The International Fellowship of Christians and Jews, established in 1983 to promote understanding between members of two major, often at-odds religions and build broad support for Israel, was one of the first nonprofit organizations to devote a full-time position to social media.
FundRaising Success met Christina Johns, the person who fills that position, a few years ago when she approached us with the idea of writing a column for what was then the magazine's Giving 2.0 e-letter. We liked her drive, her youthful energy and her easy grasp of social media, which seemed at the time to be throwing most of the world of nonprofit marketing, communications and fundraising into a tizzy.
While many nonprofits were scrambling to latch on to what the sector was lauding as the Next Big Thing, IFCJ calmly and methodically absorbed the new medium into its overall marketing, communications and fundraising strategy.
It's tempting to point to its commitment to social media as the cornerstone to IFCJ's stunning increase in contributed funds (from $50 million to nearly $100 million since 2005). While that would bring a smile to the faces of folks who are just itching to ditch direct mail and hitch their fundraising wagons to some quick, easy and seemingly cost-free star, it would be wrong and, perhaps, a matter of wishful thinking.
Rather, Johns' position as online media manager at IFCJ is indicative of the organization's greater overall commitment to meeting donors and other supporters "where they are," embracing new strategies and ideas, and — perhaps most importantly — rolling them into a seamlessly integrated plan that focuses on consistent messaging spread across numerous media: direct mail, e-mail, Web, DRTV, social media, etc.
That commitment, Johns and her colleagues at IFCJ are quick to point out, starts at the top.