Judging from the packed house at the San Francisco stop on the Social Media for Nonprofits Conference tour; organizations are still looking for best practices and new ways to connect with volunteers and donors online. And for those Bay Area nonprofits lucky enough to attend the event, they got some fantastic advice that they could put to use right away. I am always delighted to attend an event with concrete steps attendees can use, and so as to not keep all the goodies for myself, here’s three things that really stood out to me for a nonprofit trying to connect via social media.
Tip 1: Don’t Try To Be Everywhere
You’ve no doubt run in to this – with so many different social media spaces out there, which ones should your organization be on? All of them, right?! No. It’s just not practical, and it also can make it difficult for your constituents to connect with you online if they’re not entirely sure where to go. A great example of this came from Christina Samala, the online community manager for the Story of Stuff [which, by the way, has a new movie out today – The Story of Broke]. Since most of their community is on Facebook, that’s where they spend most of their social media time. It wouldn’t make sense to take away from that in order to throw time at other outlets that the community isn’t engaged in. As Christina suggested; think of your organization as a person – how would that person talk and where would it hang out? Who would it hang out with? It sounds a little hokey, but it’s a great way to make sure your nonprofit is communicating with the right people and in the right way.
Tip 2: Volunteers are Where It’s At
I know. Sounds like a total “DUH” moment, right? But I was amazed to hear the stats behind volunteers and donations. Did you know that 2/3 of volunteers donate to the organizations they work with, and when they do they donate TEN TIMES that of a non-volunteer? Getting your volunteers engaged can have a huge impact on your organization. The three R’s for volunteer engagement, from Greg Baldwin of VolunteerMatch, are Recruit, Retain, and Recognize. A great way to do all three online is via the Johnson & Johnson &you widget. This is a neat little tool that will allow you to bring in your volunteer opportunities, events, and news and display them on Facebook or your website. (Innov8Social has a list of some other great tools to check out). And social media gives you a great way to recognize your volunteers and donors – you’ll be amazed at what a little shout-out will do for a volunteer’s spirits!
Tip 3: Close the Loop
This is a phrase Schipulites are well familiar with! It’s not just for letting someone know when you’ve completed a task – it’s also for letting your supporters know when you’ve reached a fundraising goal. Everyone wants to be part of a winning team, and when you set realistic and specific goals (like, “We want to raise $2,000 to buy a new computer for our classroom”) you’ll find that people are more likely to get involved and get you there. When you then share with the world your success, you’ll find that those who were a part of it will get hooked on that feeling – and will come back again and again. I think often nonprofits are always moving to the next goal and next event, and we sometimes forget to update on previous efforts. If you put out a call to action for donations or volunteer help, be sure to close the loop with your community and let them know a goal was reached and how it’s impacting others.
The Social Media for Nonprofits Conference may be coming to a city near you – so check it out online! And if not, don’t despair – slides from all the presentations are up online and following the hashtag #sm4np is a great way to virtually attend a future event. And we want to hear from you! If you’re working with a nonprofit – volunteer or staff – tell us, what are some of your favorite ways to connect online?