5 ways non-profits are using social media

April 10, 2011 | Marketing, Social Media, Video, Web 2.0

The ability of social media to raise very large sums of money in small denominations from millions of contributors has been made clear.

The election of President Barack Obama and the use of social media to fuel his fund-raising effort alone served as a stunning example. But there were also major and seemingly inexhaustible U.S. relief efforts for natural disasters such as the Indian Ocean tsunami and the Haiti earthquake, not to mention the current campaign to fund relief efforts for Japan earthquake- and tsunami-ravaged coastal cities.

None of this has been lost on U.S. charities and non-profit organizations. As Social Media Today recently reported, social media provides the ideal platform for them to raise campaign awareness, increase donations and actively engage with a broad online audience. George Guildford, author of the article, reports that a growing number of charities are starting to incorporate social media platforms into their promotional strategies. He outlines five social media opportunities more charities will be making the most of this year.

  1. Tweet-a-thons. Twitter provides an opportunity for charities to engage with their audience through unique online events such as 12- or 24-hour Tweet-a-thons. Through organized Tweet-a-thon events, charities invite followers to tweet about an ongoing campaign or cause as much as possible to their own followers, encouraging supporters to include donate links and hashtags in all their tweets. This in turn creates a significant buzz around the cause and is a good way to increase donations and followers in a short period of time.
  2. Twibbons. Twibbons are pretty much an online version of the charity wristband idea that charities such as LIVESTRONG and Make Poverty History utilized so well recently. By enabling followers of a charity to customize their Twitter profile photos with a “virtual wristband” or banner, Twibbons are a way for followers to display their support for a charity and help to increase visibility for a campaign within their own social media groups. When a supporter adds a charity’s Twibbon to their Twitter profile, a message is automatically sent out to that fan’s followers with links to donation and Twibbon pages.
  3. Facebook Causes. With more than 140 million users, Facebook Causes provides non-profits with the means to use Facebook to set up or support a cause and collect donations by putting the interaction and activity in the hands of the followers. Facebook Causes not only enables charities to communicate with followers, collect donations and co-ordinate petitions, it also enables followers to create their own Causes profile and become actively engaged with collecting more and more followers and donations for the cause.
  4. Crowdrise. Crowdrise enables charities to set up contests, projects and activities for followers to participate in. In the same way that fans of Foursquare earn check-in points, users of Crowdrise are able to earn Crowdrise points the more active they are on the site. Additionally, users can create or join a Crowdrise Project Team, a feature that enables a group of fundraisers or volunteers to go that one step further to become key members in raising awareness across their own multiple social media networks.
  5. Integrated YouTube campaigns. Video and visual elements have always played an important role in charity campaigns, as they often provide an important snapshot and insight into the cause that other forms of media cannot capture. By integrating an effective YouTube campaign into their overall promotional strategy, charities are not only able to reach a wider online audience, but they are also making it easier for supporters to share video content across their own social media networks, increasing their visibility. Additionally, charities can also set up their own non-profit YouTube channel, an area of the site where charities can host and customize all their video content. Sharing features include links to donation pages through video annotations, call-to-action overlays and buttons embedded within the YouTube videos themselves.
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