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Social Strategy and the Non-Profit

We all know that non-profits run on a tight budget and even tighter staffing levels. We also know just how important most non-profits are to the community and the people they serve and how dedicated the people who work at, volunteer for and donate generously are.

Social Media presents a unique opportunity for non-profits to engage their community. It's important to bear in mind that non-profits speak to at least two audiences. They speak to those who rely and are helped by the services provided and they speak to the volunteers and donors that make those services possible. I'd also point out that a third audience is often over looked and that is the tireless, over-worked and underpaid staff that makes everything happen.

Social, as I call it, gives anyone who uses it a voice and nowhere is it better heard than the community of helping others. We all know though, that social is complex, difficult to measure and changing faster than anyone can keep up with. The question is, how does a non-profit leverage a set of tools that are nearly perfect for driving their mission forward?

They can take a stab at it with the resources they have on hand, placing it somewhere between grant writing and putting labels on post cards for the next fundraiser. They can hire a hot shot social expert who knows nothing about the non-profit world and treats every client as if they have the budget of the big car company that starts with an F.

I recommend a different path. Find someone that works with both for profit and non-profit; someone who will spend time, without charge, learning your non-profits’ unique needs. Ask them to create a plan of attack that is realistic and executable. This plan may rely on the consultant to execute 90% at the beginning but should taper down to a level where they simply have some oversight. They should understand your cost and labor constraints and devise what I call a frugal but satisfying strategy.

Most importantly, they should tell you, without your asking, when they will no longer play an active role and when your fundraising will be positively impacted enough to pay for your social efforts. I recommend when you find someone that can do all that, keep them engaged, even if it is just a one hour monthly check in. They will bring enough new ideas and changes to the table to pay for themselves. One final thing, they should have a non-profit pricing structure that is discounted. If they don't offer one, then they probably don't understand non-profits and what they're all about.

Brad Attig

You can always reach me at with comments, questions or ideas.

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