By James D’Ambrosio

While social networking has become the norm — many organizations have a presence on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter — some nonprofits may not be comfortable with these platforms or prefer not to share sensitive information publicly. While most sites do have settings controls, they can be difficult to set up exactly as you would like. Recently I learned about a new private social network for nonprofits that might appeal to some agencies concerned about the downside of social media.


AllAware is a free mobile app and web-based private social network for nonprofits introduced earlier this year by Linxter, a Florida-based company providing cloud and mobile technology solutions. The app is designed to help agencies boost donations, develop stronger ties among constituents (staff, supporters and volunteers) share news, and interact with members in a private, secure forum. Accessed on the Web at, on Windows Phones, Android smartphones and tablets, no coding or technical skills are needed. An iPhone version is scheduled to be released this month. Since roll out in February, allAware is being used by 35 nonprofits in 18 states. 

Most aspects of allAware web and mobile apps are free — creating user and organization accounts, and using the Services, Events, Meetings, News, Chats, Contacts, and Membership modules. However, there’s a $10 monthly fee for activating the mobile donations capability, and text-messaging credits can be purchased through the Web app (200 messages cost $5.00). Members enter credit card information once and can then make one-click donations. Allaware can be set up to receive donations anonymously or by name, including the ability to attach a message or emoticon along with a donation.


The app allows members to RSVP for meetings, see current events, and can serve as a nonprofit’s news outlet or private chat room for supporters to exchange information. The privacy aspect can be useful to nonprofits who would rather keep some types of information within their organization or those strongly affiliated with it — birth and death announcements, serious illness of an employee, board member or major donor, problem with a major fund-raiser or special event, etc.


As a communications professional, I’ve adopted social media out of necessity — its fundamentally transformed how public relations is practiced and how people communicate. If I’m not proficient, I’ll be left behind. At the same time, I believe some details of an organization’s inner workings were never meant to be public. So when I learned about this private social network, I was motivated to share it with others. At a time when so much is going digital at warp speed, there’s a need for a counterbalance. Click the link below to learn more about this new app and see if it makes sense for your agency.




What are your views on this topic? Would you consider using a private social network?


By James D’Ambrosio

Earlier in my career, I placed my value as an employee on hard work and effort, churning out press releases,  newsletters and other communications. While strong effort should always be valued, as I gained experience  I realized what it really takes to grow and maintain a vibrant organization: the results of your work.

This is especially important in nonprofit: It has been estimated that the Great Recession of 2008-09 and its financial after-effects may result in upwards of 100,000 nonprofits closing their doors! One way to reduce the possibility of this dire prediction coming true is for executives, managers and employees to heighten focus on identifying the desired results and bottom-line impact of their work. This is similar to writing a good resume, where experts recommend noting quantifiable accomplishments instead of simply listing responsibilities, which often carries more value with hiring managers. 


Social media provides another example. Social media is white-hot — just about every organization is leveraging the power of Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and others to reach potential stakeholders. And rightly so: there have been many success stories using these tools. But it’s not enough just to be on these networks. While you can quickly establish a Twitter account and gain 3,000 followers through a bit of tech savvy, if these followers have no connection to or interest in your cause, what have you accomplished? Basically, nothing. Social media is not a “build it, and they will come” enterprise. You have to find ways to stand out and attract those most likely to have an interest in your cause/mission. And that means investing time and resources in planning and evaluation. 


Prior to establishing social media accounts, ask key questions: a) Who is our audience? b) Where do they live? c) What are the demographics? d) How likely are they to use social media? e) Why should they care? f) What do we want them to know about us? g) What action(s) do we want them to take? In addition, evaluate results  through measurement tools: Twitalyzer for Twitter, Google Analytics for your Web site, and others. Taking it a step further, time and resources permitting, creating a formal social media plan would go a long way towards targeting your efforts. 

A similar approach can be used with other nonprofit operations — development/fund-raising, recruiting and training volunteers, programming, service delivery, special events, etc. To be sure, focusing on outcomes requires time and resources. But that cost can be more than offset by achieving better results and, in turn, enabling you to help more people in need or more aggressively advocating your cause. 


QUESTION TO READERS: How much emphasis does your organization place on outcomes? Any success stories to share?

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