Advocacy Tips

By Michael Stein

IGC offers these links to the following online resources as part of our commitment to helping nonprofits working on advocacy campaigns get the most out of the Internet today.

Below, you will also find a section on general support resources for nonprofits online, focusing on using email effectively, online fundraising, working with Application Service Providers, and doing outreach online.

Advocacy Tips for Nonprofits

ActionNetwork (http://www.actionnetwork.org/). Sponsored by Environmental Defense, this Web portal allows organizations to quickly develop Web campaigns and to maintain sophisticated communication with existing activists. 19 national and regional organizations use ActionNetwork.org to communicate with more than 500,000 activists. Using technology supplied by GetActive Software, subscribers can simply reply to their email and Action Network will send free faxes and emails to top decision makers when they need to hear about saving the planet. Environmental organizations can sign up to maintain their list of activists on the service and establish environmental action Web pages. If your organization is new to online action this is a great tool to get your feet wet and see the possibilities.

ONEList (http://www.onenw.org/). This e-newsletter is published by ONE/Northwest in Seattle, a nonprofit that provides technology assistance to conservation activists and organizations in the Pacific Northwest. Each issue has a main theme, plus some other useful news and info, all with clear click-throughs. A short table of contents heads up each issue. Their Web site offers the archive of their back issues.

Virtual Activist 2.0 (http://www.netaction.org/training/). This is an online training course that is packed with tips for nonprofits to make the most of the Internet. It covers email, mailing lists, advocacy, membership development and fundraising, and much more.

General Support Resources for Nonprofit Online

Benton Foundation (http://www.benton.org/). Their "Best Practices Toolkit" is consistently a good source of information on nonprofit Internet use. Related to our topic, we like the entire section entitled "Think it Through: What it takes to design & fund an effective communications strategy." The three subsections entitled Planning, Audience, and Message Shaping will direct you to high quality online resources. Also don't miss an article called: "Building Online Communities: Transforming Assumptions Into Success," by Victoria Bernal, Community Building Associate, Benton Foundation.

By The Cup (http://www.techsoup.org/). This e-newsletter is published by TechSoup, the nonprofit technology portal. A fine combination of a feature article, with a number of smaller news items. Useful table of contents at the top and a playful design throughout. A key bonus is that this e-newsletter makes regular references to discussion forums on their Web site, a good overlap between email and the Web.

Consultants ONTAP (http://www.ontap.org) is a Web site that lists hundreds of consultants (mostly in Northern California) that work with nonprofits, including technology consultants that can assist with researching and selecting ASPs. To find a technology consultant on this Web site, select "Find a consultant by area of expertise" on the home page, and then scroll down to "Information Systems."

Convio Monthly (http://www.convio.com) is a free e-newsletter published by Convio, one of the leading ASPs serving the nonprofit sector. This e-newsletter offers unusually high quality content to help nonprofits use the Internet effectively. Naturally, it also includes information about Convio's ASP services.

Donor Digital Direct (http://www.donordigital.com) is a free e-newsletter published by Internet consulting firm Donor Digital that offers news about online fundraising, marketing, and advocacy. The newsletter often includes news and case studies about ASPs. The Donor Digital Web site also offers resources about ASPs as part of their articles on "Moving direct mail donors online," "Choosing an e-vendor," and "Using email services."

Dot Org Media (http://www.dotorgmedia.org/). Dot Org is their free bi-monthly e-newsletter published by nonprofit Internet consultants Michael Stein and Marc Osten that gives practical advice to help nonprofits make the most of the Internet. They've covered topics such as email newsletters and creating successful online events, and often include reviews of ASPs.

ebase (http://www.ebase.org/). ebase is an integrated database software tool designed to help nonprofits effectively manage interactive communications with their members, donors, citizen activists and volunteers. Nonprofit groups can download the database for free and gain access to other registered users and qualified consultants from the ebase Web site. Though it's free, if you own FileMaker Pro you will have more control to customize the ebase data structure to your exact needs The software was developed by TechRocks (http://www.techrocks.org/).

EnviroLink (http://www.envirolink.org/). Web portal with up-to-date environmental news, links to environmental organizations, government resources, environmental activism and related issues. So much of your work as environmental organizations is about connecting people with the information they need to better understand the issues and take appropriate actions. This site demonstrates how to do it. So what do your constituents want to know from you?

e-Philanthropy v2.001: From Entrepreneurial Adventure to an Online Community (http://www.actknowledgeworks.net/ephil) is a written report about online uses by nonprofits written in 2001 and looks at the current state of e-philanthropy. There is also an online database of ASPs (not updated) with a very useful search interface.

GreenMarketplace.com (http://www.greenmarketplace.com/). An e-tailing Web site that features ecological and socially responsible products. A fun place to shop but more importantly, if you engage in e-commerce to raise funds for your environmental group you'll want to check out this site to get some ideas.

GreenMediaToolshed (http://www.GreenMediaToolshed.org/). The folks at GreenMediaToolshed provide media-related tools and information to environmental nonprofits so that they can more effectively project their messages to the public and decision-makers. This is great stuff! Most environmental nonprofits we've worked or associated with have depended in one way or another on the media for getting the message out and influencing the public and decision-makers. The tool shed gives you an up-to-date database of environmental professionals and online tools that enable them to blast fax and email media professionals based on geographic and interest factors.

NetAction Notes (http://www.netaction.org/notes/) is a free newsletter published by NetAction. Each issue includes two or three brief articles with pointers to web sites. Topics include online activism, technology policy developments of concern to nonprofit organizations and Internet activists, practical advice on the use of technology, and/or commentary on various aspects of technology. To subscribe, send a message to: majordomo@netaction.org and type: subscribe netaction in the message body.

Nonprofit Matrix (http://www.nonprofitmatrix.com) is a Web portal that focuses exclusively on ASPs that serve nonprofits. You'll find it useful because it provides an up-to-date and exhaustive listing of ASPs divided by the different tools they offer. User reviews provide anecdotal information (mostly positive) about specific services. Their News section is a good way to find out about recent product developments. Finally, their Tombstones list is a way to find out about services that have closed. We recommend that you subscribe to their free e-newsletter with news items and listing updates on a bi-monthly basis.

Nonprofit Internet Resources (http://www.rickchrist.com) is a Web site maintained by nonprofit Internet consultant Rick Christ. Among this collection of his 200 articles on Internet marketing and e-fundraising is a wealth of information about ASPs. Use the search window to type in "application service provider" or enter the name of an ASP that you're researching. Rick also publishes a free bi-monthly e-newsletter which delivers his new material to your email box.

Nonprofit Online News (http://news.gilbert.org) is a free weekly news bulletin about developments in the nonprofit sector with a slant toward technology. Edited by Michael Gilbert, it provides an invaluable source of information, reading, and useful links. Subscribe to the free e-newsletter and get the news delivered Sunday evenings to your email box.

Nonprofit Technology Enterprise Network (http://www.nten.org/) sponsors a discussion mailing list on topics of interest to the nonprofit technology community. A recent topic was "99 Uses of E-mail." You can subscribe by sending a blank e-mail to nten-subscribe@yahoogroups.com or visiting http://groups.yahoo.com/group/nten where you will also find an archive of the discussion thus far.

Online Fundraising Mailing List (http://www.gilbert.org/fundraising) is a free discussion listserve hosted by Michael Gilbert of The Gilbert Center in Seattle. This discussion list is focused on online fundraising topics, and ASPs are a frequent topic of discussion. Nonprofit staff frequently post comments about what they are learning. To subscribe, email to autoshare@gilbert.org with "sub fundraising" in the body.

Organizers' Collaborative (http://organizerscollaborative.org) is a membership organization based in Boston that advances the use of technology to enhance grassroots organizing, research, and movement building by organizations working for social change. Their programs include collecting, classifying and disseminating information about grassroots uses of technology; Developing, testing and distributing at no charge software that is easy to use and widely applicable to social change organizations; Providing on-line methods of collaboration and resource sharing for organizers; and providing occasional technical assistance to selected groups. Their "Technical Digest" (Octech) is a low-volume e-newsletter on computers and social change.

TechSoup (http://www.techsoup.org) is a Web portal about the whole nonprofit technology field. A quick way to find ASP resources on TechSoup is to type "ASP" into the search engine window on the home page. Another way is to click on "Resource Lists" under the left Tools menu and select the "Application Service Providers" item, which provides an annotated listing of services. Several of the Community Center Message Boards regularly have discussion threads relating to ASPs. If you have a burning question about ASPs, these are active Message Boards where you can expect quick replies and receive email notification when someone has replied. Be sure to subscribe to By The Cup, TechSoup's excellent monthly e-newsletter. Visit the excellent community forum on the topic of "Web Building" where you can discuss and ask questions about Email Newsletter.

Recycling (http://www.aaenvironment.com)

Water (http://www.thewaterpage.com/water-power-guide.htm)

NRDC for Kids (http://www.nrdc.org/reference/kids.asp)