Two Things Nonprofits Must Know about Social Media to be Donor-Centered

This month I’m writing about how to be donor centered. Today I’m taking us in a perhaps unexpected direction – the path of social media.  What does that have to do with being donor centered? Everything. There are two principle reasons why:

1.  Social media is about relationships, not technology. Your constituents want a relationship. We talk so much about the importance of building relationships in the nonprofit world that it’s truly perplexing to still hear folks asking “do we really need to do social media?” 
 Social media is not only pervasive; it’s inherently ‘social’ — an act of attraction. It asks who’s interested?  Who wants to participate?
2.  Your constituents expect you to be where they are. Donors communicate information through a multitude of channels, and want to be connected to their causes constantly — on their own terms. If we’re not where our donors are, they’ll engage with someone else who is.
We’ve entered a new era in nonprofit marketing where Winging It with Social Media No Longer Works. You need to take control of your social media marketing with a donor-centered strategic plan. In a nutshell:
1.      Listen Assign someone to pay attention to what folks are saying.  Charge someone with responsibility to respond to constituent comments. Check out these free listening tools.
2.      Engage Have a purpose. Be intentional. Check out Need a Social Media Strategy? by Kivi Leroux Miller.
3.      Measure How are you measuring the return (qualitative; not just quantitative) on your investment of resources? Check out Do You Believe in Life After Likes?; How to build an engagement ladder, and Measuring the Networked Nonprofit: Using Data to Change the World.
4.      Integrate Combine social media with your other marketing strategies to assure consistent messaging. Check out How to Integrate Social Media with Traditional Media.
5.      Collaborate Don’t silo social media in a corner as the province of a lower-level staff member. Make it an organization-wide collaboration. Check out Beth Kanter and Alison Fine’s The Networked Nonprofit.
6.      Help (Don’t just sell) Don’t just push out stuff, asking people to do something for you.  Offer something of value.
Check out my full post on the subject on Windmill Networking  .  Then let me know what you think!

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About Claire

I’m Claire and I want to help you raise more money, reach more people and build long-lasting relationships with your supporters. Take a look in the archives.


  1. Great post! Where I volunteer we were just working on our social media strategy this week and the linked tools and tips are very helpful!

  2. Happy to be of service! Thanks for letting me know.

  3. Claire, like you, I'm surprised that the CFRE Review Course contains nothing about social media. I'm glad you're helping to fill-in the gap for folks. I think part of the problem with the use (or lack of use) of social media by the nonprofit sector is a lack of expertise and, particularly during these challenging times, concern about the ROI. Nevertheless, as you stated, nonprofits need to be where their donors and prospects are.

    For example, the latest report from Stelter reveals that planned gift donors and best prospects use a variety of social media tools:

    –Facebook, 39 percent
    –Google Plus, 19 percent
    –LinkedIn, 17 percent
    –Twitter, 6 percent
    –MyLife, 1 percent

    The report also found, “Almost one-fourth of major donors, current planned givers and best prospects in their 40s would like to connect with nonprofits on Facebook.” Donors and prospects are using social media. Smart development professionals will meet donors and prospects where they are. Folks can read more at:

    For those interested in learning what NOT to do with Twitter, as well as getting several links to useful information, please go to:

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