social media tools for social change
and NONPROFIT organizations

Today’s rapidly evolving social media hold enormous promise for social change and nonprofit organizations to share resources, respond instantly to breaking news and policy developments, and connect and motivate constituents, stakeholders and potential donors.

The tools below emerged from a series of Social Change Leadership Network learning sessions on how nonprofits can use the latest social networking applications to advance their organizational mission. These sessions were facilitated by Ted Perlmutter, director of Knowledge Management at the Center for International Conflict Resolution at Columbia University and co-author of Networking the Networks: How Pro-Immigrant Advocacy Groups Use the Internet, and Tom Glaisyer, Communications PhD candidate at Columbia University and project manager specializing in the use of social media in domestic and international politics.



Today's evolving society of networks requires navigating beyond the traditional, hierarchical system of organization. Geography and institutional identity are becoming increasingly permeable as people build communities around collaboration and alternative methods of communication.

How can organizations decide who their priority contacts are and simultaneously keep their work at the top of the Web audience's radar? The shift requires a different culture - one in which organizations are constantly thinking about day-to-day steps they can take to expand their online presence while making their social platforms interactive.



The Machine is Using Us

An Anthropological Introduction to YouTube

Web sites

Tech Soup offers nonprofits a one-stop resource for technology needs by providing free information, resources, and support.

DigiActive is an all-volunteer organization dedicated to helping grassroots activists around the world use the Web and mobile phones to increase their impact.



Understanding new social media requires understanding and using the tools that are building blocks of online communication. Implicit in this is the assumption that as you use the tools, you will appreciate the possibilities of conversational media and collaboration that are transforming organizations.


Instant Messaging

Example: Skype

Functions it can play within an organization:

  • Virtual presence
  • Ambient feed of information
  • Visual contact
  • Unobtrusive interaction across hierarchies

How-To Guides:

How to Use Skype: A Video Tutorial

More on How to Use Skype

50 Awesome Ways to Use Skype in the Classroom



Functions it can play within an organization:

  • Internal coordination and collaboration
  • Sharing of resources with partners and clients
  • Generator of transparency (If it's not on the wiki it doesn't exist!)

How-To Guides:

Wiki explanation from CommonCraft

Wikis explained on


Example: Wordpress

Function it can play within an organization:
Distribution of an organization's message and brand to the broader community

How-To Guides:

Choosing a Blogging Platform

Organizational Blogs

How Do I Find Readers and Get Traffic for My Blog

Blog for a Cause!

RSS Aggregator

Example: Netvibes

Functions it can play within an organization:
Integrating and sharing information both within and outside the organization

How-To Guides:

Frequently Asked Questions

NetVibes Adds Drag And Follow Search Widgets For Twitter, Facebook And MySpace

Video: RSS in Plain English

Sink or Swim: Managing RSS Feeds with Better Groups


Example: Delicious

Functions it can play within an organization:

  • Sharing resources both inside and outside organization
  • Building diffuse networks of readership
  • Discovering and following experts

How-To Guides:

Add Firefox Add-On

Quick Tour of Firefox Add-On

A Beginners Guide To Delicious

RSS, Tags & Social Bookmarking: Building Blocks for Nonprofit Collaboration


Functions it can play within an organization:

  • Sharing information
  • Building broader networks
  • Broadcasting your organizational message

How-To Guides:

How to Build Community on Twitter

NpTech Tag Summary: More Chatter About Twitter and Organizational Use

Power Twitter



As nonprofits focus on implementing social media strategies, they need to shift from the old paradigm of planning outcomes before launching networking and communication programs to more experimental systems that accept failure and use it to teach people. Organizations can also increasingly draw on a wide variety of social media tools to advance work from development to organizing.



Giving Good Poke: Personal, Socially Networked Fundraising

Plan for Marketing an NGO Website and Driving Donations

Best Practices and Tips for Raising Money Online

Online Community Organizing

Best Practices for Online Organizing

Moving from Online Activity to Real World Action

Building Online Activist Relationships

Online Community/Branding

25 Motivations and Incentives For Getting Involved

Characteristics of Successful Online Communities