|NONPROFIT and soc.org.nonprofit are online services for discussion of issues nonprofits share.
- NONPROFIT is an email mail list. NONPROFIT is operated as a public service by RAIN.ORG of Santa Barbara, California.
- soc.org.nonprofit is a Usenet newsgroup.
The two systems for distribution are 'gatewayed' so that the messages sent as email to NONPROFIT are automatically forwarded to soc.org.nonprofit and messages posted to soc.org.nonprofit are automatically distributed as email to the NONPROFIT list. The email list requires users to be subscribed in order to send messages. The two services usually contain the same messages. Readers have a choice:
(A) use a newsreader program to read soc.org.nonprofit;
(B) subscribe to NONPROFIT and receive messages in your internet mailbox.
Spam? -- Please be very careful NOT to report spam in a way that implicates the host service for these information services. Rain.org operates the NONPROFIT mailing list without charge, as a public service, and has done so since the early 1990s. Because this list is unmoderated, people occasionally abuse it to send offensive or just tiresomely commercial messages. The people at Rain.org have nothing to do with such messages; they certainly did not produce them and they cannot prevent them from infesting our inboxes. Many straightforward ways of trying to report (and thus reduce) spam mailings have the effect of suggesting that Rain.org is a source of spam, which can seriously impair the service provided to other users of their services. Please (again) do not report troubling messages to any authority in a way that suggests Rain.org is in any way responsible for originating such messages or complicit in their distribution.
- What does subscribing mean
- For NONPROFIT, it means that you provide your email address to the automatic "mail reflector" operated by Rain.org. Once you have done that, you will receive as email any message sent to the address email@example.com and you can yourself send messages to that address which will be automatically forwarded to all other subscribers as well as to the readers of the UseNet group soc.org.nonprofit. You will also receive, as email, messages posted to that UseNet group. For soc.org.nonprofit, subscribing means that you have set your newsreader software to find messages posted to that group.
- How to subscribe and unsubscribe from NONPROFIT
- See http://www.nonprofits.org/npofaq/15/02.html. Information is also available by visiting http://www.rain.org/mailman/listinfo/nonprofit.
- Is there a digest option for subscribers?
- Yes. Subscribers to NONPROFIT may elect to have messages grouped together and sent occasionally. To find out how, see http://www.nonprofits.org/npofaq/15/08.html.
- How to participate in soc.org.nonprofit discussions
- soc.org.nonprofit allows people to follow these discussions of nonprofit issues by using newsreader software rather than having them arrive as e-mail. Many WWW browsers include an option for reading news. There are also standalone newsreaders which go by names like RN, TRN, TIN, NN; they are discussed in most introductory books on the 'net and at http://www.newsreaders.com. The mechanics of choosing a newsreader and getting it set up to read soc.org.nonprofit are beyond the limits of this FAQ. Please get help from your system administrators or a more experienced net user if you would like to explore the resources available to you through UseNet. If you do not have a newsreader, you can participate in soc.org.nonprofit via the world wide web, using http://groups.google.com/groups?hl=en&lr=&safe=off&group=soc.org.nonprofit or, for a subscription fee, via http://www.supernews.com/.
- What are the general guidelines for participating in these discussions?
- Please use a descriptive subject that will guide readers to messages that interest them. Check carefully when responding to earlier messages to see that the subject is still descriptive of the content of the mail.
- Please delete other people's signature files, portions of earlier messages that are no longer germaine to the purpose of your post, and other less useful portions of earlier posts when replying to messages on NONPROFIT. Remember that your message will be sent to many subscribers; please make it as efficient as possible.
- Also, when replying, look to see where copies of your message are being sent. Sometimes a message is appropriately cross-posted to many mailing lists, but the reply should be sent to a shorter list (or perhaps only to the earlier author). Checking the cc: line in the headers at the top of outgoing messages may avoid unnecessary distribution of messages of no use to some recipients.
For more discussion of 'netiquette' in connection with these discussions, see http://www.nonprofits.org/npofaq/15/11.html.
- What subjects get discussed?
- Discussions on NONPROFIT and soc.org.nonprofit include any subject of importance to people who care about nonprofit organizations as leaders, funders, staff, volunteers, beneficiaries or policy-makers. Topics on NONPROFIT and soc.org.nonprofit include management, board recruitment and relations, staff issues, volunteer management issues, fund raising, marketing/public relations, collaborating with other organizations, technology uses (computer hardware, software and Internet), legislation, legal and ethical issues, etc.
- Who moderates these discussions?
- Neither the newsgroup nor the mailing list is moderated. The discussions are free and open to all; messages are not filtered or edited in any way. A small group of volunteers oversees the discussions and tries to steer people to useful resources and help with familiar issues and difficulties. A volunteer administrator for this online community works with RAIN.ORG when necessary to resolve technical and administrative difficulties. No-one receives any pay for their work on this community service project.
- Are these messages in the public domain? Is it ok to copy or reprint messages or FAQ items?
- In general 'no'. The copyright belongs to the person who created the original post. Permission to use this material in any way should be obtained from the copyright owner. For more discussion, see http://www.nonprofits.org/npofaq/15/05/html.
- Are commercial messages allowed in these groups?
- People who work in the nonprofit sector are often interested in learning about new products and services which might assist them in their work. Brief notices announcing these sorts of things are appropriate messages in NONPROFIT and soc.org.nonprofit. For more on this subject, see the further comments below.
- Are these discussions just for the United States?
- Though this service is focused on nonprofit agencies in the United States, posts
from those at nonprofits and non-government organizations (NGOs) in other
countries are welcomed. To find discussion groups relating specifically to
another country, try these search engines:
- Trouble Unsubscribing
- Occasionally people are unsure about whether they are seeing the messages on UseNet in soc.org.nonprofit or receiving them from the mailing list NONPROFIT and as a result have difficulty unsubscribing. If you are seeing the posts along with other email and wish to 'unsubscribe' so that future messages will not be sent to you, please read http://www.nonprofits.org/npofaq/15/02.html for instructions on how to do that. Be sure to unsubscribe from the digest version of the list if you are a digest subscriber; subscriptions for the digest are handled separately. UseNet participants will need to follow the procedures required by their newsreader to remove soc.org.nonprofit from the list of newsgroups it displays for them.
- What is the history of this project?
- NONPROFIT was previously called USNONPROFIT-L; the name was changed as part of a general renewal of the mailing list service in February of 1998. More about the early history of these online services for and about nonprofits can be read at http://www.nonprofits.org/npofaq/15/12.html.
- Are older messages available in an archive?
- There is no archive, per se, for these discussions. A lot content for the Nonprofit FAQ is based on messages that have been posted, but there the FAQ is not designed to preserve all past discussions. Suggestions about how to review the discussions themselves can be found at http://www.nonprofits.org/npofaq/15/09.html.
As mentioned, low-key commercial announcements are permitted in these discussions.
- the most effective form of advertising is a contribution to the ongoing discussion of the group which draws upon the experience gained in offering products or services to nonprofits
- Use the word "ANNOUNCE" or "AD" in the subject line
- make sure the message is complete and accurate -- teasers are frowned upon and broken URLs are discrediting
- do not post repeated announcements with the same content
It is expected that people posting such notices will clearly state any vested interest they have in a given product so others will know when something is being sold (in contrast to reports about some useful product recently discovered).
Incidently, these discussion venues are not a promising way of attempting to raise funds for specific agencies, causes or individuals. The readers are in most cases closely connected with organizations which are badly in need of support for their own work. The temptation to post fund-raising appeals to these lists should be resisted.
Chain letters form a distressing drain on Internet resources. Those that propose transactions among the participants in the mailing ("send $$ to the first name on the list"), no matter how they are structured, almost certainly violate the law and in any case cannot meet the expectations they generate. They should never be posted to NONPROFIT or soc.org.nonprofit. There are several Internet "classics" that consist of chain-letter-style appeals for actions to meet a dying wish or otherwise indulge a sympathetic figure. They cause enduring frustrations to the people who are faced with a daily deluge of unwanted mail. Such appeals should not be posted here.
"Action Alerts" are another form of online communication that has many of the undesireable characteristics of chain letters. Please do not post messages to NONPROFIT or soc.org.nonprofit which ask readers to forward the message to a large number of their acquaintances; posting the message here and asking these readers to act on it if they wish will reach a large number of people with good political connections.
There is an art to composing online action alerts; before creating one (or forwarding one received from someone else) it would be a good idea to review Phil Agre's sensible advice on the subject at http://dlis.gseis.ucla.edu/people/pagre/alerts.html
Here's an example of a well composed message that provides information while promoting a commercial service:
Date: 30 Jul 1998 18:12:41 GMT
From: npissues_at_aol.com (NPISSUES)
Subject: Worried about UBIT?
A nonprofit is subject to unrelated business income tax if it earns income from a "trade or business" which is "regularly carried on" and "unrelated" to its mission. The concept of 'earned income' is occasionally scary for nonprofits because they don't realize that they have been earning income from their charitable activites for a long time. It is only "unrelated" income that causes a real problem.
This subject was recently covered in Don Kramer's Nonprofit Issues, a legal newsletter for nonprofit executives and their advisors.
If you would like to receive a copy of the article or are interested in reviewing our publication, please send me an e-mail.
[Return to More Information above.]
Revised 10/28/00; 5/31/01; 10/12/01; 2/2/05; extensively modified 3/24/05 -- PB