New Media & Social Change: How Nonprofits are Using Web-based Technologies to Reach Their Goals

The folks over at the Hatcher Group have taken on an interesting project: they’ve surveyed 30 advocacy groups working on state-level issues to find out how they’re using the ‘net in their work. They started with an extensive questionaire and followed up with phone interviews, and they’ve released the results as a report (the e-book bug is catching!). Read the full report and you won’t regret it; here’s a teaser from the intro:

We found that all of the organizations surveyed currently use new media technologies in some capacity, although 44 percent devote less than two hours to the task each week. Nearly all intend to increase the emphasis they place on new media over the next year — with half planning to increase their use significantly and another 40 percent planning a slight increase.

Nearly all also reach out to bloggers on a regular basis, and the few who currently do not plan to in the future. Similarly, 60 percent of the groups are now on Facebook, and an additional 30 percent plan to establish a presence.

Many of the organizations we spoke with found success using blogging and social networking to increase their role in policy debates, get their message in front of key audiences and connect with supporters.

Some other technologies were less popular. Despite all of the attention focused on Twitter recently, less than a quarter of the organizations have a presence on the service, and more than half have no intention of establishing one. And while more than a third plan to start submitting content to social news websites, none had previously done so.

In short, we found that the use of new media technologies to advance social change is very much a work in progress. Organizations have a high interest in using new media tools but are still unsure about which work best for them, how much time they want to invest in this effort and how best to use the evolving technology.

But this much is certain: The importance new media plays in helping communicate the message of nonprofits will only increase in coming years and organizations that intend to thrive in that environment should make a concerted effort now to stay ahead of the curve.

This report is a great snapshot of the current status of the field and a big help for those of us working with organizations to help them put the internet to work. Thanks y’all.


Written by
Colin Delany
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