Serving over 250 nonprofit organizations, LaPorte professionals are always interested in understanding what matters to our nonprofit industry clients – even when outside the broad range of services we provide.
One such topic is the explosion of social media to help build awareness and fundraising campaigns among nonprofits. The reasons for this exponential growth include the following:
- Communicating online is cost-effective. You can reach thousands of people (both past and potential donors) for the cost of a computer or mobile device, Internet access, and one or more resources with the technical and graphic know-how to create and manage your communications.
- Your reach is easily extended from local and regional to national and even global with relative ease and little to no cost.
- Theoretically, nonprofit media production can be accomplished in house, posting digital text, pictures, and video. As with your Internet site, having a resource with technical expertise is advisable.
- Social media is immediate and flexible. While making edits to a website can be more complex and time-consuming, reposting or updating through Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc., can be instantaneous. And nonprofits have the immediacy of responses, as well. With the decentralization of this media, a free-flowing open-exchange arena now exists as never before.
- Finally, peer-to-peer (P2P) communication is greatly enhanced. Even prior to the rise of social media, marketing professionals understood that one of the most successful ways to spread awareness of products or entities was through the recommendation of family, coworkers, or friends. With social media’s reposting capacity, P2P can occur instantaneously, reaching thousands of friends and other followers. Nonprofits can let their boards and supporters raise funds for them with minimal pain to the mobile or online user. Your supporters can advertise events, request donations, and bring awareness to your ongoing initiatives by promoting them on their personal pages. According to statistics posted in in 2015 on Nonprofit Tech for Good (a fundraising and social media blog for nonprofits), nearly one-third of all online donations were the result of P2P fundraising.
We can see that there are significant advantages to using social media as a fundraising or awareness-raising tactic. But its use does come with some cautions.
First and foremost, for a number of reasons social media should not replace traditional tactics. People still give more offline. This is based in large part on the fact that older generations give significantly more than their younger counterparts – and tend to prefer checks to the mobile phone. According to Blackbaud’s most recent annual Charitable Giving Report, 93 percent of funds given to nonprofit organizations came from traditional means in 2015 – major gifts, annual funds, fundraising events, checks, snail mail, and by phone. Only 7.1 percent of donations to nonprofits came in online.
The percentage of online donations continues to grow, however. Most observers recommend bringing social media into your fundraising mix and particularly as an efficient and cost-effective means of communicating about more traditional fundraising events.
If your nonprofit has an in-house marketing arm or is working with a consultant, take advantage of that expertise regarding your best marketing mix. And don’t overlook the Internet: you can find a variety of organizations, blogs, and other resources with good advice for developing your online brand and strategic messaging.
And for all things accounting? Our LaPorte nonprofit industry professionals are always available and ready to work or brainstorm with you.