Hi – please vote for my manifesto on changethis.com. Its pretty much a guide on how to use crowds to help you raise funds online.

Yesterday eBay made a series of announcements regarding new APIs and developer tools, calling for the company to rebuild the technical guts of its eBay.com site as a series of modular services, rather than a single, unified application. Today, David Berlind chipped in with an interesting analysis of web based APIs from Google, Amazon, Yahoo, Microsoft, AOL and eBay becoming the new platform providers in the way that in the desktop era it was the operating systems of Windows, Mac and Unix that provided the primary platforms for applications.

In a sense what he is saying is that if we compare the API providers to Windows, or Mac, then the next step in application development is the user interfaces that are being built on top of those APIs. Microsoftware.

the Holy Grail for companies like Salesforce, eBay, Amazon, Yahoo, Google, et alia: to be in the infrastructure business but to let developers be the ones that drive adoption through innovation. Sure, if you’re one of those or other API providers, it helps to provide prototypes or something that’s minimally functional to get new users started. But when I look at where Google is going with Google Apps (of which Google Docs and Google Spreadsheets are only a part), my sense is that there are innovators out there that will come along and build user interfaces on top of Google’s APIs that are far more compelling than Google’s native interfaces.

So where does that leave the nonprofit looking to leverage current trends and forthcoming trends? For a second stop thinking of the organisation as single unfied organisation based on a single platform. Start thinking of it as a technological enabler for a cause. The tools to enable that cause are developed and then the constituents are given these tools to develop their own version of the tools on top of them. In the way that Excel allows you to develop your own spreadsheets, rather than in the way that eBay releases a new API. If your constituents are savvy enough, you can always give them an API as well.

btw if you read through to the end of David Berlind’s article one can not help but think that he is arguing that the business to be in is the business of creating a better UI. I think Joel may agree.

eNonprofit Benchmarks

June 11, 2007

In the Web 2.0 World measuring success is fairly easy, how much profit did the company make. Its the same whether you are working on a google adsense campaign or monetizing via subscriptions or even donations.

In the nonprofit world it is a bit more difficult – what do you measure? How many people were educated? Informed? Served? Engaged? Activated? How much money was raised? Did legislative policy change? Corporate policy? Public opinion? Success or a ROI, is the cornerstone of most endeavours and being able to link your efforts to a reliable benchmark is key. Whether or not a nonprofit organization can and should be run as a business is an interesting question in itself, however the first piece of software that can benchmark in a consistant way would really corner the market.

The eNonprofit Benchmarks Study sets out to have a look at the effectiveness of major American nonprofit organizations using the Internet to raise money and influence public policy. At the same time it defines a set of criteria that can be used to benchmark a nonprofit effectiveness. Now we wait for someone to put together Google Analytics for nonprofits.

Integrated Marketing

June 11, 2007

Convio recently released the results of an integrated marketing study. One of the interesting points raised in the study, is that in a blended multi-channel environment – i.e. one where there is online as well as offline marketing channels it is difficult to tell whether the money donated online is as a result of online activity or offline activity. Donors tend to engage the non-profit on multiple channels, as an example, a donor may receive a piece of direct mail requesting a donation and log-on to the organisation’s site to look for more info and then end up donating online. Does that get credited to the online or offline channel?

It is a truism in today’s multichannel world that in order for a brand to sink into the subconcious mind of a donor or marketer that it has to be seen at least three times. Offline and/or direct mail channels may be the impetus that drives a donor online, but it is the online facility that offers the ease of donation and immediate feedback that offline does not have. In a world where many organisations are reluctant to spend too much effort online because of a reliable offline marketing plan, it is difficult without reliable matrics to justify spending a large amount of time online.

The study found that people who received information both on and offline have higher long-term value, retention, and lifetime value as donors than people who receive information through only one channel – whether the channel was online or off. The conclusions that we can draw from this study, do seem to indicate that online giving does not simply cannibalize offline revenues but support them by allowing easy access to financial facilities as well as the ability to give immediate feedback.

A bit of an old one now, but NPower’s guide to choosing your donor management software is a useful guide.

Download the workbook and companion resources from here.

Seth Godin along with NetSquared and Get Active, have announced their top 59 smartest nonprofit organisations online. The list is a mixed bag with one of the requirements, that the organisation have a page on squidoo, has left many people with a nasty taste in their mouth. There were some that did welcome the list, you can mostly find links to their sites here.

According to the promo material – “… These are organizations that give their volunteers and members a voice and get out of the way. They’re pros at mobilizing awareness online. They’re experimentors. Innovators. On a mission. They’re fearless …”

Blood:Water Mission

January 12, 2007

I’m a big fan of the blood:water mission. Check out their promo video.