Faces in the Crowd:How Crowdsourcing Can Impact Nonprofits

To say that I’m interested in crowdsourcing for nonprofits is an understatement. Just the idea that organizations can tap into the power of a crowd engaged in a mission-related project or initiative makes me all tingly inside. When harnessed to social networks, it gives volunteering, collaboration, and contributing to a cause whole new meaning.

To that end I’ve collected a few interesting resources and nonprofit crowdsourcing examples (please add more in the comment section):

Beth’s Blog features a post on how the Smithsonian is employing a crowdsourcing strategy to develop its social media strategy. I read her post the other day, and this is what got me thinking. Here is the video:

– I liked this quote on the Wild Apricot Nonprofit Technology Blog: “the essence of crowdsourcing: that small groups can show more intelligence, collectively, than isolated individuals, and that this ‘wisdom of crowds’ has the power to shape business and society.” They have lots of great links on crowdsourcing.

– Here is a more specific point of view about crowdsourcing from Working Wikily: ” “If you want to know where new interesting useful ideas are going to come from, don’t look at crowds and don’t look at individuals, look at small groups of smart people arguing with each other. Historically that’s been a big source of change.”

– This from the Extraordinaires website provides more insight into the social change aspect of crowdsourcing. Also, they are one of the winners of the NetSquared Mobile Challenge for delivering micro-volunteering oppurtunities through mobile phones: “Crowdsourcing for social good is a relatively new concept, but early experiments have shown tremendous promise. NASA’s Clickworkers project turned space enthusiasts into a high-powered work force. It took them a month to analyze 88,000 photos – a task that took a grad student 2 years to accomplish. ReCaptcha is transcribing old New York Times for the public good. And the World Wide Lexicon has created a system that enables the crowd to translate any written text. It could make mounds of public resources and information available to many more people. We’re just discovering the broad impact that crowdsourcing may have for the social good.”

– Sierra Bravo, a web design firm based in Bloomington Minnesota has its own crowdsourcing strategy for nonprofits — Sierra Bravo’s Overnight Website Challenge, they get 10 teams of highly qualified web designers to build sites for nonprofit organizations.

For me, the big questions are these…

– How will crowdsourcing impact traditional forms of volunteering within nonprofits?

– Does crowdsourcing create a different kind of engagement with a cause than traditional forms of volunteering?

– Can whole social issues be addressed through crowdsourcing making the need for an NGO less relevant?

If you have answers to these questions, thoughts about crowdsourcing, or more examples, please post.

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