Net2 Think Tank Round-Up: Using The Web To Raise Awareness

Claire Sale's picture

In certain places such as AlabamaNorth Carolina, November is nonprofit awareness month. To celebrate, we asked you to share your advice for using the web to raise awareness as part of this month's Net2 Think Tank. We were hoping to learn how nonprofits are raising awareness and share those tips with the wider community. Below is a list of the answers we received!

While this month's Net2 Think Tank is now closed, you're always welcome to add your feedback on the subject. Feel free to add your ideas in the comments section at the bottom of this page.

Before sharing the many tips we received, I want to share with you a situation analysis shared by one community member Here's a preview of the analysis: "Though people have managed to self-organise throughout human history, we are at a moment where the fusion of this self-organisation, with ever-expanding social technology, is creating spaces that no longer require the type of ‘leadership’ we’ve become so used to… So what does this mean for traditional campaigning organisations?" The full post, eCampaigning in a Leaderless World from Liam Barrington-Bush, is well worth a read and offers several suggestions on how to move forward in this changing landscape. Here's a few more suggestions: 

It's a team effort:

  • "One of the best strategies nonprofits can use is getting their employees on board and active in social media. Having team members be active on sites like Twitter and Facebook to build a following and increase their network can help them stand out among the crowd." - Jeff Machado on Linkedin
  • "Make sure all employees have completed profiles on Linkedin and that the whole organisation is linked." - Christopher Nicholas on Linkedin
  • "The people who are employed and members of the Board of Directors must have a passion for the cause and be willing and able to write about the organization on a regular basis." - Mitch Carnell on Linkedin

Don't forget the website!

  • Whenever I learn about an organization through Twitter or blogs, I always check out their website to learn more about them. I always want to know what their mission is and where they are located. It is very important that organizations include their website address in their profiles on social media sites and blogs. Nonprofits can increase awareness by having the following information on their websites:
    - Mission
    - Information About Programs, Events, and Campaigns
    - Information About Topics Related to the Organization
    - Press Releases / News Articles About Organization
    - Contact Information
    From Emily Weinberg in her post, Nonprofit Awareness Through Websites

Be Real:

  • "Tweet and Facebook and YouTube about results the organization is accomplishing, rather than just asking for donations. Take it a step further: if applicable, get the beneficiaries of the NPO to join your networks as well and post testimonials. Real stories are very compelling and can usually attract the attention of mainstream media outlets as well." - Mustafa Stefan Dill on Linkedin
  • "You will see a lot of organizations jump on to social media sites and put their logo on their account and think they're on social media. That's not the effective route. What truly works is putting a name to an organization. When others can see the work that real people are doing and how they're making a difference, it's much more effective at helping your organization be the chosen one when it comes time to donate." - Jeff Machado on Linkedin
  • "Social media can be a great tool, but try to use it wisely and zero in on your specific needs and audiences -- you can have 3,000 followers on Twitter, but if they have no interest in what you're doing, it's a waste of time. With that said, building a strong brand through social media takes time." - James D'Ambrosio on Linkedin

A picture tells 1000 words:

  • "Nonprofits can use video and photos to document special events or the work they're doing. Engaging content that makes people feel something doesn't have to cost a lot - it just has to be thoughtful and it needs some time investment." - Jeff Machado on Linkedin
  • "Whilst we have a presence on Facebook, Twitter and Flickr, our most powerful awareness tool has been Youtube. Video get through quickly and effectively." Here's an example. - Trevor Lobel on Linkedin
  • "The Flip camera is a HD camera that is under £180 [GBP] which can record up to 2hrs of HD footage and use a built in USB connection to link to any computer. This means that it is television broadcast quality. But what is even more impressive is the fact that you can edit your film using the software supplied with the camera. Meaning that you can film an event and get it up online (Youtube etc) within minutes, thus raising awareness of your issue quickly, professionally and for very little money." - Christopher Nicholas on Linkedin

Take your audience on a journey:

  • "I am a donor who supports the Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee (USA). They have a great web site, they offer web cam pictures of their elephants, and they have a page on Facebook which has thousands of fans. All the elephants have names and the Sanctuary staff have a feature called Ele-Notes that describes the elephants' activities on a weekly basis. This charity allows elephants, retired from circuses and zoos, to be themselves, socialize with each other, and roam acres freely. I think this non-profit has done a good job promoting its cause online." - Lisa Nofzinger on Linkedin

Integrate your presences:

  • "Twitter and [Facebook] are great tools to get your nonprofit's message out as long as you use them consistently. Combined with a great web site and a current, interesting blog, you can reach a maximum number of people in a minimum amount of time." - Jane B. Ford on Linkedin
  • "Make everything joined up, your message should be the same across all social networks, websites, online and offline media. [And,] tell people about it! Put the URL on your flyers, posters, business cards, email footers." - Jon Kokke on Linkedin
  • "What you really need is a complete campaign that integrates facebook, twitter, and YouTube. You can use [Facebook] causes to help you monetize. You can use YouTube with videos shared to [Facebook] to show what you do and energize your donors (that is the key to success isn't it?) and to spread your cause's message. One video going viral can change your cause's life forever. You can then use all of the above, especially Twitter, to keep people engaged and to keep them spreading your message. Keep in mind, people want to feel good about the cause they are supporting and they want to be entertained/uplifted." - John Petersen on Linkedin

Make connections:

  • "Cobranding with existing corpararations that advertise and gain recognition of your non profit entity." - David Gottlieb on Linkedin 
  • "Connect the organization to holidays and other special events.For my organization it was, Better Speech and Hearing Month, Stroke Awareness Month, and Effective Communication Month." - Mitch Carnell on Linkedin

Jump on the bandwagon

  • Depending on what the NPO does, dont forget other emerging technologies such as geotagging - foursquare, etc. Those may not always be applicable, but be on the lookout in general for some cutting edge apps and see if they fit (I like the crowdsourcing mapping tool Ushahidi for humanitarian crises, etc., for example;). See if there's a way mobile apps could fit as well. - Mustafa Stefan Dill on Linkedin


Thanks to everyone who contributed their ideas and expertise to this post. What are we missing? Add your suggestions in the comments section below!


About Net2 Think Tank:

The Net2 Think Tank is a monthly blogging/social networking event open to anyone and is a great way to participate in an exchange of ideas.  We post a question or topic to the NetSquared community and participants submit responses either on their own blogs, the NetSquared Community Blog, or using social media.  Tag your post with "net2thinktank" and email a link to us to be included. At the end of the month, the entries get pulled together in the Net2 Think Tank Round-Up.