Everybody’s Doing It – Who’s Doing it Right?
Today, the majority of conferences we attend, newsletters we read and webinars we watch are dedicated to how nonprofits can maximize the benefits of social media. No one is arguing the fact that there’s been a fundraising revolution, and the smaller, more nimble early adopters were the first ones to reap its benefits. Suddenly you didn’t need an army of data miners, major gifts officers and event planners to rake in significant dollars in donations. All you needed, so it seemed, was a computer, a great idea, and a bit of luck.
Perhaps. However, many argue that “overnight successes” like charity:water, Kiva and Pencils of Promise were actually well-planned and methodically executed campaigns. Their examples are certainly worth studying; but due to their number of moving parts – including the seemingly random preferences of web surfers – replicating them is extremely unlikely. And now it’s not just the little guys who are out there anymore. The armies have added sophisticated social media experts to their ranks.
Still, the same tools are available to all nonprofits, big or small, at costs that are not prohibitive. One could even argue that the playing field is still relatively even. In our search for small and mid-size nonprofits that are using the various types of social media most effectively, we found a myriad of options; but all of the successful nonprofits have a strategy, are planning at least 6 months in advance (some as far as 2 years), and have developed a system for organizing the types and timing of messaging being released.
Employing social media is no longer an option. For example, gifts to social causes from online crowdfunding platforms alone, are likely to top $1 billion this year. Last year corporate gifts dropped, but donations by individuals rose significantly, representing 80% of total giving in the U.S. It’s a big pie and there’s plenty to go around if you know what you’re doing. It’s no longer feasible to hand the task over to a college student on summer break. As Liana Evans writes in her book Social Media Marketing, “Interns make coffee, not social media strategies!”
So this month we’re turning the spotlight on YOU. We want to know: what systems have you developed to keep your messaging current and accessible? How do you segment your audiences? How often do you include an ask (i.e. do you follow the 3:1 rule)? Do you have any other rules or guidelines to share? Let this be your forum to brag – or to ask additional questions of your own. Remember that, in the nonprofit world, a win for any of us is a win for us all. We are all working to make the world a better place.
To Remain Relevant, Community Funds Must Adapt to a Radically Changed World by Gabriel Kasper, Jess Ausinheiler, and Justin Marcoux, The Chronicle of Philanthropy, June 19, 2014.
Giving USA; [Foundations were 15%, up 4.2%; Corporations were 5%, down 3.2%.]