Microblogs like Twitter are a great vehicle to help organize political demonstrations in countries run by corrupt governments (and an effective way to spread misinformation), but how can nonprofit organizations, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), libraries, government programs, and other mission-based organizations really use microblogs to promote their work, increase attendance at an event, get donations or mobilize or support volunteers?
The digital divide includes the tech design divide that keeps people who are using assistive technology or who have disabilities from being able to use web sites, software and other tech tools. But making your web site and other online services more accessible isn't just a nice thing to do: it makes a web site more accessible for potential customers, clients and donors, and demonstrates an organization's commitment to usability and accessibility to everyone. In addition, for a designer or programmer, knowing how to make a web site fully accessible makes you more competitive in the job market.
I have to admit giving a heavy sigh over the recent post by the folks behind the Net2 Think Tank asking "How can organizations innovate to allow donors to effectively contribute their time, talent, and skills online?" It went on to say, "What are some examples of organizations allowing donors to contribute their time and/or talents virtually? Which specific tools or tactics are working for your organization and which are not working?"
Because, you see, there's a word for that. It's called volunteering.
Info info everywhere. Blogs, press releases, online discussions, news stories... if you work for a nonprofit organization, you must stay on top of all this and more. But how?
I stay on top of my many favorite blogs, news sources, and people and organizational mentions in the news and online with the RSS reader provided in MyYahoo. I also have it configured to tell me when someone comments on one of my photos at Flickr.
Call for articles for a special issue of the Journal of Information Technology and Politics (JITP) on "Understanding eParticipation" -- efforts to broaden and deepen participation in societal decision making processes by enabling citizens to connect with one another, with public officials and with their elected representatives using information and communication technologies. Processes involved include both directly political ones such as petitioning and consultations and indirectly political ones such as city planning processes. (I checked with the guest editors: their definition of eParticipation includes online volunteers for advocacy groups/efforts and for nonprofits who are engaged in a politically-related activity).Topics include but are not limited to:
Current and emergent eParticipation technological infrastructures;
Current and emergent eParticipation methods;
Criteria and methods for evaluation of eParticipation initiatives to be undertaken in a systematic and standardised way;
The business case of eParticipation: Drivers and barriers;
Theories and contextual analysis of eParticipation.
Manuscripts should have significant theoretical and empirical roots, preferably in both social/political science and IT, but should at least contain significant content in both areas.
I'm back in Germany at long last, and recovered enough from the San Francisco Bay and air conditioning-induced allergies, and jet-lag, to be able to post online again... I really enjoyed the conference info about how various nonprofits created very positive online "buzz" about a particular issue, or how they countered an opposing political effort through grassroots online organizing, etc. BUT... I also kept thinking of how these efforts are NOT always used for "good", and I brought up how it's been through various efforts, including online activism, that the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) has been so severely maligned, particularly regarding its work in China. I've found myself convincing family members back in Kentucky, and friends back in Texas, that, no, what they read in that church bulletin or heard on some local radio program or read on some online discussion group about UNFPA was, in fact, NOT true. How does an organization effectively counter malicious, seemingly-grassroots online efforts to discredit its excellent work? (I've written to UNFPA directly and encouraged them to respond as well, FYI)
So sorry to be joining the discussion so late! I'm Jayne Cravens (http://www.coyotecommunications.com), and I'll be coming from Germany to attend the NetSquared conference. I was one of the first people to create a web site to help nonprofits with technology many years ago, but most of you probably know me from my work in the last 10 years regarding online volunteering, first with the Virtual Volunteering Project (http://www.serviceleader.org/old/vv), and then at the United Nations Development Programme/UN Volunteers (http://www.onlinevolunteering.org). I'm now more focused on broader nonprofit management issues, particularly in the developing world and particularly regarding volunteer/community involvement (http://www.coyotecommunications.com/volunteer), but I still have a strong passion regarding nonprofits and technology, promoting accessibility for people with disabilities, as well as for people using "old" or "vintage" technology, and helping to provide a reality check for the tech world regarding nonprofit resources.