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Nonprofits and Social Media: Beyond Marketing your Organization

Five years ago, I attended a workshop on Social Media sponsored by Meyer Memorial Trust.  The emphasis of the workshop was how using sites like Myspace, Facebook and Twitter can be used by nonprofit organizations to market themselves and spread the story of their work and missions to their followers, which can then be shared with those following their followers, expanding the scope of their message in hopes of increased support for their mission.  Indeed, now nonprofit organizations hire people to run their social media efforts, and have a presence not only on Facebook and Twitter, but also on other sites like Pinterest and any new site that comes along.  Many have added donation applications so visitors can make a monetary gift while visiting their online profile.  Social Media is an important method to market your organization.

Today’s post is not about marketing your organization.  It is about using social media sites like Twitter and Linked In to increase your knowledge and make you better at your job.  Since many organizations don’t have the budget to pay for furthering an employee’s education and send them to costly workshops, social media can be a free and effective source of knowledge.

Although I was introduced to Twitter back in 2007, I did not start using the site until earlier this year.  I started connecting with nonprofit and fundraising professionals around North America.  Many of these connections are authors that have written books about specific fundraising methods like annual giving, planned giving, and major gift solicitation, and they share their knowledge freely with their followers on their blogs.  These blogs have provided a great deal of information and have increased my knowledge of topics that I don’t have much experience with, so I am now equipped to use what I have learned effectively.  I have shared the blog which I write for CNRG to help educate those new to fundraising and other nonprofit topics on Twitter, Facebook, and Linked In, and it has benefited the organization by creating a bigger audience for the organization that now spans the world.

Another great learning opportunity offered by Twitter and Linked In are the groups you can participate with on a regular basis.  There are many professional groups that have weekly “chat” events, like #Fundchat and #NPTalk.  During these events, you have the opportunity to share ideas and opinions on a specific topic with others in the same field around the world.  Over the past few months, I have learned a great deal and I have shared just as much, gaining the respect and friendship of many in the Development field.  There are groups for Volunteer Coordinators, Executive Directors, and other positions too.  I have also found a great resource on Linked In, the site for professional networking.  There are a myriad of professional groups where people start conversations to share ideas and provoke conversations.  These conversations cause me to think about topics that are important to the Nonprofit sector.  Most of these groups are open to all, but there are some that you must be accepted to be part of the group.

If you are a nonprofit professional, I highly recommend that you start an account on some social media sites and take advantage of the opportunities to learn more and share your knowledge with others.  Social media can be effective for marketing your organization, but it can also be a very effective way to increase your knowledge of the sector and your position, building skills that will benefit your career and your organization.