As most nonprofits are wrapping up the final week of their annual giving campaign and gearing up for the New Year, we wanted to share some valuable information from the latest edition of the 2011 Giving USA Spotlight series. The third and final issue of the year, entitled, “Relationship Cultivation Using Social Media” offers good insight into social media as a cultivation tool, including how to effectively use it for cause messaging, volunteering, as well as fundraising. The article proves that when used correctly, social media can be a powerful tool for nonprofits in disseminating their message and building a base for support—financial or otherwise.
Highlights from the surveys featured in the Spotlight:
- Understanding the social media audience is crucial for effective outreach; tailor solicitations appropriately to your target audiences.
- There is a noticeable difference among various age groups in how they engage in social networking and how they respond to solicitation through these channels.Generation X and Millennials were the most receptive to considering an online donation from a social networking site’s solicitation. Repeat donors from all age groups and older donors still hold preference for traditional forms of solicitation (peer-to-peer ranking #1 and direct mail #2).
- Using social media sites for marketing and information sharing to connect with supporters shows more promise that direct fundraising.
- Social media can be used for fundraising, but when it is, expect much smaller gifts; however these gifts are no less valuable to a nonprofit as they can be used to identify new donors who may be prospects for larger gifts.
- Social media allows nonprofits to reach and communicate with a broad range of populations through easy-to-use and inexpensive channels.
Useful Tips for Nonprofits from the Spotlight:
- Social media should be used as a holistic tool across all programmatic areas: marketing, advocacy, and fundraising.
- Employ several social media venues to distribute organizational information and to call supporters to action (i.e. spreading the word about volunteer opportunities, promoting an event and attracting attendees, sharing news about the progress of a project, sharing links to external news stories, etc.).
- Personalize your presence with social media; include testimonials and photos of your volunteers and beneficiaries of your cause.
- Be sure to monitor and frequently update all your social media venues with up-to-date information and provide supporters the means to engage in thoughtful dialog.
If you read our winter edition of Raising Money, you’ll recall one of our top five tips for preparing for success in the New Year was to “revisit your development plan.” In today’s world, social networking is a necessary component of any effective nonprofit development plan and while it should not be used to supplement your organization’s traditional fundraising programs, it’s important to develop an integrated fundraising plan that utilizes multiple solicitation channels and helps build relationships. After all, social networking is all about making connections and continuing to engage the community it reaches.