Nonprofits on Twitter: Poor and powerful tweets

Hardly anyone raises funds on Twitter. Maybe that’s okay; maybe Twitter just isn’t a fundraising medium.

But I have to wonder when I look at what nonprofit organizations do on Twitter: Maybe the reason it’s not working is the way it’s being used. Maybe organizations are tweeting in a way that doesn’t give donors any reason to give.

Let’s look at some common nonprofit Tweet practices. I think you’ll see why they aren’t motivating people to action.

Look at me tweets

Bad1

This is nothing but a jargon-filled statement of what the organization does. It’s one of the most common tweet types from nonprofits. Very few people really care what you do. Even fewer are going to care if you can’t bother to tell them in their own language, but rely on your internal jargon.

You’d be better off telling readers what they can do — with your organization as the channel for their compassion. (This particular tweet might be answering a question someone asked, which at least is a reason to be saying that they said.)

Note our awesomeness tweets

Bad2

Here’s another jargony sentence. It’s a little more specific than the one above, and that’s good. But not very good. A lot of the nonprofit Twittersphere is these Here’s what we’re doing and Here’s what we’re thinking messages. You’ve met people like this, who just talk on and on about themselves … it is no more interesting on Twitter than it is in real life. It’s not likely to move people to give, or do anything else.

Call to inaction tweets

Bad3

This one approaches a call to action, but doesn’t quite land there. In the end, it’s just as empty and navel-gazing as the other two.

The hashtag #780million is amusing. Hashtags are meant to make content findable. You’re supposed to use terms anyone would think of so that can search and find relevant tweets on that topic. For #780million to work, this would have to be the thought process of a significant number of people: Hmmm. I’m here on Twitter, wondering if there’s anything that there are 780 million of, and are they something of a humanitarian nature that I could do something about?

Two good examples

Some organizations are doing good things on Twitter. Like these:

Good1

This one points followers to something that may be of interest and connected to the cause. It’s a few steps away from fundraising, but it’s a believable step of engagement in a relationship.

Good2

This one provides useful information for a specific audience. That’s useful to someone, so it can be part of an ongoing relationship.

Just tweeting anything that comes into your head might be fine for teenagers. It’s not what nonprofits should be doing.


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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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