Thursday, September 20, 2007

Maslow on Nonprofits

Em Hall, author of the Fashionista blog, asked me the other day what NPower is doing to help nonprofits use social media to achieve their missions. What she means is this. How are we helping nonprofits to think about using:

1) blogs
2) social networks
3) wikis and other collaboration tools
4) RSS and other syndication tools
5) charity widgets
6) etc.

to raise more money, find more advocates, increase membership - generally spread the word about what they do.

My answer: Not much, yet.

I think it's fair to say that the NPower Network hasn't been at the forefront of promoting the new web 2.0 technologies.
It's not because we don't think they're important; it's because most of our customers aren't thinking about them yet. Most of the nonprofits and foundations we serve are still struggling to secure new hardware and software and ensure that their networks stay up and running.

It's sort of like Maslow's hierarchy of needs. (You remember that pyramid from Psychology 101.) It's hard to focus on self-actualization until you get the basics - food, shelter, clothing - met.

The problem is, it's a catch-22. New web-based marketing technologies can actually HELP YOU to raise your visibility so that you can raise the friends, supporters and partners you need to build capital. So, ignoring these tools may actually be a detriment in the long run.

My suggestion: Wade into the web 2.0 waters.

Start reading blogs. Create a Bloglines account to track the news you read. Tag online content you like and engage in conversations on other blogs.

If you're a strategy type, read this primer by Seth Godin or this one by Enthusiastic Group. Both provide a good overview of the new marketing/technology landscape and what it may mean for your organization.