Amy Sample Ward

This is Part 1 of an interview with Amy Sample Ward. I Amy Sample Ward is dedicated to supporting and educating nonprofits and the progressive social change sector about evolving technologies that cultivate and engage communities. Her passion is in connecting nonprofits with new media technologies, watching the field of NPTech evolve, and having conversations about where we can go next while still getting everyone on board with what we have already. She has worked for nonprofits and foundations, and is now the Community Builder of NetSquared, an initiative of TechSoup.

Over the last two weeks, I’ve been asking Amy Sample Ward some questions on what nonprofits can do with social media.

What’s Web 2.0, in a nutshell?

I think “web 2.0” as a term has become ubiquitous, people using to define most anything they do online. In a way, that is true. I define “web 2.0” as the Internet tools, platforms, widgets and functionality that rely on and enable community (whether it is peer-to-peer or community wide) interaction, sharing, and collaborating. There’s also the Wikipedia definition.

What is the real-time web, in a slightly larger nutshell?

To me, the Real-Time Web is as much about the functionality and tools that enable sharing, subscribing, and monitoring of content online as it happens, as it is about the way people are driving and responding to those tools. There’s always the Wikipedia definition, too.

How can nonprofits use Web 2.0 most effectively for fundraising, in your opinion? Who is doing it right? Who could do better?

This is a really big question. It’s like saying how can nonprofits use events most effectively for fundraising.

The hot debate right now is around fundraising competitions – like those sponsored by Chase, Case Foundation, Pepsi and others.

The best way to approach fundraising online is to start with your community and the goal of your work. You may find that using social media tools to fundraise is a great match for your community and your work; and you may not. But you can’t force it – so evaluating your community’s use of social media first and the tools or platforms that match your mission and approach are key.

For some case studies of organizations fundraising online, check out the reports from NTEN on the eNonprofit Benchmarking Reports.

Have the full fundraising potentials of this been tapped? If not, what are we getting wrong? What could we do better as a sector?

Tools are emerging and developing every day. So, there’s always potential as far as the infrastructure. But, with fundraising, so many of the same tactics, best practices, and methods apply online as they do offline. In that way, unless human nature changes, we are dealing with the same questions about what works and what doesn’t but using online tools or names instead of offline ones.

Most online fundraising success stories are those that involve the community, create ways for people to personalize their actions or involvement, and leverage storytelling in the ask and the overall campaign.

What questions do you have after reading this? What would you like to know more about?

Watch out for Part 2 tomorrow!

Thank you!