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?
Reblog this post [with Zemanta]


Mazarine said...

What do foundations want to see in your tweet stream? Good question!

Best way to find out is to ask them. If they do not have any social media guidelines for you, then use your best judgment.

Put a logo at the bottom of your newsletter, or on your blog. Ask them if they like it before you send it, or make it live. Make any adjustments or changes they request. Don't put their logo top, front, center. I don't think your branding needs such a huge logo that people get confused about who the email is from.

And of course, use this practice to begin your social media policy about foundation acknowledgment.

Thanks for such a thought-provoking post!

Robyn McIntyre said...

Definitely the placement of your or your grantor's logo can confuse, and especially when your nonprofit is a small one, confusion can be deadly. Thanks for coming by!

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.