Facebook, Twitter, Myspace, Blogs (such as the one you are currently enjoying!), and other social media websites are the norm for most people today. These sites have become verbs in addition to nouns, and people can “do” them for most any purpose. However, we have all also been warned to take caution when using these sites. Many things can be misinterpreted or misread by recipients or mistyped by those using these outlets.
This article by Nathan Hurst of the MU New Bureau highlights the fact that many medical nonprofits are using social media outlets to market their organizations, and are in return able to manage their image and brands in society. Considering the difficulties that nonprofits have faced in the past – and currently – raising funds for their organizations, these technological sources could seem to be the magic solution. Individuals who previously inept at bringing in donations for the organization can simply post a pre-made advertisement on their Facebook wall and receive donations instantly. Millions of individuals can be reached through internet contact that may never have known about your organization previously.
Although the benefits of internet marketing are broad, and many organizations have boasted the positives of this venue, there can be some drawbacks. Directly resulting from smaller budgets, many nonprofits are locally based. Because these organizations focus on smaller communities, their fundraising efforts should, in return, be local in size. Additionally, when considering the types of marketing approaches to implement, organizations should keep in mind the targeted population of those approaches. For example, if you are an organization focusing on increasing awareness of elderly populations regarding medical issues associated with age, you may be targeting an older population. These individuals are not as likely to be active on Facebook or to even look at advertisements that may pop up on their computer screens.
The caution here, then, is for nonprofits when evaluating marketing and fundraising approaches, to consider the recipients of those efforts. The Facebook, Twitter, or Blog approach may be effective for larger, more well-known organizations looking to touch as many people as possible. However, it probably would not be the solution for a smaller, more locally based nonprofit that is looking to target a certain population.