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ProSpeak

By Who's Up Next?

About ProSpeak

Essays about the nitty-gritty of fundraising, written by the people who do it every day

 

Ruthlessly Practical Fundraising

Gail Perry
How Fundraising Is Turning Into 'Fund Marketing'
Jan 28, 2015

Communications best practices merge the "fundraising" function and the "marketing/communications" function. So if you want to be successful at fundraising,...



Bedrocks & Beacons

Jeff Jowdy
7 Deadly Sins of Fundraising
Jan 28, 2015

A campaign to encourage board giving had too many foundational principles that were violated. Here are the seven deadly sins...



Navigating Off the Napkin

Angie Moore
Nonprofit Marketers: Do You Bring Full Value to the Table?
Jan 27, 2015

"Marketers" have unique roles within nonprofit organizations, but what about you and your direct marketing team?...



Connections

Jeff Schreifels
Being Authentic: The Only Way You Can Be as a Major-Gifts Officer
Jan 26, 2015

One of the greatest struggles as a major-gifts officer, and for colleagues who work with major donors, is to be...



Outside Counsel

Willis Turner
Story Styles That Open Readers' Wallets, Part 1
Jan 26, 2015

It takes a little extra effort, and often some extra homework, to make case studies compelling enough to persuade a...



Get What You Give

Joe Boland
2012 FS Lifetime Achievement Honoree Geoff Peters Named 2015 Max Hart Nonprofit Achievement Award Winner
Jan 23, 2015

The DMA Nonprofit Federation is honoring Geoff Peters, CEO of Moore Direct Marketing Group, for his dedicated service with the...



Pay It Forward

F. Duke Haddad
The Fundraiser's Daily Grind
Jan 23, 2015

To give it your best you must be on top of your game and give 100 percent. Our jobs are...



Old Dog Fundraising

Pamela Barden
Fundraisers: Let's Get Hungry Again
Jan 22, 2015

Often, the hungrier a fundraiser is, in terms of needing to acquire and retain donors, the more he or she...



Get Engaged

Margaret Battistelli
What's Cooking in 2015?
Jan 7, 2015

Here's your chance to chime in and help us paint a picture of trends and best practices across all aspects...



It's Your Turn

Larry C Johnson
Looking for Donors? It's Inside Out
Jan 22, 2015

Nonprofit boards should conduct peer solicitations of themselves annually. Doing so both raises the commitment levels of individual board members...



Donor Trippin'

Nick Allen
Is There an App for Us?
Jul 1, 2014

Got an idea for an app that could connect a charity or nonprofit with its supporters and beneficiaries in an...



Raising the Possibilities

Thaddeus B. Kubis
Recurring Themes: The Case for Integrated Marketing Communications, Part 2
Dec 27, 2013

Recent discussions focus on a myriad of topics, but in the past two months, the recurring targeted topics seem to...



Hump Day Hullabaloo

Jo Sullivan
Hump Day Hullaballoo: Sometimes It's Hell in the Hallway
May 22, 2013

This week, as I transition into my new position as interim executive director at Save the Chimps, we're talking about...



ProSpeak: The Dilemma of Social Media: Staten Island Museum

 
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Having recently attended a Bloomberg Philanthropies two-day social media workshop by VaynerMedia for small to medium-sized not-for-profit organizations, I had time to reflect on the topic that is on every marketing professional's mind these days: What is the return of our investment in social media — in my case for a general interest museum?

To answer this question, we need to think of the goals of our social-media strategies, which for many organizations are to increase attendance, participation and financial support. These goals determine how we use social media. All too often, we broadcast our programs and fundraising appeals in the traditional "push" approach, perhaps even using the same text as in our print materials. The result is the recipients do not "like" us and do not "follow" us.    

At the Staten Island Museum, the primary goal in social media is to raise awareness and engage new audiences. This is in line with what the team of VaynerMedia pointed out: To succeed in social media, you want to engage with your Facebook friends and Twitter community by sharing interesting content, tips and photos with them. If they like it, they will post it and share it with their friends, further helping more people gain awareness of your organization.

Now, the beauty of social media is that we can engage with and raise awareness among a population that normally does not come to the museum, i.e., teens to 30-year-olds. We have often seen that people visit the museum in an elementary school group and return only when they have children of their own or are older. In addition, social media allows us to be the resource that we envision to be: a museum without walls. That way, we stay connected with former program attendees or people that share our enthusiasm — in our case, those interested in arts, natural science and local history. 

So, how do we measure our social-media success? Intuitively, one might count the number of posts or, better, the increases in Facebook "likes" and Twitter "followers." Instead, the enthusiastic VaynerMedia team recommended a measure of engagement. Just having many people "liking" your organization or "following" you does not mean they are engaged or have built a relationship with your organization, nor does it guarantee that they will see your posts (an algorithm of past reactions to your posts determines the percentage of your fans that will be exposed to future posts).

Fortunately, Facebook provides some engagement numbers (e.g., virality), and with Twitter one could count favorites and retweets. Unlike the time lag between the placement of a traditional advertisement and consumer reaction, with social media you can measure the effect almost immediately and learn which posts are effective and which are not.

Social media experts like VaynerMedia advocate for as much personalized feedback as possible, and I wonder how to do this cost-effectively when the museum's social-media professional also handles all other marketing and PR, plus helps with special events.  Even with the right analytics, the critical question remains, how does all this engagement advance our mission and our organization?

From a financial standpoint, I do not see a great return of investment. Who knows if the kids in their 20s will join the museum in 30 years, and how can we be sure it was because of an interesting tip on Facebook? Of course, some people might donate and come to an event, but does that justify 50 percent of our marketing person's salary?

How much should we invest in Facebook and Twitter? Should we add Instagram to the mix? What about Tumblr and Foursquare? Will we be able to keep our followers if social platforms change? Just think of the ghost town that Myspace is today.

In the end, the dilemma is the same it has been in marketing and advertising for decades. As former U.S. General Postmaster John Wanamaker is attributed to have said: "Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don't know which half." 

Luckily for many not-for-profit organizations, engaging our audiences through social media is part of our mission and therefore not at all a waste of resources. We are social change agents, and taking the Staten Island Museum as an example, we want people to become familiar with the natural world, share with them classic and contemporary art, show them how their neighborhood changed over time, and most importantly, how they can participate in improving their community. Hopefully, this newly engaged citizenry will then also support the organizations that enlightened them.   

Henryk J. Behnke is vice president for external affairs and advancement at the Staten Island Museum, New York City's only general interest museum since 1881.

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