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Are you following this interesting little debate on Nonprofit Social Media?

There’s been some lively discussion over at the Agitator between Tom and Jay Frost about the value of Facebook likes.

Forget about the equations you may have read about a facebook like being worth “$5” or something.

Facebook “likes” don’t translate into donations.

According to Blackbaud’s recent online giving report, of the millions of charities on Facebook, only 2% of them got more than $100,000 through Facebook last year. The majority of the charities did not get anything of significance.

People say, “What about traffic?”

Traffic is nice, but traffic does not mean donations. You can’t run your nonprofit on traffic. And a lot of the traffic could have been bots. Remember the lessons we learned with the first dotcom bubble.

The main point of being on Facebook is to get your supporters to sign up for your enewsletter. But with the new facebook timeline design, this is increasingly difficult to do.

What about Twitter?

Tweets don’t translate into donations either. Beth Kanter, who wrote “The Networked Nonprofit” and has 500,000 followers on Twitter, managed over a period of months, with massive effort, to get US$15,000 for Cambodian charities several years ago.

The average nonprofit is not going to have such an engaged and large Twitter following, and frankly, their time could be better spent elsewhere to get that amount for a lot less effort.

Look at this recent article on the value of social media for brands. GM pulled out 10 million in Facebook advertising in recent months. Proctor and Gamble laid off over 1,500 social media marketing people.

Don’t drink the unicorns.

If you’ve got zero dollars from your social media outreach in the last 12 to 18 months, it’s time to pull back and reconsider what is REALLY going to make a change for your nonprofit.

Read this post from SEOBook, for example.

Whenever I work with nonprofit or for-profit clients around social media, I advocate that nonprofits use social media platforms strictly to drive people back to their website, (aka their brand hub) and get their email addresses.

Your enewsletter is your best social media tool.

Yes! It may not be new and shiny like google plus or pintrest, but email is the one social media tool that works over and over. Email is social media! And it’s a wonderful way to get slacktivists to become activists.

Once they sign up on facebook or go through twitter to your signup page, you have a chance to start engaging them each week. Do an auto-responder through Aweber. This is my favorite enewsletter platform. Once you set up your auto-responder, you’ll be able to see who opens your emails, who clicks, who signs your petitions, and email directly to those people to say thank you, and to ask for donations. You don’t need to tie clicks to their donor records.

John Jantsch, the author of a book on social media called; “The Referral Engine” says, “Businesses should not use social media until they have email nailed” and frankly, I agree. This also applies to nonprofits.

Think about where your donors start their day. Is it with any of these social platforms?

Or is it with their own email?

Where do you start YOUR day?


If you are in charge of your charity’s enewsletter, you have so much power in your hands. But are you using it with intention? If you want to learn how to engage your supporters better with email, sign up for my free enewsletter on fundraising, and watch what I do.


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