It is challenging for non-profit organizations to sustain themselves in the long run by solely relying on external grants, fundraising and charity events. At some point in time, most non-profit organizations must reassess their overall revenue structure. Like any for-profit business operating in the free market, non-profits also have the potential to ‘sell’ their products/programs to clients and achieve their overall mission. My short blog post reflects on a potential revenue generating source for non-profits and how social media can help achieve their marketing and overall organizational goals.
First, let us reflect on a real-world case study. As part of my graduate assistantship, I work for a research center within the university. The center is a bustling hub for research activity with a wide range of programs supporting faculty and student scholars. The only revenue generating source for the center is its methodology program which offers intensive seminars, workshops and private consultations in quantitative methods and analysis. The center’s methodology and other support programs have directly helped faculty members improve their grant proposals and win hundreds of prestigious foundation, NIH and NSF research grants to conduct meaningful research. Yet, only a handful of university community members know about the existence of the research center and its services.
The case mentioned above is one of many examples of non-profit organizations that do excellent work in our communities but yet remain stagnant in the ‘unsung hero’ status. While it is more important for non-profits to share and sell their organizational goals and success stories – there is often a lack of a robust marketing strategy that prevents them from achieving their goals. Leveraging social media and reevaluating social media strategy are two effective ways in which non-profits can better position themselves in the market – without adding any additional distress to its finances.
Non-profits can reach out to their target audience on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn. Organizations can create a digital platform to spread the word out about their services, engage in developing relationships with their clients and supporters, and eventually expand their reach. By managing events pages on social media, organizations can recruit participants to attend their conferences and other events. For example, regular creative posts on Facebook may be more effective in getting your invitees excited about an upcoming conference than regular Constant Contact email blasts.
Imagine employing social media to launch a marketing campaign for a two to three days long conference. Staff could leverage free social media accounts to advertise planned opportunities for professional networking, workshop and training, and participation in panel discussions. Using online platforms, staff can facilitate participants sign up for the conference. Participants could pay registration fees online and use special discounts and coupons advertised by the organization on social media posts. The costs of organizing the conference could be easily recovered via revenues generated through sponsorship, registration and advertising fees.
By building an online presence and leveraging social media platforms, non-profit organizations have the potential to improve corporate relationships, community ties and volunteer engagement. Non-profits can also employ social media to encourage the private sector to demonstrate their commitment to corporate social responsibility. Similarly, non-profits can engage in fruitful dialogues, build successful rapport with their communities, and advance their organizational goals through social media marketing.
– Palista Kharel