the topic of nonprofits and
philanthropy, rather than a specific issue like education or the environment. Kyla: All right. We also had a
question come in from Sonya who says, I can’t believe that IssueLab exists. I’m a
disability advocate and cultural anthropologist, and this could have cut
my research hours in half. And then she was wondering whether
you have information from libraries like the Newberry in Chicago. Gabby: You know, that’s a good question. I know
that we don’t have research from the Newberry. We would have research from research centers
or nonprofit organizations like a museum, for instance, that producing knowledge
about what their collections entail. But I don’t think we actually have library-produced
research in IssueLab at the current moment. Lisa: We do have a Disabilities issue area, though.
If you’re looking to kind of find out who else is out there that’s publishing research, different
organizations and academic research centers, you could probably just do a
quick search in our Advanced Search and just check off disabilities as
an issue area and see who comes up. Gabby: I’m not sure exactly where that question
is heading, Sonya, but if you do, for instance, know that the Newberry is producing
knowledge about the work that they do, please shoot us an email and I’d
love to follow up on it with them. Kyla: Okay, great. One thing that I
was wondering — Sonya says she’s on it, so she’s definitely going
to shoot that email to you. Gabby: Okay, great. Kyla: Somebody just said that she was
about to ask for the name of TRASI, and I had put the TRASI website in the chat box
so everybody can go to that website that way. But it is T-R-A-S-I. But one
thing I was wondering about was that when people actually submit
their work to be shared through IssueLab, do they have any kind of say
in how their work is indexed? How does that process work, or
is that done entirely internally? Lisa: No, actually they do get to describe
it the way they want to describe it. And all of those data points that
I just kind of walked through, they’re going to fill out everything from
the title, to the author, to the organization, to which issue areas it would fall under up
to three, and what kind of a document it is, and whatnot. Our approval process first of
all, is just to make sure that it’s actually the kind of content that we’re sharing, and
it’s not like somebody’s Ph.D. dissertation or an editorial or something like that. And
then we will kind of check over it for typos and anything like that. We do cast an eye to things
like what issue areas they’ve placed it under, or categorized the resource under, just because
everybody does have a kind of different take. If you’ve ever done cataloguing, you know there’s
an art form happening right in front of your eyes. So I think that we do sometimes, but mostly we
approve as is. Sometimes we will tweak things knowing what our audience is and how
they’re going to be searching for stuff, but you do get to describe the item the way that
you want. You can always get in touch with us if we describe it in a way that you don’t
like later, and we can figure it out. Kyla: Okay, great. We just had a
question come in wondering if IssueLab collects conference proceedings as well
as everything else that you collect. Gabby: We do. We used to actually, when
we first started, we tried a service that was just literally
archiving an entire conference. We found that that wasn’t particularly
useful or attractive to people. What we do get in much more often now is
sort of the reports that are commissioned often to summarize what happened at a
conference. Rather than, here are the 20 papers that were in the conference, often organizations
that are hosting a conference will hire someone to summarize the key learnings from that
conference, or can you summarize the dialogue that was there. And we do include those
and tag them as conference proceedings. It’s just a small percentage of
what’s in there. It is not a big focus. Kyla: Another thing I was wondering was
that in your search engine on IssueLab, I noticed that there were search filters and I didn’t
know if those correlated with the index subjects or if those were something separate, like if you
could search and filter it by geographic location as opposed to just looking
at the index that way. Lisa: Yes. You know, right now it’s a really simple
— you’re talking about the advanced search I think, keywords, document type, issue area, and the
publication date. This is one of those things where we are working through. We
launched the site in late October, and now we’re working through that next phase
of enhancing, tweaking, fixing different things. This is one of those areas that we’re
constantly in conversation about, what to include in advanced search. Is it easier
for people to navigate the geographic data point for instance, through an index where they can
click and filter down versus a search limited to — that’s something that we’re investigating. How
do we best help people search for information without overwhelming them from the start. So
yes, that’s a data point that we could include in advanced search. We are very open to hearing
opinions about why or why not to include it. Kyla: And Alicia just put in, I think
using the issue area’s search options would help narrow it down better if
one is looking for more specific info. So that’s at least one
person’s opinion on that. I’m going to go ahead and start wrapping up a
little bit because we’re about four minutes out. But certainly if anybody has any more
questions they can keep typing them in and we’ll either try to get to them by the
top of the hour or we will follow up later. But I did want to thank both Lisa
and Gabby for this fabulous webinar. I think this is really, really helpful information
for the entire sector, and I know that Laura Ann, who is one of our
participants just put in, “Great webinar, one of the best
I’ve ever seen or heard by far.” And I think that’s really a testament
to both Gabby and Lisa’s presentation and to the product itself. Thank
you both for participating today. Thanks, everybody, for attending. I know it is
the day before a three-day weekend for many of you, so I really want to thank you for taking
the time out of your day to attend. If you do have any follow-up questions that
you can think of after the webinar ends, you can put those into our community
forum. The link is up there. I’ll put that link into the chat right now
as well, and we will be checking that later. I think I’m going to go ahead and wrap
this up. So, again, thank you, everybody. We are Tech Soup. We are
part of TechSoup Global, which is working towards the day when every
nonprofit, library, and social benefit organization, so that’s all of you, on the planet has
everything they need, the technology, knowledge, and resources that they do need to
operate at their full potential and fulfill all of your own missions. We are a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization,
just like so many of you out there. I do want to go ahead and take a moment
to thank our webinar sponsor ReadyTalk, for providing this fine webinar
tool that we are using today. Again, thank you all for joining us today. I
hope you have a wonderful three-day weekend, if you do get that three-day weekend.
And again thank you to Gabby, Lisa, and thank you Becky on my end.
I hope everybody has a great day.

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