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April 23, 2010

Facebook: New changes you might not "Like"

F This week, Facebook rolled out their new f8 platform. The changes have some organizations updating materials and some individuals worrying about privacy of their personal information.

To help you get up to speed, here's a list of the biggest changes you need to know about and resources to help you edit your privacy.

f8 changes you need to know about:

  • Become a Fan buttons were renamed to Like (if your organization has language on your website or printed materials that say "become our fan", it's time to review and make updates so that constituents know to look for the Like buttons).
  • The new Open Graph API simplifies how websites and Facebook share information about you online. If you've noted your favorite songs in your Facebook profile, then you'll very likely hear those playing next time you open Pandora... or if you've marked favorites on Pandora, your Facebook profile will be updated to include these song. Usage of personal information in this way may take many people by surprise.
  • An individual's Instant Personalization privacy setting is automatically set to Allow. This means that you've already told Pandora they can grab your favorite songs. If you're not ready to let the instant personalization happen, be sure to edit your privacy settings to remove the instant allow. This means you can be selective for the sites/applications that have access to your personal information.

Resources to learn more about managing your personal settings:

So, are you and your organization ready for f8? Do you think your personal information is in danger of being abused or misused? Or is your organization already looking at ways to integrate the Open Graph API into your nonprofit website? Post your thoughts in the Comments.

April 10, 2010

Interview with NTEN Conference Attendant from Nicaragua

Probably the most fascinating aspect of attending the 2010 Nonprofit Technology Conference (10NTC) in Atlanta is the people you meet. Today I met Sergio Torres, who came all the way from Nicaragua to learn a thing or two about online communications interfaces that will help his fellow countrypersons interact with and hold government agencies and NGOs accountable -- were there more people like Sergio!

However, the challenge he faces is, not surprisingly, connectivity. According to Sergio, most Nicaraguans simply can't afford to be connected online. He himself puts $55 each month toward a measly 1MB internet connection, an amount that most Nicaraguans make in 55 days, he says. 

We discussed tools like Yammer, BlueKiwi and SalesForce's Chatter, all of which I blogged about here, and it sounds like Sergio will need something with mobile to online capacity, since most Nicaraguans are at least connected by mobile. I asked Sergio to talk about his challenge for us on video, and he was kind enough to say yes. Enjoy!

Sergio Torres at 10NTC from CW Interactive Services on Vimeo.

April 09, 2010

Are You a Data Geek Superstar?

We just attended the "Super Heros of online Fundraising: Become a Data-Driven Strategist" breakout session at the 2010 Nonprofit Technology Conference (10NTC) in Atlanta. The session was run by Sarah Dijulio of M+R Strategic Services, and she posed some profound points and questions for online fundraisers.


For instance, when you use data to drive your strategic decisions, you'll make better decisions, avoid mistakes, and achieve a higher return on investment. But how do you transform your organizational culture to become data driven? And what kind of data are we talking about anyways? How do you sift through the massive volumes of online data to discover what is truly relevant? Superhero costume is not required.

Wilderness Society and AARP tried some targeted $5 vs. $10 ask email campaigns. AARP ran a deadline fundraising goal-oriented messaging campaign that resulted in a 144% increase in response rates over its usual average, while Wilderness Society's email campaign actually underperformed. The difference between the two campaigns was that Wilderness Society targeted non-donors, while AARP's targeted non-donor activists (i.e. people with a history of taking political action in emails) -- it only goes to show that when supporters are engaged in some form (e.g. advocacy) they are more likely to donate.

What should you test as an email campaigner? One thing M+R has tried is monthly giving asks, using javascripted pop-ups over the donation form that offers the monthly option. Another example is Mercy Corps, which allows people to start the donation process from the home page. Then there is Amnesty International, which does something similar, but shows users which program area the donation will go to -- a person from Amnesty in the audience raised his hand and shouted, "It worked!"

But in testing, there are several important questions you have to ask:

  • What goal will this help you meet?
  • How much of a lift can you expect? Is this likely to produce significant improvements?
  • How long will it take to get statistically significant results?
  • How much time will it take to implement?
  • Is the lesson you learn applicable to future efforts?
  • How will you evaluate the results?

Verisign-logo-oOne of the things that M+R heard from Amnesty was that adding the Verisign logo next to a donation button improved conversions. M+R ran with the idea with other clients, and found that this led to a 12% increase in response rates for the nonprofits that used it. 

So then how do you evaluate your test results? Try creating a data grid, and make sure your sample sizes give you statistically significant results (i.e. you might have to call that stats geek friend from grad school). But there are several rules of thumb to follow:

  • Bigger sample sizes are better
  • 400 responses is usually valid
  • The smaller the metric you are measuring, the bigger sample you will need (i.e. if you have a list of 100,000 people, a 4% response rate = 4,000. so you can run an A/B test with groups of 10,000 each)
A great online tool for evaluating all of this is the Google Site Optimizer Duration Calculator, which allows you to speculate tests on pageviews to your donation forms. 

As most people know, M+R invests a lot in nonprofit data research, and we're all grateful they do. But tactics like the ones Sarah exhibited today can be tweaked and accommodated to any nonprofit of any size. It just takes a little planning and guidance. Once those systems are in place, you can become a data-driven superstar by second nature! 

The Wisdom in Letting Go, with Blogging Pioneer Andrew Sullivan

Friday morning at the  2010 Nonprofit Technology Conference (10NTC) lifted off with an irreplaceable plenary talk by Andrew Sullivan, who, as one of the first political journalists in the United States to start a personal blog (The Daily Dish) is considered a pioneer in political weblog journalism. Andrew wrote his blog for a year at Time Magazine, shifting on February 1, 2007 to The Atlantic, where it received approximately 40 million page views in the first year. He is the former editor of The New Republic and the author of five books. (You can read more about Andrew on Wikipedia or The Atlantic.)



Sullivan's talk was absolutely brilliant, hysterical and enlightening. Here are some of the highlights: 

  • Blogging is a rapid fire, intense environment, "like a bad zombie movie where at first they come at you very slow but suddenly they're coming at you really fast."
  • A blog or online page is not a publication, it is a broadcast. It's not a static book or magazine that has a clear, stable position. It's something that has to move ad change or it will die -- it has to move. "And this is where the obsessive-compulsive, co-dependent relationship of the blogger emerges," he said. 
  • He said this medium is not about writing nor is it about a website. The key to blogging success, he emphasized, is that it constantly moves, engages and distracts. 
  • Sometimes we need to think more deeply about the barrier to entry of each page on a website. The accessibility is seamless regardless of the publication or website. This, he believes, is a remarkable democratization of information. Almost any website page has as much entry access as the New York Times, and any website has the potential to be huge, he said, disparagingly citing the example of Matt Drudge.
  • In blogging there is a direct interpersonal relationship with your readers, yet the real time aspect of posting and editing makes it even more immediate, personal and interactive, or, perhaps, intimate. 
  • He recalled the astonishment he felt when he posted his first post and received an immediate response from a reader. "The more I did it, the more instantaneous was the feedback loop, until it really started intimidating me. It was throwing yourself into this mosh pit of universal dyspepsia... you find that the people you write for are not passive consumers, they respond to content. We've found a medium in which writing can have the same quality as broadcasting." He then made a rather humorous analogy to himself and "that Verizon guy with bloody millions of people following him around." 
  • In the context of the nonprofit realm, where people are strategizing and plotting out web content and architecture, the potential for this interactivity needs to be paramount in one's conscience. 
  • A great quote that stood out: "If blogging is fatal, I'll be the first to find out."
  • But then he arrived at a more substantial question: Where is the truth and accuracy in this medium? After all, by many standards, it really isn't journalism. However the irony is that you cannot make an error on a popular blog, because it will be immediately corrected. If a blogger has a powerful following, it will consist of very knowledgeable and critical readers. 
  • The process of "manning up, admitting and correcting" is a very valuable educational experience. "The facts you are trying to express are more rooted in reality if they are open to criticism and the market of ideas," he said.
  • When Sullivan turned against the Iraq war, he lost over a third of his readership. So his response was to start including the critical emails he received into his blog posts, and then he asked his readers to send in a "view from your window" photo, which has since become a consistent weekly phenomenon for over four years. 
  • Admittedly, the lack of control over information in the blogosphere is "terrifying." Everyone has doubts, errors and revelations that they don't want in the public. It raises the question of how you put limits on what people can and cannot see. "My view is that this problem is not easily solved, but transparency is ultimately a good thing," he said, explaining that the historic lack of transparency in our culture has only led to falsehood and additional error and corruption.
  • As a blogger thinks about restricting information from the public, it forces them to think about why they are doing it. The internet only accelerates this process of arriving at honesty. A moment of wisdom arrives when you learn how to let go. 

April 08, 2010

Why Mobile? A Quick Demo from MobileCause

Everyone knows that mobile giving is the next big thing for nonprofit online fundraising. It's not the cheapest route to take, but if you're a major humanitarian organization and a disaster strikes, like Haiti last January, you'd be wise to get your crisis plan up to speed with a little mobile technology.  

Allyson Kapin over at Care2 outlined the benefits of mobile technology pretty thoroughly last January -- it's worth the read. But here at the 2010 Nonprofit Technology Conference (10NTC) in Atlanta, I decided to interview a vendor from MobileCause, Toby Sweeny, who was kind enough to give us a demo on how nonprofits can fundraise in the mobile age. 

Toby Sweeny - MobileCause from CW Interactive Services on Vimeo.

Social Media Veterans at the 2010 NTEN Conference

Today Changing Our World's Interactive services team is blogging from the 2010 Nonprofit Technology Conference (10NTC) in Atlanta, which is pretty much the mother ship of all tech-minded nonprofit gatherings. The first session we attended was titled, "Social Media Veterans," (#smvets) which was moderated by the very energetic Rachel Weidinger, who successfully turned the packed ballroom into an offline Facebook fan page/Twitter feed.

Attendants gathered to share their tips, grievances and brilliant ideas on all things social media, from Ning to FourSquare. I had a chance to interview Estrella Rosenberg, whose campaign, 100x100, is using FourSquare to launch a lobbying campaign around legislation on heart defects.

"It's not exactly fundraising, but it will get supporters engaged and active, and therefore more likely to give at a later stage," she surmised.

Enjoy the video! (This article continues below.)

Estrella Rosenberg on FourSquare from CW Interactive Services on Vimeo.

At one point in the forum, Rachel took a show of hands for how many people had organizational and personal Twitter accounts; Facebook fan pages; a blog that was very active vs. not so active. Hands shot up -- these were social media veterans, after all -- and some embarrassed laughter over the blogging activity question. Rachel picked on one person -- "You with the awesome glasses!" -- who works with the Dr. Pepper Museum -- "Give us an example of how you use Twitter."

She replied that they apply strict practices of following & thanking people who retweet them, and that Twitter also becomes a useful tool for tourists within the museum.

Another person, whose nonprofit addresses a controversial political issue, has put together a crisis plan in the event they fall victim to a political attack. Rachel then asked how many people in the room had a social media crisis plan, and only three people responded.

One of the more interesting topics was volunteer management, particularly when it comes to striking a balance between controlling your messaging and granting autonomy to your volunteers. One attendant explained that her organization maintains a very rigorous application process and engages in frequent followups throughout the life cycle of the volunteer. Another organization member said they enlist autonomous volunteer teams that each have their own Twitter accounts.

The session ended with Rachel throwing business cards around the room, and asking for people to throw theirs back at her. "You, blog about this! You, blog about that!" It was chaos, lightening-paced yet somehow, everything made sense.

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