Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Adapting to Social Media

I am not sure why this happens, but nonprofits tend to be late adapters.  I think it may be a matter of time and resources and having too little of each.  I can't imagine any nonprofit not having at least a Facebook page (it is free after all), but I know of many who do not.  Juan Munoz goes through five points regarding social media and gives examples of how social media helps turn interested prospects into donors.  Enjoy.  Bunnie

Adapting to Social Media
by Juan Munoz, CEO, Open Global Marketing

This article might look like repetitive for some of you, but there are many non-profits that have not adapted fully to the new social media boom. Here are five points to successfully convince your Executive Director (or you) about the benefits of using social media in your organization.

The non-profit world has been always reluctant to adapt new technologies. Sometimes they stick to proven techniques and are attached to their Grantors or Founders as a source of income. The new online landscape has changed andnonprofits are flocking to the social web, although mostly in the last two years. Nonprofit organizations that have embraced social media in a short period of time have see astonishing results. But still the masses of nonprofits act late.

Social media is beginning to transform nonprofits both in the way they work as well as their relationships with their donors.

Here are five points about how this is happening:

1. Building stronger relationships with donors and constantly updating them.

Over the past two years, one of the non-profits that we advise have been seeing an increase in their current donor list and have tripled their prospective donor list. The Roberto Clemente Health Clinic, an emergency and primary care clinic located in the south of Nicaragua created a blog to inform their prospective donors about their project while the current donors get a different and more personalize email about their semester performance. Now, the conversion rate using this technique is around 15% compared with 3% in previous years. Many people identify with the project but are not ready to donate immediately. Once you keep them informed they feel at ease to send their money for a good cause! Also we updated the website to make it more donor-friendly, creating different programs and different levels of donations. The website is called

2. Individuals & small groups are self-organizing around non-profit causes

Social media is enabling individuals to create, join, and grow groups around issues they care about outside of the direct control of a non-profit. Whether it is healthcare issues, minority women owned business or fundraising events activities, you can communicate easily by email or using a tweeter account. One example is the Maryland Hispanic Chamber of Commerce where we created a LINKEDIN profile as a group to advertise their events. They also have the regular newsletter and their website. We have created a PowerPoint presentation that teaches you the difference between Social Media and Search Engine Optimization.

Social software design is also helping accelerate this trend. Look no further than the Facebook Causes Birthday application that encourages an individual who is a member of a Cause to use their birthday as an excuse to raise money for a non-profit organization. DonorsChoose recently launched a similar feature called “Birthday Give Back,” with Stephen Colbert leading the charge. And keep an eye out for more social apps with a conscience that will offer even more creative ways for supporters to self-organize and take action around causes.

As non-profits begin to engage their own communities in these online conversations, they are able to reach more people than ever before, and use less effort doing so. 100 letters sent to donors might cost around $350 including the time of putting them together and stuffing envelopes, plus printing and shipping but anEmail campaign cost $0.02 cents per email on average.

3. Facilitating collaboration with international and national organizations.

The social web lets non-profit organizations connect and collaborate formally and informally with international organizations quickly and inexpensively. Nonprofit organizations are also collaborating with their supporters by using them as fundraising battalions. You can bring volunteers (well-known) or regular people within a big network and provide them the tools to fundraise in their name. One example of this is when people jump into running marathons and 5K races and the contributions go towards a specific cause.

Another example is WeAreMedia, a wiki project where over 100 non-profit technology professionals have pooled knowledge resources and developed training materials to help nonprofits learn how to use social media effectively.

4. Social responsibility spreads faster in the green era.

One of the perplexing things about corporate social responsibility (CSR) is that it has long meant different things to different people. To some, an action only counts as true CSR if it is unprofitable and hence motivated by altruism. Socially beneficial actions that increase profits are merely strategic CSR. However, even advocates of altruistic CSR admit that most CSR actions can be viewed through a strategic lens. Nonprofits are taking advantage of this trend using specific causes and spreading the news in blogs and social media sites. This type of project also impact a community specifically when corporations feel identified with the project.

4- A good cause is more important than the Mission of your Nonprofit.

We’re just at the beginning of seeing how social media is impacting how nonprofits engage with their supporters and do their work. As more and more nonprofits adopt social media and their practice improve over time, we will no doubt see a transformation of the nonprofit sector. In our website you can see how Search Engine Optimization is as important, if not more, as social media is. SEO is the art of making your website more visible for the searchers.

In the wake of the devastating earthquake in Haiti, the Red Cross has raised over $140 million largely through text message and online donations.

This recent disaster has cast a new light on social media tools for nonprofits. Their benefit is simple: Social media provides a compounding effect on your message.

The element of trust is critical to nonprofits. People trust messages from friends and colleagues more than from organizations. A recent Aberdeen study on the value of online communities states that 77% of people trust friends, family, and other consumers above retailers and manufacturers.

Therefore, using these five points, I hope you can start investing resources and money into Social Media in 2010.

Contact Juan at


  1. It seems like everyone is focusing on Social Media now a days. I would like to add that the best social media is right in our own back yards ie. events and fundraising! Do you guys have any examples of a conversion model that social media converts into something more than just a fan or an email? Thanks.

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