Leveraging Social Media Data Across Your Entire Nonprofit


7 Things to Think About Before You Implement a Fundraising System

Social media typically has been isolated to a particular department (often marketing) within nonprofits. But now, its value can be realized across multiple departments in the organization.

And before you clutch your chest at the idea of your department chairs getting their own Twitter accounts, let me clarify that the rest of the organization will gain value — not from posting content, but from studying the data you can acquire from social media.

Data from social media can help your entire organization make more qualified, more informed, and better decisions.

Here’s an example. When working with the  National Wildlife Federation two years ago, thanks to the leadership of Danielle Brigida (@starfocus) and Jaime Matyas (@ecosoccermom), they were open and willing to discuss ideas, but the value of social media just didn’t click for the “non-social” parts of the organization. Yet, when I met with them recently, we discussed how we could help specific departments, and we set up meetings with some of them.

When we told the director of membership that we knew what people were retweeting the most and commenting about on their Facebook page, he was moderately interested. But when we told him we could learn what current members, and even lapsed members, were most passionate about, his eyes lit up, he sat up straight in his chair, and said, “When can I get the first report?”

When social media can provide qualified and specific details on how to make improvements to campaigns, appeals, etc. — the kind of improvements that will drive direct, tangible results — then that’s not just magic. That’s return on investment (ROI)!

Let’s shift over to major giving. Bear with me while I use an example from the commercial world.

Famous sales coach, Jack Daly (@Ironmanjack), recently wrote about leveraging social media data for sales prospecting. Jack suggests that crafting a successful sales pitch using the Internet is not about changing the method with which you connect to your prospects (you still call them, meet them in person, etc.), it’s about taking the opportunity to learn more about them before you reach out to them.  You can use social intelligence to learn more about what’s on their minds, how they communicate with their peers, and what’s important to them personally…right now.

Jack Daly’s recommendations for leveraging social media data to increase sales:

  1. Gather pre-call intelligence that really engages your prospect
  2. Make you and your company extremely relevant
  3. Speak to their issues that matter most
  4. Ask them the right questions that move them to buying from you

The commercial world is a bit different from the nonprofit sector, yes, but so many of the factors that drive success are the same. The more we know about our donor prospects, the better we will do at making that win-win connection and deepening the relationship of the heart, no matter if it’s individually for researchers or gift officers, or with larger groups for membership, events, direct mail or advocacy.

Why? Because better relationships, built faster, have a direct impact on your organization’s bottom line. People are more likely to donate, and give significantly more money to an organization with a mission proven to be relevant to their lives, right now.

So, back to that point about ROI. As we enter what I call the “Impact Phase” of social media’s lifespan, I would argue that nonprofits are in a better position than any industry to take full advantage of what is now possible, because so much of what it takes to achieve their missions hinges on the quality of their relationships with donors and advocates.

Who in your nonprofit do you think would benefit most from knowing more about their target market and what they are passionate about, right now?


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