Do You Really Need an Online Community?

Your organization is considering building an online community. But people have only so much time to participate in such communities — a new one may not add anything useful. To find out, ask yourself:

  • Are your constituents regularly online? If the majority of them are not, building an online community almost certainly doesn’t make sense.
  • Do your constituents belong to many other online communities? If so, they’re unlikely to be inclined to join yet another one. Reaching out to existing communities might work better.
  • Do your constituents want to create relationships with each other? If you are simply seeking ways to let people access and create content, a web site or blog might suffice.  Depending on your goal, relationships may not be necessary or helpful.
  • Do you have the time? Online communities aren’t a short term investment — it will take a significant amount of staff time to seed the community, get people engaged and make sure conversation flows.

As always, it’s critical to understand your own goals. Online communities can be great ways to help interested audiences network, post questions and answers and share ideas. A successful community could also lead your organization to new people interested in your programs, help you gather feedback and build a repository of resources — like best practices and success stories — to share with other organizations. But in at least as many situations, another solution is likely to work better.

This tip was provided by Idealware, which provides candid information to help nonprofits choose effective software. It was adapted from an article by Amy Sample Ward for the We Are Media Project. For more articles and reviews, check out Idealware.

from The NonProfit Times