Ben Rattray

The comedian Steve Martin used to do an amusing routine in the 1970s that ran something like this:

You can be a millionaire ... and never pay taxes! Yes, you can be a millionaire ... and never pay taxes! You say: "Steve ... how can I be a millionaire ... and never pay taxes?"

Web 2.0 tools and social technologies — blogs, social networks, widgets, videosharing and photosharing sites — all are cost-effective ways to build participation, sharing and collaboration into the core of what organizations do. But they’re different than traditional nonprofit efforts online. They require organizations to go to areas that they can’t control, where potential supporters are gathered. And though they offer the ability for increased engagement, it doesn’t just happen on its own. Here’s a look at how a few nonprofits are using online social technologies in their outreach efforts.

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