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News & Press: ABAG's "Adventures in Philanthropy" Blog

Adventures in Philanthropy: "Use Social Media to Support Philanthropy"

Monday, November 7, 2011   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Betsy Nelson
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November 3, 2011

By Betsy Nelson

Special to The Daily Record

Raising the public’s awareness of the role philanthropy plays — especially the work of our member foundations and corporate giving programs — to improve the quality of life in our region is a major goal of the Association of Baltimore Area Grantmakers. In recent years, we’ve turned more and more to social media — notably Facebook and Twitter — to help us.

We are fortunate to have a savvy communications director, Buffy Beaudoin-Schwartz, who embraces what social media can do for our organization and manages our social media on a daily basis. I asked her what recommendations she has for making the most of social media, and here’s what she suggests:

-Start with a rationale for the use of social media and make sure it is consistent with your overall communication strategy.

We use social media to enhance our ability to be the resource, network and voice of, and for, our funder members. We want to tell the story of what philanthropy is accomplishing in our region, to listen to what people are saying about issues we care about, and to participate in an ongoing conversation with others who are also blogging, tweeting and sharing about philanthropy via social media.

Find your voice

-Develop a social media policy for your organization.

Organizations should have a policy in place to have a consistent presence and to inform, guide and empower staff. ABAG’s policy is a relatively simple living document that touches on our organizational goals, values, key audiences, staff roles, appropriate content, monitoring and evaluation goals, and personal and professional responsibility.

-Be clear about whom you "friend” and "follow” and why to obtain the best and most relevant ongoing information.

We are bombarded with information 24/7 and find it helpful to connect with individuals and organizations that are most relevant to our work that we want to reach with information, and that provide us with information to inform our work. For ABAG this means our members, partners, other foundations and policymakers, and local, regional and national media.

-Find your organization’s unique and professional yet casual voice — it’s a new and different medium to engage in and with.

ABAG’s social media voice mimics our overall voice in all our communications, which is pretty straightforward. However, there is a more casual, energetic and cheerful tone that we use in Facebook and Twitter that we hope encourages more dialogue and engagement than our traditional voice might.

-Practice good social media etiquette — participate, reach out, comment, follow, friend and thank your core constituencies on an ongoing basis.

Buffy gives a "shout” about the good work of our members and partners on an ongoing basis, thanks those who RT or MT our tweets, and answers those who engage with us via Facebook in a timely manner, not only because it’s the right thing to do, but also because it promotes a good working social media relationship and connection with those we are trying to reach and engage.

Monitor and evaluate

-Recognize that a sound social media plan requires an organizational commitment.

We built our social media plan as part of our overall communications plan — designed not to replace our traditional communication efforts but to enhance them.

-Evaluate! Social media efforts should be monitored as part of your overall communications efforts.

We evaluate all our communications, including our Facebook and Twitter efforts. We are looking now at the basics — number of followers and fans, numbers of RTs, MTs, views, mentions, likes and comments, and what is of most interest to those who are connecting with us.

We look forward to continuing to reach our members and others who care about philanthropy, and invite you to join the conversation with us on Facebook and Twitter at facebook.com/abagrantmakers and twitter.com/abagrantmakers!

Betsy Nelson, President of the Association of Baltimore Area Grantmakers, writes every other week for The Daily Record. She can be reached at 410-727-1205 or bnelson@abagrantmakers.org


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