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Dot.Org Awards showcase Minnesota nonprofits at the forefront of technology

The awards promote the cutting-edge work of nonprofit organizations, especially those that use technology in new and different ways to share the stories behind their work.

Every year, the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits and MAP for Nonprofits honor organizations that achieve innovations in technology and presents them with the Dot.Org Award. Created in 2007, Dot.Org Awards showcase the cutting-edge work of nonprofit organizations, especially those that use technology in new and different ways to share the stories behind their work. 

These categories demonstrate how this year’s winners are at the forefront of reimagining ways to provide their services to the community, while also engaging constituents through website design, social media, interactive multimedia campaigns, online activities, navigation, data visualization, server and data systems. 

Caring Bridge

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What They Do: Founded by Sona Mehring in 1997, CaringBridge is a nonprofit that provides an online community of support, well-wishers, and donors to individuals struggling with an illness. CaringBridge’s resources aid its users in their journey towards health and healing. Users can sign up for a CaringBridge website that includes a journal feature, a personal planner, and a guestbook so that details about their lives can be shared and viewed by a larger network. CaringBridge makes it easier for people to find love, hope, and compassion on a large scale when they need it the most.

Why Dot.Org Loves Them: Past, present, and potential CaringBridge users were given the opportunity to upload photos, videos, or descriptions illustrating the unique ways in which they share their love and support with others. Visitors to the site voted for their favorite entries, bringing in 10,000 new visitors and more than three million social media impressions. People from across the country casted 7,300 votes for 315 user entries, which goes to show just how much stories of compassion make an impact.

Minnesota Literacy Council

What They Do: Started in 1972 in a church basement, the Minnesota Literacy Councilhas always operated on the concept that we are all teachers and that the greatest way for a community to advocate for itself is to learn and seek education together. They annually serve nearly 90,000 Minnesotans of all ages by providing free classes like job readiness and English language courses, and by supporting hundreds of statewide literacy programs.

Why Dot.Org Loves Them: Minnesota Literacy Council decided to show appreciation to their volunteers, students, and staff by surprising them with an award of their own. The recipients of the Teach It Forward award were honored in a 13-stop road trip that was captured on video and shared via social media in order to encourage donations for Give to the Max Day. As a result, 25 percent of the gifts received on Give to the Max Day were from new donors.

Minnesota Historical Society

What They Do: Since 1849, the Minnesota Historical Society has worked to preserve the diverse stories and cultures of Minnesota’s past and uses that history to connect the community to our present and future. They maintain a vast collection of artifacts in the form of books, letters, photos, art, and historical records and certificates. They also offer online resources for those wishing to learn more about their personal past, and tons of historical exhibits, music shows, pub crawls, lectures, and programs all year round. They support 26 different historic sites and a museum, while also maintaining the largest historical society press in the nation. 

Why Dot.Org Loves Them: The Minnesota Historical Society, in an effort to engage field-trip-bound fourth, fifth, and sixth graders, created Play the Past. This new educational model works to capitalize on the learning style of today’s young people by integrating web and mobile technologies in order to bridge the gap between the modern day classroom and museum. Play the Past enables students to use iPods to interact with Minnesota Historical Center exhibits. The games give students the chance to explore historical events and time periods, and encourage students to use that information for further research once they get back to the classroom.

Oak Meadows

Who They Are: Oak Meadows provides affordable residences and dignified community living for seniors on a stunningly beautiful campus. They believe that the golden years of one’s life should be filled with engaging activities, lifelong learning, and a loving environment for the tenants and their families.

Why Dot.Org Loves Them: Oak Meadows’ recent website redesign places emphasis on aesthetic, provides ease of access, and aims to identify and address the various needs of its many visitors. Seniors and family members can drop by this new site for interactive tours of the Oak Meadows facilities, tips on transitioning into an assisted living community, newsletters, and information on upcoming events.

The progressive work of 2014’s Dot.Org award-winning organizations gives us a look into the future of involvement and outreach; their achievements are examples of how nonprofits can use their resources to create powerful change and engagement in new and exciting ways.

To the recipients, we say congratulations—and thank you. Thank you for telling engaging and relatable stories about the human condition. Thank you for presenting vibrant visuals that are well organized and easy to interpret. Thank you for helping to bring resources into the community. Thank you for reaching out to your community and inviting us to reach back. Thank you for your past, present, and future service. And, thank you to everyonewho applied for this year’s award; you all do fantastic work!

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