Join The NonProfit Times: or Become a member

Subscribe: Print Publication or Newsletter

Stay connected.
Stay informed.

Blogs, Emails, Webs Follow Tsunami Efforts

By Jeff Jones - February 1, 2005

It’s a connected world with 24-hour news cycles and people craving instant access to world events. Several nonprofits providing tsunami relief in South Asia are leveraging technology know-how and Web sites to share stories from the frontline.

Nonprofit officials are posting Web logs, a.k.a blogs, sending donors email updates and relaying timely news via their Web sites. And more donors are using Internet and electronic communications to stay in the loop, several nonprofit officials said.

Most striking about electronic updates is the ability to immediately tell donors how donations are being used. It’s a lesson driven home by the public outcry over the handling of some September 11, 2001 donations.

Donors want to know how nonprofits are using the money.

The tsunami disaster and relief effort “is a watershed event in terms of the perception of online communications within the U.S. Fund for UNICEF and many other organizations because of the scale of the emergency and the intensive media coverage,” said Tim Ledwith, director of interactive donor communication at U.S. Fund for UNICEF in New York City. “It’s the first time we’ve seen the public really taking full advantage of the instantaneous nature of online communications. In the first two weeks after the disaster struck, it seemed as though it was the primary vehicle for people to learn about and respond to the emergency.”

UNICEF’s Web site, www.uni-cef.org, links to videos of aid workers assisting in the region and a “Frontline Diary” providing first-hand accounts.

The U.S. Fund operates a separate Web site (www.unicefusa.org) than UNICEF, but has similar features and often links to content on the international site, Ledwith said.

U.S. Fund for UNICEF’s e-newsletter subscriber list has come close to doubling since Dec. 27, Ledwith said. Before the tsunami disaster, the general e-newsletter list had roughly 80,000 subscribers, he said.

Greenpeace International, headquartered in Amsterdam, Netherlands, is operating a blog, weblog.greenpeace.org. Greenpeace International relief workers are sending updates from a ship,Rainbow Warrior. The relief workers are helping Medecins Sans Frontiers/Doctors Without Borders distribute supplies to parts of Indonesia affected by the tsunami and earthquake, according to its Web site.

“(Blogging) is a wonderful opportunity,” said Gina Sanchez, a Greenpeace International spokeswoman. “It allows us to inform the public immediately, and the public to react to it and say how they feel about it.”

Brian Fitzgerald, of Greenpeace International’s new media department, wrote in an email that Web log readership is “devilishly hard to measure.”

During the past 60 days, Greenpeace International has had 3,900 direct visits to its Web log via a browser, but most readership will come from RSS feeds, he wrote. Greenpeace has 378 links from 108 sources pulling content into other blogs, which are read and don’t report hits back to Greenpeace, Fitzgerald wrote.

Articles on Greenpeace’s homepage have had a combined readership of 12,000, which isn’t extraordinary traffic, Fitzgerald wrote.

The increased interest in electronic communication is a result of people and nonprofits becoming more comfortable with technology.

“This outreach effort brought users and organizations together and has proven that there’s a level of technology comfort,” said Sarah Hawkins, associate editor of TechSoup.org in San Francisco.

When the tsunami hit, nonprofits had to motivate quickly in a huge call to action. They used technology in a “rapid-fire, all out” way and applied it to their own work, Hawkins said. Successes will allow them to raise funds and share information and be more “fearless in their use of technology,” she said. Smaller organizations can learn from this experience, too.

“The trick for smaller organizations to apply this technology to their work is messaging,” Hawkins said. “The tool won’t work on its own. Even with blogs, if you want an audience, you have to create a strong message to work with.”

Barriers for smaller organizations include researching appropriate applications and staff resources, she said. Nonprofits should determine whether there’s enough staff and financial resources to start a blog and keep it running, according to Hawkins.

“I’m still not sure if enough nonprofits ‘get it’ that the Internet is the Marine Corps of fundraising,” Rick Christ, a consultant and president of the

Warrenton, Va.-based npadvisors.com, said in an email. Marines are the “first on the beaches, and also able to handle some problems, especially small, tricky ones, without any other support. (They’re) not necessarily the most effective for a long campaign. But, like the Marines, a nonprofit’s Web strategy has to be prepared, drilled, and ready to use, night or day.”

Ledwith of the U.S. Fund for UNICEF said: “There’s a lot of opportunity for smaller or mid-size nonprofits to leverage what they’re doing off-line and use a Web site as a grassroots and advocacy tool.”

“We’ve just witnessed two events on a scale almost beyond imagining — first the tsunami itself, and then the outpouring of generosity that followed,” Jason A. Lefkowitz, manager, e-activism at Oceana, and a close follower of blogs, wrote in an email.

“When facing such events, people naturally hunger for the true authenticity of a human voice. Blogs can provide that human voice and help non-profits forge a stronger connection with the people who support them. They can reassure contributors that their money is being used wisely by real people for good work. That’s a unique opportunity, if the nonprofit sector is prepared to take hold of it.”

Podcast_forHub_500x500

Sponsored Podcasts

Welcome to the Raise & Engage podcast, a filters-off series for nonprofit professionals hosted by Blackbaud's straight-shooting expert Danielle Johnson Vermenton. During this open-mic session, you’ll hear honest advice to help YOU do more for your cause.

Episode 6: The Power of ‘No’ at Work|| daniellejohnson-76

You have a job description, but on any given day, you're probably doing dozens of things outside the scope of that description. Combine that with the challenge of a fast-paced environment and the shifting priorities of funders, colleagues, and board members and it’s easy to fall short of doing your best. By being mindful of your limitations and capacity—and saying “no” when your plate is full—you can actually do more for your cause. In the sixth installment of the Raise and Engage podcast Danielle Johnson and Robin Anderson discuss the power of saying “no” at work.

Episode 5: Professional Development: Getting Un-Stuck|| daniellejohnson-76

In the most recent episode of Raise + Engage, Danielle is back with Brian Reich from little m media to discuss how nonprofit professionals can stay motivated and energized in their day-to-day roles. Brian shares his experience working with nonprofits and the lessons and tips he's learn from and shared with them over the years, including tips for avoiding a professional rut, creating forward momentum in your career and pushing yourself outside of your comfort zone. If you're considering making a career move or want to ensure you're on the right path, you won't want to miss this inspo-packed episode!

Episode 4: Apps and Hacks to Stay (Mostly) Sane || daniellejohnson-76

Episode 4: Apps and Hacks to Stay (Mostly) Sane, is all about tips, tricks and tools for sanity. Blackbaud’s own interactive product marketer, Julia Lenz, joins host Danielle Johnson to share some high tech. (and no tech.) productivity tips to help nonprofit professionals stay sane in the crazy world of philanthropy.

Tune in to hear:

  • Tips for how to spend the first 30 minutes of your day
  • The benefits of 15 minute meetings
  • Why notebooks are still relevant to a successful organization
  • Ideas for better managing your inbox
  • Why you should take lunch outside the box
  • ...and much more!
Don’t forget to visit the #NoFilterNonprofit Hub afterwards to download our newest tip sheet10 Productivity Hacks for Nonprofits.

Episode 3: Tech. Connection: Solutions, Strategy, and Staff || daniellejohnson-76

Episode 3: Tech. Connection: Solutions, Strategy, and Staff In episode 3 of the Raise + Engage podcast, Danielle Johnson is joined by Chris Geady and William DaSilva, two IT experts in the nonprofit space, to talk technology integration for NPOs: when you need it, when you don’t, and how to do it successfully.


Tune in to hear:

  • When to say NO to integration
  • How to set your strategic plan before even looking at technologies
  • Ways to get your entire team on board
  • The importance of identifying a project lead
  • The RFP process - how it should and should not go
And William shares a story about a nonprofit that may or may not have still been using a typewriter. You don't want to miss this one!

Episode 2: From Socially Awkward to Socially Awesome! || daniellejohnson-76

According to Danielle Johnson, straight-shooting host of the Raise + Engage podcast series, if your staff members aren’t the number one advocates for your cause on social media, you’re failing. In the most recent episode, Danielle is joined by Blackbaud’s own social media guru Madeline Turner to discuss overcoming social struggles and creating a social ambassador program at your organization. This entertaining and insightful duo dishes on the importance of making your social media presence human, making the case for a formal social program to leadership, how University of Michigan turned a one time social media campaign into a long term social program, and how Madeline's mom unknowingly became a social ambassador on #GivingTuesday.

Episode 1: Corporate Culture & Development: Shake It Up! || daniellejohnson-76

In the premiere episode of Raise & Engage, Danielle is joined by three straight-shooting nonprofit rock-stars: Jodi Smith of Sanford Health Systems, Veronica Brown of Chicago Public Library Foundation and Ali Burke of Southlake Regional Health Centre Foundation. The group talks organizational culture, problem employees, why its important to celebrate and how to shake things up this year and build a better more authentic team that gets stuff done!

Newsletters

Stay informed, catch latest trends in the nonprofit space.

Subscribe to Our Free Newsletter

No obligation, unsubscribe at anytime.

Success! Check your email inbox.

Follow Us On Twitter

Blog Posts Archive


NPT 2016 Buyers' Guide

Newsletter Sign-up



click here to return to the previous page