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June 28, 2007

Internet Advocacy and Online Technology for Non-Profit Organizations

In this modern world, online and other communication technologies change at a very rapid pace. Web conferences, email advocacy campaign, and blogs are being considered by many nonprofit organizations as new, exciting, and somewhat mysterious technologies that they can use to communicate and mobilize.

The emergence of podcasting, wikis, or text messaging campaigns has made all of these technologies seem obsolete. For nonprofit organizations keeping up with the latest technology trends can be very challenging. Many nonprofit organizations face basic technology challenges such as keeping a strong network up and running and maintaining an effective Internet advocacy site.

It is necessary for organizations working to reach their constituencies, lawmakers, and other stakeholders to become familiar with and effective at using new communication technologies. This is due to the fact that these technologies are a means to an end, and that end is communicating with people and influencing them.

The majority of thought leaders and civically engaged citizens who then influence their associates, family, and friends are online. A large number of Internet users also share information between one another via email, social online communities such as, listserv groups, and more.

There are some steps that nonprofit organizations can take in order to tap communication technology to further their missions through advocacy work. For instance an organization can “lower the bar”. This means providing more opportunities for users to get involved through features in emails and on the Web site. Such features include calls to action, free newsletter sign-ups, and online petitions or pledges.

It would also be a good idea to “engage and educate” the online users. An organization should provide useful information through online communications and update that information regularly to keep the audience engaged.

Enticing users to “train to click” is also advantageous for an organization that wishes to attract online users. People should be enticed to visit an advocacy campaignwebsite to get further information and engage in calls to action. Creating links in emails and e-newsletters to a website for access to further information and full newsletter articles can increase the traffic throughout the pages of an advocacy website.

A nonprofit organization can also benefit from creating incentives for users to take action. A website may offer free access to online or print resources for signing a petition or registering and simply celebrate successful online activists with featured profiles.

Making contact with other Internet advocacy communities is also a good idea. An organization may find the online communities that the members of its audience are a part of and join the conversations, post videos and photos, or place ads. An organization that is trying to reach influencers and young people will find this particularly effective.

Making sure that the online audiences have fun and reporting the results can also improve the online advocacy campaign of any organization. Fun and interactive sites and email communications keep people engaged. Reporting on the successes or challenges of advocacy campaigns and initiatives can keep the audience engaged and build momentum for further action.

Author:  Joem writes occasional articles on Internet marketing, Internet advocacy, Internet advertising, and advocacy campaign for and other similar websites.