Thinking About Social Media Advertising
“Should we use paid social media advertising?” a friend who is an Executive Director at a nonprofit asked. “My Board of Directors has been suggesting that I look into it,” she continued.
My first question for my Board, if they asked me to consider social media advertising, would bewhy. To what end would we be advertising? Would we simply be working to “raise awareness” or would we have a more specific call to action in mind? If our purpose was to “raise awareness” to what end would we be doing that?
Part of our responsibility to our donors after receiving a gift is to report back to them about what the donations they’ve entrusted to us have accomplished. We know they want to hear from us about the impact of their donations.
If we’re good at donor stewardship, we do this in multiple ways and in an ongoing fashion.
- We call our donors and say things like, “Hi! The tractors arrived on site today and started clearing for the new building and I was just thinking about you and how you’ve made this possible.”
- We invite them to our campuses and show them work in progress or programs in action.
- We meet them for coffee and bring them pictures of something that happened last week that they wanted to see.
Informally, the updates are regular.
But every once in a while, we do formal updates through Annual or Impact Reports as well. As many of us plan this time of year to write and design our Annual or Impact Report, what should it convey?
Ever visited a nonprofit’s blog page to find…well, nothing? The Blank Blog is all too common on nonprofit websites.
A lot of nonprofit organizations resist beginning a blog or, if they have a blog, they let it languish because they can’t imagine how to keep it full of content. They don’t know what they could possibly say that would be interesting to their readers OR they are so overworked and understaffed they can’t figure out how to complete one more task (e.g. writing blog posts).
The good news is that the people who love a nonprofit organization—donors, volunteers, board members, clients—would be interested in reading several things about the nonprofit, things that a nonprofit staff leader—especially one that has served a long time—might take for granted and see as routine and a nonprofit staff leader doesn’t have to do it all himself.
As I was leaving the building, a few workshop attendees approached me in the parking lot. One said, “A few of us wanted to talk to you because we were puzzled. You said it was really important to blog but we had just attended a fundraising workshop, before your workshop, on major gifts and the workshop presenter had said “Blogging is a complete waste of time. It won’t raise major gifts for you and you need to be getting major gifts.”
Wow. Great to know what the confusion was about. We were able to have a terrific discussion. My only regret was that we couldn’t all have the discussion with the other presenter with us. We could have had a really interesting exchange because I understand why he said what he said and in a way he is right. You certainly don’t ask for or receive a major gift because of anything you’ve written in a blog or posted on your website.
HOWEVER, I think he has missed the point.
Like the Donkey in Shrek whose been told to search for a blue flower with red thorns, I’ve tromped off into the social media field—with purpose—attempting to achieve meaningful engagement, repeating to myself “red flower, blue thorns, red flower, blue thorns…” or rather “engagement, engagement, engagement…”
And, then, just before Christmas, Beth Kanter, on her blog, summarized a Vision Critical Report titled “What Social Media Can’t Tell You About Your Customers.”
Nobody likes to receive new underwear and socks for Christmas, right?
In my first professional fundraising job, I worked for a children’s shelter in Greenville, SC. I will never forget that first holiday season, asking the kids in the shelter what they wanted for Christmas. I expected to hear them say things like GameBoys (remember those?) and American Girl dolls which I understood were all the rage with young children at the time. Instead, I got answers like new underwear and socks. Wow. This put so many things into perspective. It also fueled my zeal to raise funds to ensure that those children got those things and so much more.
As you pen your final appeals for the year, remember to focus on the true need.