Social Media for Nonprofits

Have you come across an image of an under nourished kid half covered in dirt, with a sad expression on his face? The image is captioned, “For every like of yours, this kid will get Rs 1.” Does it not surprise you to see thousands of likes on the image? Here’s what that kid has to say:

It’s no brainer that this is no strategy by an NGO. The fact that your liking the image does not help the kid or a million others like him is pretty obvious.

Can One use Social Media for Nonprofits?

Social Media is all about reaching out to masses and connecting with them. That is what NGOs want to do.

Many NGOs have surfaced in India, a very few have expanded and created an impact on the community. Blame it on the abundance of social issues and lack of transparency in the country. Known or unknown, small or big, every NGO can leverage the power of social media if done correctly.

NGOs need communities to reach out to and engage, what better way than social media platforms. NGOs need to viral out a message; social media has the potential to spread things around. NGOs need to raise funds; social media is just the right place to connect with the right people.

To put it simply, social media can get the attention of people to the issues that matter the most.

What is the kind of approach an NGO should follow on social media?

Be nice, share views and express gratitude: NGOs represent those who cannot represent themselves. An NGO’s image on social media should be of a well read and soft spoken person. There will be conversations with educated people who will have their own opinions. There will be people who will ask questions and demand answers. An NGO will have to share their opinions and debate on several. All of this cannot be done donning a persona of a brand on social media. In my opinion, NGO is not a brand but a person representing other person.

Make your issue, their issue: Social Media is all ears to social issues. People love talking about problems and suggesting a solution. An NGO must make their supporters believe that by helping them, they are only helping themselves.

Lead by an example: Fighting for a cause is never an easy task. Updating a couple of posts on Facebook and tweeting your problems is not going to get you attention. If you must represent an issue, you must lead by an example. Put your thoughts on a blog, share it with masses, ask for opinions and give some.

Let us look at some of the NGOs using Social Media and their performance level.

NGOs on Social Media

Smile Foundation

Smile Foundation - Social Media for Nonprofits

This NGO promotes the cause of education amongst the underprivileged through numerous welfare projects on subjects like education, healthcare and women empowerment across 25 states in India.

They mark their social media territory on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

Facebook: Facebook is the most active of the three with close to 8000 fans. The content is very impressive with the NGO sharing real life stories of underprivileged children, just the right strategy to connect emotionally. While the interaction on the page is good, the conversation between the NGO and the audience is close to nil. As an NGO, it is very important that you respond to the audience’s time and emotions.

Twitter: Twitter is more of a promotional platform with lesser interaction and more redirection links. Last twitter update was back in March.

YouTube: Their YouTube channel has some really heartfelt videos, but again, they are not reaching the audience. Other thing that goes wrong with the channel is that they are not dressed appropriately for search engines.

Nanhi Kali

Nanhi Kali Twitter Account

Started by Anand Mahindra in 1996, Nanhi Kali is an initiative taken to educate the girl child.

Their social presence can be seen on Facebook and Twitter.

Facebook: A Facebook group hardly works in favor of any organization. With the NGO having little say on their own group, 2795 member drop in once a while to share links. The group is hardly interactive and almost close to it-does-not-exist.

Twitter: Twitter has a good number but the followers are completely ignored. Updates are rare and promotional. Not the way it really works on twitter.

For an NGO that has the name of Anand Mahindra attached to it, they can definitely do better than this.

Give India Foundation

Give India YouTube Account

This NGO came up with “Joy of giving week” that is covered nationally each year. What is Joy of giving week? During this week, the GiveIndia Foundation acts as an online as well as offline donation platform for numerous Indian NGOs selected by the foundation. Later, Give India also shares a detailed report on where the money went.

Give India is present on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Blog.

Facebook: With 2600 fans, their Facebook page does not really have any inspiring content. Occasional images with quotes and videos are shared. Conversation level is zero.

Twitter: The content from Facebook is replicated on Twitter. There is no interaction between the NGO and the 940 followers. Once again, twitter is used as a promotional platform.

YouTube: The channel is better organized than Facebook and Twitter, with 30 videos and 13000 views. This video is worth mentioning.

Blog: Blog is occasionally updated touching on different issues such as child labor and education.

Offline, the above mentioned NGOs are doing well. Sadly, the story is not the same online. The attempt to leverage social media seems half hearted.

The presence is there but the valuable conversation is completely missing. Simply posting content and updating information tabs cannot get the audience to interact with them. The audience is emotional and open to discussing social issues. Most importantly, the audience does not just talk to an NGO but also to those several thousand they represent.

Don’t we all want to see the change happening?

While I have failed (or missed out on) to come across an NGO that has leveraged social media correctly, it is only a matter of time that NGOs will start seeing social media as an opportunity to reach out and grab help.