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When I started blogging every day, I decided to use my Saturday blogs to promote the way one non-profit organization is using social media effectively. I really believe that social media and non-profits are meant for each other and there are going to be real leaps in the way advocacy, awareness-building and fundraising are going to be accomplished via Web 2.0. However, my quest for a non-profit to spotlight every Saturday has at times been frustrating. It has not been easy to find stellar examples of effective social media usage. So, I have decided to modify my Saturday mandate. I am now going to throw the spotlight on organizations when I find really exciting examples. At other times, I will focus on non-profits but not necessarily on any one organization.

Now that the prologue is out of the way, here is today’s issue. There is much debate about whether generating support on social media always translates to real world monetary benefit. Examples such as the Causes Facebook App, which has since migrated off Facebook to take a different approach, are used to make the case that just having a lot of followers or Likes does not generate the funds like they did in President Obama’s social media campaign.

The original premise that people are likely to do good if their social circle looks on approvingly has not always come true. In reality:

  • Many people prefer to give privately.
  • Sometimes a person is happy to promote a cause but cannot fund every cause they Like.
  • In an environment where one can Like everything from the a bright sunny day to a kitchen sink, additional definition is needed to make a cause prompt actual action.

Targeted fundraising, such as $100.00 to dig a well in a specific village, seems to generate more response than generalized fundraising. This used to be true in the time of print media and seems to have carried over to the world of social media as well. Lessons learnt from old school fundraising are still going to be useful in the context of social media campaigns also.

It is hard to get the actual numbers in terms of how much a non-profit has generated from a social media campaign and so there will always be skepticism about whether social media, such as Twitter and Facebook, can directly benefit non-profits. The Likes and the followers help to create a pool of empathetic listeners and supporters and while it may not immediately lead to an out-pouring of funds, it is a great first step in effective outreach and fundraising.