It seems like good advice for charities always comes in “three’s”. Or maybe it is that good blog posts always come with three main points. It may just be that I have a short attention span and can’t attend to more than three main points, but I did come across a couple of blog posts with some good advice.
Amanda Quraishi in her blog post Three Essential Ways Your Nonprofit Should Be Using Social Media – describes that there are three main ways every nonprofit should be using social media. She suggests: Informing & Storytelling, Organizing and Fundraising as these three ways. So goes on to describe: “Building a case for support starts with telling the stories of the people you impact with your work. It also means giving prospective supporters facts and information that is compelling enough to move them to act. Social media can be a great way to share blog posts, info- graphics, and other data that people can immediately use and share online”. Posting content which is both compelling and easily shared makes it more likely that your charity will be able to take advantage of your followers networks or if you are lucky to have some viral “sharing” of your story. When you consider your nonprofits social media you may not immediately think of organizing as a role that these channels may fill. However social media can be a great way to find volunteers or participants for your events. Additionally it can be a great way to thank your volunteers and supporters. To this point Quraishi describes;” Not only that, but social media is a great way to share stories and photos, and to thank your volunteers publicly following your events. This contributes to building community and lets your followers visualize your mission in action, keeping your organization at the top of their mind regardless of what else they are doing on their own profile.”
For those of us who are charity leaders, raising funds can monopolize a good deal of your time each day. We cannot deliver our mission without generating revenue to cover costs. When deciding whether to start using social media or how much volunteer or staff time to devote to manage these platforms, leaders often want to consider how much money will be raised through or as a result of social media activity. Ironically how supportive these vehicles become in supporting your fundraising activities is related to how infrequently you use them as a fundraising tool. This may not seem intuitive however Quraishi explains;” Social media should not be used primarily as a fundraising tool. (After all, it’s hard to be ‘social’ while constantly asking people for financial support.) But that doesn’t mean social media can’t have a huge role in a successful fundraising program. As long as your organization is consistently offering more than fundraising on its social channels, the occasional ask will be well received. “
Shattuck (2014) has an interesting perspective on how to strike the right balance in using social media as a fundraising tool. He describes what the brand marketers refer to as the rule of thirds. Shattuck illustrates;” This rule states that tweets, posts, and status updates should fall into one of three categories and be spread more or less evenly between each: 1/3 of posts should be about you or your brand, 1/3 of posts should be about your industry, with content from an outside source [&] 1/3 of your posts should be personal interactions.”
Shattuck (2014) goes on to interpret how this rule can be applied to charities. For a nonprofit the “thirds” are:
Appreciation is pretty straight forward- use your social media to thank your supporters. “A primary focus of your brand’s social media accounts should be donor appreciation. Historically, donors could only be acknowledged through offline means: a phone call, a thank-you letter, or recognition at a live event. Social media allows for high-impact, low-cost public recognition that, when deployed strategically, can create stickiness between your organization and its supporters while generating new exposure (Shattuck, 2014).”
When speaking about Advocacy –he goes on to explain:” Every nonprofit has a mission and cause for which they advocate. Social media is an excellent outlet for sharing information that raises awareness and educates, outside of the context of fundraising.” Some nonprofit organizations primary purpose is advocacy and for these charities social media is a great tool. However most nonprofits can/should advocate for the cause they represent ( posting about their own organization and others doing similar work ) as well as advocating for the users of their service.
Like Quraishi , Shattuck advises balance when it comes to using social media for fundraising. He suggests: “No one will deny that social media has been a game-changer for online fundraising. There’s no reason not to solicit donations directly from Twitter, Facebook, and the like, provided your appeals occur proportionately to other forms of content.”
So to take this rule a step further if you plan to use your nonprofits social media to generate financial support for your charity, probably less than a third of your posts should be directed at asking for this support. At least two thirds of your posts should be created for the purpose of thanking and recognizing those who are currently helping you, or spent talking about what you are doing for your users and what their needs are.
Shattuck,S (2014) The “Three A’s” of Nonprofit Social Media Engagement; Hubspot as retrieved from:
Quraishi ,A. (2013) Three Essential Ways Your Nonprofit Should Be Using Social Media; NP Engage
website; as retrieved from http://www.npengage.com/social-media/three-essential-ways-your-nonprofit-should-using-social-media/