You Don’t Need to Recreate the Wheel

Trying to figure out how your organization can be more effective online?  There are many nonprofits that are already succeeding that you can learn from.  Probably the most publicized success story in recent years is the astounding growth of charity: water, featured in a recent post by  One particularly interesting point is how charity: water has partnered which local organizations that actually do much of their core work (the nonprofit didn’t build an infrastructure to do it themselves).

In addition, when charity: water communicates with its supporters, the focus is on the cause, not the organization.  If your organization does many different things and you’re having difficulty what to focus on, take Katya Andresen’s suggestion to make modules out of your mission.  Not all of your constituents will care about everything you do, but there is probably some program or activity that particularly interests them.

Hearing a lot about mobile?  Nten‘s Holly Ross discusses 5 Nonprofits That Are Innovating with Mobile.  Even if you decide that you don’t have the bandwidth for a mobile approach yet, don’t forget to test outgoing emails on cell phones since so many more constituents are reading emails on cell phones.

The old model of technology focused on getting support from product vendors.  While I still work closely with my vendors’ customer support staffs, I also rely on checking in with my colleagues across the country, many who are asking the same questions as I am.  (Some issues I’m currently working on are how can I increase engagement with my organization’s Facebook followers and how can I integrate online forms from my vendors in social media platforms – since this is where many of my constituents are spending time online, never reaching my nonprofit’s website).

Another way to learn from others is to follow the most frequently used nonprofit hashtags, as nicely summarized by Kerri Karvetski.  (Don’t forget to use these hashtags when you post on Twitter!)

Fortunately, the nonprofit sector is a very open, sharing community.  Instead of struggling on your own, take the time to learn from what other organizations have already done, and ask for help if you need assistance in making your nonprofit shine online.  And don’t be afraid to fail.  As I was recently reminded by social media superstar Danielle Brigida, most of us are still figuring things out, especially since online products / services are constantly changing.

Author: Norman Reiss

ePhilanthropy for Nonprofit Organizations

2 thoughts on “You Don’t Need to Recreate the Wheel”

  1. Hi Norman. Thanks for the link to my nonprofit hashtags blog post.

    I couldn’t agree with you more about failing, and love a comment I heard a while back from the MomsRising folks. Fail quickly and hold a joyful funeral for your mistakes – learn!



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