Best of Social Change Consulting, Year One. #2 Small Nonprofits vs. Big Nonprofits
So many resources available online today espouse the need for nonprofits to be online and social. To substantiate their claims, they list highly regarded research in the area that show the nonprofits currently having success. But just because two organizations are nonprofits, doesn’t mean they are at all alike, especially when it comes to size, scope, and income. Our second favorite post from the last year touches on this – Small Nonprofits vs. Big Nonprofits.
According to the most recent NTEN Social Media Benchmark study, nonprofits average 8,317 likes on Facebook. We have seen this statistic circulated widely showing the success that nonprofits are having in the social media space. But buried at the bottom of the report is the description of who they contacted for this survey – and while 46% of respondents self-reported their income as less than $1M annually, these nonprofits will be dwarfed in surveys like this if when using statistics like averages. One organization represented in this survey has an annual income of over $250M – does that sound like your nonprofit?
So many guides and pieces of advice given from consultants, online webinars, and white papers are not focused on smaller NPO’s – the advice they give and the examples they use oftentimes are related to some of the largest nonprofits in the country. For example, while mobile giving through text messaging has proven successful for organizations like the American Red Cross, how would this same model be implemented to an organization whose email size is 300 names? How can social media be leveraged for an organization who currently has 200 fans and is in a small community? How do you justify expanding into the social media space with so few resources?
As is true across many different industries and marketing tools, but is especially so with social media, an important tenant to remember is that you get out of it what you put into it. For nonprofits who are not putting resources and time into creating engaging content, reaching out to other nonprofits, or building a social media community, they will likely never see the end results that are being touted to them by major social media proponents. But there are still ways to show that social media is valuable even on a small scale, and it is here that smaller nonprofits can engage their community and find value.
Building on an online community takes time. If you want this fan base to grow, you have to first decide the strategy behind using social media. Do you want to build a community, drive traffic to your website, source a new donor pool? Next you need to determine your target audience. Finally, you can start crafting content and working towards building up your community. And while these pieces of advice hold true regardless of the size of your nonprofit, the numbers and success stories will look different.
As we continue to work with smaller nonprofits and help guide them in this tricky social media realm, our hope is to share the success stories and results both here in this blog, but also continue to update our Resources page. You don’t have to be a multi-million dollar nonprofit to find success in social media – don’t let the major reports and benchmark studies discourage you from entering this valuable space.