By: Amanda Quraishi
Social media is unique from any other platform for engaging with your donors, volunteers and supporters. Nonprofit organizations have been much slower to embrace social media than private sector businesses, but those organizations that are using it are seeing great benefits. Although there is no ‘one size fits all’ strategy for non-profits to use social media, there are three main ways that every non-profit can use these tools in their own unique way.
Informing & Storytelling
Building a case for support starts with telling the stories of the people you impact with your work. It also means giving prospective supporters facts and information that is compelling enough to move them to act. Social media can be a great way to share blog posts, infographics, and other data that people can immediately use and share online.
Social media is a great way to build a national (or even global) community around your mission and the issues your organization addresses. The key to doing this is treating your social channels as a two-way street. Don’t just broadcast information. Invite discussion and respond when your audience expresses themselves.
These natural back-and-forth interactions are the essence of a successful social media program. While it’s true that they require constant monitoring and effort on the part of your staff, the benefits to this kind of engagement are innumerable.
One of the easiest ways to get your volunteer force organized and to spread the word about your events is with social media. Many people use the Facebook calendar to manage their activities now. And once they commit to joining you, they immediately have the option of sharing their plans with everyone else they know. The organic spread of your message can yield much higher participation.
Not only that, but social media is a great way to share stories and photos, and to thank your volunteers publicly following your events. This contributes to building community and lets your followers visualize your mission in action, keeping your organization at the top of their mind regardless of what else they are doing on their own profile.
Social media should not be used primarily as a fundraising tool. (After all, it’s hard to be ‘social’ while constantly asking people for financial support.) But that doesn’t mean social media can’t have a huge role in a successful fundraising program. As long as your organization is consistently offering more than fundraising on its social channels, the occasional ask will be well received.
Using social media to publicize fundraising events, or to strategically drive people to make online donations during special fundraising seasons are both acceptable. As are fundraising sales, online auctions and calls for in-kind donations.
The bottom line is that your organization’s social media program needs to first and foremost be about social engagement and allowing your donors, volunteers and supporters to engage with you around your mission. But social media can also be a valuable tool to organize volunteers and promote the fundraising efforts of your development team.