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How nonprofit organizations can utilize blogs, online videos and Facebook to create powerful relationships and promote their missions Arizona State University, Masters of Nonprofit Studies (MNpS) College of Public Programs School of Community Resources and Development Capstone Project, Fall 2008 Completed 11/5/2008 Aaron Stiner Founding Board Member, Board Vice President and President Elect YNPN Phoenix email@example.com LinkedIn Professional Profile Twitter Feed
SECTION ONE: EVOLVING ROLE OF THE INTERNET 1.1 Widespread Use
1.2 Impact of the Internet
1.3 Evolution into “Web 2.0”, User Generated Content and Social Networking
SECTION TWO: USING WEB 2.0 TOOLS for NONPROFITS 2.1 Blogs
2.2 Online Videos
SECTION THREE: WHAT ARE THE BARRIERS TO USING WEB 2.0 TOOLS AND HOW ARE THEY OVERCOME?
SECTION FOUR: FINAL RECOMMENDATIONS
Nonprofit 2.0: How nonprofit organizations can utilize blogs, online videos and Facebook to create powerful relationships and promote their missions Executive Summary
Now, more than ever, we are a wired society. 78% of US adults and 21% of people worldwide access the internet on a daily, if not hourly basis, and thanks to innovations in mobile technology, the internet is with us wherever we go. This high-level of connectivity has changed almost everything about American life, from how we participate in democracy, to how we pick our restaurants or order food. There are few organizations – business, government or nonprofit – without an online presence. And many organizations are shifting significant aspects of their enterprises online. Most importantly, consumers, donors and citizens expect the organizations with which they interact to make their products and services available on the internet. However, the internet, and how we interact online, is changing rapidly. “Web 1.0”, where the flow of content moves unilaterally from the producer to the consumer, is on its way out and “Web 2.0” now rules the cyber networks. Characterized by user generated content, Web 2.0 activities and applications are interactive and networked. In the new era of Web 2.0, Facebook, YouTube and blogs reign supreme. Every day millions of users participate by contributing content, or controlling it in some way, and sharing it within their networks of others interested in the same topics. Users go online to express views and instantly connect with individuals and communities who share their concerns, most often times without joining large membership organizations. At the heart of these networks are relationships based on two-way communications; a conversation between individuals rather than a speech from an organization – relationships which hold great potential for nonprofit organizations. Don’t be fooled though. Navigating the complex world of Web 2.0 can be confusing and strategies to embrace the technologies carry their own risks. But the risks of not participating are too great and, as this report will demonstrate, philanthropic organizations would be remiss in not developing strategies which capitalize on the power of Web 2.0 tools and applications. The sections ahead will provide examples of how the Web 2.0 tools of blogs, online videos and the network application Facebook are being used by a variety of philanthropic organizations to achieve their social change goals, along with recommendations on how your organization can develop Web 2.0 strategies to support your mission and objectives. While there are a multitude of applications available in the Web 2.0 toolbox, this report focuses on blogs, online videos and Facebook because they can be easily implemented by most nonprofit organizations, with little cost and reach massive audiences in a powerful way that readily serves the needs of nonprofit organizations. After you read this report – the first section focuses on the evolution of Web 2.0 and the second section focuses on specific strategies for nonprofit organizations – I encourage you to go online and find out for yourself the power and possibilities of this new era of online technology. Best regards, Aaron Stiner
SECTION ONE: EVOLVING ROLE OF THE INTERNET 1.1 Widespread Use According to the website, www.internetworldstats.com, as of June 30, 2008, there were approximately 6,676,120,288 people on our planet. Of those, 21.9% or 1,463,632,361 were on the Internet, a 305% growth from the year 2000.
Figure 1.1 Demographics of US Internet Users
he internet is now a ubiquitous presence in our lives. It is in our homes, offices,
Below is the percentage of each group who use the internet, according to a May 2008 survey.
Use the internet Total Adults Age 18-29 30-49 50-64 65+ Race/ethnicity White, Non-Hispanic Black, Non-Hispanic English-speaking Hispanic 75% 59 80 90% 85 70 35 73%
schools, universities, libraries and, with
continuing advances in mobile connectivity the internet is literally with us everywhere we go. Whether it’s ITunes, Google, Amazon, EBay, Second Life, or Facebook and MySpace, the internet has changed how we live, work, shop, and increasingly, how we give. In more ways than ever, we are a wired society. According to 2007 surveys, 78% of Americans older than age 12 regularly use the internet, two-thirds of Web users access the internet from home, and nearly 85% of internet home users have broadband connections1. Further, the average home user
Geography Urban Suburban Rural Household income Less than $30,000/yr $30,000-$49,999 $50,000-$74,999 $75,000 + Educational attainment Less than High School High School Some College College + 44% 63 84 91 53% 76 85 95 74% 77 63
spends at least 14 hours online each week (Brotherton & Schneiderer, 2008, p. 14). As Figure 1.1 demonstrates, internet use cuts across all ages and demographics.
Source: Pew Internet & American Life Project, April 8 – May 11, 2008 Tracking Survey.
Broadband improves internet speeds and allows users to use more complex and content rich online applications
1.2 Impact of the Internet
ue to its widespread use, the ability of internet users and to rapidly disseminate
As one blogger writes, “Which other invention in the last century allows us to email, instant message, research an automobile, access a library, blog, purchase or sell stock, buy airline tickets, book a hotel and see the world without even leaving our chairs?“ Another quips, “(Asking) how the internet has changed the world… That’s a little like an assignment on how walking upright transformed the human race!”
information anywhere the web can be accessed has had profound effects on our society. In just the last five years there exist countless examples of citizens using the internet to influence world events.
For example, in 2007, TechNewsWorld published the top 10
biggest news stories that can be credited to bloggers (publishers of online weblog, a.k.a. blogs). In this list they credit blogs for keeping the story of the December 2006 firing of United States prosecutors in the news. They also note how, thanks to bloggers, a YouTube video of former Virginia Senator George Allen using an ethnic slur at a campaign rally instantly became national news and was ultimately a significant factor in Senator Allen‘s defeat that November. In another example, the Asia Times outlines how bloggers were pivotal during the 2004 Southeast Asian earthquake and tsunami in providing a constant flow of stories, pictures and information about resources and aid. Bloggers also provided help to people searching for their loved ones and provided content to the mainstream media in their coverage of the tsunamis (Brotherton & Schneiderer, 2008, p. 10). From a commerce perspective, the internet continues to change how businesses interact with their customers as companies increase their use of Web content, email, and other internet communication vehicles to extend their reach. According to Forrester Research, eCommerce will represent 13% of total US retail sales in 2010, with travel remaining the largest online retail category, growing from $63 billion in 2005 to $119 billion in 2010, and general merchandise (all retail categories excluding auto, food and beverage, and travel) topping $100 billion for the first time. (Business Wire, 2005). Today, one would be shocked to find a consumer business which does not have an online presence and there are many consumer goods companies which exist only online, like Amazon, ITunes and EBay.
There are many nonprofit organizations taking advantage of advances in online technology by investing time, resources and money to better promote their organizations, communicate with constituents, raise money and generally advance their missions and causes. As a result, total online giving in the US reached over $10 billion in 2007, a 52% increase over 2006. A recent study estimates that, despite a difficult economy, US online giving to nonprofit organization will be more than $3 billion during the holiday season of 2008 alone and more than half of internet-users surveyed plan to donate to charities of their choice during the upcoming holiday season via the internet (Business Wire, 2008). "Consumers continue to go online in growing numbers to learn about, engage and support nonprofit organizations," said Gene Austin, CEO of Convio. "With consumer dollars being tight and the competition for donations growing, the efficiency and effectiveness of the internet as an engagement, communication and giving platform continues to grow in importance for donors People have an expectation that the organizations they interact with, whether it be for-or-nonprofit, offer a host of online services. According to the authors of People to People Fundraising, “If Bank of America is doing it, then the local food bank should be doing it too. If Amazon.com can tell me what I purchased in the past, the groups working to save the Amazon rain forests should be able to tell me how much I have donated to them. Nonprofits may have a reason to distinguish the two, but constituents will not (Hart, Greenfield, & Haji, 2007, p. 5) and organizations alike." Online giving is happening in countless ways, large and small. One example of large scale online giving is The Salvation Army, which received more money via the Web during Christmas 2005 - $7.1 million - than in the first four years it accepted internet gifts - $6.01 million (Hart, Greenfield, & Haji, 2007, p. 55). An example of the small-scale variety of online giving can be found in interview with Shin Fujiyama, AFP's Youth in
Philanthropy Award winner for the 18-to-23 age bracket, who in an interview discussed why millennials are so active in social causes, "Globalization and the information-technology era have made it so much easier for people to connect with different causes…from
all over the world. For example, we relayed a message from a group of children in a dilapidated school from Honduras through YouTube to a group of college students in the U.S. Those students then raised $10,000 for the school and came down to help the community actually rebuild it (Nonprofit Business Advisor, 2008).” And it’s not just the millennials (so called “digital natives because they have been using web technology almost since birth) who are utilizing the internet for charitable contributions and voluntary action. A study of the “Wired Wealthy”, surveyed more than 3,000 donors from 23 major nonprofit organizations 6
who donate a minimum of $1,000 dollars annually to a single cause. The donors surveyed give an average of $10,896 to various charities each year, with a median gift of $4,500. 25% of those surveyed have household incomes above $200,000 per year, were predominantly baby boomers, have been using the Internet for an average of 12 years and are online an average of 18 hours per week. According to the study’s authors, “The Wired Wealthy know their way around the Web. They do their banking and bill paying online. They read the news online. They make purchases online. And, of course, most make charitable contributions online.” Among the findings: 72% of those surveyed said donating online is more efficient and helps charities reduce administrative costs; 51% of those surveyed said they prefer giving online; and 46% said that five years from now they will be making a greater portion of their charitable gifts online (Nonprofit Business Advisor, 2008). However, as we will see in the sections going forward, the internet is no longer just an extension of checkbook philanthropy or “clicking to give”, the new tools and applications of the internet are about building relationships with constituents in order to further the work of your organization and creating networks of supporters who advocate for your cause, mission and objectives.
1.3 Evolution into “Web 2.0”, User Generated Content and Social Networking
he biggest trend in online use right now is the rapid evolution and adoption of user created, user driven The
content known simply as “Web 2.0”.
internet has become not only a medium for consuming information, but also a platform upon which every user has the power to produce content as well. The defining features of what has come to be called Web 2.0 are activities and applications that are interactive and networked. Whereas “Web 1.0” is largely static and focuses on information dissemination with the flow of content moving unilaterally from the 7
producer to the consumer, Web 2.0 is based on user centered applications that promote communication, user empowerment, collaboration and social networking. Examples of Web 2.0 tools include blogs, wiki’s, podcasts and online videos. Web 2.0 applications include Facebook, MySpace, Second Life, YouTube, Twitter, Flickr and countless others. According to a report by Brotherton Strategies, “All these tools allow users to participate by contributing content, or controlling it in some way, and sharing it within their networks of others interested in the same topics. Users can control the information by customizing what they receive, how or where they view the content, and when they respond. In some cases, they aggregate, repackage, and redistribute content among their networks… (creating an) interactive, networked conversation (Brotherton & Schneiderer, 2008, p. 9).” Web 2.0 tools allow individuals and small groups to bring about big changes through self-expression, self-creation and self-organization. Every day millions of users go online to express views and instantly connect with individuals and communities who share their concerns, most often times without joining large membership organizations (Fine, 2006). While online organizing utilizing Web 2.0 tools and applications is often done without joining organizations, it is often done on behalf of organizations whose causes are of interest to online users and networks. Social media, according to Allison Fine, can, “geometrically increase the number of people who can connect to a cause or organization…in a connected world, power is defined entirely differently. It comes directly from an organization’s supporters; the more numerous and more diffuse they are the more power they generate. And, these supporters…can become a loyal network of donors as well (Fine, 2006).” At the heart of these networks are relationships. Either existing relationships among friends and colleagues who share information about products, causes or interests for which they hold a passion, or new relationships among previous strangers built through online communities centered on particular products, causes or interests. In most cases the relationship is not built between user and organization, but between one user and another, or a network of users, on behalf of a cause or interest. This shift is of fundamental importance for organizations hoping to
“Imagine the Web as a physical community. Your charity’s website is your office; their blogger space is their home. If you wanted to create an offline community, would you wait for supporters to visit you in your office, or would you pound the pavement in search of them?” People to People Fundraising (Hart,
Greenfield, & Haji, 2007, p. 62)”
capitalize on the power of Web 2.0 applications. Interactive communication means less control over what is said, and it also means that the boundaries are blurring as to where the conversation takes place. “On virtually any issue—from animal rights and childhood obesity, to climate change and global development—there are Web communities, forums and virtual gathering places where lively discussions play out on a daily basis. it‘s not about drawing people to your Web site anymore; it‘s about getting your content out there in the Web wherever people are or wherever the conversation happens (Brotherton & Schneiderer, 2008, p. 18).”
WEB 2.0 CASE: BARACK OBAMA FOR PRESIDENT The campaign of Barack Obama (D-IL) for President has been incredibly innovative and effective at utilizing internet Web 2.0 tools to mobilize political action and garner financial support. Tools that help supporters connect, join local groups, create and promote events and, most importantly, create personal fundraising pages, can be found at My.BarackObama.com – these tools were instrumental in the coordination of nearly 4000 house parties in late June 2008 – house parties have long been a tool for politicians and nonprofit organizations alike to share their message, recruit supporters and raise money. To that point, not only have online tools allowed Obama supporters to collaborate and network, Obama’s campaign has utilized the internet in its extraordinary fundraising efforts. Obama’s campaign has shattered all previous political campaign fundraising records, bringing in over $600 million – including an astounding $150 million in September alone – from more than 3.1 million donors. While at the time of this writing statistics on what percentage of Obama’s total fundraising came from online contributions were unavailable, an online article points out that of the $32 million Obama raised in January, $28 million, or 87%, was raised online (Peddycord, 2008). These figures suggest that Obama’s campaign has succeeded at transforming online users and networks into committed, repeat donors, a significant measure of success that philanthropic organizations can envy.
There are certain challenges to utilizing Web 2.0 content on behalf of philanthropic organizations, which will be discussed later, but the payoff, as evidenced by Barack Obama’s online fundraising successes, are significant. And, with the widespread use of these tools and the relatively low barriers to entry – most Web 2.0 tools are provided free or very low cost and are easy to use – philanthropic organizations would be remiss in not developing strategies which capitalize on the power of Web 2.0 tools and applications. The sections ahead will provide examples of how the Web 2.0 tools of blogs, online videos and the network application Facebook are being used by a variety of philanthropic organizations to achieve their social change goals, along with recommendations on how your organization can develop Web 2.0 strategies to support your mission and objectives.
Before we move on, however, let’s take a look at another example of online activism powered by Web 2.0.
WEB 2.0 CASE: SALVATION ARMY HURRICANE, “Do More Than Give” APPEAL (Hart, Greenfield, & Haji, 2007, pp. 58-59) Hurricane Katrina was among the strongest hurricanes ever to strike the United States and, thanks to the media’s exposure of the devastation along the Gulf Coast, American’s charitable response to the disaster was just as powerful. More money was given online in response to Hurricanes Katrina and Rita than any other natural disaster in history. The Salvation Army received five times more money through the web in the 18 days after Katrina hit land than in the first four years of receiving online gifts combined. Aiding these fundraising efforts was the Salvation Army’s “Do More Than Give” online campaign which enlisted current online Salvation Army donors in peer-to-peer fundraising efforts. Approximately 11,000 of the Salvation Army’s donors who indicated they wanted to receive more information were sent an email message asking them to become online, volunteer fundraisers and solicit their social and professional contacts to either make a donation or join them in creating personalized online giving pages in support of the ongoing relief efforts along the Gulf Coast. Online fundraising pages included a variety of Web 2.0 tools such as personal blogs, community forums, online videos, links to disaster relief sites and methods to enlist further support. The campaign, which had no marketing or media budget and took less than two days to configure, design and deploy resulted in 375 gifts in 72 hours, totaling $73,191 and over the course of two weeks brought in 1,476 gifts, totaling $217,968.
The key to the success of this effort, and Obama’s online efforts, is asking current donors to personally solicit their personal and professional contacts; in philanthropy, the adage still applies that, “people give to people”. The power of Web 2.0 is that, when used intelligently, it is simply an extension of peopleto-people fundraising, based on two-way communications; a conversation between individuals rather than a speech from an organization. It puts your message in the mouth of the person most likely to prompt a donation: someone the audience knows. A donor who fundraises for or advocates on behalf of your organization is more persuasive, their voices have greater credibility and they have the potential to cut through communications clutter. It is one thing for your organization to ask for support and another thing entirely for one person to tell another person why he or she feels a personal sense of urgency on behalf of your cases and is asking for help based on a relationship and common interest. (Hart, Greenfield, & Haji, 2007, pp. 78, 80). As trust in organizations and institutions continues to erode, philanthropic organizations will, more than ever, need to rely on the personal relationships of their existing supporters in order to cultivate and 10
retain new supporters. As we will see in the next section, blogs, online videos and the network application Facebook provide philanthropic organizations inexpensive and efficient platforms for amplifying and broadcasting their messages, via personal relationships to a massive audience. In short, Web 2.0 facilitates person-to-person support of philanthropy on a massive scale.
SECTION TWO: USING WEB 2.0 TOOLS for NONPROFITS 2.1 Blogs
Blogs (from Web-log) are personal web sites, often launched via one or more free online services, that provide commentary or news on a particular subject, such as food, politics, local news or social change; some function primarily as personal online diaries. A typical blog combines text, images, and links to other blogs, web pages, and other media related to its topic. Blogs allow people to post their thoughts in writing, add video, picture and links to other content on the Web. Blogs, like all Web 2.0 innovations, are interactive and informal. Readers comment on blog posts, and many blogs authors post reactions to other blogs, creating connected conversations. The hallmark of blogs continues to be short, personal posts of interest to the writer and readers. Typically a blogger attracts a following of readers who actively comment on the blog post. These comments, which can number in the dozens, to the hundreds for more popular bloggers, have the power to create robust online discussions among commentors. Commentors often respond not only to the original “post” but respond to other comments as well.
Why should a nonprofit start a blog?
Blogs allow nonprofit organizations to carry on an informal conversation with constituents interested in their work. Blog posts provide a personal perspective from someone inside a nonprofit on why they are passionate about the work of the organization. This personal perspective helps create a relationship between constituents and a person inside the organization who is blogging. And, as was discussed above, personal relationships are the cornerstone to cultivating supporters and transforming them into advocates and donors. Blogs also allow constituents to provide feedback to the organization through the comment function – and understanding stakeholders’ perspectives is key to better meeting their needs, whether they are donors, grantees, volunteers or recipients. In short, blogs create a unique, personal feedback loop between a nonprofit organization and its key constituents that allows a nonprofit organization to bring those constituents closer to the organization.
Blogs are also a very popular medium for communication in today’s media environment. Fifty million Americans, or 30% of all American internet users, visited a blog in the first quarter of 2005. Important to nonprofit organizations, blog readers are 11% more likely than the average internet user to have incomes of or greater than $75,000 (Kerner, 2005). Half of blog readers say they find blogs useful for purchase information, 52% say blogs played a role in the critical moment they decided to move forward with a purchase, and half of frequent blog readers have taken action after viewing an ad on a blog. Blogs are also being used for more than just information gathering; they are also bridges: nearly 40% said they prefer blog links over search engines for discovering new online content (Vasquez, 2008). In some ways, nonprofit organizations who are not utilizing blogs are missing significant opportunities to connect with and even influence their key constituents.
How should nonprofits use blogs?
The nonprofit blogger, Britt Bravo, provides some very helpful hints to nonprofit organizations who are thinking about
starting a blog (Bravo, 2008).
recommends, “Before your organization starts to blog, set up a newsreader, whether it is Bloglines or Google Reader … and see what is being written about your organization and the issues that it represents. Not only will this give you a feel for the different styles of blogs, but it will also provide content for some of your first blog posts.” Next, keeping in mind that the power of Web 2.0 comes from the personal connection it creates, the blog should not be from your organization, rather it should be from someone within your organization on the frontlines of your
Have Fun Do Good: A blog for people who want to make the world a better place AND have fun!
work and who is excited to write it, in order to keep it authentic and personal. “In other
words, what is the point of telling the development director that they are in charge of writing a blog, if it feels like just "one more thing" to them? Being an organization's blogger involves not only writing for 13
the blog, but also building relationships with other bloggers by reading them, linking to them, commenting on their blogs, and inviting them to comment on your blog. You need a staff person who is not only excited to write on a regular basis, but also wants to immerse themselves in the ‘blogosphere’.” Another important recommendation she has, which refers to the old adage, “content is king”, is to post consistently:
There are all kinds of theories about how often to post on your blog. The most important thing is to be consistent. You don't have to write every day, but once a week is good. The rule of "quality not quantity" still stands. If you post often, but your content is not interesting, you will have less readers than if you post less frequently, but have higher quality content. Quality not quantity doesn't mean that each post reads like a press release, or a page from your annual report. Blogging is part of social media. It is interactive media made by regular people for regular people. Think of it as a conversation that you're having with your supporters, and with people who stumble upon your blog because they are interested in the issues that you represent. The best nonprofit blogs are a mix of true stories about their organization's work and its constituents, invitations for readers to check out other bloggers' post or news stories about related issues, organizational news, and editorials on the daily news as it relates to the organization.
There are two big mistakes Bravo recommends avoiding. First is having an intern setup your blog, “Too many nonprofit blogs are set up by an excited intern, posted in diligently for a few months, and then abandoned,” which ruins the consistency needed for successful blogging. The second mistake is not providing an RSS Feed – which allows readers to more easily follow your blog posts – and not opening the blog up for comments; both an RSS Feed and reader comments are key for creating an online conversation, especially for savvy, blog readers. And since blog readers represent such a large audience, Bravo also recommends, “When you are creating your press list, be sure to search on Technorati and Google Blog Search to find bloggers who are writing about your organization's issues and send them your press release as well,” even if your organization decides to not blog. Other ideas include nonprofits using blogs to facilitate conversations and share best practices among grant recipients or volunteers. Blogs can utilize multiple writers from one organization or writers representing several organizations to strengthen information sharing and collaboration among coalitions and networks. Nonprofit blogs can also utilize issue area experts as guest writers or facilitate “liveblogging” Q & A sessions during a certain time or to track and share conference proceedings. Blogs 14
For further recommendations, see this must-read article by Britt Bravo for NetSquared.org: 10 Ways Nonprofits Can Use Blogs which includes links to nonprofit blogs exemplifying each of the 10 recommendations.
allow you to become an information hub and clearing house for relevant and important information which you can utilize to educate your constituents and mobilize their support. One of the great things about blogs is the numerous, creative and impactful ways nonprofit organizations can use blogs to share information and facilitate relationships – as with other Web 2.0 tools it is an innovation which nonprofit organizations should not ignore.
2.2 Online Videos
ideo has long been one of the most powerful mediums for communicating the work of nonprofit organizations. More than any other medium, video can tell powerful, emotional stories that move supporters and donors to take action. Instead of simply telling potential
donors about the organization’s work, videos shows the people a nonprofit helps, tells their story and allows constituents to hear directly from both volunteers and program recipients in their own words. However, online videos are not the nonprofit videos of the past – videos with high production value and high cost that take months to produce, are disseminated through DVDs and which are typically shown as part of a more expansive in person presentation, group solicitation or as part of awards luncheons and dinners. The new breed of online videos are short – never more than five minutes in length – most often filmed on inexpensive cameras, produced with little fanfare on personal computers and uploaded for free on the online video sharing site, YouTube. In fact, the key to online videos is they are created and disseminated not by organizations – be they for-or-nonprofit – but by average online users. And like all Web 2.0 content, online videos are shared via online networks, blogs, Facebook and MySpace accounts, where they become part of larger online discussions, commented on by multitudes of online viewers – this sharing and dissemination through online relationships are what makes online videos powerful.
Why should a nonprofit create online videos?
Like many Web 2.0 tools, the benefits of online videos lie in their low barriers to entry and their popularity, giving even the smallest charities the opportunity to create video spots that can be seen by an unlimited audience. "It takes a free YouTube account, a $120 camera, and a good idea," says Steve Grove, YouTube's head of news and politics. "With those things, you can put together a good campaign and you can mobilize other people to do the campaign for you. If nonprofits think of ways they can reach out to supporters and donors and citizens, YouTube is a far more easy method than we've ever had before (Panepento, 2007)." 15
And from a demographic perspective, online videos are already being utilized by people nonprofits want to target in their marketing efforts, so to not participate would be walking away from an almost free way of connecting with key constituents. Consider these 2007 statistics for online videos (Frank, 2008): 48% of internet users have visited video sharing sites, for example YouTube, in 2007 59% increase in women visiting online video sharing sites from 2006 to 2007 58% increase in internet users aged 50-64 visiting video sharing sites in 2007 compared to 2006 The largest increase in visits from 2006 to 2007 - 89% - was by households making $50,000$74,999, followed by 43% increase by households with income of $75,000 or more The scale of online video makes it impossible to ignore: the most popular online video sharing site, YouTube, reaches 20% of internet traffic daily, with 30 million visitors per day playing 100 million videos each day. And, it is easy to get involved. Anyone can sign up for a free account to post a video on YouTube and 501c registered charities can also take advantage of a special section dedicated to nonprofits: http://youtube.com/nonprofits, which includes enhanced promotion and a fundraising option via Google Checkout.
How should nonprofits use online videos? viral: Short for 'viral
marketing'. An online marketing strategy that encourages people to pass on a marketing message. Amusing and low-budget, a good internet viral campaign will get surfers forwarding the ad to their friends giving the campaign great word of mouth.
Developing your own online video content may be much easier than most nonprofits realize. The great thing about YouTube is that you don't have to produce a glitzy piece to tell a compelling story; some of the most moving nonprofit videos are not beautiful works of cinematography but honest interviews with victims of cancer or raw footage from povertystricken nations. Videos are often produced by program
managers or volunteers, filming their work with recipients, downloading the footage to their office computer or laptops and creating simple, powerful videos with software which is commonly available for free. Once created the video is quickly uploaded to YouTube, Flickr, and other video sharing sites or, in some cases, directly to a nonprofit organization’s website. The next step is to take the video “viral” by posting it on your organization’s website, blog, Facebook page and emailing it to friends, family, supporters, news media, other bloggers and even, in some cases, other nonprofit organizations. This is where the power of Web 2.0 comes in – the convergence of tools and applications to fulfill your strategy. Each tool does not exist in isolation, rather the tools work together to build maximum online impact for your organization. As the following case demonstrates, online videos become one piece of the content that can be readily shared across all your marketing channels. 16
WEB 2.0 CASE: THE VETERANS OF FOREIGN WARS “Our Heroes Next Door” (Panepento, 2007) The Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States, in Kansas City, Mo., set out to create a video campaign aimed at identifying potential donors in their 20s and 30s. The organization was concerned that it was relying too heavily on older donors, even though soldiers serving in the war in Iraq have earned tremendous respect among their peers back home, says Mark Blankenship, chief executive of Barton Cotton, a Baltimore marketing agency that created an online video campaign for the charity. To reach that group, the VFW has produced two videos that have been posted on YouTube. One — a slideshowstyle spot called "Our Heroes Next Door" — featured a series of heroic images of soldiers set to somber, military-style music. The images were interspersed with written messages, such as "They are our brothers and sisters" and "Honor them by flying your flag." The video was a YouTube hit, at one point becoming one of the most-watched videos — No. 17 — on the site. Mr. Blankenship says the video attracted an audience, in part, because the VFW was able to get bloggers sympathetic to its cause to link to it on their blogs. The organization did not ask for donations as part of the video, but it was able to collect nearly 3,000 e-mail addresses. Based on the number of young people YouTube attracts, Mr. Blankenship says he believes many of those addresses belong to younger adults who responded to the video and its message. "This is a couple of thousand folks that we might not have reached otherwise," says Mike Elliott, Barton Cotton's director of Internet strategy, noting that those e-mail addresses will be used for future fund-raising solicitations. "Any single e-mail from that demographic is incredibly helpful to have."
Finally, in order to create a powerful, genuine and compelling online video, consider interviewing people who are affected by the work your organization does and recording actions you are taking to solve problems in your community. These tactics Further tips can be for nonprofits for creating an effective online video can be found in the YouTube Video Handbook. The Handbook details important concepts like which formats are best for uploading, camera techniques, lighting/sound advice, and information on how to use a webcam.
resonate much more with the YouTube audience than a piece you think is hip or one that features a celebrity. The other piece of advice is to keep YouTube videos reasonably short (under five minutes is ideal). If your organization has created a longer video, you may want to consider chopping it up and releasing it as a series. Your organization can also use online videos to respond to current events. You can create a video to explain your organization’s position on an issue that's currently in the news, or bring attention to an issue that perhaps should be, but isn't (Michaels, 2008). And don’t forget humor. While it may be difficult to present a serious issue in a humorous light, online
And, specific tips for nonprofits on how to utilize online videos, along with over a dozen links to successful nonprofit online video projects can be found at Nancy E. Schwartz’s “Getting Attention” blog.
videos with a bit of humor, or some other unique edge, are often the videos which will gain the widest audience of online viewers. And one last note: nonprofits using the celebrity-centric PSA model or the "annual dinner" highlight reel video have less of a chance of going viral than other, more creative, models.
acebook is a social networking site that allows members to connect and share information – anyone can join and membership is free. Facebook allows members to post online profiles
including photos, information about themselves and their interests along with the “Causes” and
“Groups” to which they are connected. Then users connect to other users who share the same interests, experiences, etc., using “Walls” and built in email and instant messaging features. Often
times users become friends with their friends’ friends and networks begin to grow exponentially. Facebook began as an online avenue for students to find one another and has since morphed into a social network for everyone (Author’s note: “Everyone” includes my mom and baby boomer aunts and
Facebook is built around groups and is made up of many networks, each based around an organization, region, high school or college. Members can then join fan groups, causes, interests groups and a host of other networks all based in Facebook. Members receive real-time updates of the activities of their friends and networks. One reason why it's so popular is because it's just very easy to use. Adding friends, updating your profile, changing your status message - whatever you do takes just minutes. Nonprofit organizations are encouraged to join and promote their causes. Many nonprofits already have accounts and are reaping the benefits for their organization and their cause.
ASU MNpS Student, Alumni and Faculty Group on Facebook. 23 Members spanning the Baby Boomer, GenX and Millennials generations.
Why should a nonprofit utilize Facebook?
Nonprofit organization should consider using Facebook for the same reasons they utilize blogs and online videos: it allows an organization to easily access huge numbers of constituents and potential constituents at little or low-cost (some applications for some organizations do have nominal fees). As for users, Facebook has grown massively since its inception, becoming the fifth most trafficked internet site in the US. From Facebook’s Statistic Site:
General Growth More than 120 million active users Facebook is the 4th most-trafficked website in the world (comScore) Facebook is the most-trafficked social media site in the world (comScore) User Demographics Over 55,000 regional, work-related, collegiate, and high school networks More than half of Facebook users are outside of college The fastest growing demographic is those 25 years old and older Maintain 85 percent market share of 4-year U.S. universities Applications No. 1 photo sharing application on the Web (comScore) More than 10 billion photos uploaded to the site More than 30 million photos uploaded daily More than 6 million active user groups on the site International Growth Our Translation Application is first step for us in helping users all over the world connect and share information with those that matter the most to them – wherever they live and in whatever language they choose In a little over five months, we have released the site in more than 20 languages, including Spanish, French, German, Russian and Korean. Our goal is to offer Facebook in as many languages as possible, as quickly as possible. Platform More than 400,000 developers and entrepreneurs Over 24,000 applications have been built on Facebook Platform 140 new applications added per day More than 95% of Facebook members have used at least one application built on Facebook Platform
And, the barriers of entry are low. You probably already have staff using Facebook and adept at utilizing it to discuss things they care about. The best part is Facebook is all about making friends. And, as discussed already, building relationships with donors and community stakeholders should be one of a nonprofit agency’s top priorities.
While the typical Facebook user is Gen X or Millennial (18 – 40) and may not currently be your organizations target donors, they are your future donors. And if you want to build relationships with prospective donors, why not go where they already are? Plus, the individuals using Facebook belong to generations interested in making a difference and therefore make ideal volunteers and advocates. They want to be involved, they want to volunteer, either hands-on or virtually. And they want to make a difference all while being involved with their friends. They are smart on global issues and are likely already using Facebook to engage in conversations about causes they support. They are influenced by their online peers and will join in causes and support issues which are supported by their peer networks. They are an ideal group to connect with and motivate – and Facebook makes it easy!
How should nonprofits use Facebook?
First, you need to remember that Web 2.0 “Golden Rule” – don’t make it about the organization, make it about the cause! Your goal with Facebook should be to create personal relationships with other Facebook members interested in similar causes and issues. The relationship comes first and the promotion of your organization second. In order to be effective, your organization should develop and discuss a deliberate strategy for utilizing Facebook. The first step is to find out who in your organization is already using Facebook. Ask for their advice on how to implement an effective strategy and share with them your thoughts and ideas. Next, have key staff that are not already on Facebook join in and begin to network with their personal and professional contacts – its likely many new users will quickly find people they know using Facebook. This piece of advice came from a nonprofit blog with resources for new Facebook users:
Start by using the search feature to find friends who are already using Facebook and request to be their friend. You can add just about anyone you can think of including your members, supporters, volunteers, staff and even your board members. Don't worry if you don't have a big list right away. Once you have two or more contacts, you'll be able to expand your social network by locating mutual friends and contacting them.
Next, create a group or cause for your organization and invite your Facebook friends and networks to join, including your employees. Upload and share videos, blog posts (from your organization’s blog), newsletters, events, links to articles and other online content which might be of interest to those connected to your organization and cause. Like a blog, Facebook allows you to become an information hub and clearing house for relevant and important information. And, you should encourage your
constituents to post comments to your organization’s Facebook wall and submit photos and videos of their own. And, you will want to monitor and keep in touch with your members and friends. Facebook 21
Wild Apricot’s nonprofit technology blog features an article on how to promote your non-profit's cause on Facebook in five easy steps.
has a feature called "News Feed" that allows you to see all kinds of activity within your network. It's very similar to an RSS feed, in that when you log in to Facebook you immediately receive an update of all of the actions your contacts have taken. This allows you to track conversations that are happening around your organization. Finally, encourage all of your organization’s Facebook users to have online
conversations around the work of your organization. Remember, this is not gotcha marketing, where you sneak in pre-packaged messages and slogans – its authentic communication based on the passion of your employees, volunteers and grantees.
The “Dollars for Darfur” Group on Facebook has nearly 6,000 student members from more than 850 high schools who raised more than $150,000 to help stop the genocide is Sudan
SECTION THREE: WHAT ARE THE BARRIERS TO USING WEB 2.0 TOOLS AND HOW ARE THEY OVERCOME?
Barrier: The generation gap is one of the biggest hurdles. According to a recent Community Foundation CEO Network and Council on Foundations survey of community foundation CEOs, 65 percent are over the age of 50, and 19 percent are over the age of 60. The leadership at most nonprofits mirrors this demographic. The leadership is of an older generation that did not grow up with cell phones or wikis or blogs (Brotherton & Schneiderer, 2008, p. 19). Solution: In almost every nonprofit organization there exists young nonprofit professionals – digital natives – who are passionate about your nonprofit’s work and who want to be involved in leading creative endeavors on behalf of your organization. Consider assigning one or more of these employees to serve as your organizations blogger; this is a great way to empower young employees, involve them in your strategic initiatives and provide for their development.
Barrier: Many organizations, for-or-nonprofit, have been taught for years that brand control is of utmost importance. As noted above, Web 2.0 is all about giving up control; its user created and contributed content. Nonprofit organizations might fear allowing their young staff to create and manage a blog on behalf of their organization which would include conversations with key constituents or having their staff actively represent the organization on their personal Facebook page – both are places where misinformation, unpopular viewpoints and petty squabbles get aired. Solution: The success of many good Web 2.0 projects starts with the willingness to give up control. It‘s better to seed the conversation, or feed it, than to try and control it. If you want to control it, you are going to become quickly irrelevant. At the same time, there may be some need for basic controls. For example, perhaps you require your blogger to have a certain number of posts, refrain from direct criticisms of your organization and monitor comments for inappropriate language and content. Or maybe all online videos get screened before posting. But be careful not to squash the innovation and authenticity at the heart of Web 2.0 projects.
Barrier: The internet is extremely crowded and it is difficult for any organization, much less a nonprofit, to get attention. For example, on YouTube, how do you get your content noticed, when there are 6.1 million videos for your audience to choose from? Solution: The foundation of Web 2.0 is to enhance current relationships and build networks based on common interests. There may already be online interest groups who are discussing your nonprofit organization’s work – networking in to these groups provides an instant audience with which to connect. Further, for each tool in this report – blogs, online videos, and Facebook – there are a myriad of online resources and tools to help maximize the exposure for your efforts. For example, this blog post, Ten Ways You Can Use YouTube To Promote Your Online Content, lists simple, clear and powerful methods for promoting exposure of your organization’s online videos.
Barrier: A big question is how do you assess and evaluate the impact or success of online communication efforts? What are the right metrics? And how are the challenges inherent in the Web 2.0 world any different from the measurement obstacles of traditional communication (Brotherton & Schneiderer, 2008, p. 7)? Solution: Questions about evaluation and metrics for nonprofit initiatives are certainly not unique to Web 2.0 marketing efforts, especially given the lack of a profit motive in nonprofit organizations. And there isn’t any easy answer. You can of course measure things like page views per month, amount of time visitors spend on your site, visitor click paths (the route that visitors take to navigate through your site), number of search engine referrals per month, number of links to your site, number of video views on YouTube or even the number of Facebook friends your organization has. However, these metrics don’t tell you if a donor gave because of your blog or online video or if they took some advocacy action because of your Web 2.0 activities. This will continue to be an ongoing challenge for nonprofits utilizing 23 2.0 Web strategies.
SECTION FOUR: FINAL RECOMMENDATIONS
1. Link your Web 2.0 strategies with your organizations goals and priorities Lead with your goals, not the tools. Choose a Web 2.0 technology or tool only if it will help you tell the story you are trying to tell. You must find a link between your priorities and your audiences online use patterns. Before adopting new tools, it's critical to assess the intended recipients of your message. Don't just put something out there simply because you can. Finally, remember the power of Web 2.0 comes with the convergence of tools and applications. Each tool does not exist in isolation, rather the tools work together – and are integrated in your traditional marketing strategies – to build maximum impact for your organization. Spread the word among other Web 2.0 users through online networking, convening, conversations and information sharing – to be effective you must participate! 2. Include your entire organization, including volunteers, in creating Web 2.0 content To be successful, you must think beyond your communications department; it’s essential to integrate Web 2.0 communications approaches into a nonprofit organizations overall strategy and utilize every department to implement the strategies. As stated above, your organization likely has employees – of all ages – utilizing Web 2.0 technologies every day. They may, in fact, already be having conversations about your organization or your cause with their online networks. Harness the power of their networks to spread the word about your organization. And, empower your program managers, fundraisers and volunteers to experiment creating online videos about their experiences with your organization. Lastly, consider creating a constituent advisory panel – donors, volunteers, grantees – who provide feedback on your Web 2.0 efforts. 3. Build on the success of others Most of the best Web 2.0 tools you will need have already been built and employed by other organizations. There is no need to reinvent the wheel. The internet is home to literally thousands of websites providing advice and counsel on how to effectively deploy Web 2.0 strategies on behalf of nonprofit organizations. Simply using the links in this report can get you started on finding information relevant to your organization. Take your time when researching ideas – discernment and critical thinking are needed to cull out the good advice from the bad. 4. Be innovative, but cautious You first will need to discuss and assess your organization’s appetite for innovation among leadership and program officers. Once you know the boundaries, go slowly and build on successes. Do a small experiment or pilot program for a specific period of time. Then pause, step back, evaluate and reassess. If at all possible, provide constituents with some control over the content and pay a lot of attention to what they are saying and how they are utilizing the technology.
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