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Real Simple Syndication Is Not Always So Simple

rssiconThere’s a really important tool that your nonprofit can use to help spread your message across the Web, but many people are so confused that they’re skipping it entirely.  It’s the inclusion of an “RSS” button on your site or blog.
“RSS” stands for Real Simple Syndication, but as our title suggests, it doesn’t always come across so simply to those who could be using it to their advantage. So, let’s take a closer look at what RSS is and what it does.


Getting Information If you look toward the top right hand corner of the site, you will see a small orange button with an icon that looks like some sort of signal. It is labeled as “RSS Feed.” By clicking on that button a user can subscribe to the site, having new content delivered every time the site is updated. It’s similar to subscribing to a magazine, only instead of having new editions sent to your home, updates are sent either to your email inbox or into a “reader.”

Blog readers allow you to subscribe to as many different blogs and sites as you want, with all new content being filtered directly onto that one page where you can easily access all your must-read sites at once. Posts are typically listed in reverse chronological order from when they were posted to the original site. (If you don’t already have a reader, Google’s is a fairly simple one to start out with, and it will let you sort your blogs and sites into categories if you’d like.)

Sharing Information Assuming that your nonprofit’s web site has a blog or is otherwise updated frequently, it makes sense to include an RSS button. This allows your constituents the opportunity to get your freshest content delivered automatically without them needing to remember to go visit your page on a regular basis. This means that you can keep your organization in the forefront of their minds while also having another outlet for sharing your mission, reaching your clients, recruiting volunteers, sharing campaigns, etc.

A very common approach to getting started with RSS is to use Feedburner, which is now also owned by Google. They have a number of tools and pretty basic instructions for placing the RSS button on your site and gathering statistics.

It’s all about making information more accessible in an age when that’s what really matters to most people. By using RSS feeds, you and your organization can stay up-to-date with the people you want to reach. Keywords: nonprofit technology, blogging, social media, internet marketing, blog readers, RSS, real simple syndication, Feedburner

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