Cheap, Easy, and Underutilized Online Communication for Nonprofits | npENGAGE

Cheap, Easy, and Underutilized Online Communication for Nonprofits

By on Nov 9, 2010


Typically, written communication and email are the dominant types of communication that most organizations use for mass-distribution of messaging.  These methods are typically very effective and well received by the masses.  The problem is, mailboxes are jammed with messages from every other aspect of a person’s life as well.  So that made me start to think about other communication avenues that are underutilized and present easy ways to share news and ideas.


I work from home and whenever I am not demonstrating different solutions, I have a podcast running in the background.  It’s fair to say that I love them.  Podcasts are an incredible way to distribute ideas, news, and events, and they can be very cheap or even free to produce.  Podcasts also have an extremely wide range of playback on different devices like mobile phones, computers, set-top boxes, etc.

The Surfrider Foundation has a podcast that does an excellent job promoting their mission, and are a great example of a nonprofit who is doing it right. There are also podcasts that can help inspire nonprofit staffers, such as Social Good, The Nonprofit Jungle, and The Baudcast.  There are a slew of products to help you produce them including Garage Band and Audacity. And be sure to check out the We Are Media project, which has a full curriculum on producing your own podcast.

Text Messaging

I know this one sounds a little strange, but text messaging is a really simple and effective way to get short messaging directly to a niche group (i.e. volunteer team).  A lot of folks consider a Facebook page or Twitter feed to serve this purpose, but your message could quickly get lost in a sea of other messages and lose its effectiveness.  Texts will hit that person directly and quickly.  I would consider having a Google Voice account (since you can send free texts) and it allows you to compose and read texts directly on your computer screen with a full keyboard and mouse.

Youtube Channel

This is a resource that a lot of folks are still not leveraging.  It’s such a simple way to get video content on the web, and typically you can embed a video directly onto your website.  Also, did you know that they have a special nonprofit program?  So grab your Flip camera and start filming!

As with anything else, creating this content will take time, but it could be very well worth it.  These communication channels are historically underutilized and could be a great way to cut through the other communication channels.

What other online communication channels is your nonprofit using?


Comments (3)

  • Good list. And it made me reminisce about teaching myself the art of podcasting a couple of years ago. Garage Band, a Macbook and a decent external mic was all I needed. I found this basic tip sheet on iTunes to be a great resource:

    And, being the metrics geek that I am, I’d stress the importance of setting your podcast up from the start with a Feedburner feed. That way you can easily get a sense of how many people are downloading it.

    Also, I’d add one other cheap, easy and underutilized communication tool, the often overlooked but cheapest and easiest of them all: Flickr.

    A photo sharing pool or group are really easy to set up. Everyone has a camera with them all the time, and you can eport a nice little widget to your blog or website that automatically shows the photos in the pool. You can make it a contest and it’s a great way to engage people. Here’s a nice example:

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