4 Things I Hate About Social-Media Fundraising
Calling yourself a writer still carries a certain mystique when people at cocktail parties ask what you do. But how many young idealists out there now, searching for meaning in their lives, are saying, "When I grow up I want to be famous content provider!"?
3. The jury is still out on whether it cultivates younger donors. Some people say social media engages young people in causes early in their lives, so when they enter their "giving years," they'll already feel some loyalty to the organization they loved when they were young.
It sounds logical, but I often observe the opposite. The glut of worthwhile causes, saying roughly the same things in the same ways (see No. 1), creates a dizzying overload. The volume of information makes it hard to latch on to any one thing long enough to build an emotional attachment.
Social media tends to be a mile wide and an inch deep. People feel deeply moved by something they agree with. Then, without much thought or analysis, they repost or retweet the message and feel great about themselves. They feel they've done their part without all the bother of actually making a gift.
4. The creative becomes the message. Here are words that chill the heart of every marketer: "I saw this great commercial last night. I can't remember what the product was, but it was so funny." No matter how amusing, memorable or engaging the creative might be, if consumers don't remember what was being advertised, it's money down the drain.
Unfortunately, people have begun saying the same thing about nonprofits: "Has anyone forwarded you that video about the homeless cats? I can't remember which organization it was for, but the cats were so adorable I just cried!"
Social media is like any other tool. It has plenty of value when it comes to messaging, brand building and amorphous engagement. But you have to have good quality (see No. 1 again) and use the right tool for the right job. You can use the handle of a screwdriver as a hammer, but it is harder and does a less effective job.
Willis believes in expressive writing, exceptional fundraising, and exuberant living.
Willis Turner is the senior copywriter at Huntsinger & Jeffer. He was an experienced writer and creative director in the traditional advertising world for more than 20 years before making the switch to fundraising nearly 15 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, as well as collateral materials and communications, that get attention, tell emotional stories, and persuade people to take action or make a donation.