Call me old-fashioned, but I'm getting tired of hearing about how many Facebook friends my third cousin Hortense, or Crest toothpaste, or Barack Obama has.

Here are three examples of really good informative use of the web.

1. health08.org — the Kaiser Family Foundation website that tracks and analyzes everything the presidential candidates say about health care issues. Plus plenty of context in the form of polling on health issues, breaking news and other third-party resources.

Particularly valuable is a tool that lets you build a chart giving detailed side-by-side analysis of the health care proposals of any four presidential candidates. The site also webcasts (then archives) one-hour interviews with each candidate on health care reform.

Boy, I can think of a dozen or so issue areas where I'd like to see this kind of well-chaperoned in-depth candidate coverage!

2. Ron Paul Fundraising — talk about transparency. Here's a candidate providing real-time (like in minute-by-minute) reporting of his campaign fundraising progress. No quarterly report spin here. Watch the Republicans' hottest online fundraising candidate pull his bucks in. After all, money — not Facebook friends — is the mother's milk of politics.

3. Environmental Defense Planned Giving — bequests and charitable gift annuities are about as far down on the hot topics spectrum as you can get, but here's a terrific example of how to present this information to your prospective donors online. Organized both by common giving scenarios and the usual gift types, this site manages to make the complexity go away … removing a major barrier for donors quietly checking out their options. A gift calculator tool and planned gift comparison chart are included. I like the donor profiles that nicely reinforce a prospect's initial urge to investigate.

Each of these is an example of the web adding real value in the form of information and understanding. And that's what it's there for!

Tom

P.S. Check out more good examples of web/online initiatives here, as cited here by Convio. I'm not plugging Convio … each of the organizations they have just awarded has come up with an innovative application or initiative that is well worth your attention, platform aside.

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