Some readers here may know that I've started writing over at the Web 2.0 review site TechCrunch. One new service that I wrote about this week stood out as something that could be very useful for nonprofits. It's called Wufoo and it's an easy way to make online forms that can be inserted into your web page or used as separate pages. It is very flexible and honestly takes very little technical knowledge.
The ones that I really like allow the user to log in and see a workflow management dashboard, such as the one that ExpenseWatch provides for accountants, with status reports and task lists laid out in a very clear and appealing manner. Furthermore, the really good tools make it easy to set up a queue for passing along the work in progress - so that everyone who needs to contribute to, revise, review, or approve a project can do so - in an order that can be edited to reflect a change in plans. I also like the idea of automatic escalation routines, which alert you if a project has been parked on one person's desk for too long.
The only question is...if you build it, will they use it?
I recently had an experience that shed a little light on this question. An esteemed colleague who has access to my electronic calendar printed out my task list in preparation for a planning meeting. I hadn't added (or checked off) much of anything in months.
Read about Asi Sharabi's call for ideas and a good suggestion from Seth Godin in the blog of Dave Weinberger (a co-author of the Cluetrain Manifesto, a must read for those interested in using the web to effect change).
i used to come home to visit family in brooklyn and feel like i was stepping into the past. sure, this is new york, it's hardly the middle of nowhere, but still...a year ago i couldn't even really get people to understand the concept of a "technology nonprofit". now i'm using the free wireless that's spilling over from the neighbor's house while watching coverage of last week's games for change conference on ny1, and my sister, who teaches history to 7th graders at a local
I have an update from the people at Charitydrives.org to add to the post I wrote about them last month. Now you can find places to donate stuff using Charitydrives.org from your cell phone. According to the site, all you have to do is to enter charitydrives.org/mobile into your phone-based web browser, enter your zip code, press Find and voilá, you'll see a list of charity drives within 15 miles of your zip code.
You no longer have an excuse for having a random bag of clothes/books/CDs, in your trunk for 6 months
A late recap on June's Houston NetSquared meetup (sorry guys!):
We enjoyed a laidback evening, sans speaker or formal presentation, that included a meet and greet session of local technology and non profit advocates, as well as a review of recent technology events.
Some topics discussed:
Barcamp Houston event - what happened, who attended, next steps, how similar non-conferences benefit non profit technology interests
Consolidated Houston technology calendar and Web site plans
Various content management systems
Accessibility for not only the disabled, but non-English speakers and the elderly
Pete Cashmore writes a popular blog about new Web 2.0 services at Mashable.com. He's a consultant for organizations looking to leverage the new social web paradigm. Pete frequently covers web services that he says are designed to "feed the MySpace beast".
Along with Second Life (subject of an upcoming interview) MySpace is a topic that many nonprofit organizations are giving some amount of thought to engaging with. The MySpace profile page for the film An Inconvenient Truth has been added to the friends list of almost 70,000 MySpace users. That profile page uses multimedia extensively and if your organization seeks to get into MySpace, you may want to consider moving beyond a simple default page as well.
Other organizations participating in MySpace include Green Peace USA, Philadelphia's Clean Air Council, the World Wildlife Federation and many, many more. When MySpace users add one of these groups as a friend, they are notified whenever new items, events or writings are added to the organization's page.