Twitter is a great free tool. And in a time of economic uncertainty, a free tool is a welcome help!

Twitter is called "microblogging." You get 140 characters to get your message across.

140 characters to answer the question on the Twitter home page: "What are you doing now?" When you first start to tweet, it feels really odd. Why would you share what your eating? And why would anyone care?

But people do. And the conversations get even better when you start answering the question "What are you focusing on?"

People use Twitter to ask questions, follow people that are interesting, promote links to various websites, share news stories.

There are links to Twitter guides below that can give you more nitty-gritty on using Twitter. They'll tell you what to do and what not to do.

But from a fundraising perspective, Twitter is an amazing way to engage donors and potential donors. One of the hardest things to do as a fundraiser is to maintain relationships. Twitter allows you to do that...right in the midst of your normal every day routine.

  1. You get to meet people all over the world that might be interested in your cause.
  2. You get to hear what people are really thinking about a wide variety of issues.
  3. You can follow other fundraisers and get great real-time advice.
  4. You can even promote traffic to your website or those of your friends.

Better still, if you can make your comments effectively understood in 140 characters, think about how all your fundraising writing will improve!

Twitter is definitely not just a tool to push your message. It's got to be a two-way conversation. Last month, BusinessWeek had a great article on Twitter. In it they said:

Amy Worley, who manages [H&R] Block's Twitter program, had to alter her approach. "I went in thinking Twitter was a free way to push our message out," she says. "Big mistake. We learned to listen. We started winning once we let people decide on their own about our services."

Why not test it out? Check out my Twitter stream right now by going to http://twitter.com/marcapitman. And follow me if you choose to create an account!

Here are some more blog posts on Twitter:

And here are some that other folks on Twitter recommended when I asked:

[Update: I've since written two more posts on Twitter and nonprofits. They're not so creatively called: More Twitter for Nonprofits and Even MORE Twitter for Nonprofits.]

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