News from the NTEN Connect Blog

Texting, Facebook, Email, Blogs, MySpace, Aaaargh! How Should I Get the Word Out?

Submitted by Brett on Thu, 06/26/2008 - 7:38am

Michael Sabat, Mobile Commons

Your organization needs to understand how to send different messages to different people through different channels. It would never have made sense to run a TV commercial over the radio trying to reach a newspaper reader, just as it doesn't make sense trying to get an instant response from business people by messaging through your org's MySpace page. Getting the mix correct means you send the right message, through the right channel, reaching the right people to accomplish your goal.

So, how should mobile fit in your mix with regard to the messages, the people, and the goals involved?

Txt4Choice: NARAL's Experiences with Mobile Advocacy

Submitted by Brett on Thu, 06/26/2008 - 7:24am

Corinne Ramey,

NARAL Pro-Choice America recently began a mobile program -- they're calling it Txt4Choice -- and has been exploring how to use mobile in ways that compliment and integrate into their already developed communications strategy.

Curious how your state ranks on reproductive choice? NARAL makes it easy to find out. By texting the word "grade" and the abbreviation of your state to a short code, you get an almost-instantaneous text response with your state's grade and opportunities for more information.

Mobile Advocacy: A Primer of Concepts and Terms

Submitted by Brett on Thu, 06/26/2008 - 7:01am

Katrin Verclas and Corinne Ramey, (with Michael Stein)

Mobiles are becoming increasingly intertwined in Americans' daily lives: 75% of Americans have their mobile phones on and within reach during waking hours, and 59% wouldn't lend their mobile to a friend for a day. Fifteen percent of survey respondents even said they've answered their mobile phone during sex.

The mobile landscape truly is primed for NGOs. Nonprofits can tap into the power of mobiles and learn from many of the mobile marketing techniques that are already being used in the commercial sector.

Text to Give: Success Through Partnership

Submitted by Brett on Thu, 06/26/2008 - 6:53am
Jeff Slobotski, United eWay

The first major U.S. fundraising effort via SMS/text messaging garnered over $10,000 from a 10 second commercial spot. While text message fundraising is now common outside the U.S., and has made brief appearances during natural disasters inside the States, this initiative by the United Way of America and its partners was the first to offer this new avenue of contribution for donors to give to everyday causes.

Even with the success, there were many things United Way learned from the project.

Media Rules!: Mastering Today's Technology to Connect with and Keep Your Audience

Submitted by Anna on Wed, 06/25/2008 - 3:42pm

[UPDATE: Tell us why you think Media Rules! in a comment, below. We'll give away a free copy of the book to a randomly selected commenter after Tuesday, July 1st!]

Media Rules! Okay, I have to say that I was skeptical about reading this book: I didn't think the media rules, especially not with an exclamation point.

My mind was changed quickly -- by the end of the first page. In the foreword, Andrew Nachison, iFOCOS, introduces We Media as a simple expression with a complex meaning, depending on your definition of we. We Media, he believes, is everybody.

I never thought of myself as part of the media, but as I sit here and blog, I am. At one time, we had to go through the media to deliver information, but now we are the media. The implication he describes is huge: how businesses function and ultimately, how the world functions for better or worse in the future. Media Rules! will provide a road map through which you can navigate the path your organization will take.

Blogs, Blogs, Everywhere, and Not a Thing to Write

Submitted by Holly on Wed, 06/25/2008 - 9:25am

Flickr Photo: kirstenvIf there are any "Laws of Blogging," then posting consistently is one of them. One of the keys to retaining and even increasing your readership is to post regularly. My own personal experience with the NTEN blog is that more IS better. The more we post, the more traffic we have, period. I'm sure there's going to be some point when this will no longer hold true, but for now, that's our reality.

Which means, of course, that I am now trapped. I've worked really hard over the last few months to become a (near) daily blogger. In fact, you're reading this while I'm on vacation because I made sure to have a few posts in the bank before I left. But being a daily blogger is a commitment rivaled only by kids and marriage. (OK, that's an exaggeration, but it is a lot of work.)

So I thought I would share some of my challenges, as well as a few of the things that help me out along the way. Mostly, though, I want you to write this post. Share with us. What are the strategies that you use to make your blogging work? What are the difficulties you encounter?

Here are my challenges:

Coffee and Colleagues: Takeaways from an Online Campaign De-Brief Session

Submitted by Annaliese on Tue, 06/24/2008 - 11:44am

Flickr photo: solangelemOne of the great things I've noticed since I started participating in this community of "techies for good" is that not only CAN we support and learn from each other by sharing ideas and resources, but that so many of us actually DO share.

This struck me after a panel discussion I attended last week in Portland (Maine). It brought together representatives from the online campaign strategy teams of five local candidates who had gone head-to-head in the recent primary season. These were competing campaigns who sat on a panel together and shared experiences and specific details about their tactics, tools, and even -- gasp -- list sizes!

It all started with Karin Roland, Web Manager for, who asked the simple question of herself and anyone who would listen:

Why don't we try to learn something from campaign successes and failures, and try to translate even failed campaigns into something to help future advocacy efforts?

Here is a summary of what struck me as important lessons learned from these campaigns:

Don't Spam Congress! and Other Lessons in Online Politics

Submitted by Holly on Tue, 06/24/2008 - 8:44am

Flickr Photo: provos @monkeyI read a lot of reports, at least one a week. I don't blog them all because I can't keep up. But every once in a while, a gem will cross my inbox, like Colin Delany's newly updated Online Politics 101.

If you run any kind of campaign -- education, political, or otherwise -- I highly recommend you read Colin's piece. There's nothing revolutionary in the report; it's just good common sense, but that's its strength.

Who Makes Up the Nonprofit Tech Community?

Submitted by Annaliese on Fri, 06/20/2008 - 9:14am

Flickr photo: victoriapeckhamWe talk a lot about the nonprofit technology community here at NTEN. After all, that's why we're here: to support the community of nonprofit and technology professionals. But who makes up that community?

To keep track of the growing community and your technology needs and interests, every year we conduct a Community Survey. (You can see the 2007 NTEN Community Survey Report here.) It keeps us on our toes and helps us determine which programming and content is most relevant. And it's time again to take stock of who we are and what we need.

> Take the survey!

Oh yeah: you can enter to win a FREE registration to the 2009 Nonprofit Technology Conference in San Francisco while you're at it.

We're Gonna Email Like it's 1999!

Submitted by Holly on Fri, 06/20/2008 - 8:40am

Flickr Photo: Mick OFor a long time, there was a great debate in the nptech community that divided us into two distinct camps. The discussions were fierce, the arguments occasionally heated. We were battling for the future of email, and the question was:

Text or HTML?

These days, any e-marketer will tell you that HTML tends to outperform text across the board (though you're still obligated to provide a text version for those who haven't crossed over to the dark side). The problem is, designing HTML emails is a total pain in the, well, I'll go with neck. This is a family blog.

Unfortunately, the explosion of email clients, and more importantly, their myriad ways of handling HTML and CSS code, means that it's nearly impossible to design an HTML email that will render the same in every client. Figuring out what worked where was basically guesswork.

Well, guess no more!