Today’s “Fan” – Tomorrow’s Volunteer and Next Week’s Donor?

Guest post by Reed Dewey of Volunteer FrontierGuest post by Reed Dewey, Volunteer Frontier

I’m increasingly seeing that all our audiences are blurring. Most nonprofit agencies have different stakeholder lists – one for donors, one for volunteers, one for media, etc… Even if these lists are part of one database, we keep focusing on the groups within.

Yet we all know that our donors become volunteers and volunteers become donors, and sometimes they might even be promoting our agency to a much wider audience. Maybe the way to look at social media is how we look at fundraising – it’s about cultivation.

In Beth Kanter’s book “The Networked Nonprofit” she says we need to be thinking how to engage the “spreaders” of our organization’s messages. Our online promoters through Facebook, Twitter, etc… are indeed taking a step to being involved.

One thing I’ve heard quite a bit from nonprofits is, “We keep spending time twittering and adding Facebook fans and it’s not translating into more donations and volunteers.” To this I’d say that what makes social media remarkable is that even on the smallest level, people can become engaged and be a Fan, or tell others about your agency.

Back in the good old days prior to social media, direct mail was used pretty much for donations. Social media and other technologies are allowing us all to cultivate our followers on many levels. With that framework, today’s donor is tomorrow’s volunteer is next week’s connector to a friend at the local bank.

Maybe we need to communicate more with everyone who will listen to us through various social media vehicles, and let them decide how they want to help our nonprofit – perhaps in ways we never imagined.

Reed Dewey is principal of Volunteer Frontier, a consultancy helping nonprofits and government strategically engage volunteers. He worked for the Points of Light Foundation and ran the volunteer center in Montgomery County, Maryland.