News from the NTEN Connect Blog

Internet Freedom is Sexy

Submitted by Holly on Wed, 02/06/2008 - 10:57am

Remember when Comcast got caught blocking web content? Well, prompted by complaints about recent actions by Comcast, the FCC -- the government agency responsible for regulating the Internet -- has asked the public to comment on whether or not the companies controlling the pipes should dictate what content gets through them.

This is a complicated issue that could have a pretty simple outcome for nonprofits across the country: your content could be blocked.

Lots of us work on issues that can be viewed as controversial. If you work in sex education or reproductive health, you've probably already had to cope with technologies that make it hard for you to deliver your message to stakeholders. Take just one example: NARAL Pro-Choice America text messages were temporarily censored by a mobile provider last fall.

But it's not just sex talk that's in jeopardy. Without protection, any organization's work could be blocked at any time, for any reason. It's important that nonprofits engage in this debate and actively shape the outcome here.

You can get involved today: leave your comment with the FCC. The agency is accepting comments through February 13.  Our sector needs to be represented.

Twitter, KickApps, and 0 to 2000: A Trio of Tools and Tips You Can Use Today

Submitted by Annaliese on Fri, 02/01/2008 - 3:26pm

Flickr photo by red5standingbyLet's kick off February with some advice for getting your organization (or yourself) advocating for your cause with free social media tools.

First, there's Twitter. This tool should be familiar to the NTEN community by now, but just in case you're tuning in for the first time, Twitter is a free social networking/micro-blogging tool that allows you to submit short updates to your network via the web, your mobile device, or a third-party application; you also receive short updates from the network you're "following."

How to apply it to your mission:

  • Update your volunteers, constituents, and friends with the latest news about your cause (a bill, a candidate, a campaign, an event, etc.).
  • Organize attendees or participants at an event or project in real-time.
  • Engage a community on a personal level -- Beth Kanter leveraged her network on Twitter to help her win the Giving Challenge.

You may want to read this article on Read/Write Web about Twitter's emergence as a viable communications platform. Note the helpful information and considerations for how to use it!

Nonprofit Taglines That Work

Submitted by Brett on Fri, 02/01/2008 - 3:16pm

Nancy Schwartz, over at Getting Attention, is doing some research on nonprofit taglines. "Effective taglines complement an org's name, convey the unique value it delivers to its community and differentiates it from the competition," she says. "But more often, nonprofit taglines are vague, ambiguous, over-reaching, too abstract or simply non-existent."

When you've got a moment, take her short survey at:

Nancy promises to provide a copy of her report to all respondents who request it.  We may all benefit from her findings.

Search Engine Marketing for Good?

Submitted by Annaliese on Fri, 02/01/2008 - 7:51am

Kevin Lee from ClickZ wrote an article about how the experts in Search Engine Marketing (SEM) are doing so well these days, they're ready and willing to give back to the community.

There's even a network, SEMcares, which, according to its mission statement, helps "connect volunteer and discount search engine marketers with nonprofit and other deserving organizations that could benefit from search engine marketing to drive donations or further their cause and awareness." Kevin also pointed out SEMPO, which is the nonprofit professional association of search engine marketers; he's urged them to step up the service options to benefit nonprofits.

Kevin points out that, even with the help of the Google Grant program, nonprofits continue to hire professional marketers to manage their marketing efforts. Nonprofit organizations generally need help not only with implementing ads, but with effectively developing and tracking online marketing strategies that consider both the traditional business models as well as their unique missions.

Giving Challenges: Children's National Medical Center, Part 3

Submitted by Brett on Thu, 01/31/2008 - 10:43am

[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

Today is the last day of the Parade and Facebook giving challenges. Unless we receive about 1,500 donations through our charity badge today -- there's still time to give! -- we won't be among the top four nonprofits that will win $50,000.

But as I wrote earlier, the value of participating in the Parade and Facebook challenges is that it's helped us attract new donors, raise our national profile, and educate our staff and supporters about the potential of online giving. I applaud the Case Foundation, Parade magazine, and Facebook Causes for their creativity in designing these initiatives, and I can't wait to see what they do next.

Giving Challenges: The Stretch Run

Submitted by Brett on Thu, 01/31/2008 - 10:05am

Today's the final day of America’s Giving Challenge and the Causes Giving Challenge. We've given over blog space for updates from a few participants, and mentioned others in our newsletter, and as they round the corner into the home stretch, 3 of the causes we've touted are in position to finish in the final 4 of the Global Causes category:

I've been following the leaderboard this week, and I believe the top 5 have all increased their number of donations by at least 50% just this week. Scott's cause, which has been as high as first, slipped to 5th before recovering today.

Philadelphia Wireless Initiative: New Hurdles, New Opportunities

Submitted by Holly on Wed, 01/30/2008 - 8:06am

Flickr Photo: hykuFlickr Photo: hykuPhiladelphia has been at the fore of communities offering wireless internet access to their citizens. With 70% of the city now covered, it's arguably the showcase effort among major cities in the country.

Unfortunately, Philadelphia's CIO, Terry Phillis, announced yesterday that he expects Earthlink will pull out of Philadelphia by the end of the year, leaving the city to prepare for an uncertain future. Phillis told ComputerWorld:

"We consider [the Wi-Fi network] an asset for the city. Our priority is to get it completed, to service the digital divide, to enhance tourism and to serve mobile city workers. But I can't talk a lot about our plans" [if Earthlink leaves].

45 Minutes to PayPal Donations

Submitted by Brett on Tue, 01/29/2008 - 2:22pm

PayPal has released the PayPal Kit for Non-Profits, with the claim that qualified organizations -- essentially, you have to have 501(C)(3) status -- can set themselves up to accept donations through a PayPal Donate button in just 45 minutes.

They're also offering $50 to the first 1,000 eligible nonprofits that use the kit to generate $500 in donations by March 31st.

The "kit" isn't so much a kit as a page with links to:

  1. Set up your PayPal account
  2. Download the instructions for adding the donate button to your site
  3. Sign up for the $50 challenge

Their aim seems to be to get smaller organizations and individuals who are starting out with online fundraising campaigns started in a fast and simple way.

So, are their claims true? Can someone with just basic computer knowledge set up the donation widget in less than 45 minutes? If you've had the experience, tell us in comments, below.

Nonprofit IT Staffing: Where Does Your Org Stand?

Submitted by Brett on Tue, 01/29/2008 - 11:59am

Staffing Information Technology is frequently a challenge for nonprofit organizations. Financial resources are typically limited, and hiring managers often feel overwhelmed and under-educated when it comes to IT. Determining where IT should fit into the organization, how many IT staff people are needed, and what those people should be spending their time doing can be difficult decisions.

In order to shed some light on these questions, NTEN and the Nonprofit Times teamed up to create the Nonprofit IT Staffing Survey. The results of this survey will be presented in three parts. The first report, "Nonprofit IT Staffing: Staffing Levels, Recruiting, Retention, and Outsourcing" focuses on the nature of IT staff and departments in nonprofits.

> Download the report for free!

NTEN Members Online Round-UP: NTC Buzz, Awards, Announcements, and Advice

Submitted by Annaliese on Mon, 01/28/2008 - 9:54am

NTEN members are buzzing about the upcoming Nonprofit Technology Conference, and my favorite contributions include Deborah Finn's NTC wish list. Another list about the NTC comes from an unidentified NTEN member -- a list of favorite things about the NTC plus questions and reservations about the conference. I also have to give a shout-out to the LOLnptech blog for its comedic relief.

Everyone is invited to share their wish lists, reservations, and other conference buzz in the NTC08 Affinity Group.

In non-NTC news, NTEN member Social Solutions has been given a Future 50 award by Baltimore SmartCEO magazine. Social Solutions provides data tracking and reporting software and services to human services organizations (and provides a discount to NTEN members).

A couple of NTEN members were featured as important social media resources in an article from Global Voices. Beth Kanter and her contribution to Read Write Web, along with her own blog, are highlighted, along with TechSoup's definition of web 2.0 in the nonprofit context.

Social Signal, another organizational member of NTEN, is tackling the question of the ROI of social networking by kicking off a series of posts about how organizations can actually earn revenue with Web 2.0. I'm sure many organizations will be tuning in to this series. Be sure to note Alexandra Samuel's points for consideration, including public perception and tax regulations for nonprofits that generate revenue in this manner.

Finally, continuing her series of posts about open source tools for nonprofits, long-time NTEN member and new Board member Michelle Murrain discusses WordPress as an open source blogging tool: how it can be used and optimized for an organization's needs, and how its applications go beyond just blogging.