Social Media and the Voluntary Sector

Posted on Jun 22, 2009 by Administrator

I did some excellent training today with Nathalie from On Road Media today on social media and the voluntary sector.  While many charities and NGOs in Ireland tend to lag behind their counterparts in the UK when it comes to embracing Web 2.0,  there are signs that some of them are beginning to take social media more seriously. Irish charities working overseas have been leading users of social media . Trocaire has effectively used Youtube and blogged about it's Grow Climate Justice campaign and Concern makes good use of the Concern blog. Oxfam Ireland have embraced Twitter for both campaigning and fundraising. However it seems to be much harder to find Irish charities working at home that actively use social media. There are exceptions of course and for example Bodywhys - the Eating Disorders Association of Ireland has active Facebook, Twitter and Bebo pages. Many Irish based charities have static websites that rarely change with the exceptional press release or update from fundraising activities. Websites are frequently thrown up as an afterthought instead of being entrenched within the charity's overall strategy. Yet substanitial amounts are handed over to web developers and designers without any great thought about what content will be on the site or who is going to update it. As budgets contract NGOs are loathe to commit time and resources to peripheral activities. While this sentiment is understandable there is a need for to charities to go to the people and a hell of a lot of people are online. I'm no expert on social media, but here are a few thoughts following on from what I heard today:
  • Social media need not be expensive and in fact most of it is free (other than your time).
  • Charities need not spend hours and hours developing online content, but they must commit enough time to social media to keep things current (otherwise there is not much point).
  • Take your policy head off - people blog not organisations, make it personal - let go a little.
  • Incorporate social media into your strategy and don't let it be an afterthought.
  • Choose the right platform for you (Twitter, Facebook, blogs, Youtube etc)
  • Everyone in your organisation has something to say from CEOs to maintenance staff to service users - let them have some input - what's the worst that could happen?
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