Thursday, April 1, 2010

Social Media IS Effective for Nonprofits and Small Business

I always enjoy the insights of Debra Askanese of Community Organizer 2.0.  And this article is a great one to give the naysayers in your membership or on your board of directors who may not be using social media tools and may not understand why you should be using Twitter or Facebook to market your nonprofit.  One thing Debra points out, which I have heard elsewhere, is that fundraising using social media is not that successful.  However, that being said, I think social media helps you identify potential donors or members and also helps you keep in touch with those potential donors or members.  It's also a great way to educate people about what it is you do. Bunnie

Social Media IS Effective for Nonprofits and Small Business
by Debra Askanese, Community Organizer 2.0

Two new data sets about the value of social media came across my laptop recently: Idealware’s “ Using Social Media to Meet Nonprofit Goals” survey of nonprofit staffers using social media, and the State of Small Business report from Network Solutions and the Center for Excellence in Service.

The results are so similar to the nonprofit survey results that the conclusion is hard to ignore: social media actually is an effective tool for customer retention and attraction.

Social media is actually perceived by those doing it to work! In particular, the top benefits are seen as reaching new audiences and enhancing existing customer/audience relationships.

Here are some highlights from the Idealware survey of 459 nonprofit staffers using social media:

1. Nonprofits believe that social media is helping them to enhance relations with their existing audience and reach new audiences through the top platforms.

Most organizations feel that most social media channels are effective for enhancing existing relationships and reaching new supporters. The least effective platforms are MySpace and Linkedin. Blogs, video-sharing, Twitter, and Facebook are felt to be the most effective tools. The surprise to me is that video-sharing is perceived as highly effective for enhancing relationships.

2. Most nonprofits are using a combination of Facebook, Twitter, video-sharing and blogs to reach out and enrich relationships online. The data shows that there isn’t a relationship between the size of the organization and the number of channels it is using. The responses show that, in general, nonprofits are using and regularly updating one to three social media channels.

I’m not surprised that Facebook is the most popular channel used, but I am surprised that 56% of nonprofits are using Twitter and 80% of them update Twitter regularly. Two other points to consider: the blog is not dead (45% of nonprofits have one) and video sharing sites once again prove to be popular (49% have them).

Conclusions: Nonprofits are finding value in Twitter, Facebook is widely adopted and “known to work.” These platforms must be seen as engagement tools to be taken seriously at this point. The blog, though time consuming, is the long form to express your message and enhance relationships with existing supporters. Video-sharing is the crouching tiger. Regularly maintaining one to three platforms is an industry standard.

3. Nonprofits are not yet satisfied with the results of social network fundraising. I don’t think this is any big surprise, as both social network donors and donation strategies are still in their infancy. The survey reveals that, of all the social networks, 41% of respondants believe that Facebook is most effective for raising money. (And that is the highest percentage of approval of any network channel.) I suspect respondents mention Facebook because it has an affiliated fundraising platform, Causes, that is simple to use and easily accessible. Let’s see what next year’s survey results bring: I’m guessing that they will bring higher satisfaction and a stronger sense of nonprofit social network fundraising effectiveness.

This is also the only platform where Linkedin is rated on par with Twitter, video-sharing, and blogging, at 30% effeciveness. The Idealware study remarks that this is surprising, but I don’t find it surprising at all: Linkedin is an incredibly effective channel for targeted donor research and deeper interaction with potential donors and foundations within Linkedin Groups.

Here’s one more set of similar survey results: the performance of social media tactics for US small businesses in December 2009.

According to “The State of Small Business” report, small businesses are also using social media to successfully attract new customers, increase awareness, and stay engaged with existing customers.

Two data sets, two different user groups, same results: social media is effective for reaching new customers and strengthening existing relationships. Irrefutable evidence of the power of engagement.

Read more of Debra's thoughts on all things marketing at


  1. Hello! Congrats for posting this such very informative post. I really admire your generosity for sharing this great information. Thanks for sharing!


  2. You can use online apps available on Facebook to help raise money by sharing with your friends, school/college, neighbor anyone you have relation with. Anyone can create online fundraising pages for their favorite nonprofit organization and use Facebook to promote and rasie fund.

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  4. I think social media helps you identify potential donors or members and also helps you keep in touch with those potential donors or members. It's also a great way to educate people about what it is you do. Visit Our Website

  5. Social media is a great thing to integrate for any nonprofit software or tool, especially since it's free.

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