Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Why social networking is important for non-profits

One of my clients asked me to come up with a bulleted list of why social networking matters to non-profits. The list is in response to a reporter's query for a fairly specific article, but I thought the bullets were important to share nonetheless. I've edited some words for confidentiality, but the general ideas remain:
  • We're very enthusiastic about social networking and we've invested in making it one of our outreach efforts for '08. It will allow us to reach out to audiences that haven't traditionally been involved with [our organization] - like younger people, and people who are new to [our area] - in very exciting ways.
  • Social networking is a fantastic tool for non-profits because it's relatively inexpensive, it allows for an ongoing, two-way dialog between the organization and the people it serves, and gives passionate people a platform to talk about causes and organizations that are important to them.
  • [Our organization] truly began as a social network - a network of people who cared about [our state]'s at-risk youth and who wanted to work together to make sure they had access to the best possible opportunities. We've always valued grassroots efforts and we're pleased to see this online phenomenon of social networking reinforce these fundamental values.
  • Social networking is still taking form as a communication mechanism, which is why it's important for non-profits to begin exploring it as a tool now, rather than waiting until later. Non-profits can actually help influence the development of the social networking space if we join the conversation early.
  • Social networking allows everyone at [our organization], from the Executive Director to the kids who receive our help, to take part in the conversation. No one voice is more important than any other, and some of the more interesting conversations begin in unlikely places. We would be missing out on that rich exchange without these new technologies.

7 comments:

Tutor Mentor Connections said...

I lead the Tutor/Mentor Connection, which has been building a network of volunteer based tutor/mentor programs and supporters for the past 30 years. The Internet has dramatically expanded the range of knowledge we find, and the range of people we network and exchange ideas with. It contributes to a high Google listing when searching the words "tutor mentor" and this draws people from around the world to our site, which constantly expands our network.

Dustin said...

Hello, I am a young activist working for a small non-profit in Irapuato, Mexico called "Fundacion Comunitario de Bajio." The FundaciĆ³n works with communities in central Mexico with limited access to critical services, infrastructure, and economic opportunities. One of its (and my) primary concerns is the quality of life of Mexican immigrants to the states and their families. The Fundacion is a small, struggling organization that is always on the lookout for funding or resource possibilities. It is about to start a networking campaign to reach into the U.S. but is unsure how to do so. I post this in hopes that more comments will follow with suggestions and ideas for our organization. If anyone sees this post and is interested in finding out more, please email me at dustinking82@gmail.com.

Leyla Farah said...

Tutor/Mentor - Thanks for your comments - you're just one more example of how social networking and other online tools can enrich any organization who uses them well and wisely. Well done!

Leyla Farah said...

Dustin - does your organization have a website? I googled "Fundacion Comunitario de Bajio" and came up empty handed. If you're looking to start a networking campaign online, start by getting at least a one page site up - you could use MySpace or Facebook to put up something for free - then add donation widgets, start collecting email addresses, and participate in discussions like this one to attract attention to your cause. Good luck!

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