If you have any type of regional or community base, the web is an ideal way to communicate. More than 70 per cent of people in the UK use the internet, and there are few audiences that can't be reached.
First, it can offer you cheap and easy regular mailings via email and even calls to action via text.
Second, it can allow your local groups to manage themselves. If you have a CMS - content management system - then allowing groups to have their own pages is an ideal way to give them a voice and manage their own data, events and communications. If you don't have a CMS, you can still use forms for data capture to allow them to keep you informed about their activities.
Third, it allows you to include local groups in your appeals, campaigns and actions. You can ask them to upload images and video via websites such as Flickr and YouTube, post blogs of their activities or send texts for live updates. This might apply to their own local activities or to bigger regional or national events. From a coffee morning to a major action, everyone can feel they are part of something, see their own actions online and, most valuably for you, produce live user-generated content to make events look real and the organisation look active.
Finally, you can use the web to form communities. Whether using websites such as Facebook or MySpace, or creating a presence in virtual world Second Life, you can gather a community of new and existing supporters around your organisation online or around a specific event or campaign.
Once you have a growing online community, you can ask people to contribute user-generated content for everything they and you do, making your organisation look lively and fresh simply because it is active.
- Sue Fidler is an independent charity ICT and internet consultant.