Insights into Nonprofit Social Media

How can you squander even one more day not taking advantage of the greatest shifts of our generation? How dare you settle for less when the world has made it so easy for you to be remarkable?”” Seth Godin

I admit I didn’t understand the significance of social media until the 21st Annual Eizenstat Family Memorial Lecture featuring Al Gore in 2009. It was the first time that I incorporated a social media strategy into the marketing communications plan.

The goal was to increase awareness of the lecture series and the host organization. By all measures the lecture was a resounding success! Social media, especially Facebook and Twitter, played a significant role.

The yearly Nonprofit Social Network Benchmark Report, sponsored by Nonprofit Technology Network (NTEN), Common Knowledge and Blackbaud, focuses on social media trends in the nonprofit sector. The 4th annual report provides interesting insights.  More than 3500 nonprofit professionals responded to an online survey about their use of social media.

Two social networks were part of the study:

  • Commercial Social networks, e.g., Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Google+, Myspace, Flickr and Foursquare.
  • House Social networks –networks built & managed by the nonprofit in-house.

Here are a few of the 2012 social media insights:

  1. Only Facebook and Twitter increased from 2011 to 2012. Respondents accumulated an average of 8,317 Facebook members & 3,290 followers on Twitter, an increase of 30% and 81% respectively from 2011.
  2. A consolidated brand strategy, which focuses most or all branding & marketing  on one Facebook page and 1 Twitter account is the norm.
  3. The average value of a supporter acquired via Facebook Like is $214.81 over the 12 months following acquisition. This includes all revenue from individual donations, membership, events, etc.
  4. Facebook advertising is mainly used to raise awareness and build a support base, not for fundraising.
  5. 54% of respondents said they were not fundraising on Facebook. An Ask for an individual gift is the most common fundraising tactic on Facebook. Event fundraising was the 2nd highest category.

What I found to be the most telling were the top 3 factors for success on Social Networks. They speak to the same focus that is necessary for all successful initiatives:

  • #1 – Developed a strategy
  • #2 – Prioritization by executive management
  • #3 – Dedicated social media staff

In other words – Develop a plan, get buy-in and identify a knowledgeable key team member to lead the new initiative.

Is your nonprofit using social media? I would love to hear what is working best for you. Please contact


Why branding is important for your nonprofit

What, you might ask, does Pascha’s eye have to do with branding?

Pascha is a Dutch Warmblood. The breed is known to be very versatile. They excel in top level completion – dressage, show-jumping, eventing and even carriage driving. Calm and even tempered they are always willing to give us as much as possible.

So, when I first met Pascha and saw his brand I had expectations of his brand promise. The brand helped differentiate him from the other horses I met at the same time.

Yes, I am a strong believer in branding, especially in nonprofits. A strong nonprofit brand is essential to raise awareness and cut through the ever- increasing noise.  

A brand means owning a position in a person’s mind. According to Marty Neumeier, author of The Brand Gap, a brand is a person’s gut feeling about a product service or organization.

A nonprofit’s brand is a source of a promise to the clients, donors, volunteers & other stakeholders. Everything the organization does should be focused on enhancing delivery against its brand’s promise.

Branding creates strong relationships, loyalty and an awareness of a nonprofit’s good works. A brand differentiates an organization from others, communicates commitments, establishes a distinct position in the mind’s eye of target audiences and builds equity.

What are the elements of a good nonprofit brand?

  • Uniqueness – what sets your organization apart from others in your niche?
  • Authenticity – does your organization stay true to its core values?
  • Consistency – is there consistency in your messaging and your visual elements?

What are the benefits of branding?

  • Connections to donors, sponsors and your community.
  • ‘Leg-up’ in securing your place in your niche
  • A sense of unity and strong morale within your organization

The branding process needs to be participatory with a cross selection of staff, board and consultants or volunteers versed in branding initiatives.

Want more information on conducting brand research? Please email Request the CS&I branding template.

PS – Pascha fulfills his brand promise every day!