the capacity of one person or thing to react with or affect another in some special way, as by attraction or the facilitation of a function or activity.

Social Media and Non Profits

Posted on | December 22, 2009 | Comments Off on Social Media and Non Profits

You hear a lot of buzz about NonProfits and social media these days.

Some commentators believe that NCOs are the perfect fit for these emerging technologies where other experts believe just the opposite, that social media applications will allow advocates to more easily organize independently of non-profits.

(67%) (of study respondents – execs at US non profits) believe that traditional media – including coverage in newspapers, magazines, television and radio – are more effective at supporting fundraising efforts than social media (22%). Further, executives in the nonprofit world are more skeptical about social media’s ability to help them connect with hard-to-reach audiences such as donors (45%), media (39%) and policy makers (31%).

Go to Non-Profits Struggle to Prove Social Media’s Value at to read more of this article.

A Dartmouth report shows that

a remarkable 89% of charitable organizations are using some form of social media including blogs, podcasts, message boards, social networking, video blogging and wikis.

and Alexandra Samuel, Ph.D., Harvard, and CEO of Social Signal offers some sound advice on using social media.

1. Engage your audience by speaking to their core concerns.
2. Put your audience in the driver’s seat.
3. Offer a mix of tangible and social benefits.
4. Embrace emergent value propositions.
5. Innovate within the bounds of your core mission.

More of her blog on this subject is available at

Though there is evidence that a large portion of the Not-for-Profit community is embracing social media as a way to both expand and deepen their connection to their communities, still, according to executives surveyed by Weber Shandwick and KRC Research, there are many roadblocks to overcome.

More than half (52%) of respondents say they do not have enough staff to manage their current social media outreach and almost two-thirds (64%) report that their organizations do not have social media policies and guidelines in place for employees and board members to engage appropriately online.

Taking these facts into account and accepting that these applications are just tools, in order to be most effective with our time and money we should listen closely to what Mr. Natural says “Use the right tool for the job.”

You should not expect that social media tools will replace talking with constituents face to face, immediately displace your current marketing approaches, or that creating a presence on twitter will generate new donors by the truck load. These are not reasonable expectations. Particularly since these tools are still in their infancy and will evolve over the coming years – as will our use of them.

What you should expect to do, whether an old hand or ‘newbie’, is to take some time to study individual social media applications, identify, and organize the tools you want to use by how they fit into your organization’s style of communicating with your current community. Decide which of these applications will lend themselves to being used in campaigns to generate new contacts. Determine whether you have in-house staff or need to reach outside to find assistance with implementation. Define how you will manage the use of these tools by staff, both personally and organizationally. And very importantly, plan carefully how you can best apply these tools within the framework of your very individual vision and social goals while maintaining your identity and integrity.

Luckily you don’t have to reinvent the wheel to accomplish all of this. There are many available Policy and Strategy Handbooks online to read and use in order to craft your very own.

Social Media Governance – Policy Database

Social Media Tips from 10 Corporations UCLA Extension

The Social Media Handbook for Local Red Cross Units and American Red Cross Personal Online Communications Guidelines


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