To support local government redesign efforts and recognize the innovative work already underway, the Public and Nonprofit Leadership Center has partnered with state associations to create the Local Government Innovation & Redesign Guide and host a yearly Local Government Innovations Awards ceremony.
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Marc Pitman, author of Ask Without Fear! and founder of FundraisingCoach.com has dedicated much of his career to helping organizations raise funds more effectively. Early in October Pitman headed a panel introducing several nonprofits to social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter. He attempted to illustrate how these websites can garner support and potentially even increase donations. While Pitman expressed that he understood some of the downsides of using social networking sites in this way - mainly that they are exactly that: social - he offered several reasons as to why it might be beneficial to employ some of these tools:
I can see why Pitman feels these online tools could be an asset to an organization - they help build relationships. But as a social media user myself I find a couple of flaws in his argument. Facebook, for example, offers hundreds of thousands of groups and fan pages that you can become a part of, and people do! But clicking that "Become a Fan" button doesn't necessarily mean that I'm going to donate my time, energy, or income to that cause. Similarly, virtually every time I sign onto Facebook, I have a couple of "group invites" waiting for me. Sometimes I'll skim over the page to see if it's interesting, but more often than not I just delete the notification.
I think a more important point is that an organization has to think about who actually uses Facebook, Twitter, and those other similar sites: high school kids, college students, mom and dad. People are drawn to these networking sites because they're fun, easy to use, and a great way to stay connected. I think the amount of people surfing the sites to find nonprofits to donate to is rather small.
Don't get me wrong, I see why Pitman and others feel that these tools could be useful. As I write this, there are 32 million Facebook users of the "Causes Application". It lets their users know about nonprofits and other organizations dedicated to a myriad of causes. That's a lot of people waiting to read up on your organization.
I would love to hear people's thoughts. What do you all think about using social networking sites to garner support?