TechSoup invited me to be part of their online event on Web 2.0 this week. Since I was on call for a discussion about social bookmarking and aggregation, I put together a short overview of how aggregation can help nonprofits, and another on how social bookmarking can help nonprofits.
Here’s my quick take on three crucial ways that nonprofits can use RSS and aggregation to work more effectively:
- Automatically populate websites with up-to-date content: It’s very expensive to create original content on a regular basis. If you set up a series of RSS feeds on a particular topic that can pump useful content onto your organization’s web site; you’re adding value to that content by selecting a particular combination of topics and sources. For example, an organization that advocates for women with HIV might create an RSS-driven news section on its web site that pulls relevant web resources from del.icio.us, photos from Flickr, and blog posts from Technorati (a bit tricky to set up as a RSS feed, but doable; the trick is to set up the search as a “watchlist”, and then subscribe to the RSS feed for the watchlist.)
- Create a media monitoring site: You can create a media monitoring tool for internal use only. Something as simple as a Bloglines account can become a clearinghouse for information that helps with your work. That can include RSS feeds for Google or Yahoo news searches on particular search terms; del.icio.us feeds for resources related to your work; or news feeds for major publications in your field.I’d figure that most nonprofits would benefit from setting up a media monitoring site with RSS feeds that cover the following:
- Search of major news feeds (try Google News or Yahoo News) for the name of your organization, acronym (if any), major sub-brands/projects, and/or name of your organization’s President/E.D.
- Search of major news feeds for keywords on the issues you need to track. Play with the search terms until you get the right volume of news; if you’re an organization that works on a major policy area (e.g. healthcare) you may need to narrow down your search until it gives you a manageable amount of news [e.g. “healthcare policy (Congress or President)”].
- Search of blogs (using Technorati or Feedster) for your organization and name of your organization’s President/E.D.
- Search of blogs for your issue keywords.
- del.icio.us, Furl & Flickr tag pages for your organization’s name and key issue areas. Don’t forget that del.icio.us lets you set up feeds that are narrowed down by using multiple tags (e.g. http://del.icio.us/rss/tag/healthcare+policy)
- del.icio.us, Furl & blog (Technorati/Feedster) search on your chosen team tag (see below)
- For a local organization, search feeds that search your issue keywords within the news feeds for all your major local papers and broadcast outlets (you can set up a Bloglines account that includes all your local media, then set up a keyword search that searches all the feeds in your account; then set up a second Bloglines account as your main media monitoring site, and subscribe to the keyword search from the first account).
- Choose a team tag: Choose a tag that your staff, board and volunteers can use to share information and resources. Encourage your team to use del.icio.us, furl or another social bookmarking service to save web resources they find personally useful or want to share with the team. Encourage bloggers to use that tag on any post they want team members to read. And then make sure your team monitors the tag regularly by visiting your media monitoring site, or adding the RSS feed for the tag (from del.icio.us, Furl and Technorati) to their personal home pages in Google.
I hope this is helpful. Tips on how nonprofits can use social bookmarking will follow shortly.