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Nonprofit & Social Media: a Match Made in Cyber Space

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There is no perceived difference between the two terms nonprofit and not-for-profit (only the IRS makes a distinction). Note here that nonprofit does not necessarily mean “charitable.” In this posting I intend to talk about organizations established for purposes other than profit-making, this includes entities like local government.

The online technologies and practices used to share information, knowledge, opinions, ideas, experiences, perspectives, and insights with other people; Social Media is changing the way we learn, teach, and interact with other people worldwide. People everywhere are having conversations online. There is a new on-line wave of influencers out there, and it is powerful.

Many nonprofits are limited in resources — money and time as well as staff and technical expertise. The biggest challenge is to apply the technologies that are useful to a certain audience. Most businesses have focused exclusively on using Social Media as a marketing tool. Many employers see it as simply a workplace distraction. But Social Media has the potential to revolutionize service networks and workplace learning.

In order to engage with citizens today, it is important to communicate in new ways, keep the message clear, and make information easy to get. However, technology is only an enabler and not the solution. Integration of the various online tools for access to services and information is needed to make the most out of the web. Active promotion and an integrated approach to managing digital channels are key to effective communication and engagement.

The new socially informed generation calls for two-way dialogs as nonprofits and governments are shifting their view of citizens as consumers, and allowing citizens to become contributors in the development of their materials. Social Media provides the ultimate platform to reach out and strengthen and build communities. Social networks contribute to raising awareness and increasing engagement, by inspiring people to join others to create a community that embraces certain norms and values.

How to reduce communications costs while giving citizens the information they want, when they want it? A skillfully created Social Media strategy can drastically improve online presence, increase traffic and enhance search engine results, in a very cost-effective way. The correct and timely use of on-line technologies will enhance organizational efficiency and effectiveness. People like to have the option to subscribe to certain information. More subscribers amount to more information “pulled” by citizens; this can increase website usage by 20% to 50%! People have always learned best from one another—Social Media enables this to happen unrestricted by physical location and in all kinds of extraordinarily creative ways.

Update October 15: Found this article today http://radar.oreilly.com/2010/10/gov-20-goes-local.html

“The primary benefits of Gov 2.0 that IT professionals cite include improved e-services to the public, resident participation in government, and collaboration between agencies.”

Written by Monique DiCarlo

August 30, 2010 at 10:41 pm

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