Laura Quinn's blog

New article: Measuring the Effectiveness of Your Online Communications

 I was worried about re-creating the wheel with our new article, Measuring the Effectiveness of Your Online Communications, but I'm pretty happy with the way it came out.  We propose breaking the world of online metrics into four kinds -- Views, Followers, Engagement, and Conversion-- which is helpful in forcing you to define what you actually want to measure in terms of your communication goals.

Thanks to TechSoup for the financial support of the article!

In Seach of Phone Banking Software

So here's a piece of software that seems pretty useful...imagine this scenario:

You have a bunch of volunteers mobilized to call constituents. Perhaps they're calling previous donors, to ask them to donate again.  Or they're calling around the community, to encourage people to come to a hearing.  Regardless, they'll need a call list with names and numbers, and some way to note who they spoke to and what people said.

You can certainly do this on paper, but then some poor smuck has to enter all the information as to who was reached and what their response was into the database.  Seems like something that software would be useful for, huh?  So I'm envisioning a tool that would provide volunteers with only their own list (or even just the next person to call), maybe over the web, so they could be either in person or remote.  And then they would get a little form for them to enter response information that would then go straight into a database, for easy loading into your constituent management system.

Sounds useful, huh?  And pretty simple. But I can't find anything like it that's straightforward and  reasonably priced.  This type of functionality sometimes comes packaged with expensive university management software, but that doesn't make sense if you're not a university.  Sungard offers SmartCall, but it's functionality is way overkill for most organizations.  MoveOn uses this functionality to mobilize remote phone-a-thon type actions, but they built it themselves.

What do you think?  Does anyone know of straightforward software to do this?

Help Spread the Word about TechSoup's Donation Program

 Whenever I lead seminars with groups of smaller or grassroots nonprofit organizations, I'm alarmed at how many don't know that they can get discounted software from TechSoup.  I  talked to a group where none of the 30 participants had heard of TechSoup. 

And in fact, TechSoup's doing a webinar next week to introduce the donation program.  Can you help spread the word?  Here's the details:

Get Started with TechSoup's Product Donation Program

Thursday, June 10 11 a.m. Pacific time

Does your nonprofit or public library need better technology? Wish you had the latest version of that pricey software? Or sturdier hardware?

Learn more about TechSoup's product donation program and how to get started with this free webinar. Join TechSoup, get registered, learn what it means to be qualified and eligible for different donation and discount programs, and start requesting donations.

This webinar will walk you through all the steps of getting started and help you get on your way to low-cost, high-quality technology to help your organization run smoother and meet your mission. This webinar is best for people brand new to TechSoup or whose organization or library may be registered but are just not sure how to get started. TechSoup’s donation programs are open to eligible nonprofits and public libraries.


New articles: Online Donations, and Online Data Backup

 It's a new article bonanza!  Two great new articles up.  With the first, A Few Good Online Donation Tools, we've adapted and updated our very first detailed report, all the way back from 2005 into an article.   As you can imagine, that 2005 report was a tad out of date, but with the help of donors (like you!  thank you!) we've pulled the useful information and updated the information about the tools to provide a useful overview of the area.

And then, on a bit of a different topic, we have A Few Good Tools for Online Data Backup -- an overview of considerations and options for organizations who want to backup their data remotely.  This is a great option for small organizations without tech savvy, as it's often an almost set-it-and-forget it type of thing.  



Can you spread a Facebook survey to your personal friends and family?

 Hey, as you probably know, we are in the midst of a substantial research project as to what social media methods are good for what.  As part of that, we've created a very short survey to try to gauge whether heavy users of Facebook are more likely to think well of a nonprofit that's on Facebookl.

With this survey, we're trying to reach folks OUTSIDE the nonprofit and technology spheres. Can you help?  If you have a lot of personal friends on Facebook outside the nonprofit technology realm, could you post a link to the survey to your Facebook profile?  And might you be able to ask a few personal friends or family members to post it?  Here's a possible Facebook post:

Can you do me a favor, and fill out an extremely short survey (it'll only take about a minute) about your thoughts on Facebooks and nonprofits?  It will help nonprofits decide if they should use Facebook.  The survey's here:

And here's a possible quick email to friends/ family members to ask them to post it to their profile:

Hi X,
A nonprofit organization I know, Idealware, is doing some substantial research to help nonprofits figure out what social media tools are likely to be useful for what.  As part of that, they've put together a very short survey to try to gauge whether heavy users of Facebook are more likely to think well of a nonprofit that's on Facebook. 
They're trying to reach a broad general audience with the survey -- could you help by posting a quick link to the survey on your own Facebook profile?  It would be great to get input from your Facebook community. Here's a possible Facebook post:
Can you do me a favor, and fill out an extremely short survey (it'll only take about a minute) about your thoughts on Facebooks and nonprofits?  It will help nonprofits decide if they should use Facebook.  The survey's here: 

Thanks for your help!

As this isn't our usual audience, we could really use your help to distribute the survey.  Reaching out to older and younger generations would be particularly useful.  Have a son/ daughter/ mother/ father on Facebook?  Would love them to respond to the survey and/or post it to their profile.
Thanks -- would really appreciate anyone you can spread it to!

Our Own Social Media Response Rate

 We just closed our Social Media Stories survey (thanks for everyone who took it!  Got some really useful information.  And yes, we're going to analyze all those antecdotes by hand).  You can setup SurveyMonkey to provide different links to the same survey, so you can track (kind of) where each person found the link.  This isn't perfect, as potentially some people saw the link from an email and proceeded to post it out on Twitter or Facebook.  But it gives you a sense of magnitude. 

So we did, to add to our experience as to what channels work for what.  It's pretty interesting.  Here's where the responses came from:
From an email to our list:  191 responses
From posts to a number of email discussion lists:  68 responses
From Twitter:  7 responses (interestingly, there were far more retweets than responses)
From our blog: 5 responses
From Facebook: 2 responses
Just to put these in context with response rates, we have about 12,000 people on our email list, 1500 Twitter followers, and 400 Facebook Fans.  So actual response rates were about 1.5 responses/100 subscribers for our email list, and about 0.5 responses/ 100 followers for both Twitter and Facebook.
The moral:  don't write off email.  In any way.  Though of course your own milage may vary.

We're Hiring!

 Idealware is hiring!  We're looking for a smart, enthusiastic Americorp VISTA to develop and manage our eLearning Training Initiative. 

As an Americorps VISTA member at Idealware, you will work with our team to define an eLearning strategy to deliver training to help nonprofits choose software.  You will package curriculum materials we’ve already developed to be optimally viewed as screencasts, software demos and more, as well as create new modules to fill content gaps and expand our scope of offerings.  The core goals of the project are to translate Idealware’s extensive existing training materials into a compelling library of eLearning modules using videos, animations, screencasts, and interactive and thought provoking excerises.
Idealware is a a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that provides thoroughly researched, impartial and accessible resources about software to help nonprofits make smart software decisions. We're a national organization located in Portland, Maine, a vibrant and growing small city, minutes from both the beach and mountains, two hours from Boston, and with a very affordable cost of living. In 2009, Forbes rated it the #1 city in the country for quality of living and Bon Appetite rated it the “Foodiest Small City in America.”  The Americorp VISTA program will cover costs of relocation.

Survey: Help us understand how social media works for your nonprofit!

 We need your help!  If your organization is using social media (Facebook, Twitter, blogs, MySpace, LinkedIn, video or photo sharing sites, or something else you consider social media) in any way, can you fill out a quick, one page survey about what you’re doing and how it’s working?

Over here at Idealware, we’re in the midst of an information gathering project to understand what social media techniques are likely to work for what purposes.  We plan to summarize this information into a free “Social Media Decision Guide,” to help nonprofits make choices for their own organization, available for free in the late summer or early fall.  
We’ve already published the results from our first survey  in our report Using Social Media to Meet Nonprofit Goals. Many thanks if you responded to that one!  Now we want to go deeper.  We want to understand what tools are most effective for specific purposes – is Facebook likely to be a better bet than photo sharing to recruit youth volunteers?  What about for getting people to sign a petition?  For donations?
And to do that, we need VOLUME!  The more examples you can share the better, about the successful, unsuccessful, or middling things your organization has tried with social media.  We’ll analyze it all and let you know the trends – what’s working for a lot of people?  What’s not working?
You may be saying to yourself “But I don’t have any very useful insights…” It doesn’t matter!  Please fill out the one-page survey anyway, if you have any examples of nonprofit social media use!  The more data we have, the better we can see the trends.  
To provide a little incentive, we’ll provide three lucky participants with a free copy of our paperback Field Guide to Software for Nonprofits
Thanks in advance for your help!

Jing Screencast Introducing Screencasting

 Wondering what "screencasting" is all about? (In short, it's an easy way to record anything you do on your desktop.)  Or interested in the free screencasting tool Jing?

Colin Bill, an eLearning guru at the Academy for Educational Development, has put together a quick, informal overview of what screencasting and Jing can do.  It was originally directed at a few colleagues at AED, so there's a little bit of inscrutable AED lingo in it, but stick with it for a nice intro of what screencasting, and Jing in particular, can do.

FREE Software for Fundraising seminar

 Don't miss our free seminar tomorrow (Wednesday) from 1:00 - 2:00 Eastern Time:  Software for Fundraising.

In the research for our new Field Guide to Software for Nonprofits, we gave a lot of thought to how various types of software can come together to help with fundraising.  In this free hour long seminar, we'll walk through the types of software that exist -- from the basics to the more advanced -- and talk about how they can support fundraising, some popular vendors, and where to go for more information.  (Note that you'll need to call into a phone number that likely will be long distance for you, so any regular long distance charges will apply).

We'll cover, at a high level:

  • Donor Management Systems
  • Constitutent Relationship Management Systems
  • Integrated Online Systems
  • Online Donation Tools
  • Broadcast Email Tools
  • Friend-to-Friend Fundraising
  • Social Networking
  • House Parties and Meet-ups
  • Mobile Texting
  • Mobile Giving

Would love to see you there!  Read more or register now>


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