SEO and Social Media for Non-Profits

seo and social media for non-profits

This year, I’ve been fortunate to be involved with a non-profit organization here in Atlanta, called Vision Rehabilitation Services of Georgia.  My wife is a member of their staff and I have volunteered to help with promote their upcoming fundraising event via SEO and Social Media.  It’s been a great learning experience and I am proud of the results that have been produced so far.

Screen shot from Google Analytics showing improvment

Thankfully, my wife is often my sounding board and she will be the first person to remind me I am talking over people’s heads.  I love technology and all things internet related. Once I get excited about something, I tend to take off or (incorrectly) assume everyone knows what I’m talking about.

consider your audience

Alas, such is not the case.  The good people at VRS are not technical in nature and I’ve done everything from explaining what Twitter is to how to edit the title of a page in HTML.  They certainly haven’t had much exposure to SEO and Social Media. This, I have found, is great since it helps me stay grounded, slow down, take a breath, and really make a difference in helping achieve results.


I have found that I learn best when I have a goal in hand and the can put whatever I’m doing to practice.  This is how I learn and improve.


I’m no stranger to Social Media and I consider myself more of a rabid enthusiast as opposed to an expert. I was already somewhat familiar with SEO and the over all concepts, but putting it all together for a good cause really helped me grow and be effective.


I’ve bought books, signed up for mailing lists, practiced and experimented.

Rinse, Lather, Repeat for success!

(If you read Malcolm Gladwell’s book, Outliers, you know about opportunity and experience so I think that’s very apropos in this case.)

Malcolm Gladwell's book, Outliers

finishing touches

I’ve been using an example to illustrate how I feel. The example I’ve been using is that the Internet is a car; I know how to work on the engine, transmission and brakes, and with what I’m learning now I’m learning how to put on the custom, hand-painted pin striping.

I’m not going to go into specifically into SEO or Social Media tips for non-profits because that stuff is already plastered all over the web and can be found in books, but I have really enjoyed my experience and am glad I’m helping a great cause.


But is has become clear to me that you have to use both, or that is to say, you should use bothThe sum is greater than the parts and with the various tools available, you can see the results, (whether positive or negative) pretty quickly.


I guess the one piece of advice I can give, is to have a goal.  Whether it is something like “getting people to sign up for the fundraiser,” or “move up in search engine results,” or simply create awareness, you got to have identified what you are trying to do.   SEO and Social Media just for the heck of it, will not work.


Oh, and if you are interested in helping our cause and seeing how SEO and Social Media can help a non-profit, check out the Spooktacular Chase, 5k Race in Symrna GA.


I’d love to hear any suggestions or questions you have.





cycles of improvements

A good friend of mine shared something with me that was really cool.  Surely, you’ve heard to TED Talks. In case you didn’t here’s a brief description:

TED is a small nonprofit devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading. It started out (in 1984) as a conference bringing together people from three worlds: Technology, Entertainment, Design. Since then its scope has become ever broader. Along with two annual conferences — the TED Conference in Long Beach and Palm Springs each spring, and the TEDGlobal conference in Edinburgh UK each summer — TED includes the award-winning TEDTalks video site, the Open Translation Project and Open TV Project, the inspiring TED Fellows and TEDx programs, and the annual TED Prize.

And that’s taken right from their website.

I honestly don’t watch enough of them.  Some of videos I seen are “knock-yer-socks-off” type of good.  Most everything I’ve seen so far has been really inspiration.

So, my friend shared with me, TED Curator Chris Anderson on Crowd Accelerated Innovation, which was featured in Wired. I’ll embed the accompanying video here. I think both the article and the video have profound impact. Anderson’s video focuses on videos, but I feel the same sentiment can be applied towards Twitter and Facebook, and other social media outlets.

What I find interesting, is the concept of people who have passion and are self-taught, can raise the bar on those classically trained.

Innovation is hard work; it based on 100’s of hours of research, practice… abscense of desire… it’s not going to happen…

– Chris Anderson

Continue reading

Hello my dear friend! I’m a pure student…

This cracks me up.  I have been getting a ton of spam comments from the .ru TLD, and it always begins with either:

Hello my dear friend! I’m a pure student…


Interesting CMS. What software do you use?

Or some variant of the above.  C’mon, guys, if you are going to try and trick me, you got to do better than that. At this point, I am almost insulted at this feeble attempt.  But that’s not really what I wanted to write about.

Tonight I’m sort of reflective. So much as happened since I last posted. Certainly some of it is good, some of it is exciting, and some of it has certainly been a challenge.  I spent the last 30 minutes trying to find a Youtube vid that represents my mood, but unfortunately, I think the risk of misunderstanding is too high, so therefore, I refrain.

I usually post about technology or funny things, but so much has been queuing up, it’s hard for me to decide where to begin.

  • I am still madly in love with my T-Mobile G1, the Google/Android based phone.  I saw that Google had an Éclair delivered to their office: Each release of the Android OS has been named after pastries: Cupcake, Donut… Éclair is rumored to be Android 2.0…
  • I actually had my first Corny Keg experience with my homebrew in anticipation of our neighborhood Oktoberfest.  Pics and vids to follow, (it’s this weekend).
  • I’ve been rehabbing a rental house in my spare (but limited) time.
  • I’ve been learning Python, (but had to use Perl in a recent pinch).
  • More and more people are asking me for help with Trixbox and Cisco SIP phones.
  • I’ve been to HP HQ in Houston, TX for an executive briefing; I was blown away and met some really cool people.
  • I am meeting with Cisco regarding their UCS offering.
  • I’ve been meeting with Microsoft (and attend the ‘Technical Decision Makers Launch’ of Window 7, Server 2008, and Exchange 2008.
  • I am planning on attending the VMWare Users group event in Atlanta on November 5th, 2009.  Maybe I’ll see ya, there?
  • I’ve been enjoying Google Wave! (Sorry, I haven’t been able to send out invites, yet… so don’t ask!)
  • I have a new WinCE based GPS that I am hacking, (oh yeah, I forgot about this, but it’s a big ‘un!).

So I’ve been busy, but it’s been good. Any of the above items could be a separate blog post.

I’ve been really impressed with Google Wave.  It ain’t perfect yet, but I see the potential of it.  I might even go as far to say that it could be Email 2.0 but I probably need to elaborate on that.  Along the same note, I wonder if Twitter is the new USENET.  <- If you don’t get that, don’t worry about it. But if you want my highly entertaining, hand waving monologue on this, let’s meet for a beer!

wherever I go, there I am…

I never really stopped to ponder how far I have come.  A lot has happened, and it happened pretty quick but it was a natural progression.  Last week, my Mac Book Pro started acting funny.  I was experiencing lock ups and it got so bad, I couldn’t get anything done.   I saw some error messages in my log files that would suggest that the drive was beginning to fail.  Fast forward to last Wednesday and I am again using my MBP with a new hard drive.

But while it was in the shop, I was still productive and busy…  and here’s how I did it.

Portable Apps

For some reason, I got a bug up my butt.  I needed a usb jump drive.  I needed one bad.  Okay, I didn’t have a really good reason when I actually bought it, but I knew in my bones I needed one.  Microcenter has a house brand of memory sticks.  I got a 4GB on for something like $12.  I installed three things on it right away.

Web Browsing

So I got portable versions of Firefox for both Mac and Windows.  I have been using My FoxMarks to sync my bookmarks between multiple browsers amongst the multiple computers I have.  It’s a great Firefox plugin so I know my latest bookmarks are with me whichever computer I am on.


Email is also available for me anywhere I go.  I’ve been using IMAP forever so all I need is a configured client or even a web browser to access my email from anywhere.  So, on my portable apps, I have a configured portable version of Thunderbird.

I also use Gmail for most of my emailing so between IMAP and Gmail, I’m covered.

If you have a webhosting account, most WebHosts offer IMAP as one of the services they offer, along with a webmail version to access your email.

Chatting / IM’s / Instant Messaging

Naturally, I installed the portable version of Pidgin on my thumbdrive, but lately I’ve been using Digsby on my Windows machines.   By using one Digsby login, it has ALL my IM and social networking stuff:

  • Facebook
  • Twitter

That works for me and a Mac version is rumored to come out soon.  But regardless, I am able to access all my IM contacts with ease, no matter where I’m at.

My Documents

All of these portable apps are handy, sure.  But you are probably wondering what I did to keep my most needed documents and files handy in the event I need them.

I started using Mozy to back up only my documents.  Buried on their site, you can find the free plan that allows you to back up 2GB of files.  It’s pretty handy to access my stuff online when it’s needed immediately.

Of course you can use Google Docs, but Mozy is also pretty slick.

In the end, everything worked out.  My MBP was covered by my warranty and I got a new 200GB drive out of the deal, (my original drive was 160GB).  And I was able to do a complete, 100% restore via Timemachine on my Mac.  But having that USB drive with all those portable apps helped me make it while otherwise avoiding Mac-withdrawl.

cms for the masses

I love Drupal. What? You haven’t heard of Drupal? Well then, you just don’t know what you’re missing. Drupal is a robust, open source CMS application written in PHP and using MySQL. I’ve played around with Joomla, and it’s pretty cool. But when I had a big project for a real “content management system” I went with Drupal and never looked back.

The original goal of my original project was to come up with some way for multiple users to submit and publish content on a community website. I was in the position to upload and edit multiple PHP pages to make any updates or changes to the website. I figured there should be a better way. That’s where Drupal came in.

I set it up for my son’s school. It was very successful. I handled the administration and the care and feeding of the webserver, and a real marketing pro handled the content part of it. As of tonight we have over 200 registered users and a ton of anonymous users. I’m proud of it.

At work, we have a fine “oral tradition” that our newer employees, (myself included) are having a hard time getting our heads around. I installed Drupal as a way to address this. So far, so good. Many see the value of what I’m trying to do.

Now, add a dash of “social marketing” into the mix. I am a big fan of transparency. I want to lay my cards on the table and let you see what I’m working on, what my team is working on, and help you understand the challenges we face. It would be really great if I could get my team blogging on our departmental Drupal site. I’m not yet convinced they are comfortable with this. As I said in previous posts, opening up the Kimono a little bit can be a little uncomfortable.

What are your thoughts on getting your team to participate in this sort of communication? How would you sell your team on doing this? I realize that this might add some additional overhead to the workday, but I wonder what the ROI is on this sort of PR. I’d be curious to hear your thoughts.  How can social martketing help an department within a company?

lord of the dance

Surely you’ve heard of the Stone Roses.  They had that hit song in the 90’s, “Fool’s Gold.”  Yeah, it was a great song and was over 10 minutes.  Ian Brown was the singer you heard.  He’s great.  He’s been busy since the Stone Roses.  He’s got this song that I can’t get the lines out of my head…

Is it the questions or the answers that’ll lead you to the Lord of the dance?
I admire your style
Love your smile
Cross the street
Is it your destiny or circumstance that leads you to the Lord of the dance?

I’ve been thinking about who, or what is The Lord of the Dance.   And more importantly what is it that exactly leads me there.

Life is funny

Life is funny, because nothing can be as it appears and what happens tomorrow can be something you just don’t expect to happen.  I’ve had great pain in my life and sometime it would have been easy for me just to give up and take the easy way.  Other times, the situation was just something I had to deal with.  It wasn’t something that was going away or change quickly.  I had to learn to take it one day at a time.  You know, I’ve always heard people say that, but now I know what they meant and how to do it.  It saved my life.

But there have also been great and wonderful surprises.  I have meant so many wonderful, cool, interesting people on the social networks like Facebook and LinkedIn and one Web2.0 services like Twitter.   I’ve mentioned before how I felt it was best to keep a low profile on the Internet and poo-poo’ed any idea of pulling back the Kimono, so to speak.  But I made the mental leap, and I am so thankful for my online network of friends. Many of these people I have met in person, but many I have not.  I am looking forward to making new friends and contacts and being open with all of them.

Questions and Answers

I used to play a lot of “What if…?” games with myself.  Like the Buddhist teachings, this only added to my misery.

The Four Noble Truths present a formulation of the Buddha´s understanding of the nature of dukkha, or “suffering[13] , the fundamental cause of all suffering, the escape from suffering, and what effort a person can go to so that they themselves can “attain happiness.”[14]. Roughly put, and on a very basic level of understanding, they state that, firstly, life as we know it ultimately is or leads to “suffering” in one way or the other. That, secondly, the cause of this “suffering” is attachment to, or craving for worldly pleasures of all kinds and clinging to this very existence, our “self” and the things or people we – due to our delusions – deem the cause of our respective happiness or unhappiness. That, thirdly, the “suffering” ends when the craving ends, one is freed from all desires by eliminating the delusions, reaches “Enlightenment”; and that, fourthly, the way to reach that liberated state is by following the path the Buddha has laid out.

I hope I didn’t loose you with that quote.  My point is that instead of sitting around and lamenting why things are they way they are, I could be doing something for myself.  My “enlightenment” happens to be when I play with technology and when I can do something for someone else, be it my work, a friend, a relative, a family member, or a stranger (don’t get me wrong, I got prejudices around strangers, too).  With my new found respect for taking things “one day at a time” if I can do just something every day to better myself or learn something I’ve always wanted to learn, I am making progress.

Destiny or Circumstance

Remember that climber that got trapped and had to hack off his arm to survive? That was a remarkable story.  You can read it, but I heard that guy interviewed.  He didn’t give up, give the terrible circumstances he was in, he made his own destiny; he didn’t give up.  He kept a level head, thought things through, and made some tough choices.  During this time, Outside magazine published an article on people who were “lucky.”  More or less, it said people tend to make their own luck and was back with some studies.  For example, they put a $5 bill on the ground and people just walked by it, no one saw it.  Then, a guy who said he was lucky, walked by and saw the money on the ground.  They suggested that “lucky” people are actually paying more attention to their surroundings than those who were “unlucky,” whether they realize it or not.  I’d like to think that’s how I am, or that’s how I’d like to be.

So, who is the Lord of the Dance?

I think we are our own, “Lord of the Dance.” That is to say, there is a little Lord of the Dance inside of us.  Certainly, there are things we do, choices we make who help define who we are and where we are going.  And sometimes is it really hard… super hard to see the end of the tunnel or to have faith that there is an end to the tunnel, but there is.   And while I still don’t know if it’s the questions and answers or destiny or circumstance that will get me there, (honestly I think it’s both), I’ll know the real Lord of the Dance better;

I am my own Lord of the Dance.

where’s waldo? now you can know!

I’ve been playing with new social networking site, Brightkite.  At first, I wasn’t sure how much I would use it, but now I find it as addicting as Twitter.  It’s really neat.

One of the more interesting things that I heard years ago was that applications would be “location aware” of where you were.  The context of these applications were more centered around phones and IM clients.   Brightkite takes it beyond this level, and I find it pretty enlightening.    Sure, if you use Pidgin or other IM clients, you can have different “resources” identified as “Home” or “Work.”  Brightkite allows you to update wherever you are either by the web or by SMS.   If you can send emails from your phone, you can email pictures of whatever is interesting at the location you “checked in” at.

Today I “checked in” at my barber and I got a message from a friend that said, “Hey, you’re in my ‘hood!”  How cool.  Think about this in larger terms if more people were on board with this.  I could “check in” and if my online or social friends are nearby, they can announce it, and who knows?  Maybe we can meet for coffee.

Imagine how this service could help Realtors or other professionals that travel around a limited area.    Imagine how cool this would be if people could have GPS units that could somehow update locations?   Imagine if you could update via Bluetooth?

This is a different kind of service and it might take some getting used to.   But I like it and I’ll use it.  If you are on Brightkite, please feel free to make me a friend and if you are Twitter, feel free to follow me; if you aren’t a ‘bot or something, chances are I’ll follow you back.

more than six degrees

I was trying to find new folks to follow on Twitter and Facebook tonight.  I have an RSS feed for tweets for people in my zipcode, but it is often hard to know people based on username verses their real or known names.

Our subdivision has a web-based forum and tonight I posted a question asking how many of the residents were on Twitter, LinkedIn, or Facebook.  I’ll be curious to see the response… if any.

I’m sometimes surprised of the “online persona” I’ve gotten to know verses the real person.  Since we have kids and our neighborhood has a community park, we meet a lot of other parents.  I am really curious how much of an online presence other people have, and who do they think is important or who do they follow.  It’s an interesting experiment in social networking.

I’ll follow up with notes from my ‘hood forum post.