Ken Goldstein, MPPA

Ken Goldstein has been working in nonprofits and local government agencies from Santa Cruz, to Sacramento, and back to Silicon Valley, since 1989. He's been staff, volunteer, board member, executive director, and, since 2003, a consultant to local nonprofit organizations. For more on Ken's background, click here. If you are interested in retaining Ken's services, you may contact him at ken at

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Nonprofits on MySpace

By now I'm sure you've all heard of, even if you haven't taken the time to see what it is all about. What you might know is that it is very popular with high school and college kids who use it to meet friends, find out about new bands, build community, and socialize online.

What you might not know is that MySpace members include much more than teenagers. There are members in all age groups, up to and including those in their eighties and above. They are geographically diverse, have a variety of interests, and use the site to learn about new people, places, and things.

I've even found a handful of nonprofits who have created MySpace profiles and appear to be using them effectively to attract new supporters. While the MySpace tools don't allow for direct fundraising, it does allow members to create interest groups and post bulletins to their networks.

Here are a few examples of organizations using MySpace: World Preserve, Inc. - Alchemist CDC - and Our Bodies Ourselves.

I especially like the OBOS profile, and how it is written in the first person ("Maybe you read me in a women's studies class. Maybe you saw me in the waiting room at the doctor's office..."). I think it is potentially of great benefit to the young women who frequent the MySpace site and may come across this profile by accident.

Part of every MySpace profile is the "Who I'd like to meet" section. Alchemist CDC makes good use of this, saying, "Sacramento-area residents, activists and workers that are interested in supporting the even distribution of benefits and costs associated with redevelopment. Alchemist has a variety of ways people can get involved, from helping with a Community Action Movie Night to volunteering to help plan upcoming fundraising events. We're looking for volunteers, board member and advisors!"

Should every organization be on MySpace? Not necessarily. But it is certainly something to consider, particulary if you have a program that intends to reach out to youth and young adults. Maintaining your MySpace profile doesn't need to be a major headache; this is a perfect opportunity for a college age volunteer.

MySpace is free to use, and requires no special technical skills to set up a basic profile. In today's fragmented media marketplace (you cannot count on everybody reading the same newspaper or watching the same three TV network news broadcasts) I think it is important to investigate every opportunity you have to get your message out there.

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