Thanks to Michael Gilbert's Nonprofit Online News, I learned about the latest publication of prolific marketing writer Seth Godin: his nonprofit edition of Flipping the Funnel (free PDF download) shows how nonprofits can gain new supporters by asking current supporters to use free Web tools such as blogs, Flickr, del.icio.us, and his own Squidoo. (As Seth says, "A Squidoo page contains links—links to products for sale, to reviews, to pictures, to videos, to RSS feeds, and to blogs. A Squidoo page, which is called a lens, is one person’s take on one topic.")
As much as I respect Seth's marketing expertise, I disagree with a couple of points in this paper. It's silly to claim that, because it gets more traffic, Squidoo.com will attract more attention to a nonprofit than will a traditional nonprofit Web site such as diabetes.org. (Seth refers to a chart showing their comparative stats, but it wasn't in the version that I downloaded today.) Squidoo as a whole has a very different purpose and audience from diabetes.org. A more apt comparison would be diabetes.org vs. a Squidoo page on diabetes.
And while I agree that nonprofits could use Squidoo pages to promote themselves and engage supporters, the idea, on page 14, of the New York Philharmonic asking 3,000 of its supporters to each create a Squidoo page about dressing kids for winter (and for the 3,000 to raise money for the orchestra by getting friends to buy clothing featured on their pages) is so odd that I can't help but wonder if something wasn't lost in the editing.
Can you imagine being the one at the Philharmonic to tell the CEO (or board chair, or development director) that one of your fundraising strategies is to get 3,000 donors each to create a Web page about kids' winter clothing and for them to get their friends to buy clothing from their pages, with a small percentage of the profits going to the orchestra? Not only would that convey a very confusing message about the Philharmonic brand to supporters, it's unrealistic to expect 30 donors, much less 3,000, to want to publish a Web page on that particular topic. (And how many people will actually be motivated to support the orchestra by purchasing clothing through the Squidoo pages? Though I am loyal to my son's school, I've never bought anything through the Web sites that give a percentage to the school -- it's just one too many things for me to think about during my busy day.)
Much better are the ideas found on page 15 of the paper, for example, for a nonprofit to create a Squidoo page to supplement its Web site or for a nonprofit to ask supporters to create pages about topics that naturally interest them, with proceeds from sales on the pages going to the nonprofit. Even so, the second strategy would probably not work unless the supporters were savvy about the Web (if not already publishing on the Web) and unless they had a strong bond with the organization or with each other.
If you know of any nonprofits currently using Squidoo to build relationships, I'd be grateful if you'd let me know via the comments below. I do think it could be effective given the right conditions, and I'm eager to see how it pans out.cluetrain squidoo