I'm tired after a day of presentations, but still wanted to quickly write about this. Excuse any incoherence. . .
The USC/Annenberg Digital Future Project just released a report indicating some major shifts in communications and social connections spurred by online activities. The project conducts annual surveys of more than 2,000 individuals nationally and this year's report identifies some important changes in how users are participating in real-life and online community activities.
The findings most important to nonprofits include:
Online communities and offline action -- The Digital Future Project found that involvement in online communities leads to offline actions. More than one-fifth of online community members (20.3 percent) take actions offline at least once a year that are related to their online community. (An “online community” is defined as a group that shares thoughts or ideas, or works on common projects, through electronic communication only.)
Social activism – Participation in online communities leads to social activism. Almost two thirds of online community members who participate in social causes through the Internet (64.9 percent) say they are involved in causes that were new to them when they began participating on the Internet. And more than 40 percent (43.7 percent) of online community members participate more in social activism since they started participating in online communities.
To me, these findings present a major opportunity for nonprofits that are able to create and maintain online communities. What I find particularly interesting is that online activities actually boost offline social activism. Clearly nonprofits that can capitalize on this will be in a stronger position to engage supporters of their cause.
You can read the rest of the report here.