Non-profit use of Social Media and its Impact: Increasing Presence & Transparency

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This is the second post of a four part series devoted to social media’s use within nonprofit organizations, Increasing Presence and Transparency.  The first of the series was Engagement & Empowerment.

Increasing Presence & Empowerment

Social software tools allow nonprofit organizations the ability to communicate with the world and their supporters much faster and easier than in the past.  Images and updates are much easier to share and post, lending quicker gratification to those supporters involved and greater encouragement for more passive supporters.  These tools are the driver behind informing interested parties and the world of their goals and the impact a non-profit has had, which may increase overall support.

Nonprofit organizations have many avenues to choose from to increase their Web presence and organize more and more supporters through social software technologies and platforms.  One sure way to increase online presence is to take advantage of platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, and Flickr.  By connecting any mixture of these platforms together and leveraging them with the existing Web site, a nonprofit stands to grow its membership and supporters greatly.  For instance, creating a Facebook fan page for a nonprofit allows for uploading different media content for your fans to view.  It also allows fans the opportunity to communicate with each other and the organization using a platform they are already familiar and comfortable with.

The use of a social networking site also allows supporters an area to provide feedback and a chance for the organization to offer something more to their visitors, this is especially true for libraries, as Meredith Farkas states in her book Social Software in Libraries: Building Collaboration, Communication, Community Online (2007).  Using these types of sites also allows organizations the chance to create another portal to their homepages, it allows them to cast a wider net for supporters.  According to Meredith Farkas, these sites are perfect for building up an organization’s network and helping to build and sustain an organization’s identity.

The most important part of increasing presence is understanding how using social software can draw online visitors to the organization’s site and impact their perception of that presence.  According to an article written by Cramer titled Increase Donations in a Down Economy? With Social Media, Yes, You Can!, social software, implemented effectively, can “transform passive audiences into active members,” which “creates stronger bonds that are less likely to be broke” (2009).  In this way, social software is having a positive and major impact on a nonprofit organization’s ability to grow and maintain its support base.

By now using social software, nonprofit organizations are increasing their presence online to better communicate with supporters, creating a sense of organizational transparency and openness, and educating others about their programs.  This should be ringing bells in the heads of library administrators and library directors, since this gives library employees a greater sense of belonging, shows the library’s stakeholders and possibly collaborative organizations the library is organized and well managed, and most importantly furthers the library’s reach to its own patrons.  Reaching and establishing a connection and engaging patrons is the entire reason a library exists in the first place.  This software allows libraries to find more of their constituents and continue to do what it does on a daily basis with those patrons that physically walk in the door.

… and the experimental ride continues …

Again, this is the second of four posts in a series.

What are your thoughts?  Leave a comment.


Cramer, B. (2009). Increase Donations in a Down Economy? With Social Media, Yes, You Can! NONPROFIT WORLD, 27(3), 8-9.

Farkas, M. (2007). Social Software in Libraries: Building Collaboration, Communication, Community Online. Medford, NJ: Information Today.


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