Most nonprofit community managers are in their 20s. In many ways this is a result of budget, and that the role is a tactical line job rather than a senior manager’s role.
Look at all the negative hooplah from social media experts dismissing Cathryn Sloane’s claim that 25-year olds and younger should lead the profession. A nonprofit community manager may think they can’t succeed.
Don’t believe it. Young people can and do succeed frequently in this role. Here are just a few examples!
In 2006, Carie Lewis started at the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) at the age of 25. In the six years that have passed she has built what has become widely recognized as one of the best continuing social good communities online.
Her department of seven digital communicators continues to lead the charge at HSUS. Perhaps most impressive, this department is self-supporting through their own fundraisers. I was honored to feature Carie’s work in Welcome to the Fifth Estate.
Amy Sample Ward
In 2008, Amy Sample Ward started working at TechSoup at the age of 25. She had been working with nonprofits on tech projects or in charge of internet communications for five years at that point.
During her time with TechSoup Amy helped build what became the nonprofit equivalent of the Social Media Club, the NetSquared Community and became known as one of the primary voices for social good on the interwebs.
Holly Ross recruited Amy to the Nonprofit Technology Network (NTEN) in 2011. Amy continues to develop the NTEN community, and is also in the process of publishing her first book with Frogloop Blogger Allyson Kapin.
One of our favorites on this blog, Danielle–a.k.a. @starfocus on Twitter–started at the National Wildlife Federation in 2006. She was 22 at the time, and has literally led the nonprofit into the social era.
Now part of a larger team, Danielle continues to lead and forge NWF’s digital strategy. Like Carie and and Amy, Danielle is regarded as one of the leading voices in nonprofit social media.
What’s this guy doing here? Yeah, Pete Cashmore started Mashable, arguably the most successful social media news outlet to date in 2006 when he was 20. But he has also has a penchant to act as a do-gooder.
Pete started the Social Good Summit in 2009 when he was just 23, and has continued to use Mashable as a forum to highlight social good works. I should know, I was one of his nonprofit bloggers for a year.
Gloria Huang started at the American Red Cross in 2009 when she was just 23 as a social media engagement specialist. She is a great community manager who has to deal with all sorts of terrible natural calamities through the course of the year. Her work includes helping those who are in distress, losing home and family.
She made a mistake on Hootsuite one night in 2011, mistakenly crossing her personal and the official Red Cross account, saying she was getting slizzerd on dogfish beer. What has become known as the case study on how to recover from an online error, this moment and the great response from the Red Cross social media team turned into an incredible fundraiser and publicity driver for the Red Cross.
Today, Gloria continues in her role with the American Red Cross. I intentionally highlighted Gloria because she demonstrates that you can overcome errors on a national stage.
Full Disclosure: Gloria and her boss Wendy Harman were clients of mine in 2010.
Young community managers can and do affect change for communities. Don’t let the old social media experts drag you down! Who are some of your favorite young community managers?