Nonprofits depend on personal connections whether it's for fundraising, enlisting volunteers or growing their organization. Social media, the popularity of mobile devices and apps, and the emergence of technology overall are forcing nonprofits to think differently about how they engage and provide services to their connections.
We can learn from nonprofits about the importance of these social technologies and how they help place the success of their missions in the hands of their supporters. So we talked to three nonprofits about their successful experiences using new technologies and social media. Here are their inspirational quotes.
1. "We’re using social media to show success—how we are training women to sew in Uganda, or how we are building a water filter plant in Cambodia. Our overall messaging is, stop the pity and be a champion.” -- Bart Skorupa, Executive Director, Groundwork Opportunities
2. “Social media has to lead somewhere and although you may well want to eventually raise money, don’t treat your social media contacts like an ATM. Don’t just demand money.” -- Beth Kanter, Author of Beth’s Blog: How Nonprofits Can Use Social Media
3. "Hotlines don’t have to be stuck in the last century. The Polaris Project hotline team accepts communication not just by telephone but by text, email, and web forms." -- Brad Myles, Executive Director and Chief Executive, Polaris Project
4. "Beginners at social media don’t have an editorial calendar, and they don’t measure results—they simply post when they have time. You have to keep feeding the beast. Otherwise, it’s worse than doing nothing.” -- Beth Kanter, Author of Beth’s Blog: How Nonprofits Can Use Social Media
5. “A lot of champions have video, and they are telling the stories virtually and sharing their stories through Facebook and Twitter, reaching hundreds of new people... We’d need to be much bigger, and we’d need money for postage and to sponsor events to make this concept work without these new technologies.” -- Bart Skorupa, Executive Director, Groundwork Opportunities
6. “We use Chatter to talk about opportunities for our kids. We use it in private conversations, as a way of sharing information, and we use it to bring in outside mentors. When we have to share information or collaborate, Chatter is involved. We’ve found it an invaluable way to engage people in our mission.” -- Rev. Jeff Putthoff, Executive Director, Hopeworks ‘N Camden
7. “Because we run the national hotline, we have a tremendous amount of very valuable data flowing through our doors every day. We had to make sure we were being good stewards of that information. Salesforce enables us to do that.” -- Brad Myles, Executive Director and Chief Executive, Polaris Project
8. "Sarah came home excited about an idea to build a biogas plant out of pig waste on the farm. She started fundraising, but we didn’t have our own fundraising platform back then, so Sarah used a crowd-funding solution to raise $12,000 for her cause.” -- Bart Skorupa, Executive Director, Groundwork Opportunities
9. "We used Twitter as a way to thank volunteers and people who donated to our cause. Anytime we can engage with people who touch us, we do.” -- Rev. Jeff Putthoff, Executive Director, Hopeworks ‘N Camden
10. “We’re quite small, yet we’re able to have a really big impact because of these technologies." -- Bart Skorupa, Executive Director, Groundwork Opportunities
Key social media takeaways for nonprofits
Social media can help your nonprofit. Here are some lessons from the three nonprofits interviewed here.
- Using social media will spread your message far beyond direct mail or other traditional messages. Consider what your message will be and how you can share it on social.
- Internal social networks, such as Chatter, encourage employee and team conversations and sharing beyond email or other forms of communication. They can also tie into your volunteer and donor database for further collaboration.
- Let others tell your story. Share the videos, tweets, and Facebook posts of the people who love your organization. It will help spread your message from someone other than the organization, which makes it more authentic and enables you to reach a broader audience.
Are you a nonprofit using social media and new technologies for your cause? Share your stories below.