Originally published in MediaPost
For many non-profit organizations, finding low-cost solutions to marketing and fund raising is paramount, and social media has been able to offer many solutions to existing problems, as well as offering some innovative new ways of interacting with supporters. Here are just some of the things non-profits can do to reach their audience effectively.
1. Enable a virtual global reach
The power of virtual global communities can be seen in events such as Twestival Local, an annual international online festival aimed at bringing together communities around the world to raise money for good causes. The cost of organizing such an event through more traditional channels would be astronomical, but thanks to Skype, Twitter, Huddle, and cloud computing, Twestival has been able to operate on a shoestring while raising over half a million dollars in 2011.
2. Tell the story through video
Non-profits are now able to tell their story at a fraction of the cost of a television commercial. YouTube offer a non-profit programme specially designed for non-profits to use embedded video material in their websites, as well as creating their own YouTube channel to enable them to broadcast to a wide audience. The American Red Cross currently have around fifteen videos up on their YouTube channel, ranging from advice on Swine Flu, to information about disaster zones, to how to send Holiday Mail for Heroes. Their videos have been downloaded an impressive 3.5 million times, and the YouTube channel homepage incorporates a handy Donate button to help convert those views into donations.
3. Use non-profit friendly tools
Many social media tools offer a non-profit discount: Zoomerangâ€™s online polls and surveys offer a 25% discount to non-profits, helping them to gauge public opinion far more cheaply than organizing focus groups or printing and posting surveys. SproutSocial have a 50% discount for non-profits on their social Customer Relationship Management tool, allowing non-profits to keep track of their social relationships.
4. Make use of existing networks
Although Facebook was not originally designed as a fundraising platform for non-profits, many have been able to connect with supporters in a whole new way thanks to its extensive reach. Organizations such as The Humane Society have made Facebook an integral part of their awareness-raising and fundraising operations, as well as making it easy for supporters to communicate directly with them.
5. Make giving easier
The days of walking around the office waving a sponsorship form for your fun run are long over: sites like JustGiving have simplified sponsorship and donations by making it easy and safe to give online, as well as integrating the process with your email, Facebook or Twitter profiles, and even offering a text donation service, to give an event maximum reach and exposure.
6. Increase Your Events Exposure
For many non-profits, their business year revolves around a small number of large events, and it is essential to market these effectively, which is where social media is now proving an invaluable low-cost alternative to traditional channels. Connecting the website with social media channels is only the first step; services like EventBrite allow organizations without the infrastructure to sell tickets online to market and sell their event, while also making sharing the information an integral part of the process. Email services such as MailChimp and AWeber allow organizations to not only segregate email lists to help target specific audiences, but also keep track of statistics on their campaigns and allow follow-up marketing with very little expense.