Before explaining how nonprofits can use web 2.0 to their advantage, let’s get some insight into what qualifies to be known as Web 2.0. Web 2.0 is basically a class of internet tools and technologies that have been developed with a view to involve internet users and make their role more active than passive. Rather than getting people to simply absorb information available on the net, these Web 2.0 tools ensure people are more involved as they can now customize media and technology for their own purposes.
Web 2.0 tools include among others, social networking tools and applications, blogs as well as RSS feeds. These social media and Web 2.0 tools can be very helpful to the basic purpose of nonprofits. They can help increase awareness, raise funds, form a connection with donors and get them more involved, help find volunteers along with other benefits. And though many, but not all, nonprofits face challenges while trying to adopt these tools, it is well worth the effort.
Publishing and effective distribution of information – This can be done via multiple channels such as publishing blogs, RSS feeds and tagging. The net is all about grabbing your share of the space and making yourself visible and the same works for nonprofits as well.
By creating a blog, which has emerged as one of the most powerful tools of Web 2.0, you can post updates on your work and mission or upcoming events and create interest for your donors and create a more involved process. Just as you would subscribe to a RSS feed to get more information on the latest on your cause, incorporating an RSS feed option to your blog will help keep your tech savvy donors updated. To avoid a “donor exhaust” you can put information on your blogs as to how people can make a contribute other than a monetary. By tagging your web pages, photos and links smartly you can make yourself more accessible and easily distinguished on the net.
Networking – Social media and networking sites can also go a long way in getting you the right kind of attention and channeling interested individuals to your site. By being present on sites like MySpace, Facebook, Twitter and Flickr you can not only showcase the progress you are making or actively endorse campaigns, you can also use the opportunity to create a connect with donors by interacting with them. These social networking sites promote interaction as you can converse with your donors on a one on one basis and give them a feeling of being more involved in the cause. You can also use this platform to increase awareness for any campaign and even share your goals and expectations from it.
Sharing – Web 2.0 tools greatly facilitate sharing your story with the rest of the world. This can be done by posting podcasts (audio files that can be downloaded for playback) or videos on video-sharing sites. If your target is a younger and tech savvy audience then podcasts can be a very useful and affordable way to expand your reach and further your mission podcasts. You can also post videos (that are taken from your camcorder as they do not necessarily require professional handling) on sites like Google video, Metacafe, Yahoo video or YouTube to increase awareness and give people more insight into the gravity of the cause.
Finally, though effectively adopting Web 2.0 tools and finding the one that works best for you can be a challenging process, being a little creative and the willingness to take a leap will translate to tangible benefits in the long run.