NOW chapters and state organizations have been effectively putting the Internet to work for their grassroots organizing. Some maintain web sites, some have an e-mail contact and some use electronic mailing lists. Most of the work is done by a volunteer, and many use donated web or e-mail services.
Milwaukee NOW has had success on its web site (www.milwaukeenow.org) with a contact form, a calendar, action alerts, special events and information about volunteer opportunities. NOW NYC has signed up volunteers through an application on its web site (www.nownyc.org).
Washington State NOW's web site (www.wa-now.org) also includes chapter information, legislative updates and position papers. Chapter activist Will Affleck-Asch creates the Washington State web pages and recommends that web pages be kept simple without fancy graphics so that the message stands out. A number of states and chapters put their newsletter online since they already have that material in hand and it keeps their site updated.
Tampa NOW's web site also includes a fact sheet on employment discrimination and harassment written by one of its members who is an attorney. The chapter has a "forwarding address" from the National NOW server (www.now.org/fl/tampanow), and the chapter's Membership Vice President Mary-Kay Bunton-Pierce says, "We are thrilled with the alias that National NOW lets us use. It means we have a URL to give to people that is relevant to NOW; whereas, if I gave people the actual URL [web address] it would be extremely confusing because it is so long to type out." See www.now.org/web/forward.html to learn more about forwarding addresses.
Some chapters have formal e-mail lists (one that uses mailing list software) which automates the work of maintaining lists. Milwaukee NOW uses an e-mail list to send out action alerts and meeting and event notices, but warns that it is hard to get a large turn-out for events with only an e-mail notice or invite.
Jennifer Olenchek, Milwaukee NOW co-president, advises other chapters, "Use e-mail! It's free, fast, easy . . . Milwaukee NOW has had great response and success with our action alertnetwork. I get comments throughout the year from people who only participate in NOW via the e-mail messages, saying thanks or [they will] cc me on their message to a legislator."
Florida NOW maintains two e-mail lists, both of which come from the local libraries' free service. One list is for alerts and official business and one is for all other items, enabling activists to choose how much information they wish to receive.
Natalie Andre of Florida NOW has the following advice for other chapters looking to start an e-mail list:
Chapters without a formal mailing list typically use the "blind carbon copy" field to send out e-mail to a list of people so that the e-mail addresses stay hidden. See if your Internet Service Provider will set up a free list for your chapter. This column mentioned sites that provide free e-mail lists in the Fall 1998 National NOW Times. To read about these sites and other ways your chapter can use the Internet, connect to our www.now.org/web/cyber.html page.