Posts filed under ‘Non-profit technology’

Nonprofit social networks: Is quantity trumping quality?

I recently completed an exhaustive clearing out of Facebook “friends,” and I have to admit, it was pretty refreshing. Refreshing like cleaning out an old pile of mail that includes expired coupons, already-paid bills and never-to-be-opened direct mail letters (don’t mention that to the rest of the development department at my non-profit). Refreshing like getting rid of piles of never-to-be-worn clothes. Refreshing like … getting rid of old clutter.

I have nothing against many of the people I defriended. Many were pretty nice individuals when they became my Facebook friends, and likely still are. But I realized over the past week that even though my friend total was pretty healthy, the value of my network wasn’t that great. As fun as it is to peek in on old dorm acquaintances and random classmates from high school, I realized I didn’t really want them in my network. I wanted my network to include people I actually corresponded with, people I wanted to follow because I was truly interested in their updates, people who added value to my network. (more…)


July 1, 2009 at 5:33 pm Leave a comment


This just in from Mashable, via the New York Times: MySpace is slashing 30% of its staff, bringing it to a total of 1,000 U.S. employees (Facebook has 850).

Which brings up the already much-asked question: Is MySpace peaking? (Or … has MySpace peaked?)

From a nonprofit and advocacy perspective, I’ve found that MySpace just isn’t as useful as Facebook. During a session at the recent Computers, Freedom and Privacy Conference in DC, many commented that what make those Facebook newsfeeds so pesky and annoying  – the applications and widgets – are precisely what make the platform useful for organizing and advocacy. (The benefits of organizing events, house parties, Causes, etc. seemed to outweigh the main drawback of Facebook: nonprofit group and fan pages cannot “friend” other users, but have to attract users to their pages). (more…)

June 16, 2009 at 9:20 pm Leave a comment

Social media quote of the day

“The qualities that make Twitter seem inane and half-baked are what make it so powerful.” – Jonathan Zittrain, Harvard Law School professor

Taken from a New York Times piece on the power of social media in the Iran elections.

June 16, 2009 at 1:49 pm Leave a comment

Avoiding the wonk

This morning, I read a good piece on Care2’s “Frogloop” blog about engaging new online activists and came across one of the best phrases I’ve heard in awhile:

“Avoid the wonk.”

A lot of organizations that “get” online communications are keeping this in mind. Some recent examples from my inbox:

“Improving women’s health is fundamental to improving our nation’s health care system — and that means that Planned Parenthood must be an essential part of health care reform.” – Planned Parenthood, tying their organization’s mission into the health care debate with one sentence

“Your generosity today enables Greenpeace to take on in-depth and global research that ties the Brazilian cattle industry to huge multinational corporations. More than that, it allows Greenpeace to take action against corporations and the governments that shield them and to show them that we will expose and hold them accountable.” – Greenpeace explains why a donation matters

“By deploying a fisheries management program called “catch shares,” we can make fish more abundant and fisheries more profitable — for generations to come.” – Care2 summarizes scientific studies

“If King Coal lobbyists get their way, communities close to these toxic coal ash sites will be left vulnerable to arsenic, mercury, selenium, and other coal toxins, and they will continue to face a very high, 1 in 50, risk of cancer.” – The Sierra Club details the dangers of toxic coal ash

Of course, saying you’re going to avoid the wonk and actually doing it are two very different things. (more…)

June 12, 2009 at 5:52 pm 1 comment

Facebook Causes and WaPo take two

Last month, I gave my take on The Washington Post’s revelation that Facebook Causes is ineffective for nonprofit fundraising.

Now, it appears the WaPo acknowledges it used some inaccurate data for the article. A correction appears above the headline:

This article used outdated figures regarding the popularity of Facebook’s Causes application. As of last week, 235,000 nonprofit organizations were using the application, of which three had raised more than $100,000 and 88 had raised $10,000, according to the developer. The story also incorrectly said that 25 million members of the social-networking Web site had joined at least one of the causes. That number represents active users; another 25 million members considered inactive have joined at least one cause.

Better late than never, I guess.

June 3, 2009 at 1:44 pm Leave a comment

My take on the Facebook Causes/WaPo buzz

For those of you who missed it, the Washington Post published a story this week downplaying the effectiveness of Facebook causes for nonprofit fundraising.

It states that “Only a tiny fraction of the 179,000 nonprofits that have turned to Causes as an inexpensive and green way to seek donations have brought in even $1,000,” and goes on to explain that “even” e-mail campaigns are more likely to raise significant amounts of money (being an e-mail communications manager, I get feisty at the suggested tone in their use of the word “even,” but I digress …).

It’s no surprise that this article created buzz among the nonprofit tech community. First, social media/social change blogger Allison Fine points out that the “news” in the WaPo article isn’t actually “new,” which is true: the effectiveness of Causes was already being discussed among nonprofit techies last year. She also takes the WaPo to task for using faulty data when determining the average number of nonprofits using Causes and the average amount of money they’ve raised.

Next, Mike Ames, of Tech Hermit, blogged about an email conversation he had with the WaPo staff writers who wrote the article – Kim Hart and Megan Greenwell. In short, the response he got included a shot at social media and nonprofit bloggers.

Finally, social media guru Beth Kanter boils down the argument on her blog, pointing out the fact that “Causes is a Friending too, Not a Fundraising Tool.”

Now … what do I think? (more…)

April 24, 2009 at 5:09 pm 3 comments

OpenSecrets goes open data

Transparency advocates received some great news today thanks to They’re providing almost 20 years of money-in-politics data, about 200 million records, to the public, free and downloadable.

What a deal! Not only can people can access data about money’s influence on politics, but developers can take the data and mash it up with other data sets and create new apps.

You can check it out here.

April 13, 2009 at 7:31 pm Leave a comment

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