Why nonprofits need to keep up with social media trends

Social networking sites change the way nonprofits communicate with donors.
Date Published
02/18/2014

A growing force behind donor management is social media. Yet, nonprofit organizations still have trouble using this platform to engage people who might be interested in fundraising events or volunteer opportunities. The digital news resource Social Media Today helped explain the need for nonprofits to develop a social network strategy.

Communication has changed
First, people’s habits have changed over the past several years. The way they consume information is far different than times when businesses were largely in charge of the conversation between organizations and the general public. Social Media Today draws the parallel between the way people consume television and the way they connect with brands through social networking sites. Essentially, donors and anyone with access to digital technology have far more control over what they see and hear.

For instance, if someone doesn’t like what they watch on broadcast TV, they can just as likely streamĀ video onlineĀ as post a tweet explaining how disappointed they were with programming. Other users, including family and friends, can respond and continue the conversation. From here, social networks become an enormous web of word-of-mouth recommendations that people increasingly rely on to guide their choices and perceptions. This ultimately influences the extent to which donors and consumers trust brand advertising and messaging. In fact, a 2013 Nielsen study found 84 percent of people from 58 countries said their family and friends were the most trustworthy source of information about various organizations.

Get in line with the trends
As a result, nonprofit management professionals need to establish a framework for interacting with donors and keeping them engaged with their mission and activities. A simple step for building a relationship through social media sites is to start following donors who have connected with a nonprofit on their networks like Facebook and Twitter, according to MarketingProfs. This shows the contributor or volunteer that the organization is interested in what they have to say.

Furthermore, it gives charitable groups a better opportunity to recognize any trends among their donor base or volunteers. Although this strategy might require redirecting some staff toward managing social network communications, it’s probably worth the effort. Without a coherent plan to address donors’ shifting behavior, many organizations will be left blind to any shortcomings in their marketing and communications directives.

Social media sites are dynamic and provide many opportunities for nonprofit groups and donors to interact, which can help strengthen relationships and improve strategy.

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