Tuesday, March 24, 2015

It's Not Just How You Say It, But Where And When

By Yevy Photography, on Flickr 
Communication is a word we use a lot in social media because that is what social media is about: creating a relationship with others by communicating with them. But how is communication defined as a strategy?

ONE is an international NGO whose mission is to end extreme poverty by 2030. In a recent article for Stanford's Social Innovation Review, Jamie Drummond and Roxane Philson of ONE described what they have learned from using social media to support their efforts. 

These insights are what stood out for me:
  • Strong and simple declarations can clarify complex issues, provide impact to your messages, and help shape public policy discussions. ONE used the statements "Drop the Debt," "We're about justice, not charity," and "We're not asking for your money, we're asking for your voice."
  • Know your platforms. Facebook drives half of ONE's web traffic, but their focus is on personal interaction. To get quick action, they use Twitter, where the majority of their political targets are active.
  • Know your activists and how best to inform them. Email is still a player for ONE; their activists respond most strongly to email calls to action.
  • The only constant in social media is change. Stay aware of new platforms or changes to existing ones. Be willing to adapt to new messaging channels.
  • It's not just the numbers. ONE's YouTube videos got a lot of attention, but they know they need to figure out how to convert those watchers into action takers who will move policymakers.
To read the entire article, go here.

Good Deal of The Week:

OnGood is hosting a free webinar on the math and science of social media with 20 tips and tricks, April 2, 2015. Here's the description:
More than a decade into the Social Web, mathematicians and social scientists have had ample time to study how, when, and why online individuals engage with NGOs on social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Most NGOs are not yet aware of the scientific data about online social behavior, but once learned NGOs can significantly improve their use of social networks to communicate their mission and programs and fundraise online. Based on the math and science of social media, this webinar will feature 20 tips and tricks to maximize engagement on social networks. 
To learn more and register, go here.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

To Crowdfund or Not to Crowdfund

Fractured Atlas had a great article on putting together a crowdfunding video (read it here), which made me think about crowdfunding in general.

In a recent Twitter chat I was on, one of the participants opined that crowdfunding was the same as begging, and a couple of other participants agreed. I don't.

Obviously, the couple that asks people to crowdfund their wedding celebration and honeymoon maybe be taking things too far. But in some cultures, it's okay to pin cash to the bride's dress during a dance to help the newly-married couple get off to a good financial start. What's the difference between that and crowdfunding a wedding? Reciprocation.

Crowdfunding is Reciprocation

If I ask for money and you have no idea what I'm going to use it for, that's begging. If you ask me for money to be used for you and you alone, for whatever purpose (even if it involves food or shelter), that's begging. But if you ask for money and tell me that you will use it for feeding other people or teaching illiterate seniors to read or launching a new public museum, that's crowdfunding.

Obviously, nonprofits have been crowdfunding for years. And so have inventors and filmmakers. Any time you ask people to invest in money in your ideas with an expectation of receiving something in return - even if it's only a line of credit among hundreds of others - you are crowdfunding.

What has changed over the technologically innovative last few years is how we may go about crowdfunding. We may use the tried and true direct mail or we may be experimenting with creating a YouTube channel, an Instagram account, or using Kickstarter or GoFundMe.

How well any of these platforms work will depend on:

  • How much planning we've done
  • How much time we put into the elements involved
  • How we have cultivated and engaged with our community to promote trust
  • How well we communicate what our plans are and how we will reciprocate
  • How well we follow up on our promises

No, crowdfunding isn't begging and nonprofits - particularly very small ones - should be evaluating every possible avenue to raise funds. If we don't, we are not doing our jobs.