News from the NTEN Connect Blog

Monks, Democracy, and Facebook

Submitted by Holly on Fri, 09/28/2007 - 9:40am

Today, people around the world are wearing red to show their solidarity with the people of Burma. How do I know? I didn't get it from NPR, the news, or even email. I heard it on Facebook.

There's a lot of activity related to Burma on Facebook right now. There are 379 groups, and 141 events, in a myriad of countries and languages. I belong to one of the groups and have been following their work to see how they are using Facebook to create some real social change.

In this kind of work, with so many organizations and people involved from so many places, there's little chance to pin any particular outcome on any particular actor. But, if we consider social change to be engaging the previously un-engaged -- getting people who didn't know Burma from Bali to learn and take some action -- then I think we can do a nice little investigation.

From the Affinity Groups: Recommendations for Wiki Solutions

Submitted by Visitor on Fri, 09/28/2007 - 6:36am

With over 100 active groups and 5,000 users, NTEN's Affinity Groups platform is an incredible resource for those in the nonprofit tech community. There are a variety of discussions constantly taking place, ranging from the very basic and elementary aspects of technology in the nonprofit sector to the more sophisticated and technical.

A lively discussion recently occurred in the general NTEN Discuss Affinity Group about selecting wiki software.

An Intimate Look at a Successful Online Fundraising Campaign

Submitted by Brett on Thu, 09/27/2007 - 10:32am

Jeff Patrick, President, Common Knowledge

Online fundraising -- specifically the email appeal -- is successful when you manage to bundle the long list of fundraising best practices into one package and send it on to your e-supporters.

The Breast Cancer Fund ran a successful campaign, achieving their goal of $10,000 -- with just two emails sent four days apart -- by doing many things right. They got the online fundraising fundamentals correct, and two of them in particular: the email envelope and the email body.

Using this real campaign, I'll unravel these two important best practice components and highlight key tactics and benchmarks to give you a bucket of new tricks for your next email fundraising campaign.

Google Checkout for Non-Profits Launch

Submitted by Brett on Thu, 09/27/2007 - 8:48am

You heard it from NTEN first: Google announced today the launch of Google Checkout for Non-Profits. Qualified nonprofit organizations can now sign up to accept charitable donations through Google Checkout -- for free -- through at least the end of 2008. That’s right: no monthly, set-up, transaction, or gateway fees. This time, "free" actually means, well, free.

Google Checkout has already become a popular way for merchants to process credit card transactions over the Internet because of its low transaction fees, the typically straight-forward interface, and the reliability of the Google brand.

Now, donors will be able to contribute to their favorite charitable organizations using a single login across the web, increasing the potential that they will donate over and over again. Indeed, many of your potential donors may already have a Google Checkout account. It's like a Development Director's fantasy.

Because Google Checkout can be used in parallel with your current online donation system, there’s no reason not to give it a look.

Mobile Fundraising

Submitted by Brett on Thu, 09/27/2007 - 8:42am
Michael Stein, Internet Strategist

Mobile phones have become an emerging tool for nonprofits that are seeking to engage with supporters, recruit volunteers, and raise money. has published its third guide on mobile activism, entitled "Using Mobile Phones in Fundraising Campaigns", written by Michael Stein, an Internet strategist based in Berkeley, California. The Guide features case studies from around the world, strategies for using mobile phones in fundraising, and a how-to section for organizations considering using mobile phones to support their causes. The Guide includes the following sections:

  • Mobile Phones in Fundraising Campaigns
  • Mobile Fundraising for Humanitarian Relief
  • Partnerships between Charities and Commercial Entities
  • Harnessing Media and Entertainment Content
  • Interplay between Donors and Activists
  • Searching for Return on Investment in Mobile Fundraising
  • Lessons Learned

The Guide includes case studies and examples from Greenpeace India, Doctors Without Borders Austria, American Red Cross, Live 8, Breakthrough Breast Cancer (UK), Planned Parenthood Federation of America, YouthNoise, StandUp for Kids, Sweet Relief, Amnesty International, and Amnesty Norway.

Raise Money on Facebook: Four Fundraising Applications You Need to Know About

Submitted by Brett on Thu, 09/27/2007 - 8:37am

Peter Deitz, Social Actions

[Ed note: Peter wrote this article in 2007. He has just updated it for 2009. You should read the new version, too: click here.]

When it comes to online fundraising, an obvious tip is to meet your current and potential donors where they are. Today, millions of prospective donors between the ages of 18 and 35 find themselves on Facebook.

Community Buzz

Submitted by Brett on Thu, 09/27/2007 - 8:30am
News and buzz from people and organizations in the nonprofit tech sector. Read our posts on the NTEN blog.

Whither Web 2.0?

> A recent report by the Overbrook Foundation calls into question the adoption rate of web 2.0 technologies among its nonprofit grantees. Key among the findings is the frustration respondents experienced about which tools to use and where to turn for help.

> On the flip side, a report by GEO finds that grantmakers are finding innovative ways to use web 2.0 to connect to grantees and others. One wonders where the communication gap might be, but if the money is there, you have to think that grantees will move toward collaborative technologies in increasing numbers.

Girl Geeks Don't Just Wanna Have Fun, But It Helps

> She's Geeky, an (un)conference, aims to provide a friendly environment for women who not only work in technology, but want to encourage others to get involved. The event will take place in Mountain View, CA, October 22-23. Beacuse it's an (un)conference, attendees are encouraged to propose topics.

Money, So They Say

> Pink Floyd were wrong: sometimes, they do give it away. The Knight News Challege is offering up to $5 million in grants for "big ideas", while the MacArthur Foundation/Hastac Digital Media and Learning Competition is offering $2 million in awards. Both of these have deadlines of October 15th.

> Keep up with all the latest nonprofit technology grant news with the aptly named Technology Grant News. NTEN members are eligible for a subscription discount, so why not join today?

How To: Put Technology to Use

Submitted by Brett on Thu, 09/27/2007 - 8:28am
Your guide to resources that will help you put technology to work for your cause.

Make Money with Facebook (provided by Peter Deitz)

> Are Nonprofits actually raising money through Facebook? Read "The Long, Long Tail of Facebook Causes" and "Facebook changes the numbers!", then check out the metrics on Causes,, ChipIn, and Fundraising.

> The emergence of Facebook as a fundraising force has certainly caught people's attention:

> And if you're not totally Facebooked out (Facebookered?), you can learn more at:

Map Your Presence

> The American Institute of Architects has put GoogleEarth to great use with Blueprint for America. Their template for adding information to the project is also a model of clear documentation. Another project of note: Google is helping the Surui tribe map their territory along the Amazon to monitor illegal logging.

> GoogleEarth makes it relatively straightforward to map your organization's data via the KML file format. Read Google's own documentation or quickly learn to overlay KML on Google's MyMaps.

> You can learn more about Geographical Information Systems (GIS) at our upcoming webinar.

Things We Like

Submitted by Brett on Thu, 09/27/2007 - 8:27am
A monthly roundup of our favorite nonprofit tech resources. Read more posts on our blog.
  1. Faceforce. Even the name is a mash-up -- and probably better than "Salesface".
  2. The new presentation feature in Google Docs. May the power of collaboration save us from boring slideshows.
  3. "Successful Technology Use in Small Grassroots Nonprofits."
  4. The Charles Stewart Mott Foundation's exemplary use of RSS feeds to keep people up to date on their available grants.
  5. nTag: Creepy privacy threat or potentially cool?
  6. Wesabe's Data Bill of Rights and's impassioned support for it.

Should Your Text Message Be Censored?

Submitted by Holly on Thu, 09/27/2007 - 8:25am

Great article in the New York Times today about a text messaging campaign gone awry. It's a really great piece of reporting. On the surface, it covers the decision last week by Verizon to censor a text message that NARAL Pro-Choice America wanted to send to its supporters. This week, Verizon reversed the decision, saying "It was an incorrect interpretation of a dusty internal policy."

What's most interesting though, is the structure that leaves these kinds of decisions in the hands of the providers. The Times says: experts said private companies like Verizon probably have the legal right to decide which messages to carry. The laws that forbid common carriers from interfering with voice transmissions on ordinary phone lines do not apply to text messages.