social media

NTEN Members Online Round-Up: ROI of Social Media, True Tales from Nptechies, Vocabulary Lessons, and Power

Submitted by Annaliese on Fri, 02/22/2008 - 2:35pm

LOLnptechNTEN member Beth Dunn picked up on the discussion on Beth Kanter's blog about outcome-based thinking for nonprofits using social media. She encourages those who set out on the "journey" through social media for good causes to plan ahead and keep notes.

Amy Sample Ward discusses Twitter for nonprofits, emphasizing the importance of individual interest over organizational broadcasting. Amy always applies the golden rule when she tweets.

Judi Sohn is back with another down-to-earth -- or from-the-trenches -- post about what it really means to implement a new technology for an organization, even if it's a free technology (such as Salesforce or Google Apps for nonprofits). Someone has to spend staff time (or consulting fees) learning the tool before it can be applied to the organization's mission.

Beth Kanter summarizes the many definitions and implications of "authenticity" and "transparency" for the nonprofit sector.

There's sad news from our anonymous NTEN friend 1centNPtech: his/her organization has decided to outsource their technology planning and oversight. Please drop by our comrade's blog to offer your condolences. And maybe some job leads.

Michelle Murrain rants about the problems with custom CMS solutions for nonprofits. She calls on all nonprofits to reject the custom CMS option in their RFPs.

Our very own Holly Ross was highlighted in's Idea Lab blog for talking about the "power" of information, nonprofits, and technology.

If your organization is considering whether (and how) to apply social networking for your cause, read Beth Kanter's contribution to Network For Good's blog, "8 Secrets of Effective Online Networking."

Finally, Deborah Finn wrote a guide on search engine optimization (SEO). She was kind enough to re-publish it on her blog.

Old Tactics, Old Tools (What Is Going On?)

Submitted by Brett on Tue, 02/19/2008 - 2:53pm

Brian Reich, EchoDitto

We are only part way through the 2008 election cycle and there have already been dozens, perhaps hundreds of articles written, TV hours spent, and blog comments posted about the role that the internet and technology are playing in this election cycle. The general consensus among the pundits seems to be that this is the year that technology, particularly social media, has had a significant impact on the outcome of the presidential election contest.

Unfortunately, that consensus is wrong and those pundits don’t know what they are talking about.

NTEN Members Online Round-Up: Salesforce, Tidbits, Mashups, and Techie Love

Submitted by Annaliese on Fri, 02/15/2008 - 2:07pm

LOLnptechThe Salesforce Foundation's Innovation for Nonprofit Success, in NYC, was the big nonprofit technology this week event.

Jake Brewer, of, wrote an article for the Huffington Post, that gets at the heart of what we nptechies are all about: technology levels the playing field and allows even the smallest nonprofits to run their programs using the same tools as the big guys. Jake gives a shout out not only to Salesforce's contribution to nonprofits, but also to Google Apps and the organizations, big and small, that've been able to use these tools to further their missions. (There are too many NTEN members highlighted in this article to name here, so check it out!)

Judi Sohn blogged about the Salesforce event this week too -- but from a different perspective. She couldn't be there! Syncing Google calendars with her husband made her realize that she'd have to miss the NYC event. I missed it too, Judi, and I have Old Man Winter to blame for interfering with my travel plans! Thanks for the down-to-earth insights about using these tools.

Michelle Murrain is back this week with an aptly titled post (Tidbits) about a developers' challenge -- and an open source update, of course.

Is Facebook a Bust or Is Obama's Model the Future?

Submitted by Annaliese on Wed, 02/13/2008 - 1:33pm

bigmouthmediaI've heard a lot of buzz today about the apparent bursting of the social media bubble for campaign purposes.

Just as I was forming my own thoughts around this, coming up with the example of Barack Obama's grassroots online fundraising success, I came across this article in Slate, which also points to the Obama campaign as an example of success.

The article refers to the recent Case Foundation fundraising contests (which we've blogged about here), skeptically asserting:

"The amounts involved show that Case understands these endeavors are more social experiment than nonprofit sweepstakes. Sure, prizes of $50,000 matter for the winning organizations, as do the overall dollars raised... But the denominations of the donations remain small, and it's not clear that one-off contests will lead to more. Any fund-raising professional knows that most nonprofit organizations secure the bulk of their money from a relatively small number of large contributions, either from wealthy individuals or institutional sources. Those gifts demand personal cultivation, and an online nudge doesn't usually do it."

But what about Barack Obama's stunning fundraising model of reaching out to many online donors online, asking them to contribute small amounts?

NTEN Members Online Round-Up: How-tos, Cool Tools, News, and Social Media as Boon or Bust?

Submitted by Annaliese on Mon, 02/11/2008 - 8:55am

LOLnptechLet's start with the How-Tos.

NTEN member Amy Sample Ward points her blog readers to a helpful how-to published by Global Voices, "Blogging for a Cause". I think Amy's doing a good job of this herself!

Michelle Murrain, NTEN Board member, continues her helpful series of posts about open source tools by discussing Filezilla, an FTP application. She also includes a helpful post about data portability, pointing out that, with more organizations working in and with Web 2.0, they need to understand what data portability is and why open standards are important.

Judi Sohn offers an update on her organization, C3, which was recently featured on Lifetime TV. She also catches her readers up on staff additions, technology implementations, and the sad loss of one of their advocates.

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!

The ROI of Social Media

Submitted by Brett on Sun, 01/13/2008 - 3:55pm

Beth Kanter, Social Media Guru

Over the past year, as more and more nonprofits have figured out how to integrate social networking and social media tools into their communications strategies, the question has remained: Do these tools and strategies really help nonprofits reach outcomes? While many of the tools are free, we still need to ask, "What's the value (ROI) of investing our time?"

Let me begin with some basic definitions from Social Media gurus:

Campaigns and Twitter

Submitted by Annaliese on Fri, 12/21/2007 - 1:13pm

Just a couple of days ago, NTEN member and Social Media for Nonprofits expert Beth Kanter kicked off a great discussion about how NOT to use Twitter for your organization.

The key takeaways are:

  • don't use Twitter as a blowhorn for your canned PR;
  • don't think of Twittees as a captive audience;

and, everyone's favorite:

  • don't Twitter without love.

I was really moved today to see one cause doing everything right with Twitter: the Frozen Peas Friday campaign from the Frozen Pea Fund.

Here's how it's working:

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.