|It’s no secret that the new generation of donors—Millennials—give and give often, but they also have an expectation of nonprofits that many previous generations didn’t. They expect not only to be able to find information online before they give, but they seek out organizations that engage them through websites and social media.What’s more, using online tools to build community among donors can yield great results—a study conducted by Convio® and Strategic One® revealed that donors who receive online communication give more than twice as much as donors who are less engaged or engaged through offline efforts.|
A great way to combine social media and your nonprofit’s website to leverage this need for information and communication is through the use of online communities or member forums, either custom-built or by leveraging an existing platform..
These communities can:
Here are a few tips for building an effective online community…
What’s more, by knowing your online purpose you can better meet the needs of online users. When you provide a benefit, you provide a valuable community worth being a part of.
“I feel we may be successful because we deeply believe in the importance of community and what it does to people touched by diabetes,” said Manny Hernandez, president of the Diabetes Hands Foundation, which runs the 13,000 person TuDiabetes network. “We have seen so many people come back to us and say: ‘I have had diabetes for X many years. I felt so alone. I never knew there were SO many people who felt exactly like me.’”
Prior to developing or implementing an online community or member forum, consider creating a think tank to help guide its purpose and to create goals and a strategy for converting site visitors to donors. Invite donors, board members and those you serve to participate. Have a whiteboard and plenty of markers handy and be sure to thank everyone for participating with a chocolate thank you or a small gift, like a branded T-Shirt.
“Our community had a unique need for a secure and private space where Iraq and Afghanistan veterans could connect with one another, share stories, offer support, and know that the people they’re interacting with share many of the same life experiences,” said Chrissy Stevens, Communications Director of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA). “We spent months assessing our options for starting a white-label social network, and Ning™ was the only platform that offered the right combination of privacy controls, quality user experience, easy administration and customization, and ongoing support.”
As Livingston says, “In many ways, there’s a larger conversation occurring and the general networks can serve as beachheads to bring people back to your network. Conversely, integrating Twitter™ and Facebook™ allows for people within your network to talk about your activities in the larger context.”
Harness the power of online communities today and leverage the generosity of the next big wave of supporters.
Livingston, Geoff. “5 Tips for Creating Non-Profit Online Communities.” Mashable – The Social Media Guide. 12 Feb. 2010. Web. 10 June 2011.
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