Translated by: David King
The extent of Internet usage grows every day.Until this decade, few organizations had websites, and most of them only included information.Some of the websites were characterized by infrequent updates and notably difficult access from the Internet.
Today, the number of volunteer organization websites is large.We can explain this phenomenon by the availability and cost of technologies and the tools for Internet website content management.At the end of the 90’s, the cost might reach several thousand shekels.Now, the cost of creating and maintaining an Internet website is low – from several hundred to a few thousand shekels.
Additional reasons for the growth of Internet website usage by volunteer organizations include:
Publication of the organization’s services – It is easy to inform people of a non-profit organization’s (NPO’s) various activities via the website.
Information exposure – Information is available to a wide variety of people – potential contributors, volunteers, and service recipients.
Cost reduction – Internet website usage reduces costs of promotion, sending communications, and updates.
Expansion of services – Services once provided only within the organization itself can now be offered via the Internet.
Access – For many people it is easy to access the virtual organization, for example, psychological counseling, advice, and forums specializing in various subjects.
Availability – Providing services through a website makes the organization available at all hours of the day and does not restrict the service to a particular geographic location or require a physical presence at the organization’s site.
Global village – A website makes the organization part of the global village, available and accessible to the target audience in its own country and countries throughout the world.
As of 2007, there were 1.6 million NPO’s in the United States.(Source: Wikipedia) According to a survey conducted by Blackbaud among leading NGO organizations in the US, 92% of 1,300 organizations that participated in the survey had Internet websites.On the other hand, fewer than half believed that they were exploiting their websites’ potential to advance their objectives.(Blackbaud website)
As of 2004 in England, there were 170,000 NPO’s.In a survey conducted by Henley Management College among 500 organizations with the highest budgets, 50% of the 130 respondents indicated they had Internet websites.(Sargetant & Jay, 2004)
According to an estimate by the Israeli Center for Third-Sector Research, in December 2005 about 40,000 NPO’s of which 21,522 were active.Similarly, the Center estimates about 1900 organization websites as of May 2007.Most of the websites only contain informational material.(Estimate of the Israeli Center for Third-Sector Research, April 2007).
Expansion of Internet use has led to a new type of volunteerism – volunteerism through the Internet.New volunteers are joining the world of virtual volunteerism everyday.Willing people unavailable during daytime hours or distant from an organization’s site could not achieve their desires to volunteer.
The Internet volunteerism phenomenon expands daily in the US.In 2000, only 2% of people volunteered via the Internet.In 2004, the level rose to 5%.(Harmon 2005)Dr. Mina Tzemach volunteered to conduct a survey in December 2006 that found 4% of volunteers in Israel doing so through the Internet.An additional survey conducted by the Israeli Center for Third-Sector Research in March 2007 found that the level of Internet volunteerism approached 5%.
Clearly, use of the Internet and virtual media is expanding.Organization managers are learning to implement advanced technologies that reduce costs, shorten processes, and contribute to improved efficiency through use of a friendly and inexpensive technology.