Thursday, August 20, 2009

Branching Out Online – A Case Study in Getting Seen

Are you feeling a bit overwhelmed by the multitude and complexity of the many channels for nonprofit communications? I am too.

In the past months, I've been watching NeighborWorks America – an organization that creates opportunities for people to live in affordable homes, improve their lives and strengthen their communities – do an excellent job of both navigating these many channels and putting them to work for the organization's communication strategy. All it takes is a bit of listening, innovation, and just plain reaching out to make meaningful connections.

Here are a few of the ways NeighborWorks has branched out and become visible:

Blog: As a featured example of shared
outcome reporting in this Idealware blog post, NeighborWorks gets to share its innovative work within the framework of a previously established conversation on the topic. Consider getting in touch with bloggers who already cover a particular issue, methodology or program to which your nonprofit contributes unique perspective.

Contextualize: Since NeighborWorks produces a great number of research publications, it only makes sense to use a current topic to draw attention to this work. So, Neighborworks came to IssueLab with the idea of putting together a special collection of research on foreclosures (which includes reports from many more organizations than just Neighborworks). Besides reaching out to collaborate on initiatives like this, it's also a great idea to offer your experts for an interview or a short quote, as exemplified in our accompanying blog post.

Partner: By recently teaming up with Justmeans, NeighborWorks has broadened the reach for its programs and events to potential corporate partners and the entire CSR community. Justmeans also reposted many research reports, press releases and articles that were then picked up by larger news distribution sources online. Go and find your partners online – it's a great (and often free) way to combine forces.

Gather: Just this week, the Social Media Symposium 2009 took place in Chicago. NeighborWorks not only organized this conference, but also generated lively Twitter discussion (#nti) and wove in training sessions for local community revitalization organizations. Check out the conference site for summaries and videos, and take a few hints on how you can use knowledge sharing to reach out!

Full Disclosure: NeighborWorks America is one of our beloved data partners. IssueLab hosts and disseminates the NeighborWorks digital library of research – which is yet another way this organization has chosen to branch out online!

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