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PR Works Podcast: How Non-Profits Use Social Media

Lori Halley 27 April 2009 2 comments

I’ve just been listening to a podcast of Lee Weinstein’s conversation with public relations consultant Donna Gibbs on how non-profits are successfully using social media right now, where Gibbs shines a light on the social media marketing activities — on Facebook, YouTube, Twitter — of two charities she’s involved with personally.

The power of the Internet means that even smaller amounts by individuals can make a big difference because of (a) the sheer volume of givers and (b) tools that are readily available and free to use. The idea of One Million Women for Women, an intiative of the Women’s Foundation of California, is to turn a $10 contribution via Facebook Causes application into $10 million to support women and girls in California.

About 60% of people make donations based on personal recommendation, so it makes good sense to leverage pre-existing personal networks, such as those of Facebook users. As for the demand on resources, this Cause was set up by WFoC staff members who were already avid Facebook users, and took only a couple of hours to put in place.

How’s it working out?

The Women’s Foundation of California is about 1/2 way to its fundraising goal on this campaign, Gibbs says — but the benefits go beyond fundraising; they’re also recruiting new people to join the cause, which has “added to their database by a huge number.”

Some people made financial donations; others have simply joined the cause. Those are people that the non-profit can now contact to inform them about up-coming legislation that impacts the lives of women in California, helping the organization to become a better conduit of information and create more political activity on behalf of its constituents.

When we think about charity and giving, a lot of times we think: Wow, I gotta write the big check! Whereas, when you use the power of social networks, $10 can, magnified by a million women, have a huge impact.

Money raising is one important element,but another important element is just getting people involved. Take Meals on Wheels, for example. In addition to nutritious home-prepared meals, one of the most important functions that Meals on Wheels provides is the friendship that a volunteer brings to an isolated senior — so the organization is in the process of developing a video series that focuses attention on the human connection contributed by Meals on Wheels volunteers each day.

The organization is also looking at a follow-on campaign that involves Twitter to drive volunteer activitiy, with an on-going series of “tweets” from “a young SF idealist who donates his time to a lonely senior and in the process really learns more about himself.” The Twitter persona will be a real Meals on Wheels volunteer, Gibbs says. 

Targeting the under-30 crowd, they’re hoping to make the microblog’s content “interesting enough that people will want to follow the volunteer’s exploits with Meals on Wheels each week” and perhaps be inspired to follow his lead. 

It should be interesting to see how this campaign unfolds!

The conversation with Donna Gibbs is archived as Episode 8 of the PR Works Internat Radio Show. The recording cuts off early, just short of the 18 minute mark, but non-profits looking for ideas for getting started in social media will find it worth a listen —and past shows on other topics in public relations can also be heard at or downloaded from www.smallplateradio.com/003.

Thanks to Judy Gombita for the tip on this podcast series!

Lori Halley [Engaging Apricot] Lori Halley [Engaging Apricot]

Posted by Lori Halley [Engaging Apricot]

Published Monday, 27 April 2009 at 2:58 AM


  • Doug Zanger said:

    Tuesday, 28 April 2009 at 12:22 PM

    Hello. Thanks so much for the mention. We really appreciate it.

    We just double-checked the audio and the entire episode seems to be fine. So sorry for any inconvenience.

    Doug Zanger


    Small Plate Radio

  • Lori Halley [Engaging Apricot] Lori Halley [Engaging Apricot]

    Lori Halley [Engaging Apricot] said:

    Tuesday, 28 April 2009 at 12:27 PM

    Thanks for the update, Doug - I'm headed back over to hear the rest of the audio right now!

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