The Frontier of Social Media and Fundraising: What to Expect?
According to a survey ASI conducted around nonprofits’ IT challenges and opportunities in 2010, organizations have faith in social media. And for many, it is faith — that is “being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see” — as opposed to experience.
The survey showed that most nonprofits (80 percent) continue to engage in social media, but only 20 percent believe it is providing useful ROI. This seems to indicate that the other 60 percent are tweeting, posting and blogging without expecting too much in return — at least yet.
But, we continue to witness rapid acceleration in the use of social media globally. The sales of smartphones, tablets and other devices designed for the social Web are growing with it, and the world’s top websites are social media-driven. So, will we eventually see that 20 percent increase? Perhaps it’s time to set some reasonable expectations.
Firstly, what should I expect? It is important to understand the role of social media in your fundraising. Will it replace direct mail? No. Will it replace your website? Not yet. Should you expect the same ROI from a Twitter campaign as, say, a phone campaign? Social networks are great places to publicize what your organization is doing, build a large constituency of followers and occasionally mobilize those followers into action, but don’t forget that for every 100 clicks of that “Like” or “Follow” button, you’ll get your fair share of “slacktivists.”
Secondly, establishing your organization’s presence takes investment. Most of the tools are free, but they’re not cheap in terms of sustained effort to make an impact. For example, blogging on a regular basis from the CEO down takes significant time. This is the same when trying to maintain a YouTube channel and keep up with daily tweeting.