Thursday, October 4, 2007

Social Media: A Highly Effective Channel for Non-Profits

Nonprofit organizations are very savvy and creative about how they spend their marketing dollars. Simply put, they have to be due to the nature of their business. In a recent DM News article, it is reported that these organizations are relying on the internet as another direct marketing channel to get the word out, and embracing social media is an excellent way to do this. When you think about it, nonprofits have a unique ability to touch people's hearts and build a community. And that's what Social Marketing is all about.

As the article reports, YouTube has jumped into the nonprofit space by offering them a free YouTube Channel to spread the word about the good work that they do. “This really validates how critical the Internet has become for all nonprofits,” said Fred Waugh, VP of marketing for nonprofit software provider Convio Inc, Austin, TX."

Waugh adds that "in the past year, his company’s clients have grown their e-mail files by 50 percent. In addition, these organizations are increasingly interested in leveraging Web sites like YouTube and FaceBook to reach out to new constituents, according to Waugh." What an excellent way to reach folks who may want to become involved in your organization -- either by volunteering or donating dollars.

The article explains, "The new program from YouTube, San Bruno, CA, will enable nonprofits to upload footage of their work, public service announcements, calls to action and more on a premium channel that will have enhanced branding features and increased upload capacity. The channel can serve as the nonprofit’s hub for their uploaded videos while also providing a way for people to connect with the organization."

Way to go YouTube! Not only does this channel give nonprofits an opportunity to demonstrate what they do (a picture's worth a thousand words, right?), but it really helps to establish the organization's brand and philosophy to a larger audience. According to Barbara Shimaitis, senior vice president of Interactive Services at The Advertising Council, New York,“It's a great distribution channel for non-profits, and at no cost. Users can have alerts sent to them for new PSAs. If you, the user, are passionate about an issue, you can embed the video on your persona pages. Marketers and brands are interacting more and more with the user, this is another example.”

In addition, visitors to the YouTube channel who wish to make donations to the organization can do so via Google Checkout for Non-Profits. "Concurrent with last week’s announcement, Google Inc., Mountain View, CA, which owns YouTube, also announced that it has expanded its online payment method Google Checkout to include nonprofits."

From our perspective, nonprofits should jump on YouTube to extend their reach. Using Social Marketing as yet another tool in their direct marketing toolbox can not only reach those who may not be as likely to respond to traditional DM methods, but it can also illustrate -- via video -- the important work in which the nonprofit organization is engaged. Finally, it builds an organization's community and really helps to establish -- or re-establish -- the brand.

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