Friday, January 22, 2010

How Big? How Long? The Grantor’s Branding and Your Small Nonprofit

Social Media Process v. 1.0Image by Damien Basile via Flickr

Anyone using the internet must have heard by now that social media is where you should be, regardless of whether you’re a big for-profit or a small non-profit. Less clear may be the admonishment to have a policy about social media, but you need one. It needs to spell out a lot of things including who’s going to be in charge of what and what you hope to get out of the whole interaction. Okay, don’t get me started on the fact that your small nonprofit can’t control what’s going to be said and if you aren’t ready to hear it and react to it – positively – you shouldn’t even go there.

What About Acknowledgments?

But, IF you are there, and your small nonprofit gets grants or is fortunate enough to be both recipient and dispenser of funding, make sure you know how acknowledgements are supposed to be handled. You know, the display of the grantor’s logo and the language that supposed to be displayed with it on your website, your marketing materials, your signage; “…made possible, in part, by a grant from…” When considering social media, where is the grantor’s logo supposed to be displayed? How big? How much text?

On Facebook, I saw an update by a small nonprofit acknowledging their debt to another small nonprofit for funding. The funder’s logo was smack at the beginning of the post and quite large, making me think that the post was actually BY the grantor rather than the grantee. It wasn’t until I read further into the message that I realized I’d been mistaken. And I wondered if the grantor would have been just as surprised as I.

Surely, they wouldn’t require THAT big a presence in the grantee’s social media posts – at least not EVERY time. Or would they?

How Do They Know What You Want, If You Don't?

As it happens I know both of the small nonprofits involved and although I’ve yet to get any details, I’m sure neither one of them has a policy in place covering this.

Further, I know the granting nonprofit receives grants from larger grantors which are then passed along to the micro nonprofits, and I’ve sent an email asking if the large foundations have policies in place that require the use of THEIR branding in the social media announcements of those receiving re-granted money.

Maybe it isn’t earth-shaking stuff. At this point in the development of social media use by small nonprofits, it’s probably just something to be aware of when applying for grants. But, if it’s YOUR small nonprofit doing the funding, maybe it’s something you ought to pay a bit of attention to. What’s reasonable for a sign or a programme or even a blog or website may not be reasonable when you can’t easily sit a logo in the middle of an update or if you’re limited to 140 characters (120, if you’re hoping for a retweet). Perhaps one tweet a day acknowledging the funder is enough, or maybe you’d like more. But then you come up against the fact that Twitter won’t accept multiple exact-worded posts within a certain time span. Do you keep on social media restrictions and how flexible is your policy?

Post timing can make a difference, as well. If your acknowledgment is posted at a slow time in your community, will anyone see it? How important is that to you?

Thought Definitely Required

Maybe you want to have a clause in the contract about following guidelines for social media with respect to your small nonprofit’s acknowledgment and keep the guidelines themselves as a separate document to be updated as needed and readily available on your website.

In any case, if you fund grants and you haven’t had a conversation with your E.D. about this subject, don’t you think it’s time to schedule one?
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Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Social Media Has Not Killed Email - And Don't Let Your Small Nonprofit Do It, Either

Still-Life with a Skull, vanitas painting.
Social media hasn’t killed email.

More than once I’ve read a blog post or seen someone on TV or streaming video saying that social media is putting email in its coffin and every tweet or ping is another nail. Don’t you believe it. Social media and Email are complementary tools that should be used as fully and responsibly as possible.

Email is probably still your most effective tool at reaching your constituents with a specific, tailored message. If it wasn’t, would Constant Contact, MailChimp or iContact still be in business?

Think of social media as a cocktail party or the farmer’s market – the opportunity to interact quickly with others is great. But it’s noisy, topics change quickly, and everyone’s talking at once so you don’t really have anyone’s undivided attention.

Shine On

Email gives your small nonprofit a chance to shine – not in terms of “Gee, aren’t we swell!” but more in terms of “This is what we’re about and we want to know what you’re about, too.” If folks weren’t interested, they wouldn’t have signed up to receive your emails, but you’ve got to make those emails worthwhile or they may opt out. That means the emails can’t be so much about you, as they are about how others are using what you do. It’s about their story.

Use Email:
  • To be transparent – tell them when your board meetings are, introduce them to your board members and tell them about how board members are elected
  • To embrace – tell them about what others in the community are doing and how they’re making a difference and why it matters to your organization
  • To educate – tell them about laws or events that may or already have affected your community and your mission
  • To thank – if someone has done something noteworthy that deserves thanks, don’t wait to put it in the next quarterly newsletter, send out a short note by email; good news should travel fast
Use email to tell people – with feeling – about the why of your small nonprofit and the how and the who more than the what. And don’t forget to tell them how to connect with you using social media – noisy parties can be fun and informative and help maintain and deepen those connections you’re making with your community through email outreach.

Social Media hasn’t killed Email. Don’t you kill it either.


Item: your small nonprofit may be having trouble juggling your various social media accounts. Tools like may help get your posts out to more places while allowing you to make sure the message is consistent. Big caveat, though – it’s not for interacting – communication is strictly one way.  However, if Twitter is your favorite microblogging service, you may be glad to know that Ping has been purchased by Seesmic. (disclosure - no profit made here, folks)

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