A Special Visit from Beth Kanter
SankyNet recently hosted a discussion about social media and nonprofits with author, blogger, nonprofit technology extraordinaire, and classically-trained flutist Beth Kanter. In a conversation with Executive Vice President Paul Habig, Beth shared her vast wealth of online fundraising knowledge with us and our clients.
Author of one of the most popular nonprofit blogs, Beth’s Blog: How Nonprofits Can Use Social Media, and two bestselling books, Beth Kanter’s expertise stems from a 30-year career working with nonprofits.
Here are some helpful insights she shared with us throughout the evening:
What is a “networked nonprofit”?
A networked nonprofit is simply an organization that is simple and transparent. It comfortably uses digital and social media tools to build relationships around a cause through and beyond its network. These organizations encourage a two-way dialogue beyond their walls, rather than the insular, traditional approach.
Trust is essential. It’s been proven that openness breeds trust, even when organizations make mistakes. The last thing your supporters want is an unpleasant surprise, but ignoring problems can deeply hurt credibility. The challenge with opening up is that it means you’re more vulnerable to criticism. Nonprofits must have a plan in place to determine whether certain dialogue is worth engaging (valid criticism) or not (trolling) and how to deal with it accordingly. This allows for quick, decisive action.
On creating a “social culture” within an organization:
Successful networked nonprofits consider relationship-building a core responsibility of both leaders and staffers alike. This democratic approach cultivates the networks of those within the organization, a group more likely inclined to give and spread the word.
On encouraging a two-way dialogue:
The future is social. Nonprofits that successfully encourage a two-way dialogue are seeing amazing results. The benefits go beyond increased donations; in many cases, they also improve program implementation. For example, an animal shelter can increase adoptions by posting photos of pets that can be shared on social media channels. In disaster situations, The Red Cross uses tips from the public to locate areas where help is needed most. These are results that save lives.
A key theme throughout Beth Kanter’s talk was experimentation— not being afraid to try new things and sometimes make mistakes. Nonprofits have diverse functions, requiring unique sets of marketing needs that can be hard to pinpoint. Whether it’s trying a new social media channel, changing messaging, or redesigning a website, experimentation is one of the best ways to find out what works and where resources should go. Metrics and data have made this process easier and more accurate than ever.
If you would like to learn more about Beth Kanter and online fundraising, visit her website.