Web Watch: Dipping Your Toe Into the Blogopool
Most of the nonprofit techies I know have a laptop appendage — an extra (digital) limb, of sorts — attached to their bodies. Not so with fundraisers. As a breed, fundraisers are "people people" — they spend their time cultivating relationships by phone and face to face. Sure, you know how to use a computer, but when it comes down to the big ask, you've got to get out from behind your desk, right?
At Fund Raising Day in New York this year, there was something new in the air: a greater-than-ever acknowledgment that the future of fundraising is online. Like it or not, it's the place to be.
Development directors and consultants were chatting about online resources, trying to figure out how to leverage social media for fundraising and debating the relative merits of Twitter. The more wired fundraisers swapped blogs they read, while the less wired struggled over terms like RSS.
With that in mind, I thought I'd devote this month's column to fundraising and the blogosphere.
If you're totally new to all of this, it might be helpful to learn that "blog" = "Web" + "log." Blogs are free online journals offering useful content in smaller, more snackable chunks.
There are countless bloggers writing excellent stuff about fundraising online. Here's a quick overview of the ones I think are most valuable for fundraisers.
Tom Belford and Roger Craver's excellent blog is a must-read. They cover valuable, new research and deliver pithy insights daily via e-mail or RSS feed. theagitator.net
Donor Power Blog
Jeff Brooks' excellent insights for fundraisers who get it. Smart and fun to read. www.donorpowerblog.com
Giving in a Digital World
If you're struggling to make sense of all this Web 2.0 stuff, this blog will help you get a grip and stay on top of the tidal wave of technology — all from a fundraising point of view. givinginadigitalworld.org
Online Fundraising Blog
FirstGiving's blog spotlights what organizations are up to and features best practices. It's a nice way to see who's doing what. onlinefundraisingblog.com
Blogger Sean Stannard-Stockton produces a Philanthropy Daily Digest that can help you stay on top of what's happening throughout the industry, which is most handy. You also can follow him on Twitter if less is more in your world. tacticalphilanthropy.com
If you're new to the blogosphere and not sure how to navigate, swing by alltop.com or technorati.com. These sites aggregate the blogosphere for you, making it easier to find who's writing about what. You can see what's percolating broadly in the blogosphere or search for issues that directly relate to your work.
Now that you've got your back-to-school reading all mapped out, how do you keep it organized? Most blogs have RSS feeds (RSS = really simple syndication), which make it easy to subscribe to your favorites without having them clutter up your e-mail inbox or constantly revisiting the blog.
I'm a fan of Google Reader, which describes itself as "an inbox for the Web." For more info, watch "How to Use Google Reader" at www.you tube.com/watch?v=Ltttw5yORv8 to learn how to subscribe to different blogs, organize your subscriptions and more. It's great for those who find the whole thing intimidating or overwhelming.
Once you get the feel of what these bloggers cover, don't hesitate to leave comments or send them e-mail about what's happening at your organization. In fact, commenting is how you create dialogue and move past a "broadcast" approach to communicating. It's what Web 2.0 is all about. Add to that, most bloggers are always on the prowl for new content. As long as you're tuned in to who they are and what they write about, they'll likely be delighted to hear from you.
While I hope you'll continue to hang on every word of more traditional media such as FundRaising Success, I have no doubt these blogs will help give you perspective on the industry, inspire you to try new things, and inform you and your colleagues about the ever-evolving landscape of fundraising. And as long as you're testing those bloggy waters, check out the Duck Call (bigducknyc.com/blog) to see what my colleagues and I are blogging about, too.
(Tell us about your favorite fundraising-related blog by e-mailing email@example.com)