I attended a live discussion on The Chronicle of Philanthropy's web site about using social networking tools for fundraising . The guests were:
Chris Garrett - an Internet marketing consultant in Yorkshire, England, and author of ProBlogger: Secrets for Blogging Your Way to a Six-Figure Income.
John Haydon - a sales consultant in Boston and the publisher
and founder of the Web site corporatedollar.org, which offers marketing
advice to small nonprofit groups. Mr. Haydon is also the author of a
recently released electronic book, Twitter Jump Start: The Complete Guide for Small Nonprofits.
I took exception with some of the things they said. Here are some of my comments on their comments.
When asked if a nonprofit should use their organization name or a person's name when using Twitter, John Haydon said to use your face and your name, not the organization's name.
My comment on this recommendation was:
I would definitely NOT follow a nonprofit if it were an individual from
within the organization unless their CEO/E.D. - it devalues the
nonprofit's brand. That said, if that person is also well-known for
his/her work within the sector or at the nonprofit, I would follow them
not to find out about the nonprofit but to get insight into their
individual thinking. It is totally appropriate for a nonprofit to have
a Twitter account as the agency or organization.
Another person asked about the value of virtual worlds such as Second Life for raising funds for nonprofit organizations. Chris Garrett said "They can be interesting and draw a lot of attention for the novelty
factor, but the cost in money and time can be prohibitive and the
return on that investment is still unproven."
I sent in a comment that didn't make the final manuscript, however, here is the gist of what I said:
Second Life is used often by nonprofit organizations to raise funds. The biggest success story is Relay for Life (American Cancer Society) raising over $100,000 USD in their Second Life Relay for Life events. A smaller but no less successful example is the South Texas Celtic Music Association that supports Project Children through their virtual islands - West of Ireland - and events on Second Life. Their Second Life efforts bring in hundreds of dollars every month, enough each month to cover the flight of another child from Ireland to visit the United States, a part of their mission.
An important thing to keep in mind when reading about social media for social causes is that even the experts are trying to figure out what works because it is all such a new concept. Still, there are both success stories and failures that we can all learn from and hopefully not make the same mistakes.