Alternatives For Building Awareness

It’s a challenge for all organizations, but socially engaged non-profit organizations are always looking for ways to build awareness and communicate with potential donors and volunteers. I’ve had the chance to work with Heifer International in the past, and they very effective in how they get the message out to the public.

If Web 1.0 was about commerce, then Heifer was one of the best in building an effective presence (of course, they still send me the paper catalog too, which doesn’t warm the cockles of my environmentalist heart). In particular, their online catalog is very compelling; Hadley and I have bought virtual animals as gifts for our nieces in the past (we also worked together on animations for the thank you cards). By personalizing the story (the bees you bought help this girl) they’ve made it easy to feel you are making a difference. Of course, I’m not actually buying bees or chickens, but that’s not really the point; what I give goes to a good cause, and I can connect something specific to my donation.

But Web 2.0 is about community, and Heifer seems to have gotten the message. Today, they sent a note mentioning their myspace site (and you thought myspace was all about music), and also pushing another web initiative:

A group of Heifer “lenses” is growing on, the search and community platform created by marketing and web guru Seth Godin, that works to benefit philanthropic organizations. Anyone can build a lens – lens is Squidoo speak for a web page. Build a lens and support Heifer.

It turns out that about half of all Squidoo “Lensmasters” send their royalties to charity. But Squidoo is not a charitable enterprise; it just sometimes works out that they help charities in the process of posting ‘lenses’ on a wide variety of topics. What’s a Lens? Nothing but a simple webpage on a topic you are interested in.

When I checked, Gnarls Barkley, Suitcases, and Golden Retrievers were popular (aren’t they always?). Squidoo is myspace+about+wikipedia (or something like that). I found one that amused me: Frank Roche posted best presentations ever. Nothing new there, but some links to good resources, including my personal favorite, Powerpoint is Evil, by Edward Tufte.

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