Ever wonder how to get that clip of print or TV news coverage about your organization? Or what people say about your group when you are not around? What about gathering news you can use on your issue?
The first time I looked at setting up a Google news alert  for my organization, maybe 3 years ago, when I started at Community Media Workshop, likely return on investment seemed low. I got the concept but did not have a gmail account and was probably correct in assuming that I would not see much in the way of news about CMW. But knowing what people are saying about you or your issue — or in social media terms, “listening ” — is one of the great needs of all business, for- or nonprofit. Making it free or inexpensive is also one of the great promises of social media.
Clip services, LexisNexis (if you have access to a research library), PRNewswire… lots of people will help you do this for a fee, one that’s usually too high for a nonprofit to envision. But social media can help you do it for free. News alerts from Google are one example. So are tools like feeds (see CommonCraft  for a plain English explanation), Boardreader , and Technorati .
The folks at NTEN’s We Are Media social media for nonprofits curriculum-development crew, led up by Beth Kanter, are doing some listening of their own–they’d like to get and share stories of how groups have used on-line listening to advance their work and fundraising. Learn more about listening–or share a story about your group–start at Beth’s Blog .