The non-profit community is constantly working hard to do the greatest good for people all over the world. Many of us have worked and are currently volunteering with non-profits in our spare time. Unfortunately, the large corporations are not donating to non-profits like they used to. Our non-profits are having to get creative in their fundraising efforts, the grants they apply for, and how they communicate to their key stakeholders. Non-profits that continue to stray away from social media are leaving money on the table.
There are many reasons why social media does not rise to the top in many non-profit organizations. Some include the fact that leadership and those that are decision makers still do not see the value in social media, there is not an immediate return on the investment of time that it takes to manage social media channels, and it is not what has been done before.
But, instead of harping on why it is not happening. We need to focus on why it should happen and how it can happen (even in the small organizations with no budget).
Executive teams tend to like data. So, here are a few data points:
- It was reported that approximately 8 million different viewers visited CDC’s site in a single day following the upload of their first video on YouTube on April 30, 2009.
- Research based on consumer surveys has shown that individuals are more likely to seek services from and recommend to others an organization that they recognize as having a strong web presence (McCaughey, Baumgardner, Gaudes, LaRochelle, Wu & Raichura, (2014); Govette, 2014). Social media drives people to your website and keeps your brand top of mind.
- Utilizing social media applications for fund development allows organizations to capitalize on social network effect, social proof, peer pressure, and impulse donations (Saxton, 2013; Axelrad, 2015).
Beyond the data, there is a lot more to the story of why social media is right for nonprofits. Basic communication strategy will guide you in saying that you need to communicate with your patrons where they are at. This may be Facebook, Instagram, or even SnapChat depending on the audience that you would like to reach. The beautiful thing about social media is that one can create a strategy that reaches each of these audiences and measure that against the goals that you have for growth. For example, an organization that may help senior citizens has a variety of audiences that it must reach to have significant growth outside of their current circle. This organization needs to reach funders, caregivers, those in the health care profession that may recommend them, and the family of that senior. Understanding your target audience is going to help when looking at boosting a social media strategy.
Social media is all about building relationships with patrons. These are the individuals that will become brand ambassadors, they may remain or become funders, they may even have an influential role on politicians that affect the nature of work done by an organization. Showing the world what is done within a nonprofit via social media helps the nonprofit to tell its’ own story. It allows the nonprofit to showcase what is being done with monies received. When people know that an organization is doing right by their donations, they tend to want to give more.
Many organizations will conduct an end of the year giving campaign. This is the time when nonprofits encourage people during the holidays to give to their organization. The problem is that all the nonprofits are doing this at the same time. The key is to share your organization’s brand story throughout the year so that people feel they know their donation will go into an organization that is properly lifting up the individuals that they have promised to serve. The traditional means of communicating with your audience do not have to completely disappear. Social media is just an additional tool in that tool box to reach your audience.
- Facebook – 1.94 billion monthly active users as of March 31, 2017
- Instagram now has over 700 million users, and 250 million users use Instagram Stories every day. In total, Instagram’s added more than 200 million users to its platform in under a year, with 100 million of the newcomers signing on between December and the end of April.
- Twitter – 328 million monthly active users as of last count, making Twitter the ninth largest social network in the world.
- Snapchat – 158 million people are using Snapchat every day, and on average, open the app 18 times a day, according to Snap Inc.’s initial public offering prospectus.
We always advise nonprofit executives to look at the other organizations that they want to aspire to as it relates to fundraising. Look at their social media efforts vs their traditional communication efforts. The first step in getting an executive team to embrace social media is to show them the data. The numbers do not lie. The audience is there and they are waiting to hear your story.
Many times, it is the youngest/newest member of a nonprofit organization that is attempting to shift the tide when it comes to a nonprofit embracing social media fully. This is difficult because now a senior member of an organization must trust a junior member of the organization that has not been around so long. Our hope is that these two passionate individuals can at least meet in the middle. The experience of the executive team is invaluable, but blending that with the new communication tools that our junior team members may know more about can only help to take our nonprofit organizations to new heights.
Stay tuned to more in this series from Selsi Enterprises. We are taking a close look at how we can get more nonprofits to embrace and utilize social media in a greater capacity to grow their organizations.
Appleby, Morgan. Nonprofit Organizations and the Utilization of Social Media: Maximizing and Measuring Return of Investment (2016) http://scholarworks.gvsu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1051&context=spnhareview