Grand Rapids nonprofits using new media together

Last month I had a pleasure of doing some Google Calendar training with the Grand Rapids Area Nonprofit Directions (GRAND) group. The training went well. (You can see the presentation here, if you’re interested.)

It’s not so much the training I found interesting though – it’s the coordinated effort. Bill Coleman and I had been visiting with the GRAND group for a while. As a group they wanted to better use technology. But as individual groups they were all over the spectrum of technology users.

Some have self-built Drupal web sites with tons of functionality; others don’t have a web site. Some do live streaming, most (but not all) send out email newsletters, some have blogs. Some have IT staff, others have an IT hat that’s given out based on proximity to the computer or problem, not necessarily experience or interest.

One shared goal was a community calendar. We looked at a couple of options – but in the end Google Calendars won out for several reasons. First (and probably most importantly) the Grand Rapids Community Internet site uses it. Second, it’s easy to use and you don’t need to have a web site to publish it. Third, it’s free.

The beauty of Google Calendars is that it’s easy to share events with other users – through the magic of RSS. On a practical basis that means that each nonprofit organization can set up their own calendar, they can post both public and private events, they can invite people to attend events and send out reminder – all through the calendar. They can also add a partner’s calendar to their own or vice versa. Or they can all contribute to a community calendar while decentralizing the maintenance for the calendar.

And again, it’s the coordination that impresses me. The tools are out there now to work together like Google Calendars. A good way to maximize the usefulness is to get a group together to talk about shared goals and what technology can help meet them.

This entry was posted in Blandin Foundation, MN, New Media, Rural by Ann Treacy. Bookmark the permalink.

About Ann Treacy

Librarian who follows rural broadband in MN and good uses of new technology (, hosts a radio show on MN music (, supports people experiencing homelessness in Minnesota ( and helps with social justice issues through Women’s March MN.

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