Archive for the ‘political campaigns’ Category

Non-Profit: Online Forums, Blogs and Comments

Saturday, January 19th, 2008

Most Non-profit sites have yet to create / add mechanism to facilitate audience participation. Liability for third party content and managing forums without online flames remain one of the key concerns for these groups. Mark Glaser has very interesting post on this subject: Traditional Media Ready to Elevate the Conversation Online — with Moderation. According to him:

What has changed in the last year is that major media companies are no longer arguing over whether they should have comments under stories or blogs; instead, the debate is about how they should moderate them and even highlight the best ones in eye-catching editorial spaces. Many sites are embracing the concept of “news as a conversation,” and trying to create active conversations among reporters, editors and readers online.

It would be interesting to evaluate status of debate on this subject among NGOs. If Non-profit web strategies consider that the web is a dialogue and not a lecture then they will need innovative ways to facilitate conversations. Growth without deepest, most meaningful engagement for users may not help their mission.

Non-Profits and User-generated Videos (part II)

Thursday, May 3rd, 2007

It appears more Non-profit groups are designing creative campaigns by inviting user generated content.

During forth week of January 2007 UNICEF called for submissions to its ‘Media Magic Make a Difference!‘ one-minute video contest. Youth under age 25 were invited to submit a one-minute video on the contest’s theme, telling the world what young people think about the world they live in and how they’re making a difference.

Over 100 young people responded to UNICEF’s call to create a one-minute video telling the world what young people think about the world they live in and how they’re making a difference.

“The winning video will be featured on the UNICEF and Voices of Youth websites, vodcast by UNICEF, featured in the Media Magic Digest and be included in the International Children’s Day of Broadcasting 2007 materials, which are available to broadcasters around the world. The winning director will be honoured at an awards ceremony at a conference in New York City.”

All entries will be reviewed by the Media Magic team, with the video finalists displayed on the main UNICEF website. The winner will be judged by a global panel of media professionals, as well as a public on-line vote.
You have until 14 May so Vote NOW!

These initiatives let users choose favorite videos from these submission. Though mechanism to select videos are far from being easy / sophisticated.

Applying Viral Principles to Charity / Nonprofit work

Friday, March 30th, 2007

A Blog post on TechChruch provides very interesting information about new project / startup- Agape.

Describing how non-profit and other charities have been raising support for their it argues that “Charities, political parties and affinity groups all rely on participation from people who share the same beliefs and ideals. But recruiting and fund raising are largely stuck in the pre-Internet era.”

Agape wants to harness principle of viral new startup to increase their effectiveness.

Those interested in these ideas may want to check out here to find out more information in future.

Upcoming Event: Reinventing Politics using Technology

Friday, March 30th, 2007

NTEN: Nonprofit Technology Network - a membership organization of nonprofit technology and program staff and technology providers is organizing a conference in Washington DC (April 4 – 6, 2007). This year’s conference is centered on Reinventing Politics: Creating Social Change From the Ground Up. Agenda for this meeting is available here.

A blog post on Wild Apricot nicely sums up what one can expect from this conference : “Collaborators, colleagues, and clients in the nonprofit and technology sectors will have the opportunity to share resources and learn about what works, what doesn’t work, and what is in the works when it comes to using technology to help make the world a better place”.

ROI in Non-profit – What Web Metrics to Use

Wednesday, March 28th, 2007

Return-on-Investment – ROI is a common concept used in the business world. Here it is common to argue that “measuring the right metrics — metrics that are in line with your business objectives — can shorten the investigation and ultimately put more profits in your pocket.”

I have been wondering about appropriate metrics to measure impact of various online campaigns by Non-profit organizations.

In his recent posting What Will Replace the Almighty Page View? Steve Rubel – Micro Persuasion provides quick overview of challenges one will need to address while defining and measuring web performance metrics.

Use of RSS, Flash and Ajax (at least in the form of mashups with Google Maps / Yahoo Maps) has been steadily growing on sites for non-profit.

Today it is hard to say what metric most non-profit organizations use to measure their impact of online activities. Quick look at couple of big NGO sites like Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, ACLU, Environmental Defense Fund WorldWide one find very little / old information about their web traffic. In case of both AI and HRW web traffic data is quoted in terms of page views and visitors. While in case of ACLU and EDF Google search didn’t yield any useful information. Number of non-profits use free services offered by Alexa to measure their traffic (which is also quotes page views and visitors) .

It appears Non-profit world may take some time before they finetune their web performance measurements and share this data with public.

It is usual that for non-profit world to define impact (of their online advocacy/campaigns) in terms of end results / actions. These actions could include number of letters sent, number of signatures collected (online petitions), growth in donations, number of reports downloaded etc.

Performance of big websites in for-profit world is monitored / estimated by companies like Nielsen, Comscore and Alexa. Finally they have begun reworking their web traffic metrics.

It will be interesting to see how non-profit world (and foundations supporting their activities) respond to these technology led changes in usage patterns to rework their web performance metrics.

PS: After posting above I came across a blogs discussing how NGOs can measure ROI for their investment in Usability. This post summaries original article: Do Government Agencies and Non-Profits Get ROI From Usability? by Jakob Nielsen (February 12, 2007).

Non-profits and user-generated videos (part I)

Tuesday, March 27th, 2007

Max Kalehoff in his blog post Consumer-Generated Ads Will Disrupt Existing Production Models evaluates impact of this emerging phenomenon on traditional media production / ad service agencies.

Issue of user-generated content (including online forums, blogs, videos) has begun becoming part of Non-profit/social justice organizations work. Some high profile groups like Amnesty International, Witness, Human Rights Watch and others have expanded their use of YouTube and working to expand their outreach and/or share user generated content on specific campaign.

Recent example include Close Guantanamo campaign by Amnesty International. Make Some Noise – Amnesty International. Close to 100 video clips in various languages (most less than a minute long) are posted on YouTube. It does manage to provide visibility to voices of ordinary people.

Responding to this emerging trend Witness started a pilot project on Global Voices (as a subset of the functionality of their forthcoming Human Rights Video Hub) some time in September 2006. This page allows users to “Watch and comment on human rights video from around the world curated by WITNESS”. Commentaries along with these clips on Global Voices add extremely useful context and some analysis while users what these clips. Thus Witness is using some what different model than used by Amnesty International in their Say ‘Close Guantánamo’ on camera! initiative.

Use of this medium is no longer limited to English. During last quarter of 2006 Farsi Tube was launched in the U.S. FarsiTube is a video sharing community targeted towards Iranians, and has all kinds of videos about Iran and Iranian culture.

There are many video sharing services in Korea. It will be interesting to find out how these sites are impacting social and political discourses.

According to China Daily report (February 1st) “almost half of China’s Internet users were found to be focusing in on video-sharing websites. There are hundreds of websites offering webcast and podcast services in Chinese. is considered to be the most popular video-sharing site.

In short any evaluation of user-generated content must include all such global initiatives.

YouTube: Emerging Popular Media and a New Political Force

Sunday, March 25th, 2007

YouTube ad – Vote Different – attacking Hillary Rodham Clinton potraying her as the “Big Sister” (remember “Big Brother” from 1984?) launches a new chapter in 2008 presidential campaigning in the United States of America. The recent demonstration of YouTube’s political impact came to notice during November 2006 elections in the United States.

Since then, the Internet has been buzzing about political video mashups. Observers of this media have begun recognizing that citizen activists are increasingly able to affect the political process. Vote Different video has become part of many other successful viral smash (more than 3 million requests in three weeks) and has created a debate about the impact that user-generated political videos will have on the 2008 presidential election in the United States.

Well known Blogger Arianna Huffington argues that the future of American politics rests in the hands of ordinary citizens, and that “the old political machine no longer holds all the power.” Many others see YouTube As New Political Force. It is hard to say how long the political class will continue underestimating the impact of changing technology.

While YouTube video wildfire was gaining strength in the United States, users from Turkey were banned from accessing YouTube videos.

Activists worldwide have been using YouTube and other online video sharing sites for quite some time. Recent examples include:

Philippine left-wing groups turn to YouTube, Internet to spread word about killings

Anti-gay propaganda from Christian activists on YouTube

Coffee Wars: Activists Battle Starbucks on YouTube

It will be interesting to see how Google – with its less than perfect record of protecting freedom of expression of its users in a country like China – handles pressures from political machines around the globe.

On August 23, 2006 Britt Bravo in his blog post Is Your Nonprofit on YouTube? found 76 videos tagged as Non-profit / nonprofit on YouTube. As of today I found 2,030 videos on YouTube using the same tag(s). Interestingly only one clip (The Best War Ever — by John Stauber & Sheldon Rampton) , which could meet traditional criteria of political issues raised by non-profit, made to the Top Five videos – listed by view counts.

Does it mean that non-profits will need to improve their message packaging while they use popular media? Or that YouTube is a fad soon to disappear without long lasting impact on the way non-profit do their outreach?

Future will tell us.