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Social Media for the Nonprofit Community: How to Assess All the Options?

Some of you may be familiar with Ken Burnett and his book, Relationship Fundraising (2nd. Ed., Jossey Bass, 2002) which I vamp shamelessly to my clients and my students in my marketing and fundraising classes at Northeastern. A fine book. If you raise money for a living, you want a copy by your side. Particularly his Essential Foundations of Fundraising: 28 bullet points that are quick, helpful reminders of important basics to fundraising best practice.
For example: “Don’t just ask people to give.”
It’s about the relationship first.

And it was written some years before the advent of the Social Media movement.  Facebook. Twitter. LinkedIn. YouTube. Pinterest. And lots lots more.

Most successful development professionals in the world of nonprofits get the concept of Relationships. Many of us are familiar with the teachings of Ken Burnett. And of course Kay Sprinkel Grace, the indefatigable giver of workshops on great boards and great fundraising.

Now all of this has a new level of complexity with the advent of Social Media. Where does it fit? Recently, I mentioned Debra Askanase who tweets as @askdebra and whose Community Organizer 2.0 is helping nonprofits get into focus with Social Media. Clearly, one size does not fit all. Each of us can apply the SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Timely) Goals process to Social Media as part of a well-thought-out marketing strategy for our nonprofit organization.

A smart fellow I rely on for advice and guidance in this area is Bob Cargill, who Tweets as @CargillCreative and whose blog at is a great source of current…and I mean immediate….thinking on application of Social Media in a variety of work and other settings.  I  recommend even if you aren’t a twitterati at the moment, that you sign up for Twitter and follow Bob.  Within a week you will have been linked to loads of thought leaders in Social Media and begin to formulate your own perspective on how you will apply these tools to your nonprofit.  Among other things, Bob very generously speaks with my nonprofit marketing classes at Northeastern University, and co-hosts a tweet-up in Sudbury MA you might want to know about, and will learn about if you follow Bob.

The idea is to identify bright communicators and network mavens who have something of value to share on the subject. This will help you determine where you want to go with Social Media.  It’ll provide a new layer of potential for your relationship fundraising efforts.

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4 Responses to “Social Media for the Nonprofit Community: How to Assess All the Options?”

  • Steve, thanks so much for the kind words! I’ll definitely start following @CargillCreative based on your glowing recommendation. I’m looking forward to reading his tweets and engaging with him.


  • I think you’ll enjoy the connection, Debra. He is an amazingly generous guy whose social media manner is top notch. All the best, Steve

  • Thanks, Steve, for mentioning me in this blog post of yours. I am flattered and honored. I am happy to speak at your Northeastern University class about social media — anytime. And I am very glad to be following both you and Debra Askanase (@askdebra) on Twitter. Social media is a game-changer. And there’s no question that both nonprofits and commercial organizations alike have only begun to scratch the surface when it comes to leveraging its full potential. I look forward to continuing the conversation for a long time to come with you, Debra and anyone else who cares to join us about the future of fundraising, marketing and online communications in general.

  • Thank you, Bob, for your positive, supportive comment. Your insight and your generosity are just two of your great qualities. This makes you not only interesting to follow on Twitter @CargillCreative and your blog, but your approach with people is unparalleled. You are the Johnny Appleseed of social media.

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