As a membership organization of foundations and corporate giving programs ranging in size, staff, resources and capacity, we at The Association of Baltimore Area Grantmakers are continually looking at how to better our communications with and on behalf of our members.
As The Resource on Grantmaking, we provide critical information and services to the philanthropic and nonprofit communities. As The Network for Givers in our region, we convene grantmakers and others to address issues and create lasting solutions. And, as The Voice for Philanthropy, we represent the philanthropic sector to key audiences, including the media, legislators, and national organizations, raising public awareness and understanding about the role and impact of philanthropy on our society.
In order to enhance our ability to be the resource, network and voice of and for our members, we have been utilizing social media, and in particular Facebook and Twitter for four specific reasons: To Communicate, Disseminate, Concentrate and Participate.
- Communicate: As an additional avenue to communicate with our members.
- Disseminate: To “Tell the Story of Philanthropy” by highlighting the importance of charitable giving and how donating to one’s community can bring about real change – which is the work of our member institutions.
- Concentrate: To “listen” to what others are saying about issues we care about, and to utilize these opportunities to gather knowledge, information and resources.
- Participate: And, to be a part of, and help to shape the conversation about philanthropy that is taking place all day, every day, through social media.
Based on our several years of experience and continued learning, I offer the following recommendations for organizations on how to make use of Social Media:
- Develop your specific rationale for the use of Social Media as it relates to your overall communication strategy in tandem with your strategic plan – the goals, expected outcomes and implementation steps.
- Develop a social media policy for your organization.
- Create communication and concentration categories of the types of information that is appropriate for your organization to provide and obtain through social media, and why. ABAG uses the following categories: ABAG specific, ABAG Members, ABAG Partners, Regional Philanthropy, National Philanthropy
- Map your social media distribution and participation opportunities in advance as much as you can– identify based on seasons, holidays, programs, events, trends, hot topics.
- Be clear about who you “friend” and “follow” and why in order to obtain the best and most relevant ongoing information.
- Find your organization’s unique and professional yet casual voice – it’s a new and different medium to engage in and with.
- Practice good social media etiquette – participate, reach out, comment, follow, friend and thank your core constituencies on an ongoing basis.
- Recognize that a sound social media plan requires an organizational commitment.
- Engage your board, staff and volunteers in your social media efforts.
- Evaluate! Social media efforts should be monitored as part of your overall communications efforts.
- Be thoughtful, strategic, fluid and flexible – have fun with it!