Social media is becoming a not for profit’s world

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Australians are amongst the highest social media users in the world and we are increasingly using our social media presence to fundraise and raise awareness about a myriad of causes to help others. However, in a rapidly changing world it can be hard to navigate the dos and don’ts of fundraising via social media.

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics there are over 600,000 not for profit organisations active in Australia with an estimated 59,000 classed as “economically significant”, meaning they contribute  $43 billion to our GDP and fill 8% of employment.

A lack of resources is an all too common problem for not for profit organisations, therefore, new low cost strategies involving social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram are now being used to connect with millions of people around the world in order to gain a piece of the fundraising market.

It is estimated that 97 per cent of Australian not for profits have a social media presence and according to the 2012 Font Social Media Index more than half of Tasmanian businesses and organisations do not have a written social media policy.

For organisations who engage in fundraising through social media, a formal social media policy and strategy is vital. It creates guidelines around who is in control, dictates appropriate proactive and reactive use and allows targets to be set and progress to be monitored.

One of the biggest complaints about fundraising on social media is in regards to spamming users and social media sites. A social media strategy will reduce the risk associated with connecting with your target audience. Not only can a lack of strategy lead to loss of brand credibility, audience and donations,  it can also lead an organisation being blocked from certain social media sites.

In a world first, the nation’s peak fundraising body – Fundraising Institute of Australia (FIA) have decided to fill the gap in policy, by releasing some best practice guidelines for fundraising on social media. The guidelines focus on three main principles, Transparency, Accountability and Respect, to assist the effectiveness of social media fundraising for organisations in Australia.

FIA accounts for over 1500 individuals and 200 organisations and the new standards cover ethical and best practice guidelines specifically aimed at fundraising activity on social media, but with a different approach than the standards covering traditional forms of media.

As social media is continuously evolving the laws and methods for activity notoriously lag, however, implementing a sound risk management and social media strategy based on guidelines provided by FIA is a good starting point for any fundraising venture.



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