As budgets and fundraising levels for non-profits get smaller, more organizations are turning to using social networking online as an essential part of their overall marketing strategy. Non-profits see online social media as an inexpensive way to build relationships, increase involvement, and help out with publicity and education efforts.
According to the Nonprofit Social Network Survey conducted in March 2009 by NTEN, Common Knowledge, and ThePort, social networking has become an increasingly important part of nonprofits’ online strategy.
This survey provides a rare snapshot of how non-profit organizations are embracing and using social media online, and provides concrete evidence that the use of social networking is becoming essential to a successful non-profit marketing plan.
- Of the 929 survey respondents, nearly three-quarters (74.1%) of non-profits reported having a presence on Facebook, with an average community size of 5,391 members. YouTube (46.5%) and Twitter (43.2%) were cited as alternate social networking tools.
- Despite having decreased resources, staffing and budgets for social network marketing on commercial social networks, like Facebook, are real although relatively small. Over 80% of respondents are committing at least one-quarter of a full-time staff person to social networking online. Additionally, more than half (55%) of survey respondents intend to increase social networking staffing over the next twelve months.
- Funding for external resources dedicated to helping social networking online is also expected to increase, according to nearly one-quarter (24.1%) of respondents.
- The survey revealed that social networks provide little real revenue for non-profits via fundraising, and are mainly utilized for traditional marketing efforts (promoting their website, email lists, and events.)
Non-profit organizations are realizing that while social networking online may not directly translate into fundraising dollars, by using social networking as a part of their marketing plan, they are able to engage supporters and prospective donors by building relationships, as well as gaining trust and loyalty towards their cause. Social networking also allows non-profit organizations a cost effective way to promote events, educate and raise awareness, and ultimately, create an ongoing conversation and involvement between the organization and its supporters.