Sunday, July 16, 2006

Party like it's 1999...

I wonder to what extent ePhilanthropy companies (Convio and Kintera) have yet to understand people's actual interests and natural interactions on the web. It seems like most of the community-building models are trying to standardize a very limited and specific model of how constituents approach cultural institutions and the Internet as a whole (circa 1999). LinkedIn, like alot of next-generation web services (like MySpace, Friendster,, Flickr) are finding new ways to systematize and frame user contact points with institutions. We all should take a page from their playbooks and actually think outside the box.

Outside the box; this is more than just partnering with these services. Though groups like MOCA in Los Angeles are leveraging MySpace for technology infrastructure and PR and they are missing this company's real impact; its innovation. MySpace executed a totally unfounded vision for how people could use the Internet. I have harped on innovation before, but this is the realm of opportunity for cultural institutions, using their mission as discreet advantage in developing web services and contact points to engage constituents. Beyond an ePhilanthropy paradigm (which has resulted in a formulaic, one size fits all, approach to online community and fundraising), it is time for organizations to get in on the game and create an innovation paradigm.

To begin, understand why people come to you and what makes you special in their eyes. This is a "good to great" epiphany. Then, go for it - develop requirements that baloon into a system of strategies and practices and technologies; a top down approach. Don't start the other way around.