I have just read a very interesting piece by Frank Barry on Social Media Today about charities on social media ( link to full article -http://goo.gl/383L0 ). Seemingly, “over 92% of nonprofit organizations have a presence on at least one social networking site, but most raise very little money through their social activity”.
Their challenges are the normal ones of staffing and resource to create engaging content etc. Many SMEs face a similar dilemma. But like those other businesses, charities must think beyond their traditional fundraising processes to be able to succeed here.
I worked with a charity in Ireland called Trocaire on a campaign that I am still proud of. Instead of shaking the old collection tin at everyone we used social media to help the public understand what Trocaire does, what the actual conditions of people in war torn countries are like. We created a series of videos, made from the point of view of a young African boys mobile phone. We pretended that someone had found the phone and was uploading these videos in an attempt to find him. It was harrowing stuff. It didn’t get a massive reach, but the people it did reach were affected by the videos, they engaged with it and the comments showed that we had achieved our goal – we had people out there talking about Trocaire and the things it did.
That was on Bebo and that was nearly three years ago. Now Facebook has so much more power to do good in the world but how? Give, give, give doesn’t work. Charities should start with education. Their social channels should first and foremost be a font of information about their cause. What are they helping, how are they helping, what needs to be done etc. Pictures and videos of the work that is being done. Don’t just go for the tear jerkers either….funny can be just as powerful. That should be the base of the strategy.
After that, there are many different ways of going forward but I would recommend one approach. Build applications that your members can use to fundraise. Any charity will have its core group of followers. The people who devote time and energy to the charity. These are the people of interest, these are the engines that will make things work in this sphere. So instead of just having these people as Likes, mobilise them and utilise them.
Charities should build applications that help these people recruit and collect on behalf of the charity. Make these applications engaging and fun. Make them be something people will be proud to do and will be even more proud to advocate them to their friends. Make them relevant, maybe its just an application that helps people set up a sponsored fancy dress day in work or a simple app to help people get sponsorship for a fun run.
By using an application on Facebook the charity can also then accrue some CRM data to bolster future fundraising efforts. Charities should look to lean on their core following to help them in this space and in return give that following the necessary tools to help spread the word.
I really hope charities do find some traction on social media. I hope that social media can be an agent for real change for the wealth of good causes out there. Most of all, I hope that social media can take those awful charity muggers of the street…..I hate those guys.