Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Hyperlocal - the first buzzword of the new year

As we all know by now, Time Magazine decided that we all were persons of the year for 2006. In a year marked by MySpace, YouTube, Flickr and other social networking websites, the users of the Internet were the ones creating the content, sharing it, judging it, and relying on it.

The first buzzword for 2007? Hyperlocal. As we all drown in the information swamp created by our global connectedness, websites, blogs, wikis and even good old fashioned newspapers that specialize in the most local of local news (zip code level) are where the action is.

Blogs to watch for this type of information include Placeblogger, outside.in, and Fresno Famous. Websites include Yelp; Wikia is actively building communities of community wikis, and newspapers, which are generally seen as artifacts of a bygone time, are flourishing at the neighborhood level (San Francisco seems to get a new one every month or so).

So what for philanthropy? Well, everything. The vast majority of philanthropy is local. Community matters. Place matters. Proximity matters. As these news sources grow, it will become both easier and harder for philanthropists to know what is going on. Easier, because every meeting of every quilting group, dog walking pair, knitting salon, and book club (let alone community groups, merchant associations, political activists) may well be documented. Harder, for the same reasons. How can philanthropy structure itself to separate signal from noise at this level? What role is there for philanthropy in making sure all community members have access to these communication channels if they become ubiquitous? How might philanthropy use these tools?


Alex B. Hill said...

Philanthropy needs to speak to the heart, not to con people into supporting a cause, but by using the most basic human emotion of compassion to separate itself from the noise. With the ubiquity of technology, philanthropy will need to rely, as always, on the human to human connection (family, friends, and strangers) and word of mouth (spoken, written, or blogged).

none said...

There's no difference between this and any online technology. Nonprofits either embrace it and try to market themselves to a new group of people--or they don't and rely on traditional marketing methods.

If your a local nonprofit, you should try to embrace these tools and try to rouse up event and volunteer interest or use it to drive donations. Filter the noise and try to sift through the crowd for the best results, that's what you're doing in an e-mail or direct marketing camapign anyway, right?

And don't hold nonprofits to some morally superior level. It's not a con, it's marketing. Don't think animal welfare groups don't know what they're doing when they put the puppy or kitten in the e-mail. This is no different. Development depts. fight tooth-and-nail for every dollar to help their programs. This is yet one more stream to follow or redirect.

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