You’re going to want to tweet this: in response to May’s “Question of the Month,” 24% of respondents claimed that social media was the best marketing tool for nonprofits. “Word of mouth” and the organization’s own website tied for first place, each netting 29% of respondents’ votes.
Not surprisingly, some nonprofits are turning to social media as a means to disseminate their missions, visions, and values. The Fourth Annual Nonprofit Social Network Benchmark Report reported that in 2012, 93% of U.S. nonprofit organizations have a presence on one or more social networking websites.
However, there are still many organizations that have no social media strategy to speak of. The answers to this month’s question reflect a number of trends we’ve noticed developing over the last few years:
- All nonprofits do not yet understand the power of social media.
- The priority placed on social media as a “connection tool” is sporadic and seems to be used primarily by very large and very small nonprofits.
- Creativity relating to marketing remains very traditional. Even though everyone has a website and therefore the capability to connect with users via an interactive interface, many don’t.
- Impersonal marketing still dominates the landscape, and nonprofits suffer for it.
Over the last five years, many nonprofits have transitioned to using Facebook and Twitter as ways to build a donor base and market themselves to supporters. However, there is still a great deal to be learned about just how effective a tool Facebook and Twitter can be.
An astounding 98% of respondents to the Report indicated they have a presence on Facebook, offering many potential opportunities for fundraising. However, 53% of respondents said that they were NOT using Facebook for fundraising at all.
Some organizations are opting for a modified social media fundraising approach. According to Robert Strickler, the Donor Pages Product Manager at DonorPerfect Software, an increasing amount of nonprofits are turning to what he calls a “donor driven” approach.
His firm has developed Donor Pages, an online “friend to friend portal” where an organization recruits its supporters to set up a website where they can reach out to family, friends, and colleagues and personally ask them to donate.
“Using a page like this gives ownership to the online social fundraising experience,” says Strickler. “We find that this tends to be effective because it operates on a more personal level.”
Just like fundraising through direct mail, meetings or phone calls, the same rules of stewardship are just as critical to online fundraising. Connection – genuine, heartfelt, and personal – is the key to fundraising success.