> Building the Human Services Community Online


>Michael Saunders, executive officer of HandsNet, worked in business

>development with IBM, Reuters Information Service and Price Waterhouse

>before choosing to create an innovative information service for human

>services professionals. With a Harvard University engineering degree

>and an MBA from Stanford University, Michael is offering nonprofits

>across the country the use of Internet tools to improve their programs

>for people in need.


>HandsNet is a national nonprofit organization, headquartered in San Jose,

>providing an online clipping service and reference library, Internet

>training and a moderated discussions platform for policy makers, program

>advocates and representatives from grass roots groups across the country.

>Michael will discuss the beneficial use of Internet tools, using the style

>of "the new economy," to improve the delivery of critical services to

>children, youth and families nationwide.


HandsNet is an organization whose goal is to empower organizations to integrate effective online communications strategies to strengthen their programs and policies for children, families and people in need. They began as Hands Across America in 1986 as a way to network together organizations that help service providers to the young, poor, and disadvantaged communities. Since then they have grown into a network of 675 information providers.

HandsNet's primary product is a clipping service. What this does is go through the output of their member organizations, delivering a customized reading list to the subscribers mailbox on a daily basis in accordance with their profile request. Sources include member organization websites and other material submitted by the 35 member board of directors. Each member of the board of Directors has a different area of specialization, and they also have contractors who do things like go through the Federal Register for news that pertains to Federal grants members would find interesting.

In addition to the ongoing clipping service, HandsNet also provides a library search of their members information, so that people can quickly get their hands on it. Since many in the community they serve are not super agile on the computer, their search tools provide information broken down by topics, so that the desired knowledge can be found with a simple series of clicks in many commonly needed categories.

HandsNet is about 30% technology and the rest various services that their customers can benefit from. For example, they facilitate on and off-line conferences on a variety of topics that their member organizations are interested in. For more information please see their website at www.handsnet.org.

Tian Harter