Netroots: Speed Review of New Online Organizing Tools


Scout, Ph.D.
Director, The Fenway Institute’s Network for LGBT Health Equity
Reporting from Netroots Nation Conf 2012, Providence, RI


Hey it’s Scout, testing a phone posting here… So bear with me on the format and don’t expect hyperlinks.

I’m at the Organizing Tools Shootout at Netroots Nation and want to report on the hot tools they’re showing. Everyone has only 5 min to present so it’ll go pretty fast.

  • Blue State Digital had a new plugin that allows you put one click donation links on websites or push them by texts. All you need is saved credit card numbers and this plugin allows you to have a low overhead low bar way to get more donations.
  • Next few presents were about voting. No need for us to know about those tools but maybe it’s a good time to note clearly since we’re at an organizing conference in election year there’s lots about election talk here. Most all of the readers of this blog like us do not get involved in lobbying or elections. But these tools are usually the very things that can be used for public health or policy change campaigns too, so that’s why we’re bringing you the hot tech news.
  • has a new petition website called They test your petition on a section of their list, then send it to a broader section of their list, allow you to send to yours and then allow you to email signators endlessly as long as it’s not for fundraising. It’s a cool new tool to share the MoveOn list. The better your petition does in test runs, the more of their list they will send to. Got a list and want to advertise to them?
  • Precision Network can take your list, hold on for the lingo here, “mash them with their cookie pool” (which I think means check if they have info on what those list members have between searching on their computers), and tailor computer ads to pop up on their computers.
  • “You guys may have heard of the Yellow Pages… Well directories are important” says the shill for TopWonks which is a new directory site for top thinkers in different arenas. You can see their Twitter Feeds, profiles, recent media, etc. Helps us spread the news and give access to to experts. Wonder if there’s any on tobacco listed their now? Or LGBT? Media bookers are finding folk here. 
  • Rally provides folk with a toolset to raise money via cause fundraising fan fundraising or whatever you want. 4.5% flat fees (I think that’s kinda normal for this area). They do a lot of testing to see what helps donate more and share that info with you. Like photos help people donate more, great videos can kick butt.
  • Amicus helps you broaden your supporter base. They… oh it seems they’re mostly about finding friends then overlaying info to help you phone them. Ok that may also not be the most helpful but as a good side note… it’s pretty gamified. Anyone know what that means? Gamification is process of making computer tasks seem more like games… Giving points, levels, and public FB badges for a certain activity level. As this guy notes, gamification is very effective to get people acting. Tell them they’ll earn double the points for something and activity will really uptick… Even tho these “points” are pretty useless. Apparently the Scout merit badge concept is much deeper in our psychy than anyone realized.
  • Google is presenting… And damn just voter tools. Yawn.
  • Loudsauce is trying to transform advertising from a medium that drives consumption to one that drives civic participation. (fascinating) See Youtube video Story of Stuff as example of their success. Their angle is community funded media buying. You have a campaign, tiny donations fund bigger media buys. Sign up start a campaign, link to a video that encapsulates it, name your targets (in plain English), then choose a media buying goal and you’ll create a page like a Kickstarter page and if you reach the goal they’ll buy the media for you. Including reporting back your metrics so you can see what made it go. Interesting concept, donations start at just $3. Their next step is to do a new button in addition to Share and Tweet we can put on anything… It’ll say Amplify and it’ll be a one click link to donate to whatever you saw wherever you saw it on the web. 
  • Nationbuilder is a new tool to integrate our online and offline efforts. For 20 bucks a month they can offer their existing tools to nonprofit campaigns… But gotta go online to see more about how they do it, the one minute present didn’t answer that for me, all I heard was their “Ruby on rails start allowed them to focus on scalability so we can offer it to you for cheap”. Ye gods… whatever “it” is, everyone agrees it’s hot. (I’m understanding less and less of this lingo every day, am I old enough to retire yet?) 
  • New Media Ventures , a group of angel investors for new media, rounds out the session by announcing they will be finding the first round of nonprofit new media investing this summer, look for their announcement for $25k and up investments in nonprofit new media tool development.

That’s the roundup for this shootout, hope you found something useful. I’m looking around at the audience and realize almost everyone is looking down at their tech… Guess like the flight attendants giving the safety speeches, we’re also going to have to learn to give talks as people seem to ignore us… Yet just maybe actually pay close attention. Over and out!

Published by Dr. Scout

Vegetarian biking small town transgender father of 3 feisty teens in real life, Director of Network for LGBT Health Equity in pro life.

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