Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Non-Profs on the Web

[Adapt or Die: Volunteerism in Web 2.0. Maybe the best panel so far.]

Well, it's late but I can digest a bit of the two panels from earlier today.

The big news seems to be that non-prof heavies--like the American Cancer Society, March of Dimes, and National Geographic--have realized the value in user generated content and social networks to bring people together so they can donate time and money to a cause. The panelists talked a fair amount about creating narratives for communities. ACS and MoD both had video sites where people could tell their own stories and share those stories with others.

[I was encouraged by the long line of Q&A people]

While a great sign for the non-profs, it also shows the main challenge to youtube: once content sharing technology leaks to other hosts, people may flee for like-minded communities. Imagine sites that specialize in certain genres or content level. That's what lies underneath these movements, a growth toward specialized content. Hopefully people are wise enough to realize the content itself can define the community and they don't resort to old gate-keeping mechanisms to 'protect' their community.

[Clouds Over Austin]

Frankly, the second panel disappointed me a bit. Beth kinda dominated the show because the other panelist seemed intent to get out of her way.

However, the N2 contest looks cool. Check it out if you have a great idea for a new web-based non-prof idea.

Overall, this panel focused more on the top down model of driving non-profs, which shocked me given how user-focused the old school non-profs had been. It was much more about celebrity and design to motivate people rather than shaping communities for lasting effect. Given the first panel's focus on their communities, I'll chalk one up for the new visionaries in the old school non-profs over the second panel's celeb du jour. Not that the celeb doesn't do awesome work for the people--but the people can do more for the people with the right tools and community.

[Panel 2: Pimp My Non-profit. I think the non-prof I work for would have flipped out over the theme. Bit questionable in choice given the activist audience--maybe if the mod hadn't jokingly (and uncomfortably) referred to the panel as 'my bitches.']


Kristin said...

I like the idea of non-profits getting involved in social networking. There are so many communities that gather online and in social networking sites so why not? I think they would be able to reach a wider audience and appeal to a younger demographic through social networking. I think getting involved with these kids of sites offers a good supplement to the other fundraisers and events non-profits have throughout the year. It could also offer users alternative ways to get involved or donate like you mentioned. It could also offer smaller interest and non-profit groups inexpensive alternatives to getting their message out to the public. However, security could be an issue when it comes to donations. Hopefully these groups would be able to work something out.

Chondra P said...

This would have been a discussion that I would have been interested in attending. I think that user generated content is necessary for organizations that are seeking out funds for their cause. I am much more likely to give when I know what I am giving for. I think that allowing people to tell their stories increases credibility and gives victims or those affected the opportunity to tell their story. Michael also mentioned the use of celebrities. I believe in some situations a celebrity can help to increase funds for events, however; I can't help but wonder if their celebrity can have a negative affect. For example, people may believe they are just acting. Overall, I think that user generated content and social networking sites have are a great direction for non-profs to go in.