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Social Media for the Forgotten

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Social media is transforming the way that charitable organizations attract support from volunteers and potential funders. Twitter, Facebook and YouTube are no longer just ways for teenagers to catch up with friends, but rather a way for businesses and organizations to expand their influence and capture the attention of larger audiences.

Social media can help your organization reach people that otherwise would have never known about your cause, and can help you build a reputation. As you build an online presence by becoming active with Facebook and Twitter, information about your mission will gain greater visibility and your organization will become more credible and funding worthy.

Increased Visibility = More Cash

Considering that successful fundraising is a huge component to any non-profit, it's important that your organization receives positive feedback that's observable by a large audience. You want a lot of people to see the great work you are doing how it is changing lives. Researchers have found that organizations that use social networking websites to communicate regularly with their audiences resulted in a 40% increase in fundraising profits.

For huge organizations that are well established such as the Red Cross, it's a lot easier to reach a large audience that is interested in their work. For smaller organizations, it is a lot harder to achieve this level of reputability, however social media can be a great tool for attracting the right kind of attention. Before the social networking explosion, it was a lot harder to for organizations to sustain themselves in small communities and reach out to the donors abroad.

Word of Mouth vs. Social Media

Many small non-profit organizations heavily rely on word of mouth to spread information about their mission within a given community. Social media helps expand this type of advocacy because as you receive more attention on social media websites, you will appeal to more volunteers that will help spread the word about your work. This in turn will attract more volunteers to your organization and increase your exposure to additional funding.

Additionally, with social media, the amount and quality of information that reaches the public is in your hands. By becoming active in social media websites such as Facebook, you can create a fan page for your organization so that people can get updates about the progress your organization has made and see how many more volunteers are becoming involved. Personalized recommendations from volunteers are also visible here, and people that come across the page are able to see that your organization is worth volunteering for.

Social Media Triumphs for a Cambodian Non-Profit

An example of how social media has helped one international non-profit succeed is the story behind Save Poor Children in Asia (SCAO). It's a small organization based in Phnom Penh, Cambodia that was founded by a man named Sath Samith and his wife. They wanted to provide underprivileged children in the region with the opportunity to receive an education. It was a small organization with so much potential, however they relied mainly on passing travelers and word of mouth to attract volunteers and donations.

A couple years ago, the Web Success Team and other friends traveled to Southeast Asia and had the opportunity to visit SCAO and learn about what they were doing. Since then, the website was completely re-designed, online donations were made possible, and networking profiles were created. The SCAO Facebook group and page have proved to be wonderful ways for volunteers to connect, share their experiences, and stay updated with what has been going on at the orphanage.

Through the combined efforts of social media and many dedicated volunteers, SCAO raised enough money to expand their impact and build an additional school. Now, all the children have shoes and uniforms, they go to regular visits at the dentist, they are learning English and receiving an education that has inspired some to continue on to college.

Regardless of the quality of the organization, without the help of social networking sites to expand the visibility of SCAO's impact, perhaps the amount of volunteers supporting them today wouldn't be as abundant. The power and potential that social media has to change the world is endless - it's just a matter time before every small organization with a dream is able to become a credible, life-changing institution.



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