‘Social media for non-profits’- even though it does not sound lucrative for many, is already showing results for many non-profit organizations, which have embraced social media long back. In 2005, when more and more companies started experimenting with their social media strategies, there was factually no not-for-profit organization on any social media channel. But with the changing myths about social media, many of these organizations and institutes started perceiving it as the apple of their eyes.
How non-profit organizations use social media: The intent of these organizations is definitely not to go from rags to riches. On the contrary, they try to make better public relations to create a mass awareness over any issue. And what could be a better way to reach the mass other than social media?
Engagement and relationships: Many non-profit organizations are using social media for making better understanding and relation with their online community, so that they can garner the power of the community for non-profit social causes. A bright example is The March of Dimes’s Share Your Story campaign. Banking on the emergence of twitter as a powerful platform, Beverly Robertson, the National Director of the Pregnancy & Newborn Health Education Center had hosted a discussion (#preemiechat) on Twitter via March of Dimes. Many common people took active participation in the discussion, which created mass awareness about mother-and-baby wellbeing, pregnancy awareness etc.
Organizing events with non-profit organizations: Social media has empowered online users with the leverage to join and create different groups, focused on diverse issues, which are not in direct control of these organizations. By interacting and getting in touch with their online communities, non-profits are being able to connect with a wider mass. Be it fund raising through a twestival or meeting offline for a plantation campaign, organizing non-profit events is easier with social media. This also helps in personalizing interaction with supporters.
A better model of crowdsourcing: Many non-profits are going the extra mile with social media by collecting feedbacks and ideas from their global supporters for future programs. You can say social media for nonprofit organizations ensures a better crowdsourcing model. An example is Lights, Camera Action, Help Film Festival. The whole idea was to promote the concept of ‘film for a cause’. The idea of ‘making cinemas with a social cause’ was boosted by several non-profits, who connected through social media. WeAreMedia is another example in this context, where 100 technology professional volunteered to make a social media training content for non-profits.
The American Red Cross (@RedCross), which is one of the earlier adopters of social media (joined in 2006), initially used various channels as listening tools. Their primary motto was to track ‘who are saying what’ about the organization on web. Many social media strategists believed that they wanted to restrict people from saying malicious things about Red Cross. Another non-profit organization, National Wild Life Federation uses an internal social media channel, Yammer (an enterprise social network) to promote their programs and ideas within the organization. American Cancer Society (@AmericanCancer) uses Twitter to talk about their research and latest cancer news. Greenpeace (@Greenpeace_Intl) is present on Twitter with the intend to make this planet greener and more peaceful by creating mass awareness.
Many Indian organizations are also opting for social media. They are working for underprivileged rural women in different parts of the country. They maintain a web portal that contains a “support us” section, which clearly states how people can associate with them. They are not only using social media brilliantly, but the whole web 2.0 has been put to good use. One can see its reflection from a 1,169 follower-base on Twitter.
However, if we say the adoption of social media policy by non-profits is still in its nascent stage, we won’t be so wrong, as very handful of them are present on this platform. In 2009, there were only 26 non-profits in Twitter. Over the time, it’s expected that more and more non-profits will espouse social networks as a great target-marketing platform. At least, the trends are indicating that.
If you know about any non-profit, which is thinking to implement social media as a promotional tool or already present there, please share the story with us.