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Social Media Stewardship and Research

Focused on small business. Social Media Examiner is an excellent resource for nonprofits, too. Click to reach, "6 Tips to Boost Your Twitter Conversations."

Social Media Examiner is an excellent resource for business but also for nonprofits. Click to reach, “6 Tips to Boost Your Twitter Conversations.”

Social media has become a wonderful way to recognize donors. While some contributors prefer to remain anonymous, others enjoy being thanked publicly on social media. Smart nonprofit organizations should review their donor lists, ask if their sponsors mind being recognized on social media, and develop consistent plans to recognize them online, and on a regular basis. Social media should be an integral component of your nonprofit’s stewardship plan.

Certainly, donor kudos should not overshadow your nonprofit’s social media postings about mission, activities, needs, success stories and the like. But the courtesy of a social mention can go a long way toward recognizing donors and ensuring they come back to support your nonprofit again in the future.

I have noticed some social savvy companies are starting to request a certain number of “tweets” and “retweets” as part of their grant contracts. I suspect this trend will continue (and increase) as companies clamor for the attention of nonprofit audiences. And while nonprofits sometimes balk at this, I have found the task is far from odious. But it does require thoughtful planning, calendaring and ongoing curation.

If you have any doubts companies are eager to link arms with nonprofit causes, you might enjoy reading the Public Relations Journal (Vol. 8, 2014), “Corporate Social Responsibility and the Nonprofit Sector.”

Kim and Reber (2008) suggest that corporate social responsibility is a “central relationship-building activity within organizations.” As such, there are numerous potential benefits of engaging in corporate social responsibility activities, which may include anything from increased profits to increased levels of volunteerism, positivity in the workplace environment, more media coverage, reduced costs, and a better public image. These benefits may create long-lasting effects such as reputation enhancement, creating organizational value, and stakeholder loyalty.

Nicole Fallon wrote for Business News Daily, “What is Corporate Social Responsibility?” (December, 2014). This quote indicates how important corporate support for nonprofit causes is to acquiring talented employees:

“The next generation of employees is seeking out employers that are focused on the triple bottom line: people, planet and revenue,” Cooney told Business News Daily. “Coming out of the recession, corporate revenue has been getting stronger. Companies are encouraged to put that increased profit into programs that give back.”

Nonprofits should be alert to these considerations and think smarter about their growing importance to the business world. There are many creative and genuinely helpful partnerships yet to be formed.

When you prepare your grant proposal, for instance, outline the ways in which your organization could recognize your future partnership(s) through social media. Not knowing entirely what the prospective donor prefers, you might also indicate a willingness to work with its staff to develop a meaningful (and tasteful) social media recognition program. And keep in mind, profits from companies are often funneled into private grantmaking foundations; the same concept may be true for foundations.


Companies enjoy sharing success stories. I know several lucky nonprofits that have partnered with Chipotle, for instance. Your nonprofit would be a welcome participant in online conversations like this one!

For my colleagues who still believe social media is a waste of time, I share another story about how important being actively engaged online can help you with research and attracting new prospects.

I participated in a Twitter “chat” recently featuring representatives of a leading American corporation. The online discussion focused on the company’s sustainability efforts, a topic about which I am passionate. The chat included mention of the need for more STEM-savvy employees, and discussed corporate efforts to support K-12 science, technology, engineering and math education to help young people develop 21st century workplace skills.

Having raised funding for several nonprofit environmental education efforts over the years, and I shared a “tweet” about a particularly innovative STEM nonprofit. I had not anticipated this outcome, but was delighted to establish a connection with a potential sponsor right then during the Twitter chat (with quick thinking and fast fingers, smiles).

As anyone who is actively engaged online will tell you, Twitter and other social media platforms are marvelous research tools. They are not a waste of time. Be vigilant! Do not be afraid to jump into the conversation and share information about how your nonprofit might be a good funding match. That’s good for business and good for your nonprofit organization.


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