Wednesday, March 4, 2009


Social media & nonprofit integration

A topic that has been of interest to me recently has been the integration of social media within the nonprofit sector. I’ve recently started to work with a local nonprofit in town helping revamp its public relations plan. My initial conversation with the Director involved a discussion on his impression surrounding social media. Immediately, he went to Facebook and YouTube; and as expected, his views were what I expected - a lack of understanding.

@arikhanson, a fellow PR pro, recently blogged that social media allows a nonprofit to build relationships. And isn’t that what’s key to a successful nonprofit? Social media allows a nonprofit to effectively engage with its community and increase awareness of its mission. The key is to utilize SM tools properly.

A few other reasons to integrate social media:

Cost. There’s been some discussion that social media isn’t as cheap as it’s made out to be. However, when you factor in return on engagement, social media can be significantly cheaper than other tools a nonprofit can implement.

Sharing Capacity. Social media has the potential to have a large reach. Building a strong network, you have the ability to reach a significant amount of people that may be inaccessible through other vehicles. You can also share photos, news releases, past news, etc. through online tools. This makes it easier for the media, volunteers and donors to access information.

Awareness/Reach. Let’s face it, the trend is moving toward more online involvement. If social media is where people are, it would be foolish not to reach these people. While you don’t want to forget about your current volunteer and donor base, having a strong online presence allows the potential to reach new volunteers, donors, media outlets.

The key to a successful integration is to remember that social media is not meant to be a replacement, rather an additional tool. Social media isn’t meant to be the sole resource. It’s meant to compliment other PR and marketing efforts a nonprofit is using. It isn’t for everyone organization, however, results speak for themselves for organizations that have implemented social media into their campaign.

So take a look, you don’t have much to lose. However, you may have a lot to gain!


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