The book I'm working on with Allison Fine includes a chapter on crowdsourcing. Crowdsourcing is the technique of allowing many people to provide feedback, advice, knowledge, expertise or ideas for a project or create collective intelligence for an issue. Jeff Howe, author of Crowdsourcing, defines it as:
The application of Open Source principles to fields outside of software.
The effective use of social media tools is like a double espresso shot to your regular coffee. Nonprofits that have built their network can use social media tools to crowdsource ideas for projects at an amazingly fast pace.
Take the above example of "crowdsourced" birdwatching from Craig Newmark. Using Twitter, a digital camera and software that makes it easy to post photos to twitter and his network, he was able to quickly identify this mystery bird. And, taking this example further, the National Wildlife Federation has created the hashtag #nwf for crowds of Wildlife Watchers to connect.
Crowdsourcing can be done at an organizational level, blended into the way nonprofits create, implement, and evaluate their programs. We've also seen nonprofits use crowdsourcing marketing, fundraising, and activism. It can also be used an individual level, to crowdsource professional development and learning or even advice on making contributions. Shel Israel, author of the book Twitterville, crowdsourced the bulk of research for his book using Twitter.
Crowds can also become unruly mobs, using their collective energy to push back against organizations or companies that aren’t listening. United Breaks Guitars is just one recent case study of crowds being evil.
This week on Beth's Blog, I'd like to invite you to think together with me about crowdsourcing and nonprofits, hopefully with a crowd of other folks. I'm looking for guest posts, ideas, and examples of nonprofits using crowdsourcing for their programs, fundraising, and marketing. Some questions I don't know the answers to:
- What are the best examples of nonprofits using social media to crowdsource advice, program evaluation, ideas, or other uses?
- What are the best practices or techniques for crowdsourcing?
- Are there special cautions related to crowdsourcing for nonprofits?
- What are the best resources, including blogs, books, and articles?
Please leave me a comment or if you're interested in contributing a post, please fill out this form. Not I'm still interested in guest posts about movement building and transparency.