News from the NTEN Connect Blog

Giving Challenges: Children's National Medical Center

Submitted by Brett on Thu, 12/20/2007 - 2:13pm

[Ed. Note: As you probably know, the Case Foundation, together with Facebook Causes and Parade magazine, is going to award $750,000 to charity. To help illuminate the process and generate discussion and ideas, the NTEN Connect Blog will be posting occasional updates from actual participants in the Challenges.]

Mark Miller, Children's National Medical Center

I was the vice president for communications at the Case Foundation from 2005 to 2007. During that time, I led the development of and helped the team explore ways to get everyday people involved in giving. A big part of that was studying new tools for online fundraising.

Because my daughter has received such great care at Children's National Medical Center, I took a job doing fundraising communications there in June 2007. When I heard the Case Foundation was sponsoring the Facebook and giving challenges, I immediately jumped at the opportunity. It fits our strategy perfectly to use the latest technology to raise national awareness and dollars in new and innovative ways.

Have a Very Google Holiday!

Submitted by Holly on Wed, 12/19/2007 - 5:14pm
I like to hang out where the cool kids are: Facebook, YouTube, Twitter. And, of course, the Google Checkout Blog! This is how I learned that Google has put together a nice holiday page for those of you looking to spend a few bucks on a good cause. If you already have a Google account, the giving is that much easier!

Nonprofit Org in TIME's Top 10 Websites of 2007

Submitted by Annaliese on Wed, 12/19/2007 - 2:21pm

Long-time NTEN member organization VolunteerMatch made it into TIME's list of Top 10 Websites for 2007. Congratulations! You can check out VolunteerMatch's spot on the list here.

It was the only nonprofit-related website I saw on the list (or anywhere in the 50 Top 10 lists from TIME). I don't know if that says more about nonprofit websites or TIME.

I did see that another "Top 10" site, techPresident, has some familiar NTEN members (Alan Rosenblatt and Ruby Sinreich) listed as contributors.

Speaking of end of year "best of" lists, our December newsletter is a "best of" issue for 2007, so check it out!

Get Your Systems Talking

Submitted by Brett on Wed, 12/19/2007 - 10:55am

As an early holiday present to the NTEN community, we're excited to pre-release a new report from Idealware and NTEN.

> Download the report for free!

Your data is yours, but can you get to it? When it's difficult to move critical data, processes are cumbersome, time is wasted, and organizations don’t have the full picture they need to serve their mission. What’s the solution? Data exchange.

Following the success of NTEN's report on Open APIs, Paul Hagen and Laura Quinn provide an evaluation framework that will help weigh the advantages and trade-offs of the data integration features across different applications.

Take control of your data today.

> Download the report for free!

This Idealware report was written in partnership with NTEN. Thanks to Beaconfire, Jacobson Consulting Applications, Forum One Communications, and Database Designs for their support of the report.

There Can Never Be Too Many Cats on YouTube

Submitted by Holly on Wed, 12/19/2007 - 9:02am

Try as I might to keep up with the coolest and the greatest, it's you folks who give me the best tips!

Today I got a Facebook message from Alnissa Allgood tipping me off to a great new movement on YouTube: '07 Project for Awesome.

The first reason I love Project for Awesome: who could possibly be anti-awesome? It's like being against education. I am definitely pro-awesome.

The second reason I love Project for Awesome: it's a fine example of videos-for -a-cause done right. If you want to know how your organization should be using YouTube, look no further than Project for Awesome.

Some quick lessons you can learn from these guys:

  • It doesn't have to be expensive to be awesome. They're using run of the mill cameras in their living rooms and doing very little editing. It's what they say and how they say it that matters.
  • Their tone is perfect for the YouTube audience. If you don't talk like these guys, don't worry -- but find someone who does.
  • The ask is easy and clear. They aren't out to raise a million dollars or save lives. They are out to take over the YouTube most popular section, and they tell their audience how to make that happen. And it's working. Look how many of their videos are in the most popular list!

Are these guys changing the world? I don't know. Are they capturing attention that may inspire action. Absolutely. And that's always the first step.

NTEN Member on the Record About Getting Started with Social Media

Submitted by Annaliese on Mon, 12/17/2007 - 7:10am

Continuing my recent theme of sharing the advice NTEN members have for nonprofits who are wary about jumping into the seas of social media for their causes, I want to point out Michele Martin's post on her blog, The Bamboo Project.

It offers initial steps an organization can try within the comfort zone of its own network: its staff.

Evolving Tools for Your OrganizationEvolving Tools for Your OrganizationIt makes sense that the best reason anyone has for learning and using a new tool is that it makes his/her life easier or better.

When organizations look at social media tools as a new obstacle rather than a tool, they're naturally going to be wary of them. If they can turn those perceived obstacles into useful components of their professional lives, they'll end up leveraging them for their causes with confidence -- and maybe even gusto -- rather than with fear.

Michele not only explains which tools (blog, wiki, a social network) an organization can employ internally, but great applications for them like project management and staff training resources. Check it out!

NTEN Member on the Record to Address "Social Engineering" on the Web

Submitted by Annaliese on Fri, 12/14/2007 - 2:17pm

Last week, I pointed to Britt Bravo's blog post encouraging nonprofits to confront their fear of blog comments. But another NTEN member, Marnie Webb of CompuMentor, brings up some important points in the NonprofitTimes that nonprofits should consider when navigating the new terrain of the social web.

The topic of "social engineering" affects organizations whether they've launched a communications plan using the social web or not because, as Webb puts it, "whether they give their employees permission to or not, [the employees] have social networking sites."

This can be a good thing -- and usually is -- because it's likely that the staff members of a nonprofit organization believe in the cause and will be natural mouthpieces for the mission. But in some cases, as the article points out, there's the potential for sensitive information being released and, depending on the nature of the issue or cause, exploited, even harmfully.

Like Bravo, Webb thinks that nonprofits don't need to fear the social web -- but she offers some good tips in the article to help organizations avoid problems and stay in control.

Tonk'peh Spock

Submitted by Holly on Fri, 12/14/2007 - 1:46pm

I sat down at my desk this morning only to discover at least a dozen invitations to "trust" my colleagues over at According to their site:

Spock is a search application that organizes information around people. The Spock vision is to create a search result of everyone in the world.

Of course, instead of working on my next workshop presentation, I immediately spent the next 45 minutes engaged in ar'kadan -- poking around and adding tags to my profile. I can't tell you how useful this tool may or may not end up being, but it certainly had a Vulcan death grip on my attention. (Cue laugh track.)

Have you tried What do you think?

NTEN member (and board member) Michelle Murrain shared an opinion on the Information Systems Forum last week:

Spock does seem interesting in that it uses "trust" rather than "friend" or "connection" as the metaphor for its social graph. This might actually make it more useful - I imagine people are much less likely to put people they don't really know in their "trust" network on Spock, whereas there is a real range of opinion about how well you need to know someone to get to be their "friend" on Facebook.
But what's "missing" (deliberately?) are messaging systems and groups. This means that it's not so useful for advocacy or fundraising as Facebook.

Oh - and hat tip to the Vulcan Language Dictionary. "Tonk'peh" translates to "Hello".

NTEN Member on the Record About Blog Comments

Submitted by Annaliese on Fri, 12/14/2007 - 12:19pm

One of the big concerns organizations have when considering branching out with new social media tools is that the channels flow in more than one direction.

Blogs are a habit for most of us in this nptech community -- reading them, writing them, and commenting on them -- but for organizations just starting out, comments on blogs can cause enough fear to throw up road blocks.

But, as NTEN member Britt Bravo puts it, "Has anyone ever died from a blog comment?" and Network for Good Team Up

Submitted by Holly on Thu, 12/13/2007 - 4:28pm

Integration. The word comes up again and again when we talk about social media strategies: Your email campaign needs to integrate with your direct mail campaign which needs to integrate with your web site which needs to integrate with your Facebook group.

That's why it's so interesting that the little social networking site that could -- -- and Network for Good are partnering up. Web 2.0 and Web 1.0 will live side by side in perfect harmony.

This could be great for, Network for Good, and the sector at large. Here's why: