Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Using Social Media for Development

This morning I will be live Twittering (#ngosm09) and blogging from the Council of PR Firms event at the Museum of Science, called "Thriving and Surviving in Uncertain Times: Digital Marketing Techniques for Non-Profits." Before the event though, I wanted to share my thoughts on social media's role in fund-raising and development marketing.

Disclaimer: I've spent six years working in public relations roles that had an impact on development initiatives.

The "conversation" as of late on the social media scene has been around how social media should be the main source of marketing for companies. The world is a different place than it was in 1950. Loud speaker marketing/advertising doesn't work. Consumers don't want to be talked to. They want to listen. They want to learn. They want to engage. The best part of it all is that they want to listen, learn and engage with YOU (you being a Fortune 500 company, a non-profit, an executive, etc.)

Consumers are digesting content daily by terabytes (actually probably much more). They are smarter and know how the advertising/marketing game works.

Enter in social media, which has enabled brands to interact with consumers like never before. They are engaging with consumers in real-time and are addressing and talking about real issues that both sides are interested and invested in.

So, how does social media play out for non-profits and development programs? It's very simple actually.

Social media enables non-profits to build stronger relationships with those they are cultivating for fundraising and mission support. At the end of the day, raising money can't be done without those relationships in place. For capital campaigns, 90 percent of what needs to be raised typically will come from the top 5 percent of that organization's donor base - 5 percent, not really a lot of people.

This means that relationships with that 5 percent NEED to be nurtured and grown. How then, does a development officer in Boston for a college prep school cultivate a relationship with a donor who lives in LA? Back in the days, that development officer would be racking up the frequent flyer miles going from Logan to LAX. However, with mainstream use of services like Twitter and Facebook, keeping in touch with those campaign-moving donors and fostering those key relations are a mouse click, wall post or 140 characters away.

Social media is the cheapest investment that non-profits can make in terms of their development marketing. Most of the services available are free. NGO's need to stop thinking traditionally and embrace social media because it'll help them circle the wagon's like never before. The key, like with any marketing campaign, is to figure out what your audience is interested in; what do they want to hear from you; how do they want to receive that information; and, what value can you add to their social media experience? Once you have those questions answers, it's time to jump in on the convo.


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