How to spend all your time on social media and never raise a dime

Please! Give the poor nonprofit people a break! Do they think we’re sitting around twiddling our thumbs, waiting for something useful to do?

The Sprout Social Insights blog has posted 16 Social Media Sites Every Nonprofit Should Use.

That’s right — 16 sites every nonprofit should use! OMG! Are they kidding?

The must-use sites are Twitter, Twitpay, Facebook, Causes, YouTube, Flickr, Give2gether, Crowdrise, Change.org, HelpAttack!, Care2, Eventbrite, Meetup, DoSomething.org, Citizen Effect, and Socialbrite.

You could spend all your time trying to maximize (or even understand) these 16.

And some of the sites on this list are exceedingly silly and useless. I’d hate to see what didn’t make the list.

But even the well-established, highly trafficked, sensible sites there are not meaningful sources of donor revenue. The time you spend on these sites is almost entirely speculative. It’s fine to explore things that are likely to matter to us some day, but if you’re doing it at the expense of actually raising funds, you’re just being irresponsible.

Don’t listen to these social media dilettantes who think you can fritter away all your days on non-productive social media speculation.

Instead, focus on a real must-do list, like this one:


  • Direct mail
  • A properly functioning website
  • Email
  • Telemarketing
  • Major donor fundraising
  • Planned giving
  • The Combined Federal Campaign (for some, not all)

These things really can produce revenue, and they can do it now, not years from now.


Comments

20 responses to “How to spend all your time on social media and never raise a dime”

  1. Great post, Jeff. Thanks for pushing back!

  2. Great post, Jeff. Thanks for pushing back!

  3. Bravo. Well said. Thanks Jeff.

  4. Bravo. Well said. Thanks Jeff.

  5. Never a truer word – getting the basics right, and then excelling at them, is so much more important than worrying about today’s flavor of the week.

  6. Never a truer word – getting the basics right, and then excelling at them, is so much more important than worrying about today’s flavor of the week.

  7. Thanks for this, Jeff…
    My assumption is that you are NOT advocating for non-profits to ignore social media altogether, so how would you advise us to leverage it?

  8. Thanks for this, Jeff…
    My assumption is that you are NOT advocating for non-profits to ignore social media altogether, so how would you advise us to leverage it?

  9. Agree this is too many choices http://clairification.blogspot.com/2011/10/digital-darwinism-plus-ca-change-ce.html but we can’t pretend social media is going away. We need a disciplined plan. Choose something; then work it strategically. Social media is shaping our brands, whether we like it our not, and if we want to build relationships with our constituents we need to be part of the conversation. It may not be an avenue for major gifts, but every relationship starts somewhere. And online is the trending place to be.

  10. Agree this is too many choices http://clairification.blogspot.com/2011/10/digital-darwinism-plus-ca-change-ce.html but we can’t pretend social media is going away. We need a disciplined plan. Choose something; then work it strategically. Social media is shaping our brands, whether we like it our not, and if we want to build relationships with our constituents we need to be part of the conversation. It may not be an avenue for major gifts, but every relationship starts somewhere. And online is the trending place to be.

  11. The best use I’ve seen for social media is constituent service, not fundraising.
    I don’t know how much time anyone should spend on speculative activities like social media for fundraising, but I do know that if you’re doing it at the expense of communicating with your actual donors and raising real money, you’re doing it too much.

  12. The best use I’ve seen for social media is constituent service, not fundraising.
    I don’t know how much time anyone should spend on speculative activities like social media for fundraising, but I do know that if you’re doing it at the expense of communicating with your actual donors and raising real money, you’re doing it too much.

  13. I agree completely that doing social media at the expense of communicating with potential major donors face to face is a cop out (and not all that different from running an event as your primary form of fundraising). That being said, your particular use for social media will depend on your particular organization. If your constituents are primarily online, and will respond to online appeals in droves, then social media can strategically support your other campaign strategies. In addition, social media is a great awareness building strategy. You just must be sure that, like any other development strategy, you don’t leave it at that. If you have no plans to engage those with whom you are communicating via social media (i.e., take them to the next step), then it truly is a waste of time.

  14. I agree completely that doing social media at the expense of communicating with potential major donors face to face is a cop out (and not all that different from running an event as your primary form of fundraising). That being said, your particular use for social media will depend on your particular organization. If your constituents are primarily online, and will respond to online appeals in droves, then social media can strategically support your other campaign strategies. In addition, social media is a great awareness building strategy. You just must be sure that, like any other development strategy, you don’t leave it at that. If you have no plans to engage those with whom you are communicating via social media (i.e., take them to the next step), then it truly is a waste of time.

  15. Lucy Roberts Avatar
    Lucy Roberts

    So this site is supposed to be FUTURE fundraising now? Jokes.

  16. Lucy Roberts Avatar
    Lucy Roberts

    So this site is supposed to be FUTURE fundraising now? Jokes.

  17. That makes a lot of sense, thanks for the response.
    In the church start world we relied on social media to tell our story, and keep our donors in the loop about what was happening… but that was NOT our main avenue, and was not a substitute for phone calls, notes, and face to face interaction.

  18. That makes a lot of sense, thanks for the response.
    In the church start world we relied on social media to tell our story, and keep our donors in the loop about what was happening… but that was NOT our main avenue, and was not a substitute for phone calls, notes, and face to face interaction.

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The future of fundraising is not about social media, online video, or SEM. It’s not about any technology, medium, or technique. It’s about donors. If you need to raise funds from donors, you need to study them, respect them, and build everything you do around them. And the future? It’s already here. More.

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Jeff BrooksJeff Brooks has been serving the nonprofit community for more than 35 years and blogging about it since 2005. He considers fundraising the most noble of pursuits and hopes you’ll join him in that opinion. You can reach him at jeff [at] jeff-brooks [dot] com. More.


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The future of fundraising is not about social media, online video, or SEM. It’s not about any technology, medium, or technique. It’s about donors. If you need to raise funds from donors, you need to study them, respect them, and build everything you do around them. And the future? It’s already here. More.

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Jeff Brooks has been serving the nonprofit community for more than 30 years and blogging about it since 2005. He considers fundraising the most noble of pursuits and hopes you’ll join him in that opinion. You can reach him at jeff [at] jeff-brooks [dot] com.

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