Nonprofits can be some of the most innovative and creative organizations because they often have to make the most of limited resources. This is particularly true when it comes to marketing and PR, where some have figured out how to turn employees and volunteers into an army of advocates and supporters using social media. Leveraging employee PR power isn’t a groundbreaking concept, but its potential is higher than ever thanks to the proliferation of social media.
I had the opportunity to speak on this subject this week at Social Media For Nonprofits in Seattle, a conference series dedicated to social media for social good. I was in some inspiring company joined by leaders from the nonprofit world, including Peter Drury, Director of Strategy at Splash, Alex Kouts, Senior Director of Product from Razoo and Colin Downey, Director of Communications for the American Red Cross’ Western Washington Region.
Many nonprofits don’t have the resources to dedicate staff to managing social media. According to a social networking benchmark report released by the Nonprofit Technology Network, only 69% of nonprofits have at least one staff member working part-time on social media. While many nonprofits have plans to increase spending on staffing around these resources, the ability to empower all their staff to help them amplify their work via social is invaluable. Not only does it spread the responsibility of content creation and distribution across multiple people, it also allows their most committed ambassadors, their employees, to share their passion for the brand.
This applies to volunteers as well, just as social media allows you to leverage employees’ personal networks to reach new audiences, the same is true of this often untapped resource. A study from the Johns Hopkins University Center for Civil Society showed volunteers make up 44% of the nonprofit workforce. I learned that this is even higher for some nonprofits after speaking to another attendee working at Lifelong, a Seattle-based nonprofit that helps people living with HIV/AIDS, who said their volunteers outnumber their employees 14 to 1.