IT in the Nonprofit Sector

This year at Philanthropy Australia we’re making a concerted effort to step up to the plate of effective use of IT in the Australian nonprofit sector. As we say on our IT in the Nonprofit Sector resources page, we’re very conscious of the need for the Australian nonprofit sector to forge forward into making best use of the technology at hand to aid distribution to and communication with both the general public and the rest of the sector.

Already on a global scale the Australian nonprofit sector being left behind, as far as utilising IT goes, in comparison to the UK and USA. Wired.org was holding virtual Nonprofit Technology Conferences back in 2003, and the US Nonprofit Technology Network is already taking bookings for this year’s Conference.

Fortunately, the very benefit of this ‘new’ web technology being developed and utilised is that discussion and documentation of it is occuring online, that is to say - published to a global audience, including us!

So to help Australian readers in the nonprofit sector get into the headspace of our global peers, here are some links that you might like to check out. Though the nonprofit ‘blogosphere’ is frequently concerned with fundraising, and thus nonprofit website discussion focussed on securing donations and engaging donors, we’ve found that a lot of the guides and suggested rules posted by various bloggers are nonetheless relevant to those Philanthropy Australia Members who are reading - that is to say, philanthropic funders who are looking to build their own presence online, but aren’t sure where or how to proceed.

Developing a Website

Engagement’ is a catchphrase that seems most relevant to fundraising organisations seeking to ensure donors return frequently to their website, but the general gist of the term is just as relevant to philanthropic funders aiming to share information and encourage social change. Wiredset’s ‘Type of Engagement’ diagram is a great, more generic snapshot of just what having an ‘engaging website’ will mean for you; and nfp 2.0 analyses just what ‘engagement’ entails and suggests just where to start when considering it.

Developing Effective Content on the Web is another great, quick-and-simple piece geared specifically for nonprofit organisations - both fundraising and philanthropic, in this case!

Designing Inward Out is “A public diary of a non-profit’s website redesign process” and looks like it’ll shape up to be a great resource for those just starting out. Inward Out has already started documenting all the planning and development stages of redesigning their website, leaving their process completely transparent for others to follow and learn, or even offer suggestions.

The Leaderboard on the Confessions of a Non-Profit IT Director blog is slightly more on the technical side, but will give you a great idea of the free or low-cost software out there that can fulfil your IT/website building needs. This is a great resource, as it seems that (in our experience, at least) nonprofits seem wary of the cost of establishing themselves in the IT medium, considering it prohibitive or unnecessarily in light of what they’d prefer to spend their money on!

Blogging

Fear of blogging? Examples of effective public policy discussion

This post from Chris Wolz of INfluence is a great place to start. Our own experiences in starting a blog is testimony to the way these concerns seem to repeatedly arise in policy-focussed organisations (such as foundations, Chris notes). This piece is short and straight to the point, well worth a read for those philanthropic funders - including both private and corporate philanthropy - considering stepping forward but concerned about perceived repercussions.

5 Tips to Start a Nonprofit Blog

Leading on from the above, this post from Britt Bravo is a great guide for people who think they ought to set up a blog, but don’t know where to start. These tips from Britt will get you into the blogosphere as well as help you stay on track once you’re set up.

10 Ways Nonprofits Can Use Blogs

Another great post from Britt, wherein she suggests different ways nonprofits can use blogs, in terms of the different kinds of content blogs can be used to distribute, as well as serve as a site of collaboration. A lot of Britt’s points are ones that philanthropic funders might find quite relevant, especially in terms of involving staff, sharing information and documenting their foundation’s stories and history.

Who’s Blogging Corporate Giving?

If you’re more interested in seeing what’s out there rather than being guided to get in there, check out this post listing a handful of (international) corporate philanthropy blogs.

Other ‘2.0’ Features & Software

As well as blogs, the nonprofits online are developing a variety of mediums for communication, distribution of information, collaboration and archiving. Here are some links you might be interested in exploring:

Philanthropy Podcasts

Wiki here, wiki there, wiki everywhere (brief background ideas of what wiki software can be used for)

Nonprofit Blog Exchange (where you can find a whole range of links from across the nonprofit blogosphere)

Web 2.0 in Nonprofits Wiki

We’re also currently working on compiling a list of blogs we think you’d be interested in reading. Stay tuned!

Is there a key resource here you think we’ve missed? Please feel free to drop us a comment or email.

Jan. 31, 2007

 Tags: recommended reading, nonprofit blogs, it

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