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Social Media for Nonprofits: Learning from Beth Kanter


I recently read that approximately 900,000 people post blog entries, daily. As the blogosphere continues to grow, more and more publications are providing readers the ability to subsribe via RSS feeds. This is making it both easier and more cumbersome to keep up with all of the information that is out there. I, as I’m sure many of you do, subscribe via RSS feed, to a variety of different nonprofit blogs and publications. All of them, from The Chronicle of Philanthropy to the Wild Apricot Blog provide useful information and articles regarding goings-on, trends and changes within the sector.

There are a great number of interesting and insightful nonprofit blogs out there, from the Blue Avacado to the Nonprofit Blog Exchange. Rather than just providing a list of all of the resources that exist, I have chosen to highlight one that I personally read and refer to, on an almost daily basis, Beth’s Blog: How Nonprofits Can Use Social Media. Beth Kanter is well-respected within the nonprofit and social media circles, and her blogs always provide useful insight as to how nonprofits can best utilize the realm of social networking, such as facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn, and Twitter. I, along with many others in the nonprofit sector trust and rely on Ms. Kanter’s knowledge and expertise, in the realm of social media, and how it pertains to nonprofits. She is also quick to share information in her blog, that she gains, when attending various conferences. Since many nonprofits simply don’t have the resources to be sending their staff to multi-day conferences, all over the country, knowing that there is someone who is already considered quite an expert, that is eager to share new information, is both valuable and refreshing.

For me, specifically, Beth’s blog has provided insight on corporate blogging, utilizing social media as an internal resource for an organization, and managing multiple social networking outlets. Some of the more recent blog entries on Beth’s Blog include, “Are You A Listening Organization?”, “Organizational Social Relationship Models and Strategies”, and, “Reflections from Network Effectiveness and Social Media Strategy Map Interactive Working Sessions for Packard Foundation Grantees”. (For 2009, she is serving as the Scholar in Residence for Social Media and Nonprofits for the Packard Foundation.) Additionally, she has penned chapters for several books, including “Psychology of Facebook Applications”, while also being named of the 50 most influential female bloggers.

In this age of social media, there are a great many ways that nonprofits can utilize the trend. Social networking can be used to assist in fundraising efforts, keep in touch with donors, and get the word out about the orgnaization. But, as I’m sure many nonprofits have learned, it can also be a lot of work, especially when it not only needs to be done, but done well. After all, any organization’s social media efforts are going to have the potential to reach a vast audience. (Just think about the number of “friends” you may have on facebook, now think about the number of “fans” an organizations page could generate!) As I mentioned earlier, Beth’s Blog is one of my daily reads, and have found it to be interesting, insightful, and valuable. Is your organization thinking about starting a blog? Are you developing a facebook page? Even if these are outlets that your organization is already utilizing, I would encourage any nonprofit who is exploring the realm of social media, to go gain some additional knowledge from Beth Kanter.

Topics: Communications