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Using Technology to Keep Up with Your Industry

hourglassThe causes that nonprofit professionals support are intriguing and ever-changing. It is imperative to keep up with what is going on in your particular niche. But figuring out how to do that can be daunting. Surfing the ‘net for related news can be time consuming and it’s easy to miss the most up-to-date information that affects your cause or organization.

Technology is supposed to make things easier, and there are a variety of resources that can help you collect the latest news so that you can stay informed and on top of breaking stories, trends, and best practices.

For example, do you visit the blogs of other nonprofit professionals? These are great resources for learning about the topics that are getting the most buzz. But, finding these blogs and remembering to check them can be time consuming. Instead of spending time surfing from blog to blog (or news source to news source), many nonprofit professionals are discovering the benefits of using RSS readers.

When you visit a blog, you will often notice that you can subscribe to its RSS feed. An RSS reader like Google Reader or Netvibes can automatically compile all of the latest posts in one place. You simply log into your account and scroll through posts from all of your favorite sources. Each posts will have its own entry, allowing you to read them all in one convenient place.

Another useful tool for gathering all of the latest ‘net buzz that is relevant to you is Google Alerts. You set up keyword phrases, and whenever a post or article goes up on the web using those terms, you get an alert. This can be especially helpful in tracking what people are saying about your organization. By setting an alert for your organization’s name, you will know any time it is being referenced online. This makes it much easier to develop relationships, as you can easily comment on posts or articles, thanking the author for their kind words, or stepping in to correct misunderstandings before they get out of hand.

Twitter also offers a real-time search that works similarly. You enter the terms you want to be alerted to and are able to find Tweets that include that term.

The idea is to “listen” to what is being said on the Internet so that you can apply it to your own organization. For a more complete list of tools you can use to set up your own “listening post,” take a look at

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