4 Things I Hate About Social-Media Fundraising
Complaining about social media is like complaining about saggy pants. They are ubiquitous, plenty of people love them and there's not a damn thing you can do about them.
They also don't appear to be going anywhere anytime soon, so you just have to make your peace with them.
But you don't have to be a Luddite to see that some of social media's value as a fundraising tool has been overstated. Or not fully realized. At least up to now. Here are four key challenges I see to trying to use social media as a fundraising tool:
1. It devalues writing. It is a basic law of economics that oversupply decreases value. The ubiquity of social media makes it harder to find, or produce, good writing. The pressure on writers is not to be brilliant and insightful as much as it is to crank out content.
When saying something worthwhile takes a back seat to cranking out content, you end up with sentences like: "There's something called the bystander effect, and that individuals in a large group often don't help out when a person or people are in need."
This is not universally true, of course. There are plenty of publications, including this one with which I'm proud to be affiliated, that work hard to maintain high standards. Harper's and The New York Review of Books come to mind.
But sign up for the frequent emails from some other once-august places, like The Atlantic and even The Washington Post, and you'll see how the need to get the word out fast can deteriorate the quality of both writing and ideas.
2. It devalues writers. Once upon a time, writing was seen as a noble profession. How many of us were so moved in high school by "The Pearl," "The Catcher in the Rye" or "A Separate Peace" that we aspired to be writers?
Willis Turner believes great writing has the power to change minds, save lives, and make people want to dance and sing. Willis is the creative director at Huntsinger & Jeffer. He worked as a lead writer and creative director in the traditional advertising world for more than 15 years before making the switch to fundraising 20 years ago. In his work with nonprofit organizations and associations, he has written thousands of appeals, renewals and acquisition communications for every medium. He creates direct-response campaigns, and collateral communications materials that get attention, tell powerful stories and persuade people to take action or make a donation.