Social Media for the Forgotten
By Janette Speyer and Alison Brown, Web Success Team
Online marketing is transforming the way that charitable organizations attract support from volunteers and potential donors. Social media websites such as Twitter and Facebook are no longer just for teenagers to catch up with friends, but rather an opportunity for non-profit organizations to expand their influence and capture the attention of larger audiences.
Social media can help your non-profit reach an audience that otherwise would have never known about your cause. As you build an online presence by becoming active with social media, information about your mission will gain greater visibility and your organization will become more credible and funding worthy.
Social Media Triumphs for an Unknown Cambodian Non-Profit
An example of how social media has helped one international non-profit succeed is the story behind Save Poor Children in Asia (SCAO). It’s a small NGO based in Phnom Penh, Cambodia that was founded by Director Sath Samith and his wife. They wanted to provide underprivileged children in the region with the opportunity to receive an education. It was a very small organization located in a very remote rural area in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. With barely enough money to get by they relied largely on the kindness of local volunteers and passing travelers to attract volunteers and donations.
Five years ago, the Web Success Team and other friends traveled to Southeast Asia and had the opportunity to visit SCAO and learn about the project. They volunteered to take over the website design and create an online marketing program that would put them on the map. Since then online donations were made possible, and social media profiles were used to communicate updates from the center. Using Facebook marketing SCAO has been able to connect with volunteers and donors abroad, share their experiences, and stay updated with activities and new developments at the orphanage.
Through the combined efforts of social media and many dedicated volunteers, like the SCOOPs Foundation, SCAO raised enough money to expand their impact and build an additional school. Now, all the children have shoes and uniforms, they go to regular visits at the dentist, they are learning English and receiving an education that has inspired some to continue on to college.
Regardless of the quality of the organization, without the help of social media to expand the visibility of SCAO’s impact, perhaps the volunteers supporting them today wouldn’t be as abundant. The power and potential that social media has to change the world is endless — it’s just a matter time before every small organization with a dream is able to become a credible, life-changing institution.
Increased Visibility = More Circulation = More Donations
Considering that successful fundraising is the lifeblood for any non-profit, it’s critical that your organization receives positive feedback. You want to capture a broad audience to showcase the effectiveness and good works of your organization. According to an article by Frank Barry, organizations that use social networking websites to communicate regularly with their audiences resulted in a 40% increase in fundraising profits.
For major fundraising charities that are well established such as the Red Cross, it’s a lot easier to reach a large audience that would follow their work. However, smaller organizations have a harder time attaining this level of exposure. The use of social media has leveled the playing field and more funds are going to the grass root organizations. Before social media, it was more difficult for organizations to sustain themselves in small communities and reach out to the donors abroad.
Word of Mouth vs. Social Media
Many small non-profit organizations heavily rely on word of mouth to spread information about their mission in the community. Social media helps expand your reach by appealing to more individuals that will help spread the word about your efforts. This, in turn, will attract more volunteers to your organization and increase your exposure to additional funding streams.
Additionally, the quality of information reaching the public is in your hands. By becoming active in social media websites such as Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and your blog you can continually send a stream of information that will keep your audience updated and continue to bring awareness to your cause. You additionally get benefits from information that is passed on and shared in the community, making all of this a very attractive proposition for any non-profit organization.
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