The Influence of the Internet on NGOs

November 1, 2006 at 1:15 am 6 comments

My first attempt at blogging! Here we go…

It is no surprise that the Internet has had a significant impact on NGOs. Before the World Wide Web, nonprofits  relied on other mediums to market their organizations including radio, television and newspapers. Nonprofits that depend on these traditional marketing mediums, however, are now finding it more and more difficult to survive in the current, highly competitive nonprofit environment. Relying solely on these traditional marketing strategies has caused a host of problems for nonprofit groups. One particular problem that consistently came up in my research is that public-to-nonprofit staff ratios are too high for the direct interaction needed to build and maintain strong relationships.

Perhaps the greatest advantage the Internet has offered NGOs is its ability to facilitate relationships with its publics. For NGOs, the Internet acts as a channel to communicate with the public. For the public, the Internet acts as a channel to understand the organization and provide feedback. This dialogue between an organization and its publics is essential for NGOs because people are more likely to turn to an organization they can identify with.

The Internet, then, is an innovative tool for PR practitioners working for NGOs because it is a tool that allows practitioners to gain heightened access to their publics’ opinions. Unlike common marketing tools like television and radio that only offer one-way dialogue between NGOs and its publics, the Internet provides two-way dialogue. It is essential that NGOs have this feedback from their publics so that they can improve responsiveness to their publics’ needs to build stronger relationships.

The challenge that nonprofit PR practitioners face is capitalizing on the Internet to effectively communicate and respond to their publics. In reality, most websites fail to successfully facilitate open dialogue. For any of us in the class who plan on working for an NGO, we must find ways to improve responsiveness to our publics needs through the web and other new media techniques. When this happens, we as PR professionals will be more fully equipped to effectively communicate our publics’ needs to our organizations. Are you up for the challenge?

If you’re interested in this topic, and would like more information, check out the following resources:

Bhagat, V. (2004, Nov/Dec). The New Marketing Model For Nonprofits. Nonprofit World, 22(6), 17-20.
Bhagat’s article discusses how traditional non-profit marketing strategies are not working through several case examples.

Naude, A. M. E., Froneman, J.D. & Atwood, R.A. (2004). The use of the internet by ten South African non-governmental organizations a public relations perspective. Public Relations Review, 30(1), 87-94.
This study examined how ten South African nonprofit organizations with limited resources used websites as a public relations tool to benefit their cause.

Spencer, Tess. (2001). The Potential of the Internet for Non-Profit Organizations. Retrieved October 7, 2006 from
This paper considers the concept of a digital divide faced by NGOs.

Srinivas, H. (n.d.) Internet Use: NGOs in Action. Retrieved October 7, 2006 from
This website discusses the ways NGOs use the Internet, e.g. for networking, collaborations and partnerships, communications, and more.

~Audrey Korol
edited by Krista B


Entry filed under: Uncategorized.

Striving for Morality and Ethics Within Public Relations Social Media: The User-Content Revolution

6 Comments Add your own

  • 1. prclass  |  November 1, 2006 at 5:31 am

    Very well written and easy to read. I’ve volunteered with several not-for-profit organizations, and I’ve gained the impression that the internet has been a real boon for this sector. Not-for-profits and NGOs need to stretch their dollar as far as possible, and the internet allows them to accomplish a number of communication tasks effectively and cheaply. I agree with you, though, that not-for-profits, and any organization for that matter, really need to capitalize on the two-way possibilities of the internet, and not look upon it solely as a means of disseminating a message.

  • 2. prclass  |  November 1, 2006 at 5:32 am

    Oh, I wrote that above comment, by the way.
    – Nick Iszakovits

  • 3. Jamie Gill  |  November 1, 2006 at 7:52 pm

    Hello Audrey,

    GREAT CONTENT, Great Job on your post. To comment, I agree the Internet is the new “wave” to give, get, and receive information. NGO’s need to use the internet to get the information out to the public, and to make the public aware.

    It is unfortunate many of the traditional methods of marketing are not as appealing to NGO’s, however in this global age the Internet is essential.

    In relalation to my topic Audrey, I am going to make a comparision. My topic Offshore Labour relies heavily on Internet based communication technologies to communicate to the employees who are offshore. In regards to your topic, I believe it is also important the NGO’s use internet as a new form of communication effectively, and I believe they are doing that just by the NGO’s publishing the information or news by using the Internet.

    To conclude, the Internet is essential for communication, of all organizations whether it is profit or non- profit and GREAT JOB again Audrey!!

    Jamie Gill

  • 4. michael  |  November 2, 2006 at 3:37 am

    hey there audrey

    great content!

    interesting to see see a different perspective on the topic that i also researched

    thanks for a great read

  • 5. Leah Wilson  |  November 3, 2006 at 12:59 pm

    Ok, so I just posted and it went away? This will be short then. In juxtaposition to your point about the internets importantce for NGC’s facilitation; I worked for an NGO communications team that did nto heavily rely on the ineternet for gaging their publics. At first i did find it starnege that thsi particular NGO was competign in a technologically savvy industry, but stuck to tarditional methods of campainging and audience anaylsis. My take on this was that because this NGO has historical roots internationally and is therfore a universally well known cause publicity is not an issue. Also, their publics are already established and have been faithful. I believe the tradition behind Goodwill speaks to its publics, more so than the interent does. We did have a web page, but it was updated every three weeks and only listed up coming events or deals with in the store. Other than that we relyed on press releases to our local medias and ofcourse word of motuh to reach our publics.

  • 6. prclass  |  November 3, 2006 at 10:19 pm

    Hey Audrey,
    I really liked how you wrote this blog. I felt that the topic was very basic but you really analysed the situation and tied it to the PR profession. Some people these day often take for granted how important the internet is and this paper really helped to emphasis the reiterate the importance of the internet.




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