I'd like to thank new Idealware blogger Debra Askanase
for the inspiration for this post, which actually take from her idea for a post around fundraising and advocacy widgets, and which she graciously let me run with due to my slight obsession with widgets. I look forward to her thoughts on the big picture around this web trend and hope she will post a follow up and others will share their insights in the comments below.
There are many great resources and experts out there on viral strategies that apply to using widgets and I won't try to cover all that here. I'll just attempt to provide a brief overview about what some organizations are doing and what they are using to implement their outreach.
In addition to checking back in on what nonprofits are doing now that Sprout Builder is moving to an enterprise level application only, I started thinking about some of the possible uses and options for viral or "moveable" widgets that nonprofits are likely to see as helpful.
Why use widgets anyhow?
Well, widgets are basically movable, sharable mini-applications that can be used to raise donations, take action on a cause or spread information and awareness about your mission. The fact that your message and actions can be placed and seen "where the people" greatly increases your exposure to new potential supporters. Let's take a look as some possible uses and options for each purpose.Fundraising
Widgets or "badges" have been around for a while to promote and measure online fundraising drives. There are quite a few options if you are just looking to have a basic charity badge that allows donors to give and supporters to set a goal and place their progress on their web sites and social networks.
These types of badges are not usually very interactive and only allow for a logo and/or photo, short description of the cause, link to a video or more information, possibly some sort of progress indicator and of course a donate now button.
Network for Good was a forerunner in this space and has built several different styles of their Charity Badges
including the celebrity based SixDegrees.org
Other community or peer to peer fundraising sites like Changing the Present
have incorporated sharable widgets as part of each personal fundraising campaign.
Some paid custom types of "make your own" donation widgets provide more flexibilty for both the organization administrator and end user such as Giving Impact
. Also check with your donation vendor as they might even offer these tools. I am aware that at least Click and Pledge
Some examples:Kevin Bacon's 6 degrees badge ASPCA donation widgets
This week Change.org announced its sparkly new petition widgets
(powered by DIA) that allow any change.org petition to be embedded and shared and even signed by supporters right on your site as well as customized and shared.
Also a new service called Call2Action
provides multiple tab widgets offering both advocacy and donations using video as the engagement hook.
The Juvenile Diabetes Research Fund has a whole array of advocacy widget options
for supporters including mobile campaigns that are worth checking out. They are built on the Clearspring sharing platform*
And first noted in 2007 by Beth Kanter, the 18seconds.org widget based campaign
is still going strong built on Yahoo widget maker
.Awareness Raising & Mission Based Information
This is a pretty broad category and its impossible to cover all the possible ways a widget can be used to get your message out or to distribute meaningful data to your supporters.
News and Blog feeds to supportersWidgetbox.com
seems to have a fairly active nonprofit following that use their widgets in this way including IFAW
and the National Wildlife Federation
Kaboom offers members the opportunity to post progress update widgets
for their playground building campaigns which seems to be built on KickApps
and shared via Gigya.Search and Display relevant information
Here are just a few of the widgets I found that provide supporters or the public with pertinent actionable search results wherever they find the widget online.Kaboom's playspace finder
Built on KickAppsAmericorps' volunteer opportunities finder
Built on WidgetboxNRDC's What's Fresh local produce finder
Originally built on iWidget (now Transpond
) and made shareable with Clearspring*
. (full disclosure, I worked on this widget)FoundationCenter.org's charity IRS form 990 finder
Built on Widgetbox
Some other popular awareness raising tools used in widgets are maps, slideshows, videos, polls, quizzes or other interactive content. And of course many organizations also want to offer forms that collect all kinds of data like event registrations and the like as well. For more complex applications you'll want to check out what's possible with KickApps
and Yahoo Widgets
already mentioned and the options below.And some more widget tools for whatever you can dream up.Simple Stuff
Display RSS feeds of nearly anything - Grazr
Simple & multi-tab flash banners - BannerSnackFlexible Flash "mini-site" producersWIXProdule Ahead.com (but I couldn't get their site to load)Custom application options and intense Facebook integrationTran
($2,400 You build. $4,000 We build)Involver
(Facebook applications - some free)Get Social Apps
And Open Source fans will want to keep an eye on the variety of options that Peter Dietz at Social Actions has collected on his list of Action apps
.And finally a short Sprout Builder update
Via various Facebook comments on Beth Kanter's fan page I found this:
Beth Kanter "Here's what we learned - they're going to continue to serve existing nonprofit clients - reach out to Trudy Marquardt "
Other nonprofit staff have reached out to Sprout Builder and been told that the discount is good for one year only at half off ($1500 paid up front) the regular fee $3000. There is no official word from Sprout Inc
yet, so there is no way to tell if this applies to everyone or how long the offer stands. I still strongly recommend Sprout using nonprofits contact them right away to see what can be worked out for your organization.*
And in other widget making news, ClearSpring is now transitioning to AddThis platform
for sharing & distribution - so their previous platform is going away. (hat tip Andrew Watson's interesting take on all this
) If you build your own widget in HTML or flash and just need the sharing ability it looks like this is still free.
Also, several options I listed in previous posts are now offline including poplfly, iWidgets and Blist. Dapper has split into a paid advertising site and an open source community for data mapping widgets now at http://www.dapper.net/open/
Hopefully all the turbulence these services are experiencing will settle down. If you take a look all the things nonprofits are doing with sharable content and engagement you realize how many more possibilities there are. And its looking like movable apps and widgets are a core constituent in the distributed world of Web 2.0. So if you want to start sharing through widget you'll need to be careful selecting your service partner, keep assets backed up and have a fall back plan. Which of course also applies to pretty much everything.
So have fun widget building and as always, please Share your widgets, strategies and vendor experiences in the comments and help build on this post for your colleagues - after all, its all about the shared content - thanks!