I couldn't agree more. There's no way for your organization's staff to reach out to everyone who might be interested in your work. You couldn't possibly find them all - let alone find a way to contact them. More importantly, people tend to pay attention to things that are introduced to them via a friend or trusted contact. While you may grow to play that role in the lives of your supporters - you certainly won't begin your relationship with them that way.
In truth, this is exactly how things have always worked for non-profit organizations. A small group of active supporters recruits new supporters from their circle of friends - those friends recruit new supporters - and so on. This same behavior has simply moved online. The only new element is that organizations now have the ability to fuel this word-of-mouth growth by providing supporters with web-based tools and information to pass along to their friends. It's a win-win situation - if you're willing to do the work it takes to create those tools and make them available online.
Here are the tips offered by today's newsletter (I've edited them down a bit for length) - all of which mirror my own previous posts on this topic -
- Pick one social networking channel in which to get involved. Try Change.org, Facebook or MySpace. Or set up a blog. [...] It's better to have a strong presence in one network than to spread your organization too thin across Web 2.0.
- Search the Change.org network, Facebook Causes or MySpace pages for a nonprofit with a similar mission as yours. See who their "friends" are and invite them to your cause once you're up and running.
- Make it easy for supporters to find you. [...] Name your social networking page exactly as your organization is named. Again, have a strong presence in one channel rather than all of them. [...]
- Build your [list of supporters..] give them a strong call to action to supply their email address to you so you can contact them later.
- [...] empower [your supporters] to share your charity with others: ask them to recruit friends to volunteer for you, create a charity badge and invite them to post it on their own blogs and social networking sites.