Inside Philanthropy

A blog on philanthropy and nonprofit news and issues. A publication of Philanthropy Journal.

August 7, 2013

Why nonprofits must stop ignoring social


Caryn Stein

This week, Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project released its latest findings on social media adoption. Even if you’re a socially savvy fundraiser, you’ll find these stats interesting. If you’re still skeptical about social media, this is a wake-up call.

Think about this: Seventy-two percent of all adults online now use social networking sites. While it’s true that younger adults are the most likely social media users, it’s important to know that social media adoption for older Internet users has skyrocketed in the last few years. Some key stats:
  • 6 out of 10 Internet users ages 50 to 64 are social media users
  • 43 percent of Internet users 65 and older are social media users
  • Social media adoption rates for those 65 and older have tripled in the past four years
  • 54 percent of adults age 65-plus and 77 percent of those ages 50 to 64 years old are online (Who’s Online, via Pew)
These trends are only going to grow as generations of netizens age and as technology becomes more ubiquitous and easy to use. As platforms emerge and evolve, the core principles of social activity online will remain very familiar. The time to figure it out is now.

So, what does this mean for you?

Stop pretending your older donors aren’t online. Your 60-plus donors are not only online; they’re adopting social media as a means of keeping up with the people, brands and causes they love. More than half of 60+ donors are giving online. Remember: Whether or not your donors ultimately choose to give online, they’re using searches, social media and your website to learn more about you. How are you helping them make the decision to give? Are you making it easy for them to opt to give online?

Create a social media strategy that fits your audience and your mission. It’s not important for you to become a social media expert overnight or to have profiles on every social network. It is important for your nonprofit to have a social media presence on the platforms where your audience already gathers. Pinpoint where the richest conversations about your cause take place and start there.

Find ways to reinforce your message, and be part of the conversation via social media. The first rule of social media is: Be present. You can’t just “set it and forget it;” embrace the opportunity to communicate directly with people who are passionate about your cause. Be responsive, ask questions and provide value. Social media is not just another broadcast channel; it’s a crucial way to build relationships and be top of mind.

 Caryn Stein is director of content strategy for Network for Good, which first posted this blog.

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  • At 11:28 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    This arrived right before I picked up the newspaper and saw two inexpensive workshops on social media for business at the local college. Thanks for the nudge to sign up!


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