We continue our introduction into some of the ‘crowdsourcing’ websites and applications that have been developed to links not-for-profits and mission-based organizations with their ever-connected constituents and benefactors. The list presented here yesterday and today is hardly exhaustive, but we believe we have touched upon some of the significant types of websites for various sectors of the philanthropic community. We encourage you and your organization to use any information we can provide as a starting point of your research. And feel free to reach out to us if we can provide further guidance or suggestions.
The arrival of the iPhone, then the iPad (and their imitators), have shifted the opportunities to share information away from the stationary desk toward the moving person. Crowdsourcing is a way that the mission-based community can leverage that mobile communication to engage participants on and benefactors of projects in almost real time (for a negative view of crowdsourcing as a means for private/for-profit communications to avoid investment,). What the software and website developers are doing is making that exchange as simple and as scalable as possible.
We begin with TakePart.com, which acts rather like a clearing house or aggregator of blogs and notices concerning ‘issues’ like ‘Environment’ (with 22 threads), ‘Government and Politics’ (with 17), ‘Art and Culture’ (4), or ‘Health’ (35). Once you pursue some research on the issue(s) that concern you or have the communities your organization wants to reach, the site moves you toward ‘Actions,’ which include giving or asking for loans, signing or posting petitions, or volunteering your time or talents. Membership is free and gives you access to post materials or design petitions. One also has opportunity to register within “MembersProject,” which is a set of services offered with the sponsorship of American Express. The interplay of the corporate and the non-profit could prove thorny, now that the former can speak as one voice in our political culture, but perhaps the positive influences can work both ways in cases like TakePart.
CitizenEffect.org has a particularly clean self-introduction. It presents 10 featured projects in a way similar to the way iTunes presents the top singles or apps. The introduction continues to the right of the features, where one can “Choose Your Project,” “Choose Your Approach,” “Engage Your Network,” and “See Your Impact.” Indeed, CitizenEffect really stresses the process of presenting a project, fund raising for it, and keeping people engaged with it through completion. It also has a particularly sophisticated search system to allow searching by amounts requested or region of the world or issue at stake (clean water, for example, or education). The completed projects can be part of a search as well, which could be a great resource for your organization if looking for some inspiration.
Finally, we have the Care2 Network, which is unique in our brief survey in a couple of ways. First, the emphasis is on the crowdsourcing of information and news. According to the site’s introduction:
1. You post an article, video, or podcast online, and submit it to C2NN. Your story will appear in the newly submitted category where other Care2 members can note it. If enough people note it, your story will reach the front page!
2. You participate in the democratic editorial process by noting stories you think are interesting. As you note stories you increase their chances of being promoted to the front page.
3. You share your opinions with other Care2 members by posting comments on C2NN Stories.
It is also the one site that posts advertisements throughout its pages, which can be a bit disorienting. Care2 offers a number of ways to share information, from traditional blog postings to e-cards. That said, the site requires – and rewards – some searching to bore down into the stories and topics you want you to follow. As is usually the case via these sites, one can follow developments via Twitter, Facebook, and other social-networking systems.
What sorts of crowdsourcing does your organization want to achieve? How will your fundraising projects benefit from use of such sites? A bit of research and establishing oneself through some of these sites (and more are coming!) could give great rewards.