using social media for non-profits (part 1)

In the lead-up to SMCSYD event 11: – Lessons learned from Not for Profits – Local effort, Global Effect, I thought it might be useful to investigate some actual case studies of not-for-profits using social media.

I’d already heard of the World Vision / Old Spice parody, but I knew there were more ideas out there.

I put the charity water used a twitter festival to raise $USD250,000 and a lot of awareness around the global water crisis.

World Vision also sent a number of vloggers (video bloggers) to see what they were doing in Zambia and create videos about it.

A few people linked to this mashable article about using foursquare for awareness raising about your non-profit. I suspect that this would be a better strategy in the US, where there’s more of a critical mass of foursquare users. In Australia, you would struggle to reach beyond the social media echo-chamber to the average person.

The footprints network shows when someone has donated to one of their projects in real time, adding to the sense of social proof around making donations.

Matrix on Board are a group that are helping NFPs work more efficiently, but don’t seem to have a clear social media presence.

A couple of people pointed me towards Edward Harran and Beth Kanter as people who are doing good work in the NFP space.

The good people at SM2 pointed me in the direction of a few sites:

  • Dana Elizabeth McCaffery – a facebook group (34,000+ likes) set up in memory of a little girl who died at four weeks old from Whopping cough, a disease that can be prevented if the wider community is properly immunised. With an issue like this one of the big challenges is people who have strong feelings on either side of the immunisation debate. (info and stats, and crikey coverage).
  • working wonders is a Brisbane-based charity for the Royal Children’s Hospital raising money for sick kids: – they’re using twitter, facebook, and YouTube to connect with their volunteers. Had their best spike in fans with a fan-raising promotion where they were offering fashion week tickets
  • Melanoma PatientsMelanoma Patients Australia on facebook (500+ likes) help Melanoma patients learn about treatment options and provides them with a support network. By creating an event for their first ever annual charity ball, they managed to sell out with 2 weeks to go, and improved their number of fans too.

As with any social campaign, engaging in this space will take time and resources. If you don’t have a clear idea of who you’re trying to communicate with, and what you want to get out of the communication, then you don’t have a measure of success to head for.

Other Resources:

I’m still waiting for some others to get back to me, so I’ll leave it there for now: let me know if you have any other case studies so that this post can be a useful reference point for other not-for-profits.

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