Why nonprofits need social media

Social media is widely used by millennials and marketers. These networks are a vital way to connect with your constituents, but many nonprofits struggle to implement a social media strategy. In some cases, charities may let misconceptions about social media hold them back. Other organizations may have trouble choosing the right platforms for their particular audiences. Engaging with donors through the Internet is especially important for foundations that accept donations online

Myths about social media 
Some nonprofits believe they have to choose online engagement or real-world connections, but the two aren't mutually exclusive, according to The Chronicle of Philanthropy. Social media shouldn't be seen as a secondary approach. Many young adults share their lives online every day, and they expect this from the organizations they interact with. 

Social media can require a lot of effort to do correctly, and many charities don't have the time or are worried their employees and volunteers can't be trusted. However, nonprofit employees are one of the best resources your organization has because many of these individuals are deeply passionate about your cause. With social media training, they can make meaningful connections with donors. Social networks provide a valuable two-way communication path for charities and their constituents. 

Social media helps you connect with an audience you wouldn't reach otherwise
Direct mail has long been a popular nonprofit marketing channel and many organizations have added email to their strategies. While these tactics can be highly effective, direct mail and email aren't as successful for connecting with individuals who haven't contributed to your nonprofit previously because you need their contact information. In addition, email marketing has a number of regulations, such as donors need to opt in before you can contact them through this channel. 

You need to already have a relationship with contributors before direct mail and email can be used effectively. Social media doesn't have this same barrier to entry. Many users are online every day, an e-book from Salsa Labs stated. These networks have high potential for nonprofits. In 2012, charities grew their Twitter followers by 264 percent. During the same year, click-thrus and response rates went down for fundraising emails.

Multichannel strategies are more effective
Ultimately, there isn't a single tactic that is best for engaging your entire audience. An integrated marketing strategy that combines events, direct mail, email and social media leads to donors who are four times more valuable than contributors who interact with your organization through a single channel. Online and offline engagement can deepen constituents' connection to your organization, the e-book pointed out. 

However, with the large numbers of adult donors who are online every day, nonprofits may be missing a huge opportunity if they aren't utilizing social media. The millennial generation alone - defined by the e-book as those born between the late 1970s and early 2000s - contains more than 80 million people. Because this generation was the first to grow up with the Internet, many of them of highly tech savvy. In addition, millennials will be the activists of the future, so it's important to engagement with them through the channels they use. 

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