As I browsed my feed reader this morning, with thoughts of scarcity and entitlement in my head, I came across Steve Bridger's post with a link to an article in the Nonprofit Times regarding the use of blogs with donors. What suddenly occurred to me was that to the extent that nonprofits seem willing to consider the use of social media (blogs, podcasts, YouTube, Flickr, MySpace, etc.), it is primarily for fundraising and managing relationships with donors. I have seen very few instances of nonprofits seriously using new media for staff development, improving collaboration with other nonprofits, or to improve service delivery to clients.
In saying this I have to admit to some of my own mental models. My consulting practice is with organizations in the human services arena, so I work with employment and training programs, organizations that serve individuals living in poverty, etc. There may be more going on in other nonprofit areas that I'm not seeing. But in my corner of the world, there is next to no interest in looking at how social media can better serve clients or improve the ability of staff to deliver services. To the extent that they're thinking about Web 2.0, it's to raise money, either by using social media to manage relationships with donors or to do a better job with grant applications. This is incredibly sad and disturbing to me. It is scarcity thinking at its worst.
For me, what's interesting about the social web is its capacity to help staff get better at what they do and to help customers become empowered to meet their own needs. I see the tools of the Web 2.0 as tools that improve individual ability and capacity to navigate an increasingly complex world and to continually develop the skills that are necessary to be successful in this global economy. I find that I'm much less interested in the ways that technology can help organizations raise more money. I just want to see how they can help organizations provide better services--which often doesn't take nearly as much money as nonprofits think.
Just another iteration of my thinking right now I guess. . .