SocNets for Associations

I recently had the opportunity to lead a roundtable on Blogging to Build Community and Financial Support at the Association Foundation Group‘s Sixth National Conference on Association Foundations and Fundraising: Navigating the Association Foundation Fundraising Seas in Washington, DC.

As the format was a ‘hot topic’ roundtable, rather than presenting a PowerPoint deck, I brought my laptop and showed the participants some of my favorite applications of web 2.0/social networking technologies* by not for profit groups. Some of the sites we looked at and discussed include:

While checking out the cool things NFPs are doing online, I tried to convey a few key points:

  1. Content is KING (or Queen, if you prefer). The thing that’s so great about a lot of social networking technologies is that they’re cheap and easy to install and configure. The thing that’s hard is that you may be tempted to install them without thinking about the “then what?” Your organization needs to produce good, well-written, compelling, frequently updated content, or no one will care.
  2. Survey your audience. Want to know if people are actually going to make use of the cool new web 2.0 app you’re thinking about installing? Ask them what types of technologies they already use in their daily lives. If the technology you’re thinking about shows up in significant numbers, you’re good to go. If not, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it, but realize you’ll have a tougher job selling your new social networking offerings to your constituents.
  3. The future is now. Want to attract younger staff, members, and donors? You have to meet them where they are, and that’s on the SocNets. Don’t believe me? Plug your organization’s name into MySpace, Linkedin, Facebook, etc., and see what pops up. I guarantee you’ll be surprised. That doesn’t mean you should rush in blindly. But your organization can’t just ignore all this stuff and hope it will go away. You need to make an organizational plan for web 2.0 and implement that plan. It’s time to get on the bus.

*Wondering what some of these terms mean? Download A Brief Guide to Web 2.0 (presented as a handout at the conference).

edited at 1:35 pm 5/27/2008 to clean up some code problems.

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