About once a week, sometimes more, I see a link or get an email about “How to Engage Donors Using Social Media.” At this point, I generally pass on reading these articles because social media is the life blood of More than Me, and these pieces generally rehash ideas that have been floating around for a while. Chances are, if you are reading this you probably met a More than Me person through couch surfing, Facebook, or some other virtual hangout.
Social media is a great way to engage donors. This is not news. However, one area that I have not seen a lot written about is how great social media is for non-profits to engage and communicate with each other.
Search #Liberia on Twitter. Up comes a whole community of NGO workers, non-profit communications people, Liberians, policy wonks, and Africa watchers all posting links, responding to posts, sharing ideas, and commenting on each other’s work. Typically it goes something like this: I post a link on Twitter about some project in Liberia. Next thing I know, it has been retweeted, and a journalist or NGO worker or someone connected with the project has sent me a response with more information or another good article to read.
It’s fun and entertaining, but, more importantly, this lively discourse can lead to real changes taking place on the ground.
Earlier this week, I sent a message to Katie, More than Me’s founder, via Twitter. The Peace Dividend Trust, a development organization that focuses on economic recovery (among other things), was having a photo contest, and offering a flip cam as a prize to people who submitted a picture of a Liberian business person. Well, More than Me is no stranger to photo contests, and we have recently been lamenting the fact that we don’t have a camera to take to Liberia. This seemed like a great opportunity, and I knew Katie had lots of pictures of people she has met while working in Monrovia.
Two days later, I got a message back from Katie: “@jacobpstein Jacob, i sent them pics n they’re sending us a flip cam!!”
More than Me operates on a slim budget, with almost all of our money going directly to the girls we help. Even when we know we need operational items, like a camera, we try to find someone who can donate it; knowing that any money we spend on the organization is money that is not going to help a girl in need. To be sure, some operational costs are necessary. Even the most bleeding of hearts can’t do much good in Liberia without proper materials, the ability to travel, and money to cover expenses. Thanks to a few tweets though, More than Me will be able to document the girls we help, share their stories, and help show our supporters the impact they are having.
Engaging donors is always important. At More than Me, we use social media to do more than just to engage donors; “donors” just sounds too weird for us. Our supporters are friends and volunteers. They are people who donate, but also host movie nights, barbecues, and poetry readings. We use social media to connect with people, and show them how they can work for something more than themselves. It sounds corny, but it’s true, and it’s happening.
Engaging other non-profits is just as important. Using Twitter and Facebook to post links, share ideas, comment on projects, and give feedback will only strengthen the development efforts taking place in Liberia. For today’s #FF (follow Friday on Twitter), I’d like to thank all of the organizations who have retweeted something we wrote, posted on our wall, and sent us messages of support.
We rely on social media to spread the word about our projects. Working and communicating with other organizations, often over social media, can have a real effect on girls in Liberia, one that can’t be summed up in 140 characters.