Top 5 Tech needs of NPOs

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Here's my notes from the afternoon session of NetSquared North, part of the Northern Voice conference.

Khaliya Hamlin (Identitly woman) led a conversation about the key issues facing nonprofit groups and some ideas on how to solve them. We posed the question "how do you want to use technology to achieve your nonprofit's goals?"

The group said that they were most interested in using technology to:

  • increase visiblity
  • engage people
  • recruit & involve volunteers
  • internal collaboration
  • meta-networking

We spent a 5-15 minute session digging in to each of these topics. Here's our notes:

Increasing visiblity


The first step is to get a website.Then you have to put cool, interesting content on it. But how?

Well, you could:

  • have a blog
  • blog about current events relevant to your organization
  • solve problems with your content: eg. create reference tools that are useful to your peers

Once you have a good website, you need to tell people you have a website. Then you need to make it clear from your website that your organization is more than just a cool website.

Some good tools for pointing people to your website are:

  • make sure you have easily accessible contact info. This is SO IMPORTANT!
  • google adwords

Engaging people

Strategies for engaging people and building capacity:

Use multimedia technologies

  • videocast, podcast, screencast, flash & other animations
  • bottom line: entertain people
  • use blog search tools to find related content, and post comments there linking back to yours

Tell people who you are

  • be clear, concise, and tell people why they ought to care about you and your cause
  • be transparent: let your online presence reflect your real-world presence: don't snow people

Recruiting & Involving volunteers


Create a 'call to action' e.g. create some easy, five minute tasks for volunteers to do to make them feel include (like people finder)

Use 'network centric advocacy'

  • technologies that let you find out your support base for initiatives before you undertake them
  • e.g fundable, pledgebank, 43 things
  • Use websites as a tool to set up face to face connection

    Give people credit for their contributions - make people famous!

    Use a wiki to co-ordinate volunteers & facilitate conversations

    figure out your audience

    Internal Collaboration


    Use tools that let you do hard things easily

    • skype / for free telephone stuff
    • shared calendaring for co-ordinating meetings and events
    •, eventful, etc. for publicizing events

    Create a media monitoring site using tags (link to Alex's site)

    • use tags to create keywords for your org...
    • use google alerts and pubsub to monitor presence and new articles, press, etc.

    be aware that if you adopt too many new tools at once, you will burn people out

    External collaboration / Meta-Networking


    - use a wiki for a group of related organizations to create pages and post content / events

    - use netsquared (shameless plug!)

    - create publicly acccessible information

    • rss
    • calendars
    • event lists

    - use interra

    - create user groups, yahoo groups, etc.

    - make space / time for face to face sessions to take place. These meetings are incredibly valuable.

    More to come!