Are you sure your nonprofit is ready for social media?

Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is a psychological theory proposed by Abraham Maslow in 1943.

Maslow’s hierarchy of needs

The famous framework states that you are not able to reach the upper levels of the human experience – “self-actualization” and “esteem” – without the bottom levels being satisfied – breathing, food, water, sex, sleep, etc.

I see digital marketing (and all marketing) tools through this lens.

How can Maslow’s theory be adapted for the nonprofit marketer?

Idealware has created a fantastic free tool – the Nonprofit Technology Pyramid.

Idealware Nonprofit Technology PyramidThe Technology Pyramid is an interactive tool designed to help nonprofits figure out where they are with technology and what they need before progressing further.

If you have not used this neat tool, I suggest you do it now. (It’s free and should take about 10 minutes.)

Imagine creating an expensive website but not having a reliable Internet connection at the organization. Or designing a beautiful email campaign without a great website to receive traffic.

Unfortunately putting the cart before the technological horse is a common practice in most marketing campaigns.

#1: The first priority in the Pyramid, and in any nonprofit organization, is Infrastructure – the hardware required to run the day-to-day operations. Do you have a computer? Is your computer from 1992? Do you have Internet access?

#2: Software. Are you using Microsoft Office or Google Docs? Do you have shared email and calendars (like through Google)?  Do you have a server or are you in the cloud?

#3: The third consideration to take into account is your organization’s Mission-Based Software. This can be tracking memberships, box office ticketing, camp software, specific software for libraries and schools.

#4: Your nonprofit should consider how it tracks constituents. Do you have a CRM system? How do you track your interactions with donors, supporters, volunteers, media, the general public? Do you use Salesforce, GiftWorks, Zoho?

There are a plethora of options out there; make sure that you choose the platform that is right for your organization.

Still with me? Now that you have stable infrastructure and updated hardware, office and mission-based software and a secure, comprehensive way to track interactions with supporters, then you can start thinking about broadcast email.

#5: Broadcast email refers to the ability to send out mass messages (e-news, e-blasts) and connect with constituents through calls to action and compelling content. Think Constant Contact, Mailchimp, Aweber, Network for Good.

(Email still provides the highest return on investment for nonprofits organizations. It’s not dead.)

It should be noted that MS Outlook and Gmail are terrible for this purpose. The benefits of using a paid tool like Constant Contact are many – here are just a few.

Ok. You have a computer with Internet access. You have fired up Google Docs or MS Office and are ready to go. You’ve got your constituent and supporter tracking down and established. You’ve set up a great email newsletter or e-blast and you are building your email list, because that will give you the highest return in the long run.

NOW you are ready for #6 – Social Media!

Social media tools are a powerful part of the nonprofit marketing mix and should be a part of any online marketing strategy.

However, most nonprofits tend to jump on these tools without establishing the other parts of the Pyramid first. Without systems in place, nonprofit marketers have no way to track and measure their social media efforts or to capture and further engage people who are discovering the organization via social media.

Where does your nonprofit fit in the Technology Pyramid? Are you using social media in your marketing plan?

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