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Why Social Media Makes Sense for Non-Profits

May 26, 2009

There are plenty of reasons why social media is helping to advance the goals of a whole list of organizations.  From the community building aspects to the informational help the internet has become a place where non-profits can thrive and here are a few reasons why:

It’s Easy to Donate!

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Sites like Global Goods Partners make it easy to buy products that directly benefit. These sites empower users through their purchasing power.  Global Goods Partners actually allows users to learn about the people they are buying goods from.  People can buy items based on a geographic region, The site is connecting people who literally would never have made contact before and connecting them through the sale of a product that benefits them both.  People want to do good and if they know their purchases are directly helping people in impoverished countries they will do their part.

Global Goods Partners Site

Connecting People
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The March of Dimes provides a great success story.  They created their own online community for parents of babies that have been born into natal intensive care units for a variety of different reasons.  The “Share Your Story” page is an online this works not only because people are able to connect to each other and tell their stories.  Members can just post short stories about their experiences or actually maintain a blog on the site.  The way the site fosters a real sense of community is unique in that it’s not all about the organization but about bringing people together who can help support one another.  The site not only allows people to connect with others going through similar experiences with babies with health complications but it also provides a way for potential donors to see real testimonials of the people that the March of Dimes is helping.

March of Dimes Share Your Story Site

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Another really powerful way the site is connecting people is through photos.  Members can post photos of their newborns on Flickr.  The pictures put a face to the cause and in the March of Dimes’ case the photos really pull on the heartstrings of both donors and other community members

March of Dimes Prematurity Awareness on Flickr

Not a Push Medium!

Quiz time:  Which form of solicitation would you choose?

A.    Making dinner-time phone calls to heads of households asking for donations
B.    Strategically advertising on the web, based on demographic analysis
C.    Making and easy-to-use-and-access website to allow people to better understand and interact with your organization.
D.    Getting in on conversations that have to do with your organization’s values and goals.
E.    B, C & D.
I would say that the answer is E.  Why would you want to be a pesky, hated, despised, telemarketer when you can be so much more?  Instead of people loathing calls for donations for your organization that push people away, you can show the good that your organization does and provide easy ways for people to seek YOU out.
Interactivity is key in the online world. No longer do people have to be solicited but instead they can seek organizations out.  By having an organization at the forefront of Web 2.0 technology nonprofits can set themselves apart.

Go Find People!

Odds are that there are probably already communities of people online who are rallying around causes similar to yours.  By finding people who are already interested in what your organization is trying to do you are going to get some guaranteed followers and supporters.  But instead of trying to get those people to change everything they are doing online in order to participate in a conversation with your organization you go to them and provide your comments and support in an already existing, vibrant space.  Using something like technorati’s blog finder is a great way to start looking for the movers and shakers of the web 2.0 world who have a stake in your cause.

Picture 5 Technorati Blog Search

I have only scratched the surface with this blog post!

There are plenty of other people writing about how to use social media tools to work for non-profits.  One of the best blogs on the subject is:

– Erin Champion

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