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wiki

If you're not familiar with the term, a "wiki" is a type of website that allows a number of people to add, change, and delete information, and many organizations are finding that it can be an invaluable tool for sharing information and getting the word out about what they do. The most famous of them all is probably Wikipedia, which is an online encyclopedia that is updated by thousands of volunteers around the world. The idea is that with so many people sharing their collective knowledge, everyone benefits.

This idea can be put to work in your nonprofit organization, too. There are tons of applications for this type of resource, just one of which is project management. An in-house wiki can be created where staff can add updates about their progress, ask questions of others, and set goals and deadlines for project completion.

The value can go further, however, as you store information for future use. Imagine how much easier an annual event could be if you could simply look back through the previous year's progress. By keeping notes on what worked (and what didn’t), you can streamline the process from year to year and avoid problems that have arisen in the past.

While "turnover" is a bit of an unspoken word in the nonprofit realm, the fact is that employees come and go. Recording the knowledge of those working for you today ensures that their replacements can learn from it tomorrow. In this way, a wiki can become an integral part of new employee orientation and training.

Some organizations have even opened their wikis up to the public, allowing them to share their own ideas and insights. There is potential to host client testimonials, calls to action, volunteer stories, and more.

Of course, there are pitfalls to allowing many people access to your wiki. Most organizations have found that implementing a "terms of service" agreement mitigates many of the problems, but it is also a good idea to have someone check the wiki daily to ensure that no defamatory information is being posted. While there is temptation to overly-regulate what goes on the site, keep in mind that allowing people to share their opinions, both good and bad, does have benefits. For some, the very fact that they are allowed to voice concerns is enough to make them feel validated. Not only that, but you may just learn something that you needed to know!

For the budget-conscious nonprofit with a knowledgeable staff member (or one who is willing to learn), there are a number of free products that allow you to host your own wiki on your organization’s server. For those who want to be a little less involved in the administration, there are several services that will host one for you.

Last modified on Sunday, 19 May 2013
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