I posted a few days ago about Simon Fairway ‘s Digital Makeover Project focusing on South Yorkshire Funding Advice Bureau . I didn’t get all of my thoughts out in that previous post, as they relate to the Issues and Priorities outline that Simon and the team put together.

User generated content vs traditional top-down information
I think with a web site such as SYFAB’s it is a great community building strategy to integrate ways that funding advice could be given by peers as well as the SYFAB staff. Moving some of the request, information gathering, and sharing process online in a public forum-like way, could really encourage participation in the process. People who may have already gone through what someone else is asking about can provide their insights or information while the staff can supplement with data they usually provide.

Communication is difficult with outreach workers/volunteers
I wonder if establishing some basic protocols that include Google Docs or a wiki could help contain conversations or questions to an easily accessed, web-based document. Is a wiki or shared document something that other groups have used to coordinate remote and in-office workers? I am thinking of examples with campaign staff/volunteers and rural nonprofits.

Newsletter is in PDF/mailed
(You can read about this and the other issue areas in the Issue and Priorities document for the project.)  One of the most important aspects of the newsletter is the event and training listings.  What about creating an online calendar on the website, where events, trainings, workshops, major conferences, and even grant deadlines could all be displayed and easily updated?  Sounds like a great way to add value to the SYFAB website.  You could even allow for others to add to the calendar, or submit information for staff to add.  Then the SYFAB calendar would be the go-to place to find out what was going on in the funding field.

Capturing feedback
One of the easiest ways for organizations to create a feedback form without technical expertise is to use SurveyMonkey or other free online survey tools .  You don’t need to know any html or other coding, don’t need to make any forms on your website.  You can create a survey that captures all the information you are hoping to get from users of the site or of a particular program, and even add your logo and other branding materials to confirm to users that it really is your survey.  This let’s you ask for feedback, collect the feedback and analyze it in a web-based platform so there aren’t any lost emails or misplaced paper forms.

Fundraising options
As the Funding Advice Bureau, you want to be sure that you have enough funds to keep helping others secure monies as well!  An online donation process would be easy, as you would just need to set it up and place the donate button on the website.  Checking to make sure that SYFAB is listed in online platforms like Causes and Change.org will allow people around the world using these platforms to connect causes and fundraising with your organization.

What ideas or comments do you have about the above options?  Do any of them reflect conversations or issues your organization’s staff has also faced?  What have been the major conversations points when discussing these issues in your organization?

Digital Makeover Project: More thoughts on community tools
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  • Hi Amy,

    I’m Danny from SYFAB, the willing volunteers in Simon and the Charity Technology Trust’s digital makeover! Firstly, i’d really like to thank you for taking such an interest in this project and giving such thorough and thought-provoking commentary and suggestions in your two posts so far.

    And secondly i’d like to give you a quick update on one particular aspect of our recent work – which is that i’ve started a blog to deliver news on upcoming funding opportunities, and communicate with some of the groups we work with about the sort of developments we’re trying to make.
    The site is:
    http://fundingnews.wordpress.com/

    And I go into a lot more detail about the purpose of the site and the reasons for starting it in this post:
    http://fundingnews.wordpress.com/2008/07/09/what-this-website-is-for/

    I’m hoping that this site will be the beginnings of SYFAB’s shift from traditional top-down information to user-generated resources, which I hope we’ll get to via a series of steps.

    We’re starting off with me (and therefore SYFAB) talking at our readers. The next step is to encourage the readers to start talking back. And then the most exciting step is to get the readers to start talking to each other without needing SYFAB. And if we can get there, we might just have the beginnings of a community of fundraisers sharing information and experiences and producing useful resources without needing an ‘expert’ organisation like SYFAB. Which I find a really exciting prospect.

    So far we have built up a respectable number of readers and subscribers (mainly by email, a few by RSS). And I think the next step is to really start to encourage comments and discussion. I’d really like to try to focus on one particular funding programme and build on the basic information about it using the knowledge and experiences of the readers. I think this would be a great example to illustrate the limitations of the basic information that we’ve traditionally relied on, and how much we can improve on it using our shared knowledge.

    And i’m hoping that will be a great example we can use not just with the people that may ultimately be participants in an online community of fundraisers, but also to encourage support and participation within SYFAB and with the funders of our work.

    Which brings me onto one other point which I hope we’ll talk about in the digital makeover – the issues that arise when trying to make some of these big changes to existing practices within an organisation.

    Anyway, I have probably gone on for long enough for now! Thank you once again for your insights so far. Long may they continue!

    Best wishes,
    Danny