Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Summary of Free Tools For Nonprofits

On Monday I attended a discussion on Free Tools For Nonprofits, which was an event of the Internet Advocacy Roundtable. There were four speakers and a question/answers part afterwards. Each speaker mentioned different tools.

Speaker #1 - Jake of Idealist

Google Analytics was the first tool mentioned. Through Google Analytics you can find out who is coming to your site, how many people are coming, and what they are doing. Map overlap is an interesting feature where you can find out the location of your website visitors.

Beth's Screencast of Google Analytics is a great resource.

Google Calendar is useful to use if your organization has offices in different locations (or in one location) to schedule meetings.

YouTube- Broadcast Your Cause - Have a page with your videos and a donate button

Speaker # 2- Annie of Center for American Progress

Google Maps and other mapping tools make it easy to make simple maps. You don't need to know Flash or have technology skills to create a map. It takes a few hours to create a map.

Examples: State of the Minimum Wage, Education Report Card

Timelines are a good tool to add to websites. The Center of American Progress added a timeline and it was the most popular feature on the site.

Tool to create timelines - xtimeline

Another type of tool is one to create charts and graphs. One tool that allows you to do this is called amCharts.

Speaker #3 - Barry of AARP

AARP used online videos for a campaign and embedded it on the AARP site and the site for the campaign.

AARP also used Facebook for a campaign and targeted college students, which was a different demographic then they were used to. They created group for this campaign and had 1200 people.

They learned that Facebook has a rule that once you reach 1000 members in a group you can't communicate with the members. One thing you can do is to create subgroups and link the groups pages to the main group.

Another tool mentioned was iConcur, which is a facebook application for petitions.

AARP will soon be launching a web 2.0 community.

Speaker #4 - Jeff of Google

Through Google Grants you can increase awareness about your organization.

Google Maps

Google Earth

iGoogle Gadgets

Google Applications - Google Docs, Calendar, GMail, GoogleTalk

Google Documents is an easy was to share updated versions of documents without sending documents back and forth by e-mail. You can edit press releases and presentations.

Questions/Answers and Other Free Tools Shared

Where to learn about free tools:

Free Tools:

What I learned

There are many free tools out there that nonprofits can use to help their mission besides social networking, blogs, sharing videos, sharing bookmarks, and sharing photos. It was very interesting to learn about the free tools to make graphs, charts, and timelines. These tools help with content on websites to make the content more interesting for visitors. Using graphs, charts, timelines, photos, videos, and maps, allow website visitors to visualize the information.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Environmental Organizations Using Web 2.0

Today is Blog Action Day where bloggers are writing about the environment. While coming up with an idea of how the environment relates to my blog, I decided to research environmental organizations that have web 2.0 content on their website.

Here are a few organizations that I wanted to share -

Chesapeake Climate Action Network (CCAN) - This organization has a blog and lecture videos. They also started a podcast project called World on Fire Podcast.

American Rivers - This organization has a blog and RSS feeds related to river conservation.

Casey Trees - This organization has a map were you can find out what trees are in locations in DC. You can find out the species, size and condition, and other information based on location.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Ways Nonprofits Are Using the Social Web and Measuring Success

Lots of nonprofit organizations are using the social web to spread the word about their organization, connect with their members better, fundraise on the internet, and communicate news about their issues and events.

An article was recently written on Fundraising Success about
nonprofits using social networking tools.

According to the article and observing how nonprofits are using the social web, these are some ways nonprofits are currently using the social web:

  • Creating a page on MySpace with information about the organization, a form to signup for their e-newsletter, and links to their website
  • Adding friends on MySpace
  • Posting information on MySpace about events, campaigns, and volunteer opportunities on their page, blog, and bulletins
  • Creating groups for their organization and issues on MySpace and Facebook
  • Using Flickr to post photos
  • Having a group or using a tag on Flickr to allow people to share photos from events they have attended for the organization
  • Using a fundraising widget
  • Using Technorati and to find what people are saying about the organization and issues
  • Commenting on blogs to promote the organization

With all these examples, how do you measure success? Before starting to use a new tool, an organization should have a goal and try to reach it. If you have achieved your goal, then it is worth the efforts. Some goals you might have are to increase the number of friends you have each week or to fundraise a certain amount of money with a widget.

Here are some examples of what you can track to measure success:

  • number of friends
  • number of friend requests each day
  • number of visitors that visit your profile
  • number of members in a group
  • seeing if people in your group are discussing your organization and issues with others
  • amount of money raised online

In my opinion, the best way to track success is to look at your referring links in your web statistics. You can see what websites visitors have come from. This is great because you can see if users came from MySpace,, a blog, or other site with a hyperlink. If you have gained lots of new visitors and hits from these tools, then I think it is worth using the social web.