Not-So-Social Media

By: Jarrad Howard

We hear it all the time. It has become the current buzz phrase within the non-profit sector: “Your organization needs to have a social media strategy”. This is completely, 100% true. Every organization needs to have a presence in social media. However, when it comes to fundraising, the most important part of this strategy isn’t just defining WHEN to use social media…it is defining when NOT to use social media.

Social media is a wonderful tool when used correctly. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram…these resources are great for keeping donors and those involved with your organization informed of activities and events happening within your organization. Social media, combined with crowdfunding, can even be a useful fundraising tool…on a small scale.

When it comes to funding your organization, as a whole, you have to step away from the computer, close the apps on your smart phone, and call and visit your donors.  ESPECIALLY your major donors.

I was recently speaking with a dear friend of mine after one of his organization’s major annual events/galas.  He told me a story of how they had nearly alienated one of their oldest and most generous donors. Long story short: Someone decided to do the gala invites through Facebook – they thought that this would save time and money. And, while this certain donor DOES have a Facebook profile…he doesn’t check it. In fact, his profile was only created so that his children could share family photos with him and his wife.

Needless to say, he did not see the invite. Luckily, while looking over the RSVP list two weeks before the gala, the executive director noticed this donor’s name was not on the list.  He immediately called the donor and personally invited him to the gala. Had the executive director NOT caught this flub, there could have been major financial repercussions for the organization.

Yes, there were SEVERAL hiccups in this situation – but it all started with too strong of a reliance on social media. Remember this when considering, “To social media or NOT to social media?”:

Does it inform or entertain? Social Media DO!  Does it invite or solicit a major donation? Social Media DON’T!

Fundraising is still about personal relationships. New technology is constantly being developed to help us organize and save time, but fundraising is still about face-to-face, personal interaction and involvement.

So yes, create and maintain a presence on social media! It is a great way to keep those involved in your organization in the loop and abreast of what is happening within your organization. But you need to know when to close your web browser and call or meet face-to-face with a donor.