Pulse: Overcoming Social-Media Fears
For many fundraising professionals, the world of social media is an intimidating place. They know it's the wave of the future, but many are reluctant to dive in. I spoke recently with Terry Barber and Doug Broward, vice president and creative director, respectively, of integrated direct-response fundraising agency Grizzard, about the evolution of social media regarding fundraising.
One of the greatest fears nonprofits have is relinquishing control of content. Historically, nonprofits have been able to dictate just about every message that went out for public consumption, shaping the opinions about and reputations of their organizations the way they saw fit. In arenas such as Facebook, Twitter and MySpace, fundraisers lose that control — and that's exactly the point.
"One of the roles that we play is to get [nonprofits] to get over this notion and desire to want to control content," Barber says. "We continue to find it's one of the greatest fears they have: 'We can't control what these people are going to say about us.' Exactly."
Your donors and prospective donors are in social networks discussing your organization whether you're there or not. It's important to be a part of that conversation.
"From the organizational perspective, it's being able in advance to say who you are, what you do, here's how we talk about it … so you're feeding them a script, if you will, that can run to and through the network," Barber says.
"Otherwise, the constituents will just make it up for you," he adds. "They'll make it up anyway, but at least this way, you've got some basis of truth and something that is a way of singing the same song."
Another common fear is the lack of concrete ROI from social media.
"One of the difficulties, especially in a traditional fundraising mind-set, is if it's not raising money it's not worth your time," Broward says. "For some people it's like, 'How can we possibly invest in that if we can't show that ROI immediately?'"