Monthly Archives: July 2009

Non-profit Techies Unite

Do you know about local non-profit tech groups? They’re springing up, and you can find the local meetings of NTEN 501 Tech Clubs via the national organization for technology in non-profits, NTEN.

Although not an NTEN affiliate, CNTC is a Colorado group of both hardcore techies and non-profit newbies.

July’s CNTC topic was measuring social media.
Here are some of the highlights:

  • Trackle is like a search robot–it goes out to the web and searches for bits of text you specify. It’s like an RSS feed that searches more than just specified sites. A great idea for ‘listening’ to what’s being said about your organization.
  • Qwitter tells you who’s stopped following you on Twitter.
  • Steve shared his glossaries, linked to the left for Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.
  • Here’s the invite to next Tuesday’s Colorado Nonprofit Technology and Communications (CNTC) meetup on “Open Government Data”:

      Much recent work been done in our nation’s capital, around open data and transparency. The city of Washington DC made lots of municipal data available in real time, and the Apps for Democracy program saw some real successes building on that. Similar efforts are underway in other cities across the nation, and at the federal level as well.
      What are some of the promises and pitfalls of this movement? What does it mean for Colorado?
      Tuesday, August 4th, 6-8pm, The Alliance Center (1536 Wynkoop Street, Denver, 80202) Snacks & parking available. RSVP here.

    It’s great to know there’s others out there! Anyone been to a similar meetup or signed up for a group like this?


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    Book Review: e-Riches 2.0

    I’m reading a lot this summer. It’s summer. That’s what you’re supposed to do, right? Well, there’s no beach involved, but I’m on goodreads if you care to sign in and find my lists or keep your own.

    e -Riches 2.0: Next-Generation Marketing Strategies for Making Millions Online by Scott Fox is a good book for organizations wondering why and beginning to get into the social media scene.

    e-Riches covers the what, why and how of some of the most popular social networking sites like Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, LinkedIn and social news. With a bent towards marketing and business. But nonprofits market, and nonprofits are in business, so go forth and find this one to learn how public relations have changed, how you can measure your marketing program, and touches on higher-level topics like search-engine optimization, posting information content that can be freely accessed, and using video and advertising to drive more traffic to your site..

    The book reiterates key points like:

    • Social media is just one PART of an overall marketing strategy.
    • Don’t forget that e-mail is still the number one social media tool.
    • MySpace is not where it’s at for most businesses.
    • You gotta build the crowd through multiple means.

    Specific examples of each strategy are included, but this is not a book to devote hours and hours to pouring over. Rather, I find it useful as a skimmable reference for newbies or those looking to integrate social media to other parts of their organization.

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    Book Review: slide:ology

    slide:ology: The Art and Science of Creating Great Presentations
    By Nancy Duarte

    WOW! An amazing overview of graphics and editing for anyone who puts together PowerPoints or any other presentation materials–worth a good overview.

    Top Four Tips
    1. “If you want to be a great presenter, you must think like a designer.”

    2. Follow the 10:20:30 Principle–no more than 10 slides or 20 minutes, and no font smaller than 30 point.

    3. Create unity through a presentation template for your organization–with editable title, informational, transition, quote and closing slides.

    4. GoogleDocs offers hundreds of free, downloadable files to save and use as slide background.

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    Teens & Media

    Mobile technologies are a great way to reach teen audiences.
    Even if you aren’t pondering a texting campaign, the following provide some pretty good insights to the changing world around us.

    See slides of the Nielsen report findings, Kids on the Go: Mobile Usage by U.S. Teens and Tweens is a 2008 report from Nielsen Mobile that finds:
    58% of tweens who download or watch TV on their phone do so at home;
    64% of tweens who download or play music on their phone do so at home;
    56% of tweens who access the Internet on their phone do so at home.

    Another excerpt of the report says:
    46% of tweens use cell phones.
    On average, kids get their own cell phone between the ages of 10 and 11.
    55% of tweens who own a cell phone send text messages and 21% download ringtones.

    The report itself seems a bit elusive, but Nielsen’s How Teens Use Media (registration required) is from June 2009 and covers a broad spectrum of media, not just cell phones and texting.

    Some surprising findings include:
    Teens spend less time browsing the internet than adults.
    TV watching is NOT being abandoned in favor of new media.
    Teens read newspapers and magazines, and are still attracted by ads, and are the largest segment of movie-goers.
    The typical U.S. teenager sends and receives nearly 100 text messages a day.
    Of course they consume a lot of media–teens are early adopters of all technology, thus the term ‘digital native.’

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    LRN about TXT

    Interested in learning about texting?

    So much to learn! Whew–I just learned a lot, and I’m not sure I can explain very well, but thanks to TechSoup and ReadyTalk’s awesome FREE webinars , I know more and you can, too!

    July 16, 2009 TechSoup ReadyTalk Webinar: Using Mobile for Outreach and Education

    And guess what?! This webinar was pulled together by a VOLUNTEER at TechSoup–hmmm….what else could be done by harnessing the power of a knowledgeable volunteer?!

    Mobile Commons and Boston After School & Beyond presented about text campaigns, background on texting and some tools to consider.

    58% of all Americans have sent or received a text message, and 80% of high-school age students have cell phones. (See more in the following post.) Mobile is an instant and immediate method of communication that captures people’s attention, and it spans income levels more so than online communications.

    Mobile campaigns typically use ‘short codes’ or thosee 4-6-digit phone numbers that have started appearing in ads. A short code is like a phone number for an organization’s text campaign. Short codes direct users text messages to you. Of course, you can use the ‘old-fashioned’ cell phone number to send and receive texts, too. Here are some ways you can use texting:

    Text Alerts: Sends out reminders to your ‘subscribers’
    Text to Data: Your basic informational text message, where your message is sent to cell phone numbers.
    Text to Voice: This sends action messages to phones, asking people to call electeds. By replying to the text, the caller can hear a recorded message with key points prior to being automatically connected
    Text to Screen: Great for live events, for example, a giant screen with the call to action (also posted online) asking respondents to offer their opinions was placed outside the California legislature, where a text ‘conversation’ is displayed on screen.
    Also, MMS and Video and Smartphone Applications are expensive, advanced techniques.

    Text message recipients can request or send information. This is known as ‘push’ or ‘pull’. For example, in a pull technology example, users can request info by texting a keyword to a specific shortcode. For example, Blue Ocean Institute’s FishPhone ‘safe’ eating campaign:
    To find out about your seafood choice, text 30644 with the message FISH and the name of the fish in question. We’ll text you back with our assessment and better alternatives to fish with significant environmental concerns.

    Boston Navigator uses a text service so that Boston-area youth can request out-of-school program info by subject area and zip code using their mobile phones. Other cool text project ideas include SMS Poetry Contest and SMS 160-character (or 140 in Twitter) storytelling. When pondering a text campaign, the goal is to build your list–not only of cell phonee numbers, but also emails and users, and to ask for people to opt-in to your messages versus opting-out, as many users and senders can pay up to $0.20 per text message.

    Full-on text programs cost $17-20,000 annually!
    This does not include marketing of the text campaign (without which shortcodes and messages will be unknown!) Lower-cost services can charge $1700+ for setup with $250+ monthly fees in addition to $0.05 each for in/outbound messages.

    One place that campaigns usually start is with leasing a shortcode, which costs $500+ per month. These short codes are typically directed through an aggregator who channels messages. (My glance at an explanation of SMS routing and the accompanying diagrams confirmed that I need to keep reading to have any inkling of what that might mean!) Another option is a management service like Mobile Commons who owns shortcodes and manages the data of subscriptions, sending, collecting emails etc., for you; organizations interface with Mobile Commons rather than directly with the shortcode operator or an aggregator. A lower fee (but higher in-house management required) level is a messaging service, allowing texts to be sent and also managing subscriptions, incoming text, data gathering, etc.

    One very low-cost solution: The NYTimes covered the Birds and Bees Hotline text messaging program. Run by a North Carolina non-profit reaching teens with sex education info, they used a single cell phone with unlimited texting capabilities, and staff take turns answering text messages that come in as a result of their marketing campaign.

    Another low-cost, or even free, option is to use a marketing service that sends texts for no cost, but attachs an ad. For example, was referenced as a sending out bulk messages for free, but their site refers to publishers and advertisers contacting them for a sales call. This is one I’ll pass on until further demand warrants research. Tatango is another text marketing service that seems more transparent and also has some features for the individual user. FrontlineSMS is an example of free software which will still require leasing a shortcode and evidently quite a bit of technical interface assistance.

    MobileActive is the expert in the non-profit mobile campaign arena, so check them out for lots of good info!

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    Book Review: Wikinomics

    Wikinomics: How Mass Collaboration Changes Everything by Don Tapscott and Anthony D. Williams provides a good explanation of what wikis are and how businesses are using them. The combination of innovation and creativity that they invite fosters collaborative work in the new economy. Although some of the 2007 references are already dated and the examples are largely from the corporate world, a few hours skimming the material is insightful and well worth a curious non-profit reader’s attention.

    Emphasizing once again how the ‘Net Gen’ (as the book references young colleagues), there are frequent examples of how Gen Y just thinks differently. Collaboratively, using technology seamlessly, and not constrained by convention, these tough critics are willing to be a part of the solution. Wikis and other ‘shared spaces’ provide all of us an opportunity to share ideas.

    The book provides some concise indications of what a wiki is (other than Hawaiian for quick): it allows multiple users to create and edit the same web page. It also explains through several stories why this tool and other web developments are so critical to how we will function moving forward. Wikis, we are reminded, help one user harness the energies and ideas of others, remotely, to develop a single stream of thought.

    As I learned from Dr. David Loertscher’s June presentation to Colorado librarians, (appropos, this link is to the wiki for the workshop!), the shared knowledge of a classroom of students each researching 30 sources, posting them to a wiki, and eventually producing final assignments based on the summaries of all of the sources have the potential to be greater than the sum of any one student’s research endeavors. And thus it is with wikis. I have been a wiki lurker for projects in the library community for several years–each time there is a workshop, a grant, a project, a group will initiate and collaborate on a wiki. I have a personal wiki to track my garden seed ordering and planting.

    But a practical non-profit application? The wiki is underutilized & underemphasized, to be honest. Perhaps I’ll try a wiki as a community collaborative effort to come up with a uniform intake form for human services in Colorado. Here’s a link to a previous post that explains wikis & highlights how one non-profit uses a wiki to share information on their collaborative around reducing lead.

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