Gayle Thorsen (pictured at left) is back with another great article to share with us here at Step By Step Fundraising! Over the past year, Gayle has been kind enough to share with us her recent articles from her blog ImpactMax.
Gayle has been in the nonprofit communications world for more than 25 years, the last 12 as the communications head for two large foundations:The Minneapolis Foundation and The McKnight Foundation.
Take a few minutes to visit ImpactMax and read all the terrific articles Gayle has posted there. It will be time very well spent! Thanks, Gayle!
Blogs vs. Facebook for Nonprofits
Over the past few months, I’ve helped a couple nonprofit clients who are ready to move into social media decide whether to go with a blog or Facebook. (I’ll talk about Twitter strategies in a future post. It’s kind of a different animal.)
Most approach it as an either/or decision because of their limited staff resources. That’s a real concern. If you truly don’t have the staff time to blog at least once a week or make a Facebook update twice a week, you shouldn’t be considering either medium.
If you do have adequate staff resources, go back to your strategic communications plan to make this decision. You have to start there—with what you want to happen as a result of your communications efforts. (If you need help with strategic communications planning, here’s the first part of my four-part DIY series.)
Each organization has unique goals and needs, they have to drive your choice. Don’t be seduced into thinking that because everyone’s on Facebook or such-and-such an organization has a blog, that you have to do the same thing. Do it only if it supports your strategic communications goals.
Here are a few hypothetical examples of how different organizations might make this decision. (There are many factors to consider in these decisions, but because these are hypotheticals I’m going to keep it simple.)
Nonprofit A relies mostly on foundation funding. It’s identified program officers, board members, and executive staff from current and potential funders as its key communications audiences, and the priority goal is to keep those people impressed with and supportive of its work.
Nonprofit B has a very different communications goal. That organization is dependent on individual contributions and volunteers, so it’s crucial to engage, feed, and continuously grow its fan base to keep support levels consistently high.
Nonprofit C has developed a brand that emphasizes knowledge sharing and leadership. One of its priority communications goals is to be recognized by local partners, peers, and other influencers as THE knowledge source on a particular issue.
With limited funds and staff time—where do each of these nonprofits begin branching out to more social media: a blog or Facebook? (For now, let’s assume they have no other social media presence.)
Here’s what I’d probably advise.
Although Facebook can be a very engaging medium, given the demographics and motivation of senior foundation staff, I’m not sure Facebook is where they will go first to find out about a nonprofit’s work. I’d say, first make your website and email newsletters very compelling for this audience, and work up a series of personal interactions that gets your CEO in front of key members. If you want something more—then consider a blog.
Facebook is fun, but blogs can be more professional and credible sources of information for this particular audience. Once embedded (I recommend embedding blogs in websites in most cases), they also add badly needed dynamism to a website. I also believe that a blog can go farther in advancing your brand than Facebook can—after all you own and control it, not some third party.
Not only can Facebook help increase the size of your fan base, it can encourage and enable peer-to-peer fundraising and individual contributions to your campaigns and volunteer participation. It’s an exciting interactive medium for cultivating relationships, but do think through the demographics of Facebook before making a commitment. The key here is full integration with your website, email, direct mail, and all other social hubs you eventually develop. Remember, Facebook is one step on a much longer path to lasting engagement. Clearly understand the tactics and media you’re going to use to guide that new Facebook friend down the path. Here are some interesting “onboarding” ideas from a past post.
If you’d like to continue reading this great article, please click on over to Gayle’s blog at ImpactMax!