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Social Media Builds Support, But Fundraising Lags Overall

(March 2, 2010) Respondents to a recent survey felt social media channels were generally effective for enhancing relations with an existing audience and reaching out to new supporters, but less so for raising money.

Idealware, an organization that offers reviews and information on software for nonprofits, recently surveyed 459 nonprofit staff members who were already using social media at their organizations. They asked people what tools they were using and how effectively they thought those tools were meeting particular goals. Specifically, they asked about seven tools or types of tools: Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn, Twitter, video-sharing sites, photo-sharing sites and blogs.

Most Popular Tools

Among respondents, Facebook, Twitter and video sharing sites were the most widely used social media channels, at 73 percent, 56 percent and 49 percent, respectively. Many said they plan to start using social media or additional forms of social media within the next six months-for example, 53 percent not currently using Facebook said they plan to start.

A majority of respondents said they update content regularly. Half of those update just one or two social media channels regularly, while just 15 percent said they regularly update five or more. There seemed to be little relationship between the size of the organization and the number of channels being used, or their perceived effectiveness.

Fundraising and Relationship Building

Idealware also asked how effectively each channel met three particular goals: enhancing relationships with an existing audience, reaching out to new supporters and fundraising.

Generally, respondents felt social media channels were effective for enhancing relations with an existing audience and reaching out to new supporters, but considerably less so for raising money. A majority, 84 percent, felt blogs were effective at enhancing existing relationships, followed very closely by video-sharing sites at 83 percent, and Twitter and Facebook at 81 percent each.

When it comes to reaching new potential supporters, most respondents (78 percent) felt Twitter was effective, followed closely by Facebook and blogs at 76 percent each, and video sharing sites at 72 percent.

Of all the options available, respondents considered Facebook the most effective channel for fundraising, although only 41 percent felt that it was, in fact, effective. Blogs were a close second at 39 percent, followed by Twitter at 30 percent. Although Facebook was the most widely used tool by a considerable margin, and the one that those not yet using were most likely to start, it was seen as the most-effective only in terms of raising money-and then, only by a small margin.

Twitter was in the top three channels for every goal, and was considered the most-effective channel for reaching potential new supporters.

Respondents considered Facebook, Twitter, Blogs, and video- and photo-sharing sites reasonably effective-at least at outreach and enhancing existing relationships. MySpace was not as well thought- of, and ranked lowest for each of the three goals. LinkedIn was considered comparatively effective for fundraising, but lagged behind everything but MySpace for the other goals.

To download Idealware's report, go to www.idealware.org/sm_survey.



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