Slam Dunk or Snake Oil?
Check out any nonprofit Web site these days, and in addition to an About Us page, you're likely to see icons for Facebook, Twitter and MySpace. These social-media widgets have fast become wallpaper on almost all charitable sites. But does social media really work for fundraising?
To answer this question, get a sense of how much money nonprofits are actually raising via social media and garner some advice on best practices in using these tools, I went straight to the expert. Check out my interview with Geoff Livingston, author of "Now Is Gone — A Primer on New Media for Executives and Entrepreneurs" and chief marketing officer of Zoetica (a new company he formed with social-media guru Beth Kanter).
Jocelyn Harmon: It's clear that a majority of nonprofits have jumped on the bandwagon when it comes to using social media to promote their issues, friendraise and increase brand awareness, but serious questions remain about the effectiveness of these tools to raise money. Are nonprofits raising money via social media? If so, how much?
Geoff Livingston: If I were in charge of development for a nonprofit, social media would not be the first place I would look to build my charity. I've heard lots of ballpark numbers, but none higher than 2 percent to 3 percent of total cause sector funds raised. Now, some organizations are great at social, while most are just terrible, so I question whether a mean average applies. But seriously, hire an experienced development director first.
Social media to me is a better awareness and community development tool. It can be used for fundraising (tinyurl.com/y684bgy), but without a die-hard community in place first, that's not going to happen quickly. In fact, you will spin your wheels and think that "social" doesn't work.