Why we depend on our peers to do our jobs better

User .John Cochrane
Posted Date : June 25, 2014

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When Jessica David was wondering how to support her new hire, who was tasked with telling her foundation’s story online, she turned to her peers for advice.

Jessica, the Vice President of Strategy and Community Investments of the Rhode Island Foundation, posted a question to the Council’s new Philanthropy Exchange online platform and received recommendations from peers in Washington, D.C., and Virginia about blogs, videos, and how to integrate storytelling into every aspect of your organization. Within a week, Jessica had a bank of advice from others in the field, with more answers still pouring in.

A lot of us are like Jessica. When we face a new challenge, one of our first instincts is to reach out to someone for advice. We don’t want to reinvent the wheel, and we often depend on others to share their thoughts. That’s the value of our peer networks, and that’s the value we derive from connecting with each other, whether it be at seminars, networking events, or one-on-one conversations.

Expanding your peer network and connecting with those who have the answers to your questions is difficult, but online tools have made it easier. They have streamlined the process to enable you to search for specific people you want to connect with a cast a wider net where you can ask questions.

Our tool, the Philanthropy Exchange, offers Council on Foundations’ members a private online network that connects them virtually with their peers to discuss topics of shared interest, share resources, and develop stronger relationships that advance their work. Each Council member has unique knowledge and on-the-ground experience – and the Exchange helps us share that knowledge with peers. You also gain access to a searchable community of best practices, resources, and conversations that can help you advance your work.

As the Community Manager for the Exchange, it is my job to make sure that this platform is as useful as possible for our members. Because of that, we are testing the Exchange in a “beta” phase through the end of 2014. The Exchange you see today is not the Exchange that will be here forever, because we are constantly responding to feedback from our members on how we can improve. This is particularly true during our Beta phase, when we are actively soliciting advice and making improvements to the platform ahead of our public launch.

At the 2014 Annual Conference, we opened the platform to the attendees as our first public beta group in a community called the Open Exchange. This community is now open to all of our members to have discussions about the trends facing philanthropy.

Want to chime in? The Exchange is open to all Council members, and if you have a login for the website, you already have an account on the Exchange. Just visit http://exchange.cof.org and log in with the same credentials you use to access the website.

If you don’t have a login yet – or are not sure of your username and password, just contact membership@cof.org to request one. There is no limit to the number of logins member organizations can have.

If you have any questions, always feel free to reach out to me at Allison.carney@cof.org. Or if you want to stop by my office hours, join me every Wednesday from 12-1pm ET at https://imeet.com/cof/counciltech.

Thanks!

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