On 10 March 2009, SANGONeT hosted an 'NGO Engagement' at the Diakonia Centre in Durban. Attended by 40 participants from various NGOs from the Durban area, excitement filled the room at the prospect of what information communication technologies (ICT) can do for their organisations and how SANGONeT could assist in realising those prospects.
As most of the organisations who attended already have their own organisation websites, the question on everyone’s minds was how the NGO Pulse portal could help them, without replacing their existing websites. The answer is easy! The NGO Pulse portal can help maximise their exposure. This became evident when the roadshow team showed the participants all that the website has to offer and told them that over 1000 visitors were coming to the portal every day!
In presentations by Jan Moolman, Matthew de Gale and Aadila Molale, participants got a taste of how web 2.0 tools can optimise their organisations' networking. Described at the roadshow as 'weird and wonderful but ever so useful', web 2.0 tools helps your organisation reach a wider audience and you don’t need an IT degree to do so! As the NGO Pulse Editor, Jan Moolman explained, Web 2.0 is all about user-generated content - everyone contribute to content generation from anywhere in the world - just like the blog I'm writing now!
SANGONeT’s ICT Services Programme Manager, Matthew de Gale, took this even further, as he delved into Twitter. Twitter takes blogging to another level, as users are limited to 140 characters, this is called – microblogging. This is a great tool for users who may not have a computer at their disposal, as they are able to log in to twitter from a WAP-enabled cellphone, type a pithy comment about where they are or what they are doing and have their statuses updated for all to see. By way of example, the efficiency of this tool could be seen when the roadshow team updated their twitter statuses with activities at the workshop. As the day progressed, they continued to update their statuses, which were being fed to the NGO Engagements group page on the NGO Pulse portal.
While there are so many tools available, Aadila Molale, Prodder Directory project manager suggested that for (in)credible networking, an organisation should choose a good networking tool and use it efficiently. There is no point latching onto all the amazing networking tools available out there, when the existing ones are not being used to their fullest potential. The benefits of online networking are far reaching, especially if your organisation profile is included in the Prodder online directory.
That’s where the NGO Pulse portal steps in! Incorporating a variety of networking tools, the portal provides civil society with a place to have their say and be guaranteed that it will be seen. The portal allows users to blog on various issues, to add comments to articles, add vacancies, events and also press releases. The latest feature on the portal is the Community board, consisting of three forum boards; What Works, Question and Answers and The Exchange. All three forums are open to registered NGO Pulse users to ask, reply or simply make a comment on something.
The NGO Durban Engagement served as a platform to showcase all that the NGO Pulse portal can do for civil society. The roadshow team looks forward to taking these engagements to NGO’s across South Africa. In the meantime, visit the NGO Pulse portal and start blogging, asking, posting !