It’s still not true that social media can...

publication date: Jun 21, 2012
Consultant Dania T. Miwa of Toscano Advisors doesn't buy into some of the hype surrounding social media and fundraising even though she's an experienced blogger, tweeter and Facebook user herself. Here are five myths she recently reminded fundraisers not to believe.

Social media is a great way to fundraise

Yes, it can be a great tool to reach potential donors, she says. But a successful Twitter fundraising campaign is the exception, not the rule. The more common use of social media is for donor stewardship: another way to connect donors and constituents to your charity's mission. Out of that good stewardship, you may see some donations - but it's an outcome of the stewardship, not the social media.

Social media will get people to do something for us or drive more traffic to our website

Wrong again, Miwa declares. What drives action in her experience is someone following up and having actual authentic conversations with followers and friends. In the social media world, as in real life, no-one truly likes people (or charities) who talk only about themselves.

Follows and likes translate directly into memberships, dollars in the door or increased event attendance

A casual Facebook "like" is a long way from engagement and action. Miwa's very active online. But even she often takes no action beyond "following" or "liking" organizations that interest her. She's observed, though that not many of the organizations she's "liked" have followed up in other ways, i.e. direct mail, email or event invites on Facebook. And that, she notes, is a missed opportunity.

Social media will fix all problems

Social media is a tool, not a strategy, Miwa says, echoing the views of others highly knowledgeable in the field. The best social media plans are part of a complete communications and fundraising strategy, with the social media component a well-considered portion.

Social media is a fad, and we can just ignore it until it goes away

A channel such as Facebook may die, Miwa believes, but the principles of social media will resurface on some other platform. Some of your potential constituents will want to connect with you on a social platform of some sort, so you'd better look into the options and make an informed decision. Getting out there is important, she concludes, even if you make mistakes along the way.

The dissenting voice

Jeff Brooks of Future Fundraising Now only half agrees with that last point. "Actually, for fundraising purposes, social media is largely a fad (actually several rising and falling fads), but it would be foolish to just ignore it," he notes. Some kind of social media, whether or not in the forms that we currently know and love (or hate) will become much more than a fad, he believes. It could possibly be a great way to raise funds in the future - so dip your toe in now and start getting ready.

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