Social Media in Not-for-Profits

I’ve supported various not-for-profit organisations for a number of years now. Whether it be giving up a cup of coffee from my favourite café to donate financially, or giving up a bit of my time to volunteer, I love what I do and love being able to make a difference in these organisations. Social media in any organisation – including not for profits is important for a variety of reasons. In this post, I am going to take a not-for-profit I volunteer for (we’ll call it Organisation X for confidentiality purposes) and discuss what they do in social media in relation to what has been discussed in this week’s readings.

Organisation X’s Background
Organisation X is a not-for-profit organisation with roughly 150 volunteers who are all involved in various initiatives to assist the community in different ways. Their social media presence includes pages on Facebook and Instagram, with postings about various things the organisation is doing being made on average every couple of days. These social media pages also link to the organisation’s website.

Online Donations
One of the main reasons discussed in the reading for not-for-profits utilising social media is to assist in receiving donations from people. They state that 10% of donors give online, and people in the younger generations are more likely to give online. Whether the younger generation can give now, or if they have to wait until they are older and can afford it, not-for-profits having the ability to give online means they can receive donations from more people across a variety of locations.

Organisation X does not use their social media pages to advertise giving donations. However, on their website there is information on how to give to their projects and initiatives. Could they earn more in donations by advertising this on Facebook/Instagram? Potentially. But as an organisation would that be wise? Possibly not – given their objectives advertising for donations and financial assistance is not a current priority.

Online Marketing
Utilizing social media platforms for any organisation can provide a low-cost method of advertising and marketing an organisation. Organisation X is no different, and that is their main purpose in using social media. To get their name out there. To raise awareness for their cause. To show the world what they are doing through events, programmes and initiatives. To invite people to events and meetings they run. To see more people, old and young, volunteer for their cause so they can continue to make a difference in society. That’s their main purpose for their social media pages.

More than their Platform
Probably the biggest asset I have noticed for Organisation X in their social media is one that I did not read about in this week’s reading – although it was touched on in week 1. Social media is about so much more than the organisation just having a page on an app/website like Facebook or Instagram. It’s about the people and community behind the organisation that make it happen. It’s about the power behind the ‘Share’ button. The concept of unexpected reach – where you’re not just sharing to the few hundred people that ‘Like’ your Facebook page or ‘Follow’ you on Instagram. You’re sharing to those who share your posts on your behalf, reaching their friends and followers. And who knows – those people could be interested in getting involved in the organisation and get in touch. Or people who want to know more can ask questions.

Organisation X have a large number of people who share their posts – and the potential reach can easily go from a couple hundred people to a few thousand people depending on how many people press that share button. And I’ve seen many volunteers come into the organisation through someone sharing a post made by Organisation X which made them interested in becoming a part of it. Unexpected reach in social media is definitely a concept that should not be underestimated – and Organisation X is proof of that!

Whatever the underlying reason for using social media, not-for-profits have the ability at their fingertips to potentially grow their organisation. Whether it’s about raising awareness, raising funds or gaining volunteers and supporters for their cause social media can be an effective tool for reaching multitudes of people from around the world to support the cause. The ability is there for these organisations, the question is, will they use it?

Works referred to:
Organizations’ use of LinkedIn: An analysis of nonprofits, large corporations and small businesses. – Marketing Management Journal
Social media at work: How networking tools propel organizational performance.

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