Academic journal article Journal of Information, Information Technology, and Organizations

Involvement in Small Community Based Organisations' Websites

Academic journal article Journal of Information, Information Technology, and Organizations

Involvement in Small Community Based Organisations' Websites

Article excerpt

Introduction

Community Based Organisation (CBO) is the loose title for a category of organisations that service a wide range of the community, such as a school, a sporting body, a community centre, or a charity (Burgess & Bingley, 2008). CBOs typically face a number of barriers when implementing websites, including how they can effectively access and retain the knowledge needed to initially develop, and then maintain, their websites. CBOs can turn to different stakeholder groups to source the knowledge they need. This article is concerned with identifying the different groups that CBOs turn to during different website stages (considering, developing, maintaining, and updating their websites). It commences with a brief review of literature that examines the nature of CBOs and their websites and discusses the notion of strong and weak ties and how these may be applied to assisting with technology-based change, such as that of introducing a website to a CBO. The article then goes on to report on a study of 35 CBOs and their associated website experiences.

Literature Review

There is no one term that can be employed to describe Community Based Organisations (CBOs). In examining studies of the sector across different regions, Denison and Johanson (2007) suggest that the terminology used to describe such organisations varies-with terms such as voluntary organisations, non-profit organisations, non-government organisations (NGOs), community organisations, and charities being employed. CBOs are a widely diverse group. This diversity exists in CBOs' origins, finances, activities, the people they serve, and the means they use to achieve their goals. They range across environmental groups, playgroups, child care, charities, sporting associations, church groups, service clubs, and so forth. CBOs rely on engaging people for the benefit of their membership or to promote a wider cause and typically need to build relationships with different groups, such as volunteers, supporters, donors, and the media. The majority of community organisations are small, are community-based, have limited resources, and often rely on volunteer labour to carry out their operations (Kenix, 2007; Spencer, 2002). Although referring to small businesses, Thong, Yap, and Raman (1994) referred to these limited resources as resource poverty. Although traditionally slow to adopt newer technologies, there is some indication that CBOs have become more willing to adopt technologies such as the Internet (Kenix, 2007). For the purposes of this study, the authors have adopted the definition of a CBO as being a non-profit, nongovernment organisation which serves a local community's needs.

Website Use in CBOs

Spencer (2002) identified that the Internet was potentially useful to CBOs for fundraising, attracting and managing volunteers, providing information, as a tool for advocacy, and to assist to build communities and enhance relationships by engaging website users. Kent, Taylor, and White (2003) suggested that a strength of the Internet was that it could help individuals to realise that they share interests with others. There have been few studies that examine the level of use of websites by CBOs in detail. In 2003, the Centre for Community Networking Research (CCNR) in Australia conducted a nationwide survey of 923 CBOs (Centre for Community Networking Research [CCNR], 2003). The survey showed that the vast majority (97%) of respondents had computers and over 60% of respondents actually had a website, which was a significantly higher rate than other similar studies in the late 1990s. Website adoption rates ranged between 50-75% for most categories of CBOs that responded. Just under half of the smaller CBOs published websites, compared with over three quarters of larger CBOs (CCNR, 2003).

In relation to the purpose of CBO websites, Goatman and Lewis (2007) examined the adoption and use of websites by charities in the United Kingdom. …

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