My 12/13/09 Missoulian column
Even in good economic times, the holidays are a tough time for nonprofits that help people with the basic necessities. Throw in a below-zero cold snap like last week and a place like the Poverello Center gets very busy.
But the Pov is also very busy online. I talked with the Poverello’s Executive Director Ellie Boldman Hill last week and she told me that earlier in the year she started looking into ways for the Pov to be active online in addition to a Web site and e-mail newsletters.
After she attended the annual Netroots Nation Convention in Pittsburgh, Hill started a Facebook page and started using Twitter. And those online efforts have really paid off since last September.
“Within two weeks, the Pov had 700 Facebook friends,” she said. And at Twitter, “POVERELLOcentr” has 250 people following Hill’s Tweets.
“Tweeting and Facebook are ways to keep in touch with people locally, and being online that way provides more information and faster ‘inside the community’ information than e-mail.”
Facebook and Twitter target the younger crowd, and that’s good, Hill said, because people now are more comfortable going online for almost everything, like donating with an ATM card during the holidays or doing small monthly transfers all year long rather than getting out the checkbook and an envelope once a year.
Hill said the Pov also uses Network for Good (a nonprofit that provides online fundraising and networking management for other nonprofits) to handle information on the Pov’s 6,000 donors.
“We just can’t work with a data set that large and effectively use it to figure out who are donors are and when they like to donate,” Hill said.
Hill told me that now is always a critical time of year, since 25 percent of the Pov’s annual donations come in between Thanksgiving and New Year’s. She said Facebook and Twitter also help let people know what else is needed, such as household stuff like trash bags and blankets.
Even though it’s warmed up since last week, and it’s always warm inside in front of your PC, so remember the Pov this year online at the Poverello Center, on Facebook and Twitter and Network for Good.
This week in Mac Q & A: Dealing with old Floppy Disks