The Case (Studies) for Social Media
"We've gotten a lot of awareness out of it, which has been great, and also changed our image a little bit, which was one of our goals," says Vice President of Membership Dolores McDonagh. "A lot of people think organizations like the National Trust tell people what's important, that we're arbiters of taste and style and design. What this campaign really did was put the power back into the people."
Going forward, NTHP plans to take it to another level, announcing the This Place Matters Community Challenge. The trust is working with smaller, local organizations, allowing them to pick a place in their communities that matters. On the NTHP site, each organization will have its own microsite page where it can post pictures of its place, tell its story of why it's important, and then challenge each organization to go out for a four-week period and get people to register support for that place on NTHP's website. NTHP also will collect donations on behalf of the local preservation organizations, "sort of a preservation Network for Good," McDonagh says, so supporters not only can vote for the organizations, but also make donations.
While McDonagh admits NTHP isn't yet making much money from social media, she says the fundraising power lies down the road. "The thing I'm most excited about with social media is it gives us and a lot of nonprofits something that we haven't had, which is a cost-effective way to have a relationship with people before they're ready to make gifts. Social media will give us a great opportunity to make donors of the future by engaging with them today."
Perhaps the most remarkable display of social media's power lies in the story of Fat Cyclist. Elden Nelson, a cycling enthusiast who had noticed he was gaining a bit of weight, "resolved to start a blog, embarrassing myself by proclaiming my weight on a daily basis, no matter how bad I was doing," he says on his blog. So he created fat cyclist.com and began his crusade.