Commentary: Charity Inc.: Social Media: A Gateway to Better Nonprofits

Article excerpt

It's not a secret. Social media usage increases more and more each day. The way the world communicates on a daily basis is changing rapidly. It has become faster and easier to circulate our messages than ever.

This news should bode well for nonprofits. They are always looking for cheaper, simpler ways to deliver their messages, yet have been slow to adopt social media into their marketing plans.

Approximately 95 percent of new media users expect companies or brands to have a presence on social media sites, according to Cone's 2009 New Media Study.

Nonprofits should be the leaders in social media efforts. Why do they hesitate to take on something that, based on the above statistics, seems like such an obvious choice?

The main reason is fear of the unknown. Many of today's nonprofits are run by the baby boomer generation. Online communications do not come as second nature to them, especially when it becomes a substitute for face-to-face communications. Although social media is relatively well-established, baby boomers see it as new, unreliable and scary.

Another reason nonprofits hesitate to engage in social media is financial. Signing up and using social media is free, but time spent updating and cultivating the accounts costs the company in labor. Many nonprofits would prefer to focus their efforts on something with a tangible outcome. Money keeps nonprofits running; given the choice between raising money and engaging in social media - sometimes considered extracurricular - many nonprofits prefer to focus their efforts on fundraising.

Nonprofits that think this way are ignoring the most important aspect of fundraising: relationship building. To raise money, nonprofits must first cultivate relationships with donors.

Social media is another way of cultivating relationships. …

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