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My Tips on Social Media & Giving Tuesday

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This post is a complement to a podcast episode of Social Entrepreneur with Nathan A. Webster, of which I am a monthly contributor. To listen to the episode related to this topic click below.

 

We’re all living online – so your organization should be, too. But there are so many platforms and so much to say: so how do you manage it?

It’s important to be comprehensive when thinking about social media for nonprofits: so, let’s think about the classic questions:

Who? What? Where? When? Why? How?

  • Who? Who are you looking to communicate to with your social media posts? Current donors, prospective donors, clients, volunteers, the general public? This decision will help inform which platforms you should be active on.
  • What? What content do you want to share on social media? Your organization is doing so much at any given time, so think about what you want to share with your followers. This can include: stories, facts, history, internal information, news related to your mission, and more. It’s also a good idea to be thoughtful about sharing posts of similar or partner organizations – this can help expand your reach and also position your organization as an expert.
  • Where? Which platforms do you want to be on? Think quality over quantity here: instead of getting on everything, get on the spaces that 1) your current donors and constituents are on and 2) your desired donors are. Are you going to do more longform posts? Think Facebook or LinkedIn. Connect with other organizations and share out more regularly? Twitter. Do you have amazing photography? Instagram.
  • When? Just like any other communications, map out a calendar that ensures that you are posting consistently and not only about one topic. Frequency depends on platform: Twitter is constantly changing, so you’ll post way more on there than Facebook, for example.
  • Why? Why be on social media? It’s an opportunity for you to engage with your community in a unique way that they are already doing – you’re meeting them where they are. It’s very donor centric.
  • How? Who’s going to do it? Some nonprofits keep social media management in the marketing team, some have a development staff member do it. Some have multiple people involved and some just have one (or less than one!). Make sure that person has a clear idea of what the organizational voice is.

As a fundraising person, I’d be remiss talking about social media without mentioning one of the important social media days for the year for nonprofits – Giving Tuesday.

Giving Tuesday

Giving Tuesday aka #GivingTuesday takes place the Tuesday after Thanksgiving every year. It’s a day that celebrates nonprofits and donors, and encourages contributions. Some nonprofits put a lot of efforts and energy into this day, and others send a simple email and do a quick social media post. It’s up to you and your organization what feels best, but know that it’s a very heavily saturated fundraising day.

But: it’s a heavily saturated fundraising day for a reason. So I believe it’s important to at least do something. At the bare minimum, I recommend doing one simple email blast to all of your lists and one social media post on all of your platforms. The next step is mobilizing your board by sending them an email template that they can forward to their contacts as well as links to the social media posts so that they can share them. The more your message is amplified, the better!

If you want to go crazy on that day, you can be pushing out communications about it for weeks in advance, have matching gifts lined up, and even do a live event to encourage donations. Then you’ll want to post on social media a whole bunch on the day of, and don’t forget to say thank you after.

Next month we’re going to talk about crowdfunding and peer to peer fundraising: so stay tuned for that, which is also related to social media. For now, get a plan in place for your social media approach for the end of the year: because it’s coming up fast!

-N.C.

My Tips on Using Technology in Fundraising

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This post is a complement to a podcast episode of Social Entrepreneur with Nathan A. Webster, of which I am a monthly contributor. To listen to the episode related to this topic, click here.

Technology is a huge topic, and there are countless ways that nonprofits can use it. Today, we are just scratching the surface of some of the more basic components of how nonprofits use technology, but I encourage you to take a look at the resources at the end of this post for more.

Remember: just because a technology exists doesn’t mean you have to use it. Be thoughtful about what technology you choose – choose things that make your work more efficient or that enhance your donors’ experience.

As far as raising money goes, direct mail is still king for most nonprofits, but electronic communications are also important as they are an important component of relationship building.

Before we get into revenue generating activities, let’s talk about something super important: donor databases.

Donor Databases

Donor databases are important because they help you manage relationships. It’s a system where you can create a record of every donor to your organization and their donation history, and can contain a notes section where you can share and track other information. So, if you win the lottery tomorrow, your replacement will be up to speed on the relationships the nonprofit has with its donors.

It’s also a good checks & balances system to compare with your financial books – so it’s a good way to manage and steward donors’ money.

There is a huge variety of databases, so choose wisely! Do adequate research before you select the one you want. Think about what you might use the database for… the very basic functionality will be to record donors and their donations (including details like amount, date, method, and what appeal they respond to). But, there are other functionalities that you can also have. Do you want robust reporting, to track volunteer hours, manage your events, track campaigns and/or moves management? Think about all of your potential needs and find something that works with all of it.

Once you’ve found your ideal database, follow some best practices. Make sure you have standard data entry rules where consistency is the main focus. Do annual maintenance checks of things like duplicate checks and blank addresses – this will save you time in the long run.

Electronic Communications

Websites

Everyone has a website (I hope!), so we don’t need to talk about why to have one, but let’s talk about some things to make sure you have. Try to consider everyone who might be looking at your website: clients, donors, media, the general public. Do a delicate dance of addressing the needs of everyone. Make sure to have a Donate button in the top banner of every page on your website, that links directly to the transaction, not another website. Make it very easy to donate on your website.

E-newsletters

Much like donor databases, there are a wide variety of e-newsletter vendors available, so try out a few and see what you like. Many of them have built in analytics, so take a close look at those and use them to your advantage, doing A/B tests with subject lines and content to see what your audience responds to. This is especially helpful with fundraising emails, as you can see what resonates with your audience

Social media

Get on channels that your audience is on, not everything. Have a playful voice that rings true to your organization, but also feels authentic. Interact with people and make it feel like a conversation, acknowledge comments. But don’t stay on everything all the time, as that gets overwhelming. Try to check in daily.

As I mentioned up top, there are tons of ways you can use technology, and I encourage you to use the web as a resource. Check out the Nonprofit Technology Network (www.nten.org) and their spectacular conference, or participate in online webinars through places like Foundation Center (www.foundationcenter.org). Many tools will also have online communities and blogs that you can interact with.

And of course, if you want more in depth help looking at your technology (especially your use of your donor database – one of my specialties!), you can always hit me up.

-N.C.

Using Social Media in Your Strategy

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Between the creation of the idea of “slacktivism” and the general questioning of the importance of social media in creating movements or change, there are a lot of people claiming that a Like on Facebook or a tweet on Twitter don’t mean much. “Clicking a mouse is so easy. Does it do anything concrete?” they question. Last week I came across this great piece on the role that social media can play in creating social change called Can a “Like” Save a Life? on the Stanford Social Innovation Review blog.

The author outlines the ways that social media contributes to the larger good, by pointing out the unique things that social media platforms can offer to further nonprofit organizations. My favorite of her points was the power of influencers. No matter what the cause is, if you get the right people talking about it on social media, it’s gold. It’s just the same as offline communications.

I encourage you to read the piece. The takeaway I came away with was that online efforts should be one component of your marketing strategy. It’s not the solution to everything but it’s still important for you to incorporate. Whether you like it or not, many of our activity is happening online, so nonprofits better be there, too.

-N.C.

31 Day Reset: Day 17 – No Facebook, Twitter or Blogging for 24 Hours

I’m participating in the 31 Days to Reset Your Life program at Happy Black Woman. The program is designed to help you evaluate your goals and priorities and think of them in the context of your life today and how you might be able to refocus on what’s important. Read on to learn about my experience with the challenge!

Well, well. Isn’t this challenge timely after Day 16’s response! The exercise is really to not watch TV for 24 hours, but since I don’t have TV, I translated this exercise to non-social media activity.

My first instinct was to cheat. I told my boyfriend and accountability partner that I was going to start my 24 hours on Friday at 5:00, even though it was Saturday at 11:00. Friday was our four year anniversary so I had spent all evening cooking and away from the computer, anyway. No way, he said. Do an actual day, from wake up to bedtime.

So, I didn’t Facebook, tweet, or blog all of Saturday. I did read some emails because some family stuff was happening but I didn’t respond to anything. One of the hardest things to ignore was that I had a blog comment that was waiting to be approved. I know how I feel when I’m on the other side of that situation, so I felt bad.

Overall, it wasn’t too bad. I often use these sites to fill empty gaps in time; I definitely wanted to check it when I was waiting for my mom and sister in the car. But overall I was fine.

I did cheat once. We watched a movie. But we had been sitting within it for two weeks and hadn’t had time until then to watch it! I justified it by saying it had a pre-determined set of time, so it wasn’t necessarily wasting time.

-N.C.

31 Day Reset: Day 16 – Redesign Your Day

I’m participating in the 31 Days to Reset Your Life program at Happy Black Woman. The program is designed to help you evaluate your goals and priorities and think of them in the context of your life today and how you might be able to refocus on what’s important. Read on to learn about my experience with the challenge!

I see where Rosetta’s going with this. She’s asked us to identify ways we can change our schedule, so that we an have more time to work on other things. There are two areas I feel I can work on regarding a different schedule.

Go to bed earlier: Enough said. My average number of hours slept during the week is maybe six at most. I really need to get more sleep! And one of the reasons I don’t is because I need to…

Cut down on social media time: I think this is probably the case for many of us. Especially for me, as I’ve gotten so much feedback about the importance of managing my personal brand online. I have become preoccupied with spending time online. There are two times during the day this is the case: right when I get home from work and right before I go to bed. If I make a conscious effort to cut down at these times, I’m sure I’ll see a difference.

Now, as I said in Day 15’s post, I’m a firm believer that some time to be mindless and unwind is essential. And because I don’t have TV, this is my way to do that. But I can admit that I could cut the time in half. We probably all could!

-N.C.

For-Profit Superman to the Rescue?

This morning was like most Tuesday mornings: arrive to the office, read up on local and nonprofit news, and meet with the rest of the development department. After the meeting, I got my black tea and oatmeal and set up at my desk to listen to a webinar that our CEO had forwarded to me. She likes to see if we can get connected with the latest and greatest social media outlets, so when she hears about something new, she usually asks me to look into it. I’m happy to oblige – the more I learn, the better off everyone is.

The product was a social media platform where people could create a profile, join projects, raise money for causes, etc. The platform itself is not what I have issues with – I am sure some nonprofits are gaining supporters and raising funds for very important projects. The issue I have is who started this platform: two brothers with a retail background.

Why do people in the for-profit world think they can fix all the problems in the nonprofit world?

I’m not talking problems as in environmental destruction, homelessness, or lack of adequate education. I’m talking organizational problems. Marketing problems. Fundraising problems. Basically, what I do.

This particular group focused on making the experience of donating fun. Their website is littered with jokes, incentives, and peer pressure to get other people to participate. They even have the option that someone can donate anonymously to a project but they will leak their information… apparently inspired by a joke on Curb Your Enthusiasm that people like to donate anonymously to look selfless but really want everyone to know how great they are.

Huh????

I don’t know any nonprofit that would institute a policy like this, or believe it’s acceptable and encourage that people can do such a thing. I know, I know, this is supposed to all be a joke and all be in good fun. But I would invite any of them to spend one hour with a homeless mother using the charity’s services to clothe her children. I don’t think she’ll be laughing.

I don’t want to get stuck on the details. I know that these people have the best of intentions. They believe they are taking their experience and applying it to the greater good. The hard truth is that they have no idea what nonprofits go through on a day to day basis. Until you’ve been a nonprofit staffer, you don’t understand the concept of inadequate manpower. Dedicating time to social media is important, but every second that is dedicated to a site like that is being taken away from cultivating major donors, writing grants, and working on annual galas. Nonprofit staffers have to pick and choose what they spend their time on, and simply because something is good does not make it worth it.

I am very appreciative for all that these groups and individuals are working for. Like I said, they have the best of intentions. I just wish they would get more input from nonprofit staffers in their product development – or any at all.

-N.C.