Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Family News: A Perfect Partnership

Life is good in Keokea (Upcountry) Maui. At 3100 feet, Keith, Bentley and Tyler's organic garden produces fresh greens daily. We had a little bout with wild pigs on new years eve and lost our sweet potato's, but apparently that pig became someone else's dinner the next day - so the cycle of life keeps recycling.

Our September posting of Bentley’s We Are The Ones: Obama Speech Remix on YouTube continues to attract views (3274 as of 1/6/09) and favorable comments, especially after the election results (Yeah!) and the upcoming inauguration.

As our partnership matures (going on 9 years) and we commit to higher levels of social impact, our complimentary roles have become more clearly defined (and less resisted).

Besides being a fabulous songwriter and performer, Bentley is a fantastic researcher and writer. With so much information to digest in the world of social media, I asked her to explore social networking, blogging (writing/publishing) and affiliate marketing, as an experiment.

It seems that 90% of the monetized content on the web is about “how to make money on the web.” Is it true or just hype? Only one way to find out: try it ourselves! Although the returns haven’t yet outpaced the expenses Bentley’s efforts are producing recognition capital. Bentley’s favorite blog platform is Squidoo where she recently received “Lens of the Day (12-31-08)” honors (out of over 700,000 lenses) for her lens on New Years Resolutions under the screen name, “Paris17.”

Back in August at the Ranney Family reunion (photos in Flickr.com) at a remote island in northern Ontario – a 13 acre island on Lake Penache. We celebrated my mom’s 75th and brother Mike’s 48th.

Equipped with my nephew Chris’ guitars, Bentley and I wrote and recorded a song in honor of my parents 54 years together - which began during a 1952 Florida spring break in classic “Where the Boys Are” Connie Francis style (dad was a senior at Kenyon College in Ohio and mom had graduated from Ft. Lauderdale High). For those who know Bill & Jo Ranney, here's the song that celebrates their amazing life together (55 years!)

NOTE: Hosting a party on Maui? Bentley Kalaway has been entertaining Hawaii for 28 years. She brings a broad range of musical styles to any gathering and her soul-inspired original music adds an element of the sacred to your celebration. And when it’s time to boogie, she’s a virtual jukebox of danceable tunes. For even more fun, hire the duo of Bentley and Keith for a bigger sound (larger PA system), a 2nd guitar and vocal harmonies. You can hear Bentley every Monday night from 5:30p-9:30p at Tommy Bahama’s in the Shops at Wailea, Maui.

Art of Volunteering, Social Enterprises and Alternative Currencies

As our inequitable monetary system reveals how some people use money to control others (while isolating themselves with bigger houses and yards) we have an opportunity to explore non-monetary (alternative) currencies, like social (civic) and spiritual capital to build stronger community relations.

Three factors have motivated a change of strategy for Art of Volunteering:
  1. Ernest Chu’s book, Soul Currency
  2. My board work for non-profit, Maui Academy of Performing Arts (MAPA)
  3. The gap in financial support for Hawaii’s social services providers
Let’s just say that AOV has been “in beta” and it is time to make it the community driven “social enterprise” it wants to be. As a 501(c)3 non profit, AOV is inviting the community to supplement the gap in funds for essential social services in Hawaii with volunteer capital, both for AOVs growth as a business entity and for the volunteer capital it gathers and mobilizes.

As a non-profit, AOV will be able to provide “Call for Volunteers” announcements to the growing AOV volunteer database at no cost to the non-profits.

At the Nov. 13th Maui Non-Profit Director’s Association meeting I made a presentation about how to use volunteer capital, social networking and volunteer management software to bridge the gap in county funding. I was followed by a presentation by a county official whose financial projections for funding of Maui’s essential non-profit services was dismal at best – which served to underscore my point.

Secondly, I had the great pleasure of attending the recent Native Hawaiian Chamber of Commerce second Annual Business Fest at the Grand Wailea, Nov. 19-20. In my 10 years on Maui, I have grown increasingly uncomfortable with the giant elephant in the room. You know, the one where American imperialism stole Hawaii. While I’m not an authority on all the issues at stake, my love of the aina (land) and its people (Hawaiians) requires that I do my own part in righting the wrong. Although there were many trespasses, the real crime is in the suppression of Hawaiian cultural values and their ancestral indigenous wisdom – wisdom that must come forward if humanity is going to survive as a species.

The good news is the opportunity at hand when a native son takes his place in the White House. With that, Art of Volunteering, Keith Ranney Solutions and One Sun Music (Bentley’s label) are forging ahead on the creation of edutainment media designed to highlight the Hawaiian cultural values that we know from experience will go a long way toward healing our world. More to come…

Invitation: if you resonate with the idea of putting your social capital to work on behalf of the community, or you have expertise in Hawaiian culture, let’s talk. I welcome your mana'o (ideas), your brilliance and currencies of all kinds.

Wish List:
  • Fiscal sponsor while going through 501(c)3 application process
  • Donations (to go through 501(c)3 fiscal sponsor) to support a state wide marketing effort and development of educational media
  • Volunteer support in realizing a statewide database of 10,000 volunteers by 1/1/11
NOTE: Tell your favorite non-profit about Art of Volunteering and send them to the website at www.artofvolunteering.org.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Philanthropy: HUB Gives Big on Big Island

Where can you meet
individuals so aligned with service and bringing forth their brilliance for the benefit of humanity that you experience a heightened sense of support - by life - a sustained flow of grace and connection? Humanity Unites Brilliance (HUB) hosted an Awakening Your Brilliance conference on the Big Island, Dec. 5-7. My partner, Bentley, and I participated in a group blessing facilitated by the loving presence and positive intentions of 7 Kahuna, and visits with turtles, organic farmers, brilliant teachers, amazing visionaries, generous musicians, and more.

We arrived on Thursday the 4th and stepped into the thickest VOG (volcanic fog) either of us had ever seen. When the HUB conference started on Friday, the veil of VOG began lifting and by the weekend the atmosphere was clear – and clarity was the theme.

HUB is a humanitarian call to action. It’s rather like a strand of social DNA – a model of sustainable giving and receiving for a world that is witness to the failures of an economic system that is based on separation and lack.

We experienced first hand the depth of HUB founder, Charlie Gay’s, heart; we were edutained by leading edge authors; Robert Scheinfeld (Breaking Out of the Money Game), Janet Atwood (The Passion Test), and Michael Oliver (Natural Selling); entertained by award winning entertainers, Lynn Rose and Faith Rivera; inspired by Feed333 luminaries and HUB co-founders, Spryte Loriano and Hawaii’s native sister, Sharan Ro; blessed by Kumus ‘Ola Leina’ala K. Brown and Dr. Kahealani Satchitananda, and called into service for the benefit of a single mom with 3 kids and a young family living in their van. Every aspect of the weekend conference gave us permission to push our boundaries and shift our perceptions.

Highlights for me included asking Kumu ‘Ola Leina’ala permission to initiate a culturally rich music video project (Spirit In Hawai’i) and receiving a resounding “YES.” On Saturday night we had the opportunity to sing Honor Who You Are into a resonant field that included most of the luminaries listed above. The HUB sponsored Awakening Your Brilliance conference finale on Sunday evening was the Huggo’s party in central Kona (a few blocks from where we were staying). Bentley and I introduced ourselves to musician, Donald Kualia, and told him we were from Maui. From that moment on he kept saying “MAUI’S IN THE HOUSE!” When it became our private joke, we let him know the common denominator of the group was not Maui but HUB, and then that became the acknowledgment.

Letting a fellow musician on your stage can be very tricky. Poor judgment can be the end of your gig. Donald graciously accommodated Bentley's request to sing to our new HUB friends. She donned Kualia’s nylon string electric guitar (which is what she plays professionally), plugged in a portable MP3 player, and cued up her original track, We Are The Ones, while I plugged in Donald’s acoustic Taylor steel string guitar (with lots of volume and effects). Perfection would have included a second mic, but Bentley’s performance connected with HUB hearts (and I remembered all the chords of Bentley’s unifying anthem, even after a "few" margaritas :-).

Our Monday adventure began at 6am. Whatever we did, we had to be at the Kona airport by 11 and leave time for fill up, rental return, shuttle and check-in. We stop for coffee near Captain Cook and by 8am we arrive at our destination; Colehour and Melanie’s organic farm. Our gracious hosts gave us a complete tour of their 5 acres of edible landscaping - traditional Hawaiian permaculture. We left with a bag full of cuttings; spinach, sweet potatoes, kaput, cassava, Kilimanjaro basil…and some of their homegrown….coffee that is. It turns out Melanie is great friends with my GMO FREE Maui friends. The circles of brilliance expand.

It was most interesting to observe the effect of this wave of possibility on our friend and host in Kona. While talking the previous week on a completely different subject, we learned we were both going to Kona so he invited us to stay in his condo building in the center of town. It seems that every time a challenge of perception came up, we offered an empowered twist that he tried on immediately. The results were that everything that seemed like a hassle and that kept him conflicted, was instantly resolved.

HUB represents a model for how to organize and connect to support our own community. Bentley and I would like to connect with those who want to awaken and clarify their own unique brilliance and integrate it with local impact teams for community good.
Who Do You Know In San Diego Who Would Like to Awaken Their Brilliance? We would like to gift 4 Free Tickets to the next conference at the Courtyard Marriott Airport, February 20-22 ($500 Value each). To learn more about Humanity Unites Brilliance, visit our affiliate page.

Doing More With Less: 10 Success Tips for Non-Profits During Economic Uncertainty

At non-profits across America, Boards of Directors are asking their Executive Directors how they can do more with less. Conventional thinking tends to contract rather than expand around economic uncertainty; slashing budgets, downsizing people and limiting services. However, Americans are witness to a phenomenal challenge to convention. In a sea of information, for both not-for-profits and for-profits alike, it’s all about branding.

Q: When is the time ripest for getting your brand recognized and your message heard?
A: When everyone else is tightening their belts.

It takes courage and foresight to increase your visibility and services when everyone else is doing the opposite, but like all cycles, the ones who step it up now will be in a stronger position when the economy rebounds.

Your “Do More With Less” Game Plan:
  1. Manage your email list via an email newsletter service provider such as Constant Contact, iContact or Email Now. The $30-$50 per month will more than pay for itself by improving your image and learning more about your target audience.
  2. Make it really easy for people to; sign up for your eNewsletter, forward it to their friends and “donate now.”
  3. Create an editorial calendar so that your message is delivered consistently.
  4. Create a Blog so you have a searchable archive of articles that celebrate how your social services impact your community. Feature the first 2 paragraphs of your latest Blog on your eNewsletter with a link to the whole article. Link to your website from your blog and newsletter.
  5. Monetize your Blog with contextual links to books and/or other relevant products with an Amazon “A-Store”. Earn referral fees.
  6. Optimize your website. Cross promote all of the above outreach programs and place a donate now button on each page.
  7. Choose a consistent voice for your marketing campaign. It’s important to have a website, eNewsletter and blog all cross-linking to each other. The voice of the writer is critical because your communication campaign is one continuous contextual message. Choose a professional.
  8. Stream your message to the world. The proliferation of free online video streaming platforms like YouTube, Revver, Metacafe and (locally) HawaiiTVNetwork has removed the financial barrier for distributing video, which is the best medium for delivering an emotion message.
  9. Embrace Social Networking. Join LinkedIn and/or Facebook. These are social net-works for professional people and will expand your connections, giving you more opportunities to promote your brand and link back to your organization.
  10. Supercharge your volunteer program. Your volunteer base represents regular deposits to your organization’s social capital account. It’s potential to assure sustainability of your programs and services is unlimited and yet rarely optimized.
Begin your success strategy now with a strategic consultation evaluating your volunteer programs and communications strategies. Be sure you are connecting the dots between your services and potential supporters by engaging the vision, experience and technical resources of a communications professional that’s wired for success. Engage the services of Keith Ranney Solutions to assure sustainable achievement of targeted benchmarks.

Keith Ranney is founder & president of Art of Volunteering, LLC, an extension of his media and marketing company, Keith Ranney Solutions.