Remembering you're humanSubmitted Thu Mar 24 2011 13:38:42 GMT-0400 (EDT)
Susan Gordon, Non-Profit Coordinator with causes.com, gave a number of tips and examples for engaging supporters through social media more effectively last week at NTC.
She started by reminding us that online fundraising appeals should not be treated the same as direct mail campaigns. For one thing, it's really difficult to create communities through the mail. Even if I donate and get a thank you note, I'm not going to feel as connected to your larger community. The great thing about social media with regards to fundraising is that we can create online community and keep our supporters engaged, which means they'll be more likely to care about, connect with, and financially support a cause.
Fundraising isn't the only facet benefiting from social media, because social media activism is not just about bothering people to donate money. It's more about showing people how you're impacting the world, and, ideally, engaging more supporters in the conversation.
One common misconception, Gordon noted, is that we need a huge supporter list for our social networking to be effective. In fact, it can be just as, if not more beneficial to have a small group of truly dedicated super-activists. Some smaller nonprofits have even managed to recruit their staff and volunteers from their online communities.
The best ways to communicate with your online communities
Communicate regularly by asking and responding to questions from your supporters. If you have a fundraising appeal, set goals and follow up with how it went, even if you didn't reach your goal! It's always important to say thank you for the support you did receive.
Make sure your action or appeal is shareable (shareable is a weird word), something that your supporters can identify with, and that you have a clear idea of how you want your supporters to share your message.
To avoid fundraising asks that don't resonate, consider asking your community ahead of time what they're willing to support and interested in.
Focus on reach, not on relationships. Don't get too caught up in the number of supporters, but focus on their actual engagement and what they're doing for you and with you as part of your community. Instead of just looking at the number of Facebook "likes," consider also whether they'll take action if you ask them too.
Keep in mind that not all of your supporters are created equal. Not everyone who follows you is super-interested in what you do. Some have specific talents that they might want to share with your organization. Keep an eye out for your more valuable contacts and work on engaging them further.
Don't think of it as "Donate or bust." People are more complicated. If they didn't donate when you first asked, see if you can engage them with a survey or action. Remember that your contacts are actually human.
Along the same line, remember that you're a human, too! Reply to questions and comments with a personal voice and free yourself up to use more casual language. Not everything you post should have to go through your communications channel for approval.