For Compassion International Inc., the efficient dissemination of information on topics such as disease and hunger can make a huge difference in a childs life. RSS reduced the time it took the relief organization to distribute information—in some cases, from weeks to minutes.
Compassion International used to rely on faxing and e-mail to relay information. The organization now uses RSS (Resource Description Framework Site Summary or Really Simple Syndication)—to provide employees in remote locations with information.
"We work in developing nations helping children get basic medical care, food and education," said Nydia Teter, international communications specialist at Compassion International, based in Colorado Springs, Colo. "Time is really valuable, and RSS provided an efficient way to get information out."
Compassion International is a Christian relief organization that provides child development aid to more than 600,000 children in 23 developing countries. A large part of the organizations outreach efforts depends on reporting stories, from its offices worldwide, on how Compassion International is making a difference in childrens lives. These stories are published on Web sites and in marketing materials to bring global recognition to the organization as well as to raise money.
A few months ago, Teter decided the organization needed a more streamlined way to distribute content so that users around the world could easily access information on children the organization helps.
Before that time, if a communications specialist in London, for example, needed a story on the HIV/AIDS crisis in Uganda, he or she would call Compassion International headquarters and request that someone find the content and e-mail it. Because there was no central repository for all the content, Teter would have to manually search through archived spreadsheets and databases to find relevant documents, a search that could take as long as three months.
"My job is to make sure that critical information on children is reliably distributed to all our content producers," Teter said. "We were relying on sneakernet, spreadsheets and databases—the process really needed to be streamlined."
As Teter began looking at possible solutions, she had a few requirements: The technology had to be familiar to users and easy to deploy in offices in Third World countries with limited resources.
After looking at several options, Teter settled on RSS to syndicate content and chose NewsGator 2.0 from NewsGator Technologies, a division of Reinacker & Associates Inc. NewsGator is an RSS news aggregator that allows users to subscribe to various syndicated news feeds from Weblogs, news sites and other sources. News from these sites can then be delivered to Microsoft Corp.s Outlook e-mail client. Teter selected NewsGator because Compassion International users and their constituents already were familiar with the look and feel of the Outlook application.
"We went with NewsGator because RSS is a really new concept around here, and selling people a new concept is a lot easier when you pitch tools they are already comfortable with," Teter said.
As content specialists send stories to Teter, she posts the content to a private Weblog using TypePad, a hosted Weblog service from Six Apart Ltd. She then syndicates the content using RSS, making the content available to subscribers.
After a successful pilot of RSS and NewsGator this summer, Teter decided to do an initial deployment of the solution to 30 users in Compassion International offices around the world.
She plans to increase the number of NewsGator seats as Compassion International begins to increase its usage of Weblogs and RSS. She is also posting archived content onto the Weblog to make it readily available to Compassion International employees who create marketing materials or operate Compassion Internationals multiple Web sites.
"RSS really allowed us to solve a problem weve been challenged with for years," Teter said. "Now that we have solid buy-in from everything, people are really motivated to use it for a variety of things."
Senior Writer Anne Chen can be reached at email@example.com.