Why Nonprofits Need Social Media

As an advocate for the hemophilia community, I have a great appreciation for social media and what it can do for nonprofits. Let me begin by establishing that I am specifically talking about community-based nonprofits who exist for the purposes of educating and advocating on behalf of individuals and families affected by medical disorders.

The problem I see most within the hemophilia community is that local associations, and even national ones, seem to be disconnected from the communities they serve. They have newsletters and websites that connect us, but only the National Hemophilia Foundation and Hemophilia Society of Colorado seem to use social media strategy and planning to connect with their communities. Most others have merely created a Facebook page and/or Twitter account, but have no strategy or plan in place. Some have not even made it that far. Regardless of what stage each organization may be at, all must embrace social media if they plan to exist in five years.

Resources are limited, especially in today's weak economy. Many nonprofits are requesting funds from individuals and organizations who receive proposals and requests from several charities. Competition is fierce and those donating will have to make hard decisions. These decisions will likely include the following questions:

Why does this organization exist and who do they serve?

How do they serve this community and how will my funds serve an individual or family?

Are they making the most of each dollar or are they squandering them on unnecessary events?

In order to compete, nonprofits must be able to show that they know and understand the needs of their community, that they can provide products and services designed to help with those needs, and that they have a sustainable plan to do so.

I believe many nonprofits, including my local association, are disconnected from the communities they serve. They do not know or understand the needs of these communities. This is the foundation for failure. For example, if I need a helmet, but you make me a knee pad, that will not help me with what I need. Sure, I may be able to use a knee pad, but what I really need is a helmet. Nonprofits can easily use social media to listen to their communities, to discover what they need and respond with appropriate products and services. Please stop using outdated traditional models to communicate and interact with members.