Are all Internets Good Internets?

al-gore.jpg A few weeks ago, I succumbed to a television spot and signed up for Al Gore's "We Can Solve It" campaign. As a relatively cynical young eco-agitator, I often find myself doubting the efficacy of large environmentally minded organizations, but I figured that if I could trust anyone, it would be Al Gore. So sign up I did, giving them my name and contact information and adding myself to the rolls of nearly 1.5 million members of the "We" crew. To date, two and a half weeks later, they haven't asked me to do anything for them yet. This, it should be noted, sets them apart from other Not-for-profits that I have given my information to.

It's only been in the last few years that the world of philanthropy has started to capitalize on the Internet as an organizational tool. No longer do I only receive the occasional email, I now seem to be constantly besieged by all sorts of special interest blasts, each more urgent then the last and each more deserving of my dollars.

For me, the problem becomes: what can these large philanthropic organization hope to do with their suddenly robust email lists? The “We Can Solve It” campaign is a pretty successful example for me, with lists of things you can do to take action, as well as important successes in the fight to solve Global Warming. Snazzy new material updated regularly certainly doesn’t hurt. In me, they have a willing (if poor) foot soldier, so events that I can give my time to, or suggestions of who to write or call to take action are always appreciated. Yet, other campaigns are not as successful, either inundating me with new Very Important Messages, or constantly asking for cash. At some point, burn out happens, and when I immediately delete an email from a certain group, something is not being maximized correctly.

So, as my introduction to this space, I would like to pose (then explore) the question: what works for you online? What makes you want to give money? What makes you go to a sight and sign up, and what keeps you coming back without feeling daunted, overwhelmed, or just plain frustrated?

Alan Smith

Posted at 1:03 AM, Aug 07, 2008 in Philanthropic Strategy | Permalink | Comments (1)


I am very impressed by the websites that have taken advantage of the new obsession with the social aspects of the online community. For example, at the Obama campaign website you are able to have your own page that you can personalize and use to FR for Obama. Similarly at the Race for the Cure website when you signup for the event you have your own "Race Center" from which you can send emails asking for support, send thank you notes, track your FR progress, connect with other team members, etc. Yes these organizations ask for my money, but they also give me something in return - my own stake in their nonprofit's online community and with it the sense that I as an individual count as an individual not just as one of the masses.

Posted by: Ashley