A version of this post originally appeared on the GiftWorks Guest Blog.
NOTE: This week I cautioned nonprofits not to put all their eggs in the social media basket. While I worry that some nonprofits are using “social media” as their only marketing strategy (and it’s not a strategy at all), I do think that the ideas behind using social media can be valuable for nonprofits.
VerticalReponse found that 61% of nonprofits are spending more time on social media, compared to a year ago.
Their survey also found that 37% spend six or more hours per week on social media.
There is no doubt that social media has proven itself to be a valuable way to reach out to constituents, supporters and the community at large.
But can it actually make nonprofits better? I say it can.
Here are 7 ways:
1) It helps nonprofits get closer with donors.
Social media, and all marketing efforts, are really an extension of donor relations. If your nonprofit is to survive, you must have a comprehensive donor relations program – one that involves research, stewardship, acknowledgement and cultivation.
Social media can assist in all of these steps, helping you make personal connections as well as learn more about who supports your program.
2) It offers a fuller picture of the organization.
Digital tools provide a richer and more comprehensive picture of a nonprofit and its mission. We all know that photos are worth 1,000 words. Videos, infographics, collages, compelling Instagram photos and the like all add up to a much more in depth and interesting experience for a potential supporter.
Digital media is certainly more interesting than a black and white photocopied annual report (and may even be cheaper due to printing and mailing costs).
3) It gets new people involved.
Your Board is constantly asking you – where can we find new donors? Online!
When a supporter likes your Page or retweets your tweet, their friends and followers get exposed to your organization. This helps you spread the word about your programs and services to new people who may need them, as well as to people who may advocate for your cause.
4) Storytelling is vital in today’s attention economy.
Social media values stories. Nonprofits everywhere are making a significant impact on the lives of others, and they have stories to tell.
Social media tools are the perfect avenues to share these stories and to get instant feedback, validation and confirmation of the important work.
5) It forces nonprofits to be transparent.
Nonprofit naysayers often have a problem with the supposedly secretive world of most organizations. Social media allows you to lift the veil and be transparent in your operations.
6) Social media offers instant feedback.
Online tools provide a perfect avenue to gather instant, unfiltered feedback on a new program, a topic or a question. Post, tweet and share online and listen to the conversation that ensues!
7) It forces nonprofits to answer uncomfortable questions.
Most importantly, the sheer amount of online content competing for supporter and donor attention forces nonprofit professionals to dig deep into the vital question – Why should anyone care?
You know why you what you do, why people should donate, volunteer, attend events. But can you convey this?
Can you make people care about your mission? Can your message cut through the clutter and the noise? And if not, what are you doing wrong, and how can you improve?
Are there any other ways that you think social media makes nonprofits better?