Social media is not just for the “kids.”
For many readers of this blog, the above statement is now a foregone conclusion. But as a social media strategist charged with helping clients develop and implement online communication plans, I still hear that comment far too often. Most nonprofits are, justifiably so, principally concerned with donors capable of making large gifts. Those major gift donors rarely fit in the just-out-of-college demographic. That said, assuming that A) all social media users are just out of college and B) that just-out-of-college donors are of little worth is a huge mistake.
The idea for this post was spurred by this excellent commentary in the Chronicle of Philanthropy, 5 Things Charities Do That Turn Young Donors Like Me Off, by Alicia Bonner Ness. I first suggest you give that commentary a read. Then, read my argument below for why you shouldn’t think of social media as something just the “kids” are in to…
40 is the new 30: Many brush off social media as a space where only Millennials are active. Even if that is true, you may have noticed that the oldest Millennials are now in their 30s (the oldest Millennials will be 33 on January 1, 2013). In less than a decade, they will be in their 40s and suddenly a very important demographic for most nonprofits. If you ignore them now, it could be to your organization’s peril in the coming years.
“Kids” know older donors: While their closest friends might not have deep pockets, for every Millennial online, there’s a Millennial’s mom who just can’t get enough of her newfound pastime, Facebook. I’ve written and talked quite a bit about “online ambassadors.” Millennials (and the younger Generation Z) have extensive online networks that include older potential donors. A smart strategy for your nonprofit might include leveraging Millennials as online ambassadors and working with them to connect with older, more affluent donors in their online networks.
“Kids” are proven to be successful online fund raisers: For an example of a great online campaign, check out UCSF Benioff’s Challenge for the Children. The brief online campaign (less than a month in length) brought in more $1 million toward construction of the new Benioff Children’s Hospital. The winning team was a software development company, but the second place finisher – someone who beat out much older, more established celebrities like Ashton Kutcher – was 12-year-old Paddy O’Brien. Paddy raised more than $12,000 through 425 donors by working his online network like only “kids” know how.