Much has been written about the importance of creating, testing and measuring large scale, all-encompassing social media strategies for nonprofits.
Creating a plan and a strategy for your social media efforts is certainly important.
But the reality remains – for many small-shop nonprofits, this kind of large-scale, long-term planning can be intimidating.
So what can you do on a smaller scale?
You may need to raise the entirety of your annual budget each year. You may be focused on a capital campaign. You may have a shelter to run and mouths to feed.
While social media tactics are certainly proving themselves as effective fundraising tools, connecting the dots directly between social media usage and fundraising remains elusive for many nonprofits.
I hate seeing nonprofits bury their heads in the sand and avoid the “dreaded social media conversation” just because they find strategic planning overwhelming.
If you can’t afford to invest in the time and resources necessary to help you create a social media strategy with goals, objectives and actionable tasks, start small. (In the long term, you will want to invest in a plan. But don’t let it prevent you from jumping into the pool.)
The immediacy of social media and the short news cycle lends itself perfectly to small, bite-size requests. These requests have the added benefit to f providing instant gratification to you and to the donor.
Take the example of the Naperville Area Humane Society in Illinois. They were running out of kitty litter one day at their no-kill animal shelter, so they tweeted about it. To this day, weeks later, they still receive bags of kitty litter, which they can stockpile or give away to families who adopt the cats they house.
Other examples of thinking small:
Homeless shelters can post on Facebook that they need travel items to make Welcome packages for people in the shelter.
Food banks can tweet about immediate needs of perishable items.
A local liquor store where I live collected new teddy bears to send to victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings – they posted a short notification on Facebook and received over 100 bears in one day!
After-school programs can ask for school supplies, office supplies, arts and crafts supplies. Child care centers can tweet to ask for donations of gently-used toys or duplicate presents. (These kinds of asks may be especially effective AFTER the busy holiday season, when people are cleaning out their toy chests, offices and closets to make room for the new.)
Your nonprofit may be running low on dish soap or paper towels and you have a large program tonight or a big support group meeting – let people know.
People love the instant gratification of satisfying an immediate need, and if they are already at the grocery store and see your tweet or Facebook post, they may be inclined to purchases items in the moment.
Make sure to acknowledge these gifts and donations as you would any other gift.
Tweets, Facebook acknowledgements, hand written thank you notes, phone calls and emails all work extremely well to showcase the impact and to encourage deeper relationships with these supporters.
Getting community members to make a spur of the moment donation of goods and other items will open them up to a continuing relationship with your organization. Make sure to collect their email and connect with them on the social networking platforms that you use.
Who knows – just from thinking “small”, your next big donation may be around the corner!
Do you use social media to ask for items to fill immediate needs? Please leave your thoughts in the comments section below or on my Facebook page. Thanks for reading!
Julia: these are great practical tips to encourage giving in small but meaningful ways. Kudos to you for finding ways to balance an “ask” with an emotional appeal in social media.
Thank you for your comment!
One great way to get started small on Twitter is to simply follow back. I encourage clients to follow back at least once a week. view your new followers, clean up any spam and build lists as you go. People love hearing for you that you are listening and it’s a great way to start small conversations that matter.
Thank you Nancy, I completely agree. That is a great, small, bite size and actionable strategy. Also, I went to your website and viewed your Prezi on Social Media – great stuff!
Grab the free download of my new eBook http://socialmediaforthearts.com | Not all nonprofits work the same way… This addresses that. It’s free so thanks for letting me share it. I’d enjoy hearing your review.
Thank you, I will! It looks interesting. I have many friends who work with arts organizations.
Great article…couldn’t agree more. We find that our online community is more responsive to our in-kind and volunteer needs. AND their support helps keep our operating budget as low as possible–by bringing in items we don’t have to purchase from our programs budget, freeing up staff time, and offering our supporters/online community to feel involved with our mission via action. So although — it might seem small — these asks add up in a big way (close to 10% of our yearly revenue) not to mention the continued and very important relationship element.
Thanks Kate for sharing – I’m glad that you are finding success with your online community.