first_imgThe Overbrook Foundation recently released a report on Web 2.0 and nonprofit adoption. The report titled, “Web 2.0 Assessment of The Overbrook Foundation’s Human Rights Grantees,” and survey instruments can be downloaded here.Some of the key themes from focus group interviews:Participants felt a “common struggle” in understanding which tools are critically important to their work. “I’m in a perpetual state of anxiety about which tools I’m supposed to be paying attention to.”Most of the attendees were at a loss as to where and how to get help for selecting and using new social media tools. “We don’t know who can translate these things for our needs.”Participants felt a “common struggle” in understanding which tools are critically important to their work. “I’m in a perpetual state of anxiety about which tools I’m supposed to be paying attention to.”Most of the attendees were at a loss as to where and how to get help for selecting and using new social media tools. “We don’t know who can translate these things for our needs.”There was almost universal frustration voiced about using outside technology consultants. The organizations felt that it was difficult to identify an appropriate one and felt that they were often leftmaintaining systems or tools for which they didn’t feel qualified. Smaller organizations said that they could not afford help of any kind, particularly their own staff dedicated to technology.Many organizations expressed the real difficulties of using technologies with constituents or in countries where the digital divide is very real and their constituents may be at risk of punishment bylocal governments for their activism.There were a few instances of constituents self-organizing to support the grantee organizations, as reported by the participants, but not many.Participants felt a generation gap with the new technology. “I’m always trying to catch up to my younger staff members.”All of the groups are using the web for donations; some to much greater success than others. As one participant said, “Money is the ultimate user generated content.”I’m thinking about the interview that I had with Jon Udell where we talked a lot about the job of educating people about the possibilities of new technologies like Web 2.0 tools. We also talked about the challenges of making leap from Web 1.0 to Web 2.0 in terms of personal learning. There is a chicken and the egg problem. To learn about web2.0 and feel comfortable, you need to experience it.The recommendations in the report call for more institutionalized capacity building programs around Web2.0.Jeremiah Owyang lay out a set of social media adoption questions that corporations ask:2005: What is Social Media?2006: Why does it matter?2007: What does it mean to my business?2008: How do I do it right?2009: How do I integrate across the EnterpriseIf we look at the these questions in terms of the nonprofit sector, I think nonprofits are lagging at least one or two years behind. Nonprofits are still struggling to answer to the “What it is and why it matters” questions. Early reactions to the report are in from a few who work in the nonprofit technology field. Jon Stahl speculates about how nonprofit technology providers cause the anxiety versus alleviate it. David Geilhufe says productize!The Technovist raises some questions about why the fear of change holds back adoption and suggests that the resistance isn’t necessarily tied to specific tools, but more about giving control of direction setting and activities to individual constituents.In decades past these organizations served as the direction setter, deciding on the agenda and dispatching activists to carry out a predetermined program. For many years this was the way to go but now because of increased and easily accessible social connectivity a top down method feels stale and is increasingly inefficient in creating social change.Human rights organizations need to adopt the new model developed by nonprofits like Kiva, which connects individuals to entrepreneurs in the developing world and offers infrastructure and due diligence but also gives its supporters freedom to make their own choices and to set their own directions for support. With Web 2.0 activist organizations need to increasingly adopt the role of convener and connector supporting rather than dictating the work of activists. Holding onto a position of top down authority will only end with a dissatisfied constituency moving to another more empowering organization. Source: http://beth.typepad.com/beths_blog/2007/09/a-perpetual-s-1.htmllast_img read more