By Monish Ahuja
The American Association of Fundraising Council recently stated that 60 percent of public charities saw a decrease in donations, with arts, culture and humanities organizations hit the hardest. The findings aren’t surprising, as more than 80 percent of philanthropic dollars are contributed by individuals, many of whom have been financially impacted by the economic recession. When this affect is coupled with a reduction of government funding, nonprofit organizations have been left to find inexpensive and innovative ways to reach new donors to not only continue serving their beneficiaries, but also keep their doors open.
One of the most inexpensive and effective ways for nonprofits to reach new supporters is to utilize social media. Social media’s use and impact on society has been strongly felt over the last few years. Now, no matter where you go, a Facebook icon, Twitter handle or QR code isn’t far behind. So why is social media so important for nonprofit organizations?
- Numbers game – nonprofits looking to reach new supporters need not look further. Facebook recently announced it had exceeded 800 million users. Twitter boasted triple digit growth over the last two years, and Google+ has 50 million users three months after launching.
- Connect the fan base – social media not only allows nonprofits to connect with their supporters and fans, it also allows nonprofits’ supporters to connect with each other. A 2011 Mashable study showed that 59 percent of 30-49-year-old social media users, when asked what they looked for in philanthropic social media, responded that they wanted to interact with other donors.
- Reach individuals with disposable income – a recent report revealed that more than 66 percent of social media users averaged an annual salary of $50,000 to $75,000 – a range that is believed to be the benchmark of comfortable living and provides donors the confidence to give.
- Third party organizations are making it easy for donors – in addition to the direct outreach from nonprofits, third party organizations such as Cause Layouts™, a cause-based Facebook fundraising tool, are making it simple for donors to give back by simply logging on to these popular social networks. Cause Layouts allows users to customize the appearance of their Facebook profile, promote their favorite cause, and share a specific charity with other Facebook friends. For every original user download, Cause Layouts will donate $1 back to the selected charity.
It’s challenging to predict how the ever-evolving social media space will grow over the next 18 months. However, it’s imperative that nonprofit organizations leverage these spaces to reach new supporters, strengthen their fan base, garner donations and utilize third party programs that make it simple to give back.
Monish Ahuja is the president of Cause Layouts, a cause-based Facebook fundraising tool offering a free, turnkey solution for charities and nonprofits to increase donations through the power of social media. For every original download of a Cause Layout, the company donates $1 to the selected charity.