Nonprofit Organizations & Social Media

Social media has been around for longer than we think, but the internet and evolution of technology has changed the definition over time. While all media is constantly changing and developing, there seems to be a gray area with nonprofit organizations and how they should utilize media, specifically social media, and when it’s appropriate to use various methods to further their organization.

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According to the National Center for Charitable Statistics there are over 1.5 million nonprofit organizations in the United States and about 97% of them use social media. New media brings several platforms for various nonprofit organizations to create awareness and try new things. Since 85% of Americans get their information from online sources, social media such as Twitter, Facebook, and Youtube can be instrumental tools in building awareness, sharing success stories, and learning what they can do better. New media allows two-way communication that not only helps non-profits to build a base of donors and clients, but it also allows them to receive feedback from both to better their organization, in an effort to meet the needs of those they are trying to help.

It’s clear that larger nonprofits use online media very effectively. For example, the Invisible Children campaign was widely publicized not only on several college campuses but worldwide. However,  social media is becoming most important for smaller, local nonprofit organizations to not only create awareness, but to reach out to those in need, but it seems that small, local nonprofit organizations use these platforms sparingly.

The WV Family Grief Center , a local nonprofit based in Morgantown, uses social media and the internet sparingly to help further their organization. I had no idea this organization even existed until I had to work on a PR Campaign for them for an undergraduate class. They wanted a campaign that would create awareness, but lacked the help and experience to be able to maintain a well-run website and other social media pages.

In the future, I’m looking to examine whether time and experience is a common problem for other local nonprofit organizations. I’m interested in discovering how local nonprofit organizations can adapt social media practices of larger nonprofits on a smaller scale. Regardless, nonprofits must begin adapting quickly if they intend to reach the masses.

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