This blog will help you win loyal friends for your nonprofit organization. I'm Dennis Fischman, and I approved this message.

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Social Media: Starting Small

starting small

Start with what you can handle

If your nonprofit organization is large enough, you may have staff specifically assigned to social media.  if it is new enough, you may have started online before you opened an office!

But many nonprofits are not large, few are rich, and only a few have social media in their DNA.  You may be one of the many saying to yourself, “I know I need to do something with social media, but how do I start?”

I’ve been there.  A few years ago, I was the only communications person at a community-based nonprofit organization.  (I was also the development person, and the outcomes person…but that’s another story!)

I knew that my agency couldn’t possibly do Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Instagram, Youtube, and the next new thing that came along–let alone do them well.

Here’s what I think will work for you: start small.

  1. Start with your website.  It’s not social media as such, but everything you do leads back to it.  When someone arrives on your website, will they find something that’s valuable to them?  Is your site attractive and easy to navigate?  And a really simple thing that too many of us overlook: do all your links work?  If you can do only one thing online right now, it should be to improve your website.
  2. Know your audience. You don’t have time to send out messages at random hoping some of them will touch your readers’ hearts. Click on the link for a humorous guide to audience research.
  3. Think about your objectives. Let’s imagine you succeed beyond your wildest dreams in getting the audience you address actually to pay attention.  What do you want them to do as a result?  Try to narrow it down to one primary objective for each specific audience.  I know how hard that is.  Do it anyway.
  4. Now, pick one medium.  Ideally, it should be the one your supporters use. If they’re on Facebook, choose Facebook.  If it’s Youtube, choose Youtube.  Practically speaking, you will probably pick the medium that your supporters use most which your organization uses already.  However you pick, do pick one, and only one–and then concentrate single-mindedly on learning how to use that medium better.

Give yourselves at least six months to become really good at connecting with your supporters on just one of the social media you use.  That’s do-able, isn’t it?  Try it and watch your influence grow.

How to Get Your Great Staff and Volunteers to Stay

Engaged at work

How can you keep staff and volunteers excited to come to work?

A guest post by Sybil F. Stershic, Quality Service Marketing

True or False?

1. Mission matters in a nonprofit organization.
2. The people behind the mission – a nonprofit’s employees and volunteers – also matter.
3. Employees’ and volunteers’ passion for the mission ensure their commitment to a nonprofit organization.

The first two statements are true. While the third statement may be true in an ideal world, the reality is, while passion is critical, it’s not enough. Here’s why.

Every nonprofit will attract employees and volunteers who share a special affinity for its mission. People typically don’t work for a nonprofit for the money or glory. But a noble mission doesn’t guarantee a great workplace. If employees’ and volunteers’ work is not respected, and if they’re not given the tools needed to do their work, they’re not going to stay.

Bottom line: once engaged doesn’t mean always engaged.

The good news is, keeping staff and volunteers (including board members) engaged doesn’t involve anything complicated. It does require an intentional and ongoing application of internal marketing – a strategic blend of marketing, human resources, and management to ensure people have the resources and reinforcement they need to do their work. (Don’t be concerned with the “marketing” term as you don’t need to be a marketer to apply this approach.)

How to engage employees and volunteers with internal marketing

Internal marketing basically connects employees and volunteers on three fundamental levels:

• To the overall organization – to ensure everyone who works in the nonprofit understands its mission and goals, where they fit within the organization, and what’s expected of them in helping it achieve its goals.

• To the people the organization serves and those it works with in the process (such as donors, community influencers, advocates, etc.) – so staff and volunteers know who is important to the nonprofit and how to serve them.

• To fellow volunteers and employees – so they understand their individual and collective impact on the mission, along with how best to work together.

You can build these connections through a range of organizational activities that include but aren’t limited to: new staff and volunteer orientation; training; team building; and group meetings to share important information on new programs, policies, strategic plans, funding and organizational updates.

Nothing truly extraordinary – just whatever it takes to provide the necessary tools, attention, and reinforcement that enable the people behind the mission to do their best and know that their work is valued.

Even though I advocate “internal marketing” as a framework for engagement, it doesn’t matter what you call your approach to engage the people who work in your organization, as long as you are intentional and proactive in your efforts.

Remember, an inspiring mission may attract talented employees and volunteers to work with your nonprofit, but it takes much more to get them to stay. People need to feel they matter as much as their work.

Sybil F. Stershic, author of the award-winning Share of Mind, Share of Heart: Marketing Tools of Engagement for Nonprofits, is a respected thought leader, speaker, and facilitator who specializes in engaging employees with internal marketing. Active as a volunteer leader in many organizations, Sybil is a former chairman of the American Marketing Association. For more information, please visit her website and blog at Quality Service Marketing.

Why Should Nonprofits Bother with Social Media?

Why bother?When people hear that I consult to nonprofits on communications, sooner or later, they ask me, “Dennis, is it really worth it? Can I raise funds for my organization on social media?”

I’m sorry, folks, but those are two different questions.

Question 1: Are Social Media Worth It for Your Nonprofit?

First, think about what you’re trying to accomplish with your communications. As we saw yesterday, you need a strategy. Who are you trying to reach? What do you know about them? If you engaged them successfully, what would they do?

If you know the answers to those questions, you will know whether or not social media are an important part of your strategy. Even if they are, there are ten things you should take care of before you ever start on social media.

But in the end, chances are social media will be worth it for your nonprofit. Why? Because you need loyal supporters.

People give their first gift to your organization for a variety of quirky reasons. When they  continue to give, it’s for one reason: because they have come to know, like, and trust you.

You will win loyalty by giving people ways to get to know, like, and trust your organization…and nothing lets you do that more often, in a more convincing way, at less cost, than social media.

Question 2: Can I Raise Funds on Social Media?

Let’s turn this question around. When you go on Facebook, or Twitter, or Instagram, are you looking for a chance to donate?


Well, neither are your donors.

People use social media to stay in touch with their friends. Your challenge is to make people regard your organization as a friend.

A friend who asked you for money every time he came over to your house would soon stop getting invited. If your organization asks for money whenever you’re online, people will stop inviting you onto their screens.

The 80-20 Rule

If you really understand social media, you will follow the 80-20 rule. 80% of the time your organization is on social media, share content that’s interesting to your audience.

  • Engage in conversations with them. You know they’re interested if they’re the one who brought up the topic!
  • Post information that they won’t find everywhere else. Make them feel smarter.
  • Post “fun” content that they will enjoy. If it relates to your cause, great, but as long as it doesn’t actually conflict with it, it’s all good. Friends are not all business–and you want to be their friend.

20% of the time, call your audience to action.

  • Poll them, or ask them open-ended questions.
  • Invite them to lobby their elected officials, online.
  • Offer them a chance to volunteer.

And yes, perhaps once in a great while, you can ask for money. It will work better if it’s directed toward a specific, tangible goal, and if they can track their progress toward that goal in real time. General appeals rarely work on social media.

So Tell Me Again, Why Should I Bother?

Maybe you shouldn’t. If your specific donor pool isn’t on social media– because of language barriers, for instance–maybe you shouldn’t be either.

But if your audience is on social media and you’re not, what you’re telling them is, “You’re not worth it to me.”

You won’t spend the time to reach them where they like to be? Then you are not their friend. And over time, they will give their attention, time, and money to the organizations that make them feel valued. Being one of those organizations–that’s why it’s worth it.