Web 2.0

Collaborative Annotation of the Web: Nonprofit Applications?

Submitted by Annaliese on Fri, 10/31/2008 - 10:26am

There's a new way you can communicate with your team, constituents, or professional community about any content you find on the web. Reframeit is a browser extension that allows you to annotate almost any content you find on the web, and engage your network in a discussion about it.

ZDNet wrote up a great overview of the tool and its applications, and ReadWriteWeb also gave it a brief review. I think Reframeit opens a lot of possibilities for advocacy and service groups -- and definitely for educational institutions.

I'd love to hear comments about how you think you could use something like this in your work.

We Are Media Toolbox: The Buzz Begins Next Week

Submitted by Holly on Wed, 10/01/2008 - 11:29am

You've seen the tweets. You want the shirt. Now's your chance!

Keep your eyes peeled next week, because all month long, we're going to "fondle the hammer!" We'll be talking about social media tools just for the sake of how cool they are. (Because let's face it, they are wicked fun.)

Every day, we'll ask you to share the tools you use to listen, share, and build community. All we need you to do is tell us what tools you use, and why you love them.

You'll get two great rewards:

  • First, you'll get the satisfaction of helping to build a curriculum that will help other nonprofits learn how to use social media effectively.
  • AND, you'll get the shirt. (You know you want one!)


Twitter: Not Just Chatter But a Channel for Your Cause

Submitted by Annaliese on Mon, 07/21/2008 - 8:27am

Flickr Photo: AutomaniaIn the technology section of USA Today on Sunday, a lot of new folks learned about Twitter. The micro-blogging social network has grown from 200,000 users to over 2 million users in about a year, and individuals, companies, news outlets, fire departments, and nonprofit organizations have been using the free service to connect, inform, and engage.

If you joined us at the 2008 Nonprofit Technology Conference in New Orleans, chances are you experienced the usefulness of the tool, too. NTC attendees connected with each other, made social plans, got notes from sessions they couldn't attend, knew when free ice cream was being handed out in the conference lobby and when the coffee was running out during breakfast plenaries.

As the article frames it, Twitter is one of those tools that seems to be trivial and a waste of time -- until you try it for yourself.

There so many social media and network tools out there, it doesn't makes sense for an individual -- never mind an organization -- to invest time and resources into trying them all out. But Twitter might be worth a some time.

Here are a few highlights, low-lights, and applications of Twitter to consider for your own purposes:

What's Your Social Media Plan?

Submitted by Holly on Tue, 07/08/2008 - 9:54am

Flickr Photo: fr@nsI'm not normally an Oprah's Book Club kind of girl, but I happened to be trapped in a Starbucks with no reading materials for 90 minutes one day, so I bought "The Art of Racing in the Rain." Although everything jaded and cynical in me was annoyed by the sappy homilies, one bit really stuck with me: Your car follows where your eyes lead.

When it comes to our use of social media as a sector, I have to wonder, where are we looking? Where are we trying to drive? I hear a lot of general answers: we want to raise more money; we want to spread our message further. But I don't hear the specifics needed if we're going to do those things meaningfully. Having a Facebook group and a blog will not, on their own, raise more money for your organization.

How Many Jellybeans Are in Your Jar?

Submitted by Holly on Thu, 07/03/2008 - 2:47pm

Flickr Photo: husband unitIt's the day before a major holiday, so things are a wee bit quiet around here. Well, except for the iPod blaring Elton John. But quiet other than that.

I've finally had some time today to dive into the conversation that you, dear NTEN community, are starting on our Be the Media (name about to change) project.

If I didn't already believe in the wisdom of crowds, I certainly believe in the wisdom of THIS crowd. So many of you have contributed to the first module: Why Should Nonprofits Embrace Social Media (Or Not)?

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:

Use the Force (for Good): Groundswell, Social Media, and Forrester Research

Submitted by Annaliese on Mon, 05/12/2008 - 10:31am

I attended a free webinar last week on the new book, Groundswell: Winning in World Transformed by Technologies, presented by its authors, Josh Bernoff and Charlene Li of Forrester Research.

The book is geared toward the for-profit sector, but the strategies can be adopted by nonprofits in terms of building community, engaging activists, and even raising financial support around a cause or organization online.

I want to provide some of those applications and takeaways from the session:

NTEN Member Online Round-Up: Resources, Reflections, and Announcements

Submitted by Annaliese on Mon, 04/07/2008 - 8:06am

LOLnptechNTEN members were sharing lots of great tips, checklists, and resources online last week.

Colin Delany, of e.politics, shared his Social Marketing "cheat sheet" for using Web2.0 tools for engagement and fundraising purposes.

If you're a do-it-yourself kind of nonprofit when it comes to designing your web site, you might want to check out Kivi Leroux Miller's "10-Point Basic Website Checklist for Nonprofits".

For anyone plagued by email delivery statistics (or curious about what your organization should be considering when it comes to email messaging), take a look at NTEN member and NTC speaker Bill Pease's helpful tips.

Marnie Webb provides a couple of posts about integrating Twitter into your communications practice: first, she brings Twitter into the virtual tool chest she's building for her readers, then shares a list of Twitter resources that can help you maximize your Twitter-effectiveness.

Speaking of Twitter, Rose Vines is the back-channeling star of the NTEN community. Fortunately for us, she shares her tips for using Twitter for good (documenting and sharing).

In other news, NTEN members are . . .

"Seal"ing the Deal: HSUS Brings Another Great Campaign

Submitted by Holly on Mon, 03/17/2008 - 7:53am

Every time I turn around, Carie Lewis and the fantastic team at HSUS are doing something else creative and fun that's also a great example of how to use social media for your cause. These NTEN members really get it. (If you're at the NTC, be sure to check out the session Carie is speaking at.)

This time, the folks at HSUS have an LOLcatz-style campaign for seals. To raise awareness about baby seals, they're sponsoring a photo caption contest. The judge? Nigel Barker from America' Next Top Model. (Don't tell anyone that I've seen almost every episode.)

So if you have a funnybone, check out LOLseals and submit your caption today. Over 14,000 others have in last week!

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 Future of Nonprofit Technology: If You Dream It, The Tools Will Come

Submitted by Annaliese on Tue, 01/01/2008 - 9:18am
During my time off this holiday season, I caught up on some online (and offline) reading. As a result, I was able to read several unrelated posts that helped me put the future of nonprofit technology in perspective.

Over at the Wild Apricot Blog, I read Soha El-Borno's post in a series about online fundraising tools for nonprofits, which emphasized what we hear all the time: think about your objective first, then apply the tool that's best for your goal, rather than investing time and resources on a tool just because it's new and "cool".

Soha's blog led me to this post about the development of the PayPal widget -- with the help of a blogger with a dream -- which can be easily customized, embedded, and shared.I also remembered this article about how the charitable sector is adapting and applying social media tools faster than the the business sector.

And -- bear with me on this one -- I happened to catch up on a very old but very interesting discussion about folksonomies vs taxonomies, which led me to think about the effects of online discussions and online collaboration in general.

This all got me thinking about the obvious, really: the future of nonprofit technology is YOU.

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 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 Spock.com. 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 Spock.com? 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".

Nonprofits Can Be LinkedIn

Submitted by Brett on Tue, 10/23/2007 - 2:27pm
Monique Cuvelier, Talance, Inc.

Only 10 years ago, social networks were built quite differently. We might pump a few hands at conferences, place a few phone calls or meet people for lunch. A labor-intensive way of expanding the little black book, to be sure, but that's the way everybody did it. Networks lived in brainspace and on slips of paper.

But a decade is a long time. Person-to-person meetings are still a great way to make connections, but networks have increasingly less to do with seeing people and more to do with outlets such as LinkedIn.

Report on the Use of Web 2.0 by Nonprofits

Submitted by Brett on Mon, 09/17/2007 - 2:10pm

The Overbrook Foundation has just published a report on the adoption of web 2.0 technologies by organizations involved in social change. Based on the responses from U.S.-based human rights grantees of the Overbrook Foundation, the report found that:


  • Most of the organizations use the web more as a source of information than as a tool for connecting with others.
  • Roughly half of the organizations -- in most cases, the larger ones -- maintain blogs.
  • Repondants experienced a great deal of frustration in determining which tools to use and where to turn for help.

NTEN's Tools You Should Know: Episode 02

Submitted by Holly on Mon, 07/02/2007 - 1:06pm

A monthly podcast about a few good tools you should know! If you're like me, you're always on the hunt for the one little thing that will help you get through your to-do list a little faster, or make your work a little bit better. That's what this podcast is all about!

This month, Marshall Kirkpatrick, Director of Content at Splashcast Media tells us about:

Promoting Your Cause in Facebook

Submitted by Holly on Thu, 06/07/2007 - 10:33am

Everywhere you turn, you're hearing about the power of MySpace, Facebook, LinkedIn and other social networks. But can real nonprofits truly see the benefits behind all the hype?

Clearly, there's a lot of potential for gaining new supporters with these online tools, but many nonprofit organizations struggle to determine how they can fit into a social network application alongside for-profits and social groups. Project Agape is one of the initial Facebook Platform partners, launching Causes on Facebook. This new functionality extends the groups features and makes it possible for users to create causes, take donations, and recruit members. Join us as we explore the power of social networks and learn how to set up your own Cause on Facebook.

Presented by Randall Winston of Project Agape.

> Register Now!

NTEN'S Tools You Should Know: Episode 01

Submitted by Holly on Thu, 05/31/2007 - 10:51am
Cool Tools Ep. 1

Once a month or so, I'm lucky enough to catch a few minutes with my favorite technology prognosticator, Marshall Kirkpatrick, Director of Content at Splashcast Media. During each visit, Marshall shares with us the tools and tips that no one can live without. This month, Marshall offered up 6 tools that any nonprofit can use today.

Check out this video podcast to learn more about:

When Campaign 2.0 Met Citizen 2.0: A Confusing Love Story

Submitted by admin on Wed, 05/23/2007 - 5:53am
Alan Rosenblatt, Internet Advocacy Center

True leadership can sometimes feel like a balancing act that requires the all the skill of a tightrope walker. One of the many lines to walk is weighing the need to act boldly and take advantage of new opportunities with the imperative to be a responsible steward of your organization’s resources. This can be especially hard when making decisions about resource-intensive technology projects.

Many nonprofit leaders are currently trying to find the right balance when it comes to social networking. If you jump into social networking without a clear sense of the benefits (and who has a clear sense at this point?) are you boldly leading your organization into the future? Or needlessly wasting staff time and money that could be put to better uses? If, after dipping a toe into online networking, you pull those resources back, are you wisely cutting your losses? Or throwing the baby out with the bathwater?

With the flare up over the Barack Obama MySpace community takeover by the campaign from a volunteer, many non-profits that are just getting or about to get their feet wet in the online social network pool might be having second thoughts.