Facebook as a Financial Platform?

There are big changes going on at facebook that will reshape the ways nonprofits will be able to use and leverage the platform.  The biggest of these changes is the launch of some “gift” tools for your social network. These changes seem little at first “who cares if you can buy a song for a friend” but anyone that watched ITunes, Skype, Amazon and online donations scale up realizes that getting people to cough up credit card for credits is the biggest hurdle in ultimately freeing people from money.

The more that facebook users get used to buying little bits of things online, using their credits, and making transactions online the easier it will be to help them convert facebook relationships into channels for sending money to your charity and campaign.

I expect online donations to charities and groups with “pages” will grow proportionally with the amount of total exchanges on facebook. So seeing them add features like the new “buy a song” for a friend will be a big boost to those of us that look to facebook as a space for organizing relationships with people that use if like the way traditional users focused on their inbox.

While you can currently purchase gifts from non-profits, like Kiva, Project Red, TOMS Shoes, Charity Water and the World Wildlife Fund, Facebook is now also including gifts via the Causes application. So you can make donations to a cause as a gift for your friends for pretty much any cause supported through the app.

Facebook’s Gift Shop Sings A New Tune

Web2.0 meets listserve? This is an embeddable discussion thread?

This is interesting.  It is a discussion thread that can be ported and embedded around the web.  It could have a nice potential for advocacy groups and creating collaboration and collective action between communities.  It would need a few changes to be one of the “killer” apps for those of us in the nonprofit community.

1. Data tracking and ownership. If I embed it in my site (open site)  I get a copy of the names and data of the people who post from my site (build out data and interest in my salesforce tracking of those people).

2. Data sharing. I can agree that the original person who set up the thread also gets a copy of the data like a PTa or Cancer survivor forum with data going to local group and livestrong (then it becomes a viral organizing tool spreading content and collecting data).

3. Full email integration. If someone posts to a topic I have commented on I get sent an email AND I can respond via email without going online. A copy of my reply goes into the online forum (stay in your inbox or on blackberry).

4. Secure hand off. My website  (from a closed community like Ning or a Drupal site) can allow my logged in people to post without signing in again or needing to go online with everyone who is not logged in getting the post via email.

5. Ad free version.


I sent some emails to the developers. This looks interesting make sure you play.


The Strategy of Web Superiority and Web Dominance of an issue.

In the past, I have highlighted the value of web dominance and in 2003 talked about the value of "web superiority" with the hope of flooding the chatter, setting the tempo and message online no matter where online influentials looked they would see your message.

It seems like a more doable strategy the smaller the issue.  If you work on farming issues in WI, or river protection in Georgia dominating the web discussion would be a very easy territory to take over. I am surprised anyone can pull it off on a national issue with so much attention and so many sites but check this snap shot of Obama vs. McCain.

Here is a snap shot of how that plays out ...

  Online snap shot obama mccain


Tag cloud and analysis of 952 ProgressiveExchange emails. (what has this list been talking about in a glance.)

I have a killer project in the works. I am not sure Net2 application and/or presentation does the project justice.Progressexhange_folder

The Advocacy Email Index will change the way we scan emails and understand the movements. Who wants to be on our our allies email list? This project will help us scan and navigate thousands of emails more easily. Users will figure out new ways to find allies and swarm issues.

I want to know what all the groups at Green Media Toolshed are talking about (clients, or peace movement, yada..yada) Green Media Toolshed has 194 member groups. I wish I knew what issues they are working on today, this week, over the last year. What is important to them? What are they discussion with their members in email? I want to know so I can swarm on issues and support folks. I want help our members network better and self-organize on issues. I need a technorotti or digg for the issues of the movement.

My inbox is full and I can't seem to read newsletters fast enough. Our best content is in our enewsletters. I need to be able to process email faster. I might know more about training needs, expertise and partnership opportunities. I need to know the words and trends in my network. (images of progressive exchange - inbox folder and tag cloud. It is all email subjects since Jan 1. What does it tell you?


The Advocacy Email Index
will identify key words used in emails to members. We need to know who is talking about what, and where. By illustrating the community “chatter”, this tool will empower messaging, appeals and issue framing. It will help our disconnected and fragmented movement swarm.

Vote for it. Pop it on net2 and we will get it finished.

We also ran on Center for American Progress emails....over on our blog.

A better title would also be great. (comments)

Using IM for Advocacy

A few folks have been thinking about the IM space lately as a channel for advocacy communication and organizing. . I thought the following clip was interesting

Using IM for Marketing
Todd Tweedy is no stranger to the worlds of instant messaging and marketing. Earlier this year, the Washington, D.C.-based owner of The Tweedy Group introduced a new model for marketing via IM called "neighboring." In a nutshell, Tweedy says neighboring will change the context of product and service recommendations by encouraging individuals to express their own views and voice about a product or service to their own private network of personal contacts. This becomes especially important as IM networks create an extra degree of separation between consumers and advertisers.
Unlike most marketing campaigns, neighboring uses dialogs that are initiated, modified, and terminated by individuals within an IM network -- not by a corporation or marketing firm. Neighboring, in contrast, lets advertisers gain access to closed-social networks by using real-time communication tools, such as IM, so that advertisers can communicate product and service recommendations from neighbors to individuals across small groups.

In advocacy we need to foster evolving viral campaigns along the same lines of thinking. We need to encouraging individuals to express their own views and voice about an advocacy issue to their own private network of personal contacts. We need to support those "speakers" that reachout on behalf of our issues and make it easy for them to carry the campaign forward. I especially like the
Unlike most campaigns, these IM style campaign uses dialogs that are initiated, modified, and terminated by individuals within an IM network

I have started to forward around a proposal to some potential funders to launch a IM advocacy campaign.

How to Write Advocacy Email: Email Usability

I have poked around some of the online literature on email formats, spam, etc. (Past Email Related Posts ) I even picked up Jacob Nielsen's study on "Email Newsletter Usability" (A good review but not worth the $$$$ for advocacy groups). I think there are a few great resources out there for the nonprofit community that focus on using email to build "high" touch feel of an organization. (OneNW has lots of good insights)

However, the uses and success of email is always changing. Today, spam is choking inboxes of even the most casual users. It seems like email strategy needs to change too.

Nielsen does hit some gems in his latest work. First, new insight is the email is a "burden" perspective. Means that advocacy groups should only use the email to communicate key information..If you wouldn't pick up the phone and tell someone about the content or you wouldn't pay to send the information don't abuse your readers because sending fluff because email is free. Nielsen suggests considering email is a "burden" on the reader. (Unfortunately, those that send email don't often think about that point before they set up the monthly spam.) This advise starts to run counter to some opinions I used to have about using email as the always on "connection" between the groups and members. (I also look forward to comments that suggest that nonprofit relationship mail is treated "better".)

Content and message drive the success of the communication but here are some tips that might be useful.

Email Tips:
1. Most valuable "property" is the (FROM) and (SUBJECT)
2. Set up (FROM) addresses that are informative (<30secondactions>, <2min2HelpRivers> etc. Can still be from your email address but play around with the name of the FROM also personal messages are really good)
3. Very Clear and Specific Subject Line (Never generic like important, Call to actions..newsletter 2, etc.)
4. People seem to like conformation emails. (whenever they do something .Sign up, etc)
5. Tell folks what they want to know first. (We need you to look at issue X for 2 minutes with us. We want you to Y).
6. Include full contact information from sender.
7. Design the content to be scanable top lines are key. Yet also offer complete thoughts (link to additional and backup support)
8. Very Brief and To the Point
9. Make sure the email answers key questions that the content might raise
10. In general email Newsletters have very low open and read rates

Email Use and Tricks Rules:
1. Subscribe on your website
2. Tell a Friend on Your Website
3. Send A Confirmation Email
4. Make subscribe Easy and unsubscribe Easy

From Nielsen: "A striking conclusion from the study is that processing email is a stressful burden on people. Users frequently told us that they were too busy to deal with certain email messages and that they considered any fluff in messages a waste of time. When users "check their email," they're dealing with multiple requests for their time, including messages from their boss, colleagues, and family. People just want to be done with most email, and quickly move past anything that is not absolutely essential.

Gideon Rosenblatt's Blog: Email usability

IBM Rolls out a Network-Centric Campaign Tool

Clay Shirky has pointed out the launch of a new app by IBM. "Socializer" is designed for discovering and connecting to people and services in the same location. I have downloaded and installed it. ( very easy) It looks rat simple (it keeps a running dos window in the background) and could use some UI improvments but the tool could be effective. I have grabbed the login and application share screens here.


Socializer allows users to anonymously see the interests of other people in a location (before personal information is exchanged.) The application enables users that don't "know" each other to connect and allows anyone in the area to contribute to work in progress on the Socializer grid. Once folks have worked together they can download the personal information on fellow collaborators for later use and future connections.

I am interested in playing with socializer in an advocacy context to see if it could create the opportunity to establish live self-organizing and self-syncing activism nodes and networks. This could be a "killer" app at a conference / rally / press event/ or convention. It would be useful in any scenario where lots of folks show up for a common cause and no one cares about getting paid for contributions of talent. The system also seems to work in situations where the participants really don't know each other. As designed the socializer will help a crowd quickly identify common interest and enable them to collaborate on an ad hoc basis.

I can imagine a food court across the street from a state capital being a key "socializer" location. The environmentalists, health care, education, human rights, women rights, labor and consumer advocates and lobbyist might regularly grab lunch between sessions. A new bill could be posted as an "area" of interest. The group could quickly self-synchronize to produce a simple political strategy, key talking points, analysis of the legislation, organize vote counting and produce information needed to rally a constituency to oppose the legislation. The group could grab everyone's contact information for follow up meeting at the front door to a key committee members chamber (drop a bill and a half hour later a huge coalition of groups wants to meet with you to discuss the changes you need to make in the legislation)

A large group in the food court could self-select into fact checking the claims of the bill sponsors. At a press event a similar team could crank out a point by point analysis of the speech before the speech is over. Media hacks could handout a brand neutral (anti-GAHR143) web address to reporters on the way into the event where the results would be published ( reporters could even join into the network). The key would be to frame up a few "rapid build" tools for different types of events so that a huge chunk of work could be very quickly organized into "job packets" that could be efficiently bided on by participants in the Socializer network. The other need would be to identify the standard critical chain of tasks for project to be completed and allow "job swarming" to put lots of horsepower into the tasks that needed critical attention.

This type of collaboration (and the socializer tool) could speed the process of coalition building which is often limited by the false perceptions of interest, branding issues and the single group silo-brand mentality that destroys opportunities for river groups, libertarians and churches from typically building functional coalitions.

"Free" Network Tools Wisdom from the Dean Blog

Jon Stahl pointed out this fantastic thread on Howard Dean's campaign blog, his supporters from around the country (173 comments so far) are dropping great tips for online organizing tools. They already have one of the most successful social toolsets built to date. Dean is dominating the battle for web dominance. In a very open way, they used a thread to harvest ideas and energy from supporters.

My favorite suggestions which are consistent with network-centric advocacy include:

1. Self-organizing batch email tool by location
2. Self-organizing phonebanking tools
3. "Bugzilla" for issue identification, policy drafting and ranking
4. Karma system for blog comment filtering
5. Distributed media production room for multi-media projects (like steve johnsons suggestion)
6. Clear talking points volunteers (distributing spokespeople)
7. Reminder system to step-by-step participation focus on little things to help ("write your grandma")
8. Ability for the user to opt off all snail mail. User defines methods of communications.
9. A way to create small "working groups" or forums where supporters could organize
10. Webcams in key offices
11. Ability of anyone to download and print ANY of the allied literature and posters
12. Lots of UI wish list (calendar, timeline, etc. Easy universal login and profille)
13. Photos and details on key activists
14. Discussion forum and email listserve
15. Outlook address list upload, FOAF
16. Audio and music files available to download for events..greatest hits and speeches
17. Use of guest host, speakers and bloggers
18. "lunch for Dean" dragging a lunch crew into the issues.
19. Distributed door knocking tools to create walking list
20. Collective document creation
21. The continued random acts of associated kindness (dean food program)
22. Distributed list of elected officials to lobby for endorsements
23. Distributed Media Outreach tools

These are fantastic. They are not asking the central hub for more things or money. They are looking for tools that enable the supporters to engage each other directly. They are looking for ways to distribute the workload of a presidential campaign with each other.

Network-Centric Advocacy Swarm Tool

The one of the problems with actually implementing a Network-Centric Advocacy approach is that the network would have difficulty "swarming" on issues. The rapid adjustments of people, resources and technology into place to make a difference on the way events are managed is a key challenge to network advocacy. However, if a network was able to set up a private trend monitoring system, the participants of the network would be able to see issues emerge before the opposition would have any clue that resources were building against them.

I used to think that the only way for advocacy networks to move together would be to key action on media attention. (I.E. if an issue or event is on the web, in the newspapers, on radio and on TV for 2 days then the network participants would shift resources into place to help reinforce the progressive messages and lessons that can be learned from event.) This would work but it has three limits ...lag time, media agenda and joining a fight at the crisis moment. It has some strengths but it would require incredible speed in getting resources into position.

Tools Can Monitor Attention to Social Issues

An amazing tour of www.infoid.org has opened up a new world of a early warning system. Richard Rogers has created an amazing tool called the "Web Issue Index" . The tool is a "ticker" with issue layers. The significance (rise and fall) for an issue is measured by frequency of certain terms mentioned, frequency of mentioning and traffic a URL . Richard Rogers has been using the tool in all kinds of cool ways watching the flow of change in the issues.

Hopefully, the tools could be tweaked to monitor the pre-website communication channels (listserves, media advisories, calendars of meetings, etc.) These monitoring tools could provide an advance peak at emerging issues to network participants so that "swarming" becomes increasingly based on the network agenda rather than strictly on media coverage. A private and secure system would not reveal the details of the traffic but would help network participants start to connect with the right players and begin the shift of resources into place for emerging campaigns.

The Web Issue Index of Civil Society may be likened to a consumer price index. A consumer price index watches price fluctuations in a stable set of goods for indications of inflation. The Web Issue Index watches the campaigning behaviour of stable sets of non-governmental organisations for indications of attention to social issues.

Check out www.infoid.org

Interesting Email Strategy - The 5 Page Letter

Dick Morris is probably claiming to much in a mid-term analysis of email campaign but there are bits of wisdom worth looking at in his article. I worry a bit about his claim that the email "turned" so many voters considering how well the "Bush Wave" and Rove's 72 hour campaign plan influenced last minute voter behavior. I suggest reading with a [email protected]#$% filter set to high. Morris' logic is a little fuzzy and he is sales man pushing his company but email seems to be different in the context of advocacy.

Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee (R) used e-mailing to win his closely contested race for reelection. The Huckabee experience should serve as a model for campaigns in the future. - Dick Morris

Sending the Message at the Right Time
One of the things that the campaign was able to do was build a sense of timing because the election is the big day. In advocacy campaigns, we fight long-term campaigns that often lack the climatic and final act of an election day. Many groups tend to bombard users throughout the year without measurement / judgment points for success and failure. Move-on and Howard Dean have been effective this year at creating these points with the email campaigns. (Raise funds by the FEC reporting deadline, beat the Cheney fundraising lunch)

On the Thursday before the Tuesday Election Day, Huckabee contracted with Vote.com (Morris' firm) to do a statewide e-mailing to a list of 545,000 people in Arkansas. Since Arkansas only has 2 million people, the e-mailing promised to blanket the state, reaching most of the Internet households. - Dick Morris

They held off the on the email until other media and the moment had "softened" the market. I would image that if the email appeared much earlier or on a regular basis it would not have had the same "open rate". Just a few days before the election, the public is saturated with media coverage and paid ads. The deadline and the confusion create an atmosphere that inspires people to look for clarity. Most importantly, the undecided portion of the public are the ones that might read an email looking for additional information.

The Format

The e-mailing featured a very detailed description of Huckabee's record as governor, broken down into categories like "crime," "education" and "family issues" for easy access by voters. The message, attractively presented, was pasted into the body of the e-mail itself to save voters from having to download an attachment.

The letter about Huckabee's record was signed by former Arkansas Rep. John Paul Hammerschmidt (R) to give the message added credibility. The text of the e-mail was much longer - five pages - than would have been possible in either a TV or a radio ad, but gave the voter the option of browsing through to find the categories that most interested him. - Dick Morris

Five Pages! I can't believe they sent a five page email. I assume that they had no tracking but it really opens the door that in a political / advocacy context people may want more information. Spam and sales material for products tends to dictate really short emails. Jacob Neilson (Email Newsletter Usability) has research that promotes Dictionary.com Word of the Day as the ideal model and he specifically comments that it is bad if they take too much time or demand too much work. Five pages is unbelievable.

The Result
The great thing about the article and looking at email in a political setting is there is always money for polling. This is one of the few email articles that seems to really point to before and after numbers. The polling analysis is the feature of the article that makes it worth reading and to glean its findings more carefully.

The effect of the e-mailing was electric. Huckabee said afterward that "it might well have made the difference" in the election. Sent out between 1 p.m. and 2 p.m. on Thursday, the mailing sent a jolt through the tracking polling. Huckabee's vote share jumped to 53 percent while Fisher's fell to 37 percent. A few days later, Zogby confirmed Huckabee's 53 percent vote share in his published polls, and on Election Day the governor was reelected by a 53-47 margin. - Dick Morris

Campaign Emails

Email is the primary connection users have with the web. Millions of people only use the Internet to access email. The problem has been that many of the advocacy organizations have put too little thought or strategy behind message targeting, development and use of email as a mass communication medium.

The following site is a great collection of campaign mass emails. These email messages seem long but they are a quick scan and tend ot catch the readers attention pretty quickly. These messages go to more than 100,000 readers. Dean is shooting for 400,000 and Kerry campaign has popped over the 200,000 mark. (I have not seen GOP numbers but I bet they are impressive.)


Please comment with the observations and tricks that you tease from these messages.

SpamCop.net Can Monkeywrench Your Day

Are spam 'blocklists' going too far?: ZDNet Australia: News & Tech: Communications I have heard of opposition tactics that are aimed at frusrating our capacity to communicate. I hope to collect examples of sites or opposition emails that the "right" has used to censor genuine email debates and disrupt communication.

Submitting genuine communicaiton and listserve sites to spa blockers is a case of underhanded political censorship and monkeywrenching that your opponents may employ to confuse you and disrupt your communications. They may find the listserves you depend on to keep your coalition moving and submit you as a "spammer." The anti-spam technology kicks in very fast and it can take days to get things fixed. It is not good to only have one mass communication tool.

We need to develop a defensive strategy that would allow progressives to quickly move listserve and maillings to new servers and ISPs in the event a critical campaign gets disrupted in this manner. We also need to consult with some legal folks on strategies to collect damages for the attacks.

Listservs (Tips, Tricks and Best Practices)

Listservs are so yesterday. However, they are a huge pillar of the communications supports for nonprofit advocacy groups. We are playing with small team use of Listservs (<100 users) and looking at ways to link this powerful email tool with a simple database backed site support.

I am picking through Google results looking for tips and tricks that small groups should keep in mind as they work with Listservs to build collaboration, community knowledge and social network ties. Comments are definitely welcome.

*** Reading Links ***

DotOrg Media: Dot Org e-newsletter issue 7: Listservs

TechSoup - Articles: Using the Internet - An Introduction to Email Listservs and Internet Mailing Lists

Email List Hosting