Shelby and I are on the road this week but have no fear because #shehechat will take place at its normal time at 8 p.m. CST Thursday. We’ll just be tweeting from a pretty cool revolving bar in the French Quarter in New Orleans.
Recently I was asked to participate in a panel discussion about social media for nonprofits by the Grantwriters Roundtable of Greater Milwaukee. As a small business owner I was a little surprised at the request but agreed after speaking with the event organizers. Nonprofits, after all, have the same goals as a small business.
First, you want to spread the word about the work you do. You want to build a loyal following of fanatical fans. Then, you want those fans to help you bring more revenue into your enterprise so you can keep doing the good work that you do. It’s funny that when I stopped focusing solely on the profitability of my business, it became more profitable. The same is probably true of nonprofits. Stop focusing on the fundraising and focus instead on the mission. Notice, I didn’t say ignore the fundraising. That would just be silly. Instead, integrate fundraising in everything you do passively.
Social media is not for closing deals
The most important lesson I’ve learned in social media over the last few years is that you don’t sell there. Self-promote? Sure, just don’t overdo it. Figure out where your donors are online and go there. Participate in the forums they do and engage with them. Answer questions, ask questions and be part of the conversation. Don’t – and I stress this – don’t ask them for money there, at least not directly.
Raising nonprofit donations with social media
You might be asking yourself, if I don’t ask them for money in social media, then why am I there? There are only so many hours in the day and I need to make sure the donation engine is always running. Well, try this: Organize an event with a local business that will benefit your charity. Write a blog post about what you will be doing. Make sure to include the basics in the post: time, date, venue and how the donations generated will be used. Then, working with your event partner, promote the blog post and the event. See how that works? The event will generate the donations but you never directly asked for a donation in the social space.
One week from today Shelby and I have an event at IVY Milwaukee that followed exactly this formula. Our nonprofit partner is the Pancreatic Cancer Network Milwaukee Affiliate. We should generate upwards of $500 for them and they never asked anyone for a single penny in the social space. On top of that, everyone gets to have a good time on a Thursday evening checking out a new local club and seeing Shelby and I perform “She Said, He Said” live.