Today's NonProfit Times' newsletter has two contradictory posts - one encouraging users to take advantage of the fund raising potential social networking - and one announcing that social networking is already dead.
This contradiction actually mirrors the difficulty many of us have when trying to counsel our client organizations to take the plunge into social networking. So many organizations are reluctant to burden staff with one more task, and so many are barely able to maintain their main website. Why should they make the additional effort if they don't absolutely have to?
The truth is that the benefits of communicating effectively - regardless of the tools one uses to communicate - far outweigh the burdens. Good communications save time and effort because they help minimize confusion, help increase your organization's ability to reach new and existing supporters, and they help ensure that you get the most favorable press coverage possible.
Tools are just tools. Social networking tools, when used strategically, are a great way to help build your organization's network. If your organization uses other tools to use for that purpose, it's worth evaluating whether or not social networking tools would be more - or less - effective. If you don't currently use any tools to build your organization's network, ask yourself why you don't? What would your organization gain if you did?
Since non-profits rely on their networks of supporters in more ways than for-profit organizations, rejecting tools designed to communicate effectively with that network is short-sighted at best. As your network of supporters ages out of printed mail and email - as young people are doing in droves - what's your strategy for communicating with them?
Organizations that eliminate social networking as a communications option will miss out on the opportunities it holds.