1. Social Media
in the Nonprofit World
Questions You Always Wanted to Ask
by Elena Golovchanskaya
2. Elena Golovchanskaya, Social Media and Nonprofits
Social media for
You keep hearing about this social media thing. You heard some nonprofits:
nonprofits are already using it. God, even your mother is on
Facebook. You have a suspicion that donors are online too. You
one question at a time
feel like your organization is about to miss the train. You want to
do something, but you want to do it right. Where do you start?
This guide will help you find answers to the questions you
always wanted to ask about social media use within the
1. What is social media and what does it have to do with
2. Isn’t it only for those targeting Generation Y?
3. What goals should I be pursuing with social media?
4. How do I decide what tools to use?
5. How do I most effectively utilize social media tools?
- Case 1. Brooklyn Museum
- Case 2. Homeless Nation
- Case 3. Austin Tweet-Up Blood Drive
6. Who will be doing this in my organization?
5. How can I control what’s being said about my organization
6. What is the best way to address the Social Media Policy?
7. What metrics should I use to measure the outcome? 1
8. “Tweetup”…What?! Glossary of social media terms. i
3. Elena Golovchanskaya, Social Media and Nonprofits
What is social media and what does it
have to do with nonprofits?
The model for 100 years
has been pretty simple:
Target wealthy people or
corporations, interrupt At its most basic sense,
them with unanticipated, social media is a shift in how
impersonal, irrelevant people discover, read and share
messages they don't want news, information and content. ²
to get, delivered over and
over and over again until Examples of social media tools are blogs, social
they give you money or
help...That model worked
networking sites (Facebook, Myspace, Ning), video
really well for a long sharing websites (YouTube), podcasts, bookmarking sites
time...It's important to (de.licio.us), etc.
understand there's nothing
wrong with this, because Your funders, your donors, your members and even
the ends do justify the some of your employees are already using these tools
means. The problem is that and they expect that you will be using them, too.
that's not working so well
- Seth Godin The good thing is that most of these tools are free, and
you don’t have to be a programmer to use them.
4. Elena Golovchanskaya, Social Media and Nonprofits
Isn’t it only for those targeting
Generation Y? Don’t think that social media will come in handy for
dealing only with Generation Y and younger-minded
supporters. Remember, even your mom has a
Facebook profile! Some of your major donors are
Have you ever heard of the “Wired Wealthy”? This is
a new classification of donors that emerged after a
study of online habits of the high dollar donors done
The survey, conducted by Convio with more than 3,000
donors from 23 major nonprofit organizations, defined
that 51% of the donors prefer online giving, but feel
nonprofit websites lack inspiration, connection, and
opportunity for deeper engagement. ³
ATTENTION!!! While you definitely want to engage with
“wired wealthy,” no matter who your nonprofit’s
major donors are now, you should start building the
relationship with the next generation of donors
today. Think beyond donations, though! (see next page)
5. Elena Golovchanskaya, Social Media and Nonprofits
What goals should I be
pursuing with social media?
That’s a great question! Before blindly jumping in the
groundswell of social media, your organization must define
the objectives it is going to pursue. Here are some examples:
1. Build awareness: tell people what your organization is about,
what it does, and why it is important.
2. Be more accessible: allow your fans to find you where they are.
3. Gather information: listen to what people say about your
4. Search for talent: network to bring the best of the best into your
5. Collaborate: engage in conversation with other nonprofits, share
experiences and give each other valuable advice.
6. Raise donations: beware that by merely using the tools you
won’t raise lots of money, it’s still about building relationships!
6. Elena Golovchanskaya, Social Media and Nonprofits
How do I decide what tools to
Before selecting a social media tool to use decide what you want to
accomplish and who you are trying to reach. Based on your objective
you might want to use a combination of two or more tools.
For example, if you just want to be accessible and get the
word out, you might create profiles on Facebook, MySpace, or
LinkedIn, start a blog or join in the conversation on Twitter
and twit about your cause.
If you are doing social media for gathering
Experiment with tools to
information, run a search on technorati.com or
find the one that is best feedster.com to determine which bloggers are talking
for you, your audience about you and your area. For search within Twitter,
and your organization.
Once you decide,
commit to it! To set up donation pages and collect donations use ChipIn,
For example, if you start Fundable, Squidoo, Firstgiving or Facebook Causes. Remember
a blog, commit to though – “friendraising” first, fundraising second.
For collaboration try Wiki Pages. Follow experts in your field on
Twitter to stay current and share what you know.
7. Elena Golovchanskaya, Social Media and Nonprofits
How do I most effectively utilize
social media tools?
Case 1. Brooklyn Museum
The Brooklyn Museum is making good use of a variety of social
media channels. They take communicating with their customers
and prospective customers seriously. And they devote the time,
energy and resources to making this happen.
The Museum has gone far beyond simply managing a Facebook
profile, now it boasts of a new kind of paid membership called
“1stfans.” 1stfans offers creative perks such as a private Twitter Art
Feed maintained by a revolving group of artists and invitations to
offbeat 1stfans events, like a talk by conservator Lisa Bruno on
animal mummies. Learn more here
There are plenty of free things you can do as well. For example, show the Museum through your eyes by
adding your photos to the Brooklyn Museum Group on Flickr. If you want, the Museum will broadcast your
video on their website , you might even win a prize. Follow them on Twitter, read their blog.
The Brooklyn Museum isn't only connecting with yet another social channel, it's also connecting the
online social experience with the real world. Bring your camera. Take your pictures. Post
them along with those of other visitors.⁴
The Museum is everywhere, yet it is always part of the conversation
and never an interruption. 5
8. Elena Golovchanskaya, Social Media and Nonprofits
How do I most effectively utilize
social media tools?
Case 2. Homeless Nation
Montreal-based nonprofit Homeless Nation uses social media to
create dialogue between Canada's homeless and mainstream
society to counter isolation and marginalization.
www.homelessnation.org is an online home for those who have
none, here they can share their experiences, learn about others,
look for lost friends. The site provides e-mail, blogs, forums and
hosting for YouTube-style streaming video and audio.
Through their outreach, Homeless Nation makes digital tools
accessible for learning, media and communication.
“Reading the blogs, sharing stories, being kept up to date on
what’s going on politically........there are so many wonderful and
invaluable things this site provides,” – Stephanie, member.
“The hallmark of a true web community is when the participants define the
culture beyond the organizers. Reading the heartfelt and respectful interaction
between participants in the blogs and comments, you can see that this is truly a
collaboration between the builders and participants.” ⁵ 6
9. Elena Golovchanskaya, Social Media and Nonprofits
How do I most effectively utilize
social media tools?
Case 3. Austin TweetUp Blood Drive
In less than one week and before a major national
holiday, members of the Social Media Club, 501 Tech
Club, David J. Neff and Michelle Greer called upon the
Austin tech community to help save lives by donating
Taking the conversation online, the groups spread the
word via blogs and Facebook. In addition, Twitter
became the communication tool of choice. Community “It was really neat to combine two things I
members quot;re-tweetedquot; details of the event mimicking a really wanted to do – give blood and meet
modern-day phone tree. Conversations were then folks that I’m communicating with online,”
tracked using the hashtag #atbd. – Joyce, blood donor.
The efforts resulted in over 45 blood donors; doubling The key is providing value and
the center's traffic on an average day. Of the 45, several being relevant!
were self-admitted first time donors who felt compelled
to participate in the cause after seeing it on Twitter.⁶
Watch a video made by David Neff here
10. Elena Golovchanskaya, Social Media and Nonprofits
Who will be doing this?
Operating under budget
constraints as most nonprofits do,
how can one afford to designate a
staff member to handle social media
on top of their regular duties? Given
this, many nonprofits, by necessity, still have an ad hoc
arrangement where a number of staff people or volunteers will
tag-team to cover the major listening posts and respond to
comments and questions to the best of their ability.⁷
Find someone in your office who is already involved with social
media and who would love to help out your organization. If you
can’t find someone from within, there are a ton of 20 something’s
who love your organization and can do it. Remember though, if
you choose to use someone outside of your organization, giving
them direction will be key in making sure that your social media is
The key here is to have a strategy. Once you have it, it
is much easier to divide the responsibilities.
11. Elena Golovchanskaya, Social Media and Nonprofits
How can I control what’s being said
about my organization and cause?
“The only remaining control is the illusion of control. You can avoid having a
conversation. You can even pretend the conversations aren't happening elsewhere. Good
luck with that approach… If you want to succeed using Web 2.0, then you need to give up
some control. Control of the message. Control of the messengers. Control of the control.
Lose control. Find success.”
- Steve MacLaughlin
Accept that people are going to talk It is a good practice to get together with
about what they want in any case, you people in your organization and discuss
can’t control it. The best you can do is some common guidelines.
monitor what is being said and engage Trust your people! “If you haven’t
in the conversation. hired people you can trust to behave
• Respond with calm facts to any like responsible adults, then there is
misunderstandings and a deeper problem,” - Beth Dunn⁹
misinformation If unsure, consider working out a social
• Answer questions media policy for your staff and volunteers
• Resolve problems who blog and comment online
• Thank your advocates (some suggestions on this to follow).
12. Elena Golovchanskaya, Social Media and Nonprofits
What is the best way to address
the Social Media Policy?
Samples of social media
Often having a social media policy has a positive effect on
organizations. Introducing such a policy sends a signal that
your nonprofit approves the use of social media. Most BBC Editorial Guidelines — Personal
people will perform with greater confidence and skill when use of Social Networking
the expectations for their performance are made clear. Friendly Advice from TechStew —
BBYO’s guidelines for staff/volunteer
There are examples of the social media policies from a presence on social networking sites.
variety of organizations to the right, but The Blog Council’s Disclosure Best
don’t just take someone else’s policy, and put it
Intel Social Media Guidelines
on your website. It won't be effective! It will be
best if you develop the guidelines cooperatively IBM Social Computing Guidelines “for
with your staff and volunteers. blogs, wikis, social networks, virtual
worlds and social media.”
There needs to be a discussion. Not only about the Carl Haggerty’s DRAFT V0.1 — social
boundaries of appropriateness, but about the ways your media and online participation policy
and guidelines ¹⁰
organization can embrace social media.
And remember, the document you come up with is a live
document, by no means should it be static. 10
13. Elena Golovchanskaya, Social Media and Nonprofits
What metrics should I use to
measure the outcome?
In order to measure the results of your social media involvement use both qualitative and quantitative benchmarks.
Again, remember your objectives, they’ll help you determine which metrics are best in each case.
If your objective was to raise awareness, ask yourself: Before you start don’t forget to measure where you are at
- Are we currently part of conversations about the now. Examples of benchmarks are:
Number of Facebook fans, Twitter followers, Digg links,
If your objective was to collaborate with other nonprofits Delicious bookmarks, referrals from social media sites,
and experts in the field, ask: plus existing website traffic, search engine rankings, how
- Did we learn anything of value? much time and money you spent on traditional marketing.
To measure general success, ask: Compare those metrics after each experiment you with
- Were we able to build better relationships with donors, social media (new blog post, new links, etc.)
bit.ly: allows to shorten a URL, share it, and then track the
resulting usage (used mostly on Twitter).
AideRSS: allows you to enter a URL and shows you statistics
about its posts, like how many times they are shared on social
Google Analytics: analyzes a company’s blog traffic, subscriber
Xinu: allows you to receive statistics like SEO, bookmarking,
page views etc. 11
14. Elena Golovchanskaya, Social Media and Nonprofits
“Tweetup”… What?! Glossary of social
media terms used in this ebook.
Flickr – photo sharing website
Hashtag – words or phrases prefixed with a hash symbol (#) that are used to track
conversations in the twitter timeline via search.
Podcast – an audio media file distributed by subscription (paid or unpaid) over
the Internet for playback on digital music players and computers.
Retweet – repeat/quote someone's tweet, typically something interesting you
want to share.
Twitter – a microblogging site that asks its users to answer the question, quot;What
are you doing?quot; in 140 characters or less.
Tweetup – real world meeting between two or more people who know each other
through the online Twitter service
Weblog – a type of website, usually maintained by an individual with regular
entries of commentary, descriptions of events, or other material such as graphics
15. Elena Golovchanskaya, Social Media and Nonprofits
Sources of information and inspiration: Photo Credit:
1. http://missionrecognition.blogspot.com/2008 p.i,2,4,8,10,11 – thanks to veer.com
/10/seth-godin-on-nonprofits-social- p.1 http://lirent.net/wp
2. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_media p.5
3. http://www.marketingvox.com/wired- http://greatdance.com/thekineticinterface/2009/02/
4. http://www.clickz.com/3628257 http://www.wearemedia.org/file/view/AustinTweetu
5. http://raincitystudios.com/topics/homelessna pBloodDrive+.pdf
6. http://www.wearemedia.org/file/view/Austin http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_S3XEraQZjGk/SJwasOnHb
7. http://www.wildapricot.com/blogs/newsblog/ pg
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