I’ve worked for different types of non-profits, from local arts institutions to international development groups, and I agree with Nicole that the keys to demonstrating ROI are similar no matter what type of organization you are. Thankfully, with the sophistication of digital and social media, organizations can communicate with more impact than ever before. Non-profits are not only utilizing digital and social media, but also revolutionizing their storytelling through these channels. To bring your non-profit into the digital conversation, take some inspiration from the following trailblazing strategies:
Compel people to care with vivid testimonials.
Working for a nonprofit focused on economic development, I was often asked, “Why should I care about Africa when there are so many people suffering right here?” Persuade donors by identifying the basic human experiences they share with their beneficiaries. For example, CARE creates a powerful emotional experience through women’s testimonials of marriage, motherhood and education—all captured in multimedia. These share-able stories can strike up robust online dialogue among Facebook and Twitter followers.
Highlight progress with geomapping.
Non-profits have traditionally relied on impressive quantitative results to help demonstrate progress toward their vision. Now, digital technologies such as geomapping provide new, but just as compelling, ways to showcase your organization’s ability to create change. CharityWater lets you chart the drilling of new wells. And don’t miss Ushahidi, an organization that made a name for itself crowd-sourcing live reports of the violence in Kenya in 2008.
Experience the cumulative effect of micro-donations.
Can $10 make a dent in a global problem? A few organizations have innovated project-based funding by bringing their programs to life online, in real time. Visit Donor’s Choose and Kiva and see how a micro-donation of $5 buys a book for a classroom, or how $25 purchases a micro-loan for a rural farmer. This novel approach gives greater meaning to small contributions—and the bonus is experiencing how a community of donors makes an even bigger impact.
These examples show that non-profits can be pioneers in the use of digital and social media. With rapidly evolving technology, new opportunities await the next entrepreneurial organization.