How To Set Up a Google 'Federated Search' For Membership/Association-based NPOs


For fun, I created a 'federated search' for personal use at my org.

My Beta: http://www.namac.org/federated-search-beta

It was easy as pie to set up in under 5 minutes:



  • Get csv/xls spreadsheet of URLs you want to search (in my case a list of NAMAC's Member Orgs)
  • Resources for Good Site Aesthetics and Techniques


    here are two link to fun web development stuff to look at, learn from and implement - updated daily (at least).

    The most popular web development bookmarks on del.icio.us:

    My favorite bookmarks on my del.icio.us account:

    Drupal "Hacks"


    As part of the website redesign, we're adding new sections for user generated content.  We needed to keep this content separate from the rest of the site, so that any user could edit the user sections, but not the rest of the site.  For basic content types, this is simply a matter of defining a new content type based on the standard drupal "node", and then assigning the correct permissions to that new type.  But what if you want to do something similar to a more advanced content-type such as a book?  One could extend the book module to support a similar derived content feature (best solution).  But that can take a fair amount of time, and with no guarantee of changes being accepted upstream, you face the possibility of either running outdated module code, or having to reapply your edits for every update.  A quicker, and much simpler method, especially for those with little programming experience, is to make a few, essentially cosmetic changes to the book module.  These changes consist primarily of changed the names of the tables the module stores its data in, and the internal name that drupal uses to identify the module and its components.  And while your modifying, you can easily alter the human-readable names and descriptions.  And its all as easy as Find & Replace.  

    Comment from Matthew Isaacs on May 9, 2007 - 12:19pm

    I found a module this morning that looks like it will provide this missing access control functionality to the book content type. See http://drupal.org/project/bookexpand for more info. It just came out today, however.

    Website Updates


    Working with Ross on a massive website redesign.  This redesign is brought on partially from complaints of website users about the disparate nature of the content, and the difficulty in finding relevant information on the site.  A recent hard drive failure on our web host's server which resulted in some loss of content was also a contributing factor.  We hope to have something up next week.  The site will actually be broken into multiple sites to allow for better organization.  Drupal will power two of the sites--the CUWiN main site, and a second specifically for the local network.  Two additional sites will be created using wiki software.  One will be a private wiki to document the organizations infrastructure and to store other private documents.  The second will be a wiki for the developers.  It will focus on bug tracking, software documentation, etc.  I'm considering using Ikiwiki (www.ikiwiki.info) for this, as it is simple, and integrates with the code repository.  Hopefully this will make it easier developers to incorporate the wiki (and documentation) into their work flow.

    Marketing Strategies For Your Website


    I have been given the task to increase the viewership and participation in www.sflregionalequity.org (a website dedicated to achieving greater equity in the Southeast Florida region through promoting and enabling affordable housing, transit-oriented development, stronger neighborhoods, and equal access to education and health).

    I believe in the cause and I think demand for the website is out there. However, I did not know how to best get the word out. At first I spent approximately 60 hours identifying 1800 possible organizations and local activists who would possibly be interested in the purpose of the site. I then went ahead and emailed and snail mailed invitations to the website with very little response. I believe that of the 1800 pieces of mailings I received 2 phone calls and 7 emails. So that tactic did not get the results I was hoping for.

    Comment from Rebecca White on March 19, 2007 - 4:01pm

    The only way to "sell" a website is on its content. I think that one of the most effective ways to get people using a website is to use it to answer their questions. I don't know what sort of org you work at or how much networking you do (by email, in person, at conferences, at community tech trainings), but if you know the content of the website, you can bring up ideas from it in conversations and add, "I'll email you a link." if they're interested. If people pass bits and pieces of a website on to their coworkers or people they work with, it's not only "selling" the website, it's people actually making use of the content (which is [hopefully] the real point behind getting the word out).

    If you're trying to spread the word about a website, "inreach" can be as important as outreach... do people in your organization use the website? If people within the organization are reading the website and casually passing links on to colleagues (the way links show up here on this blog and in our wiki, though most people would do that via email), or if they are using articles to introduce outsiders to their work, it shows a real ownership of the content. People will be much more willing to check out a website that is directly related to something specific that they're doing/thinking about/talking about. And if people within your organization aren't sold on the site... how are outsiders supposed to be sold on it? uh, what I mean by that is, find the good parts and pass them on.

    Maybe that's too much person-to-person interaction/work... but content and people are the most important things, and have to be in it somewhere. HTH.

    Comment from Kevin Bulger on March 19, 2007 - 4:45pm

    Those are some good thoughts!  I suppose why this has been so challenging is because I have no real experience in urban planning (the content of the website) and in marketing.

    I guess what I should do is focus on getting the word out while at the same time collect useful information, put it on the website, and educate myself on the issues at hand. That way I could actually conduct a conversation about it when out in public, which would reinforce the marketing of the site overall.

     Its coming together slowly but surely.

    Comment from Mike Moore on March 20, 2007 - 1:23pm

    Perhaps prominent local media - TV, Radio, Newspaper

    Almost everyone likes a good human interest story.

    Your NP is certainly a good fit.

    That would also be high profile.

    Use low / no cost outlets.

    - if you haven't already, consider adding your
    web page link to your email signature and having
    co-workers add it to theirs

    - Register with www.goodsearch.com and add that to
    your signature. (As an alternative to my previous
    suggestion). Not only publicity but fundraising
    as well.

    - Indirect visibility - Flickr, Yahoo Answers, Yahoo,
    or Google Groups (on relevant topics / subjects)
    Find (or start) relevant groups, post relevant pictures

    - Post info at local public locations - Post Offices,
    Libraries, Churches, etc.

    - Sponsorships, get others to advertise, advocate your
    cause - force multipliers - local events

    - Get a silly suit, stand on a busy corner with a sign
    and broadcast your website to rush hour traffic

    - Get kids to volunteer, they've got time and energy
    and maybe some good ideas

    - Give people a daily, weekly, monthly (periodic) reason
    to come back to your website - it's all about content

    - What are other local, regional, national orgs doing
    to promote their websites - what ideas can you cost
    effectively (legally) copy?

    Just a few off the top of my head...

    Good luck.

    Comment from Colleen Kelly on March 21, 2007 - 12:07pm

    Hi Mike - I really like your ideas here.

    You should add them to the VISTA wiki!

    Comment from Mike Moore on March 21, 2007 - 3:00pm


    Comment from Mike Moore on March 21, 2007 - 3:04pm

    Under Priority Areas / Across Areas

    Across Areas

    Comment from Mike Moore on March 21, 2007 - 4:01pm

    Posted to the Wiki as well.

    This for those who might look here first:

    Here's a relevant reference:

    "Nonprofit Internet Strategies - Best Practices for Marketing, Communications and Fundraising"

    It's available in print as well as an e-book, and you might be able to get it
    from your local library.

    Here's a link that might help you find it:

    OCLC WorldCat - Find in a Library Search

    Comment from Kevin Bulger on March 21, 2007 - 4:25pm

    Youve made some pretty good suggestions! The conference I was at yesterday made some of the very same points that youve made. There will have to be another blog topic on social networking using web 2.0 methods.

    Comment from lauren bratslavsky on March 23, 2007 - 9:38am

    hi kevin -

    seems like you've got a lot of good advice. I was on techsoup.org the other day (great technology resource for nonprofits... you may already know). Here's an article about marketing your website, though it's just repeating what's already been said. But anyways, here it is: http://www.techsoup.org/learningcenter/webbuilding/page5958.cfm

    Also, people may not know the resources you offer. Maybe try a targeted marketing campaign (that's a marketing class term). Contact the affordable housing orgs and let them know what's available. And do the same with the other "targets" or "niches"

    Last year I worked at an affordable housing org too. People just didn't know that there was usable info and stats and help and all that available. I'd also suggest to try and get write ups about the site in other organization's newsletters. It may be small fries, but it's a spreading the word campaign.

    Static Web Design: On Its Way Out?


    [From the blog of John Miller, July 1, 2006.]

    John Miller leads the Web Design track at ICCN Teen Summit
    John Miller (right) at Teen Summit

    In a few weeks, I'm heading up the web design workshop at the Intel Computer Clubhouse's Teen Summit. My task: to help 15 or so teenagers create a journalistically-slanted website covering the Summit. How to do it? What will make this website good or bad?

    Website Development (not CMS)


    Website development using conventional programming and tools (pre-CMS ): html, dreamweaver, CSS, NVU, etc...