Thursday, September 30, 2010

"the community is the end goal."

reposted from: http://philanthropy.com/blogPost/Social-Networks-Shouldnt-Be/27055/

Social Networks Shouldn't Be Used Solely as Fund-Raising Tools

By Derek Lieu
For as long as nonprofit groups have used social-media tools, they have faced the perplexing problem of Internet money math: How do all of those supporters and friends add up to real dollars in the door?

But Zachary Sniderman, an assistant features editor for Mashable.com, suggests that money shouldn't necessarily be the object of nonprofit groups' social-media efforts. Social good, after all, is also about the process of bringing people together.

Take the Livestrong campaign. The group behind the ubiquitous golden wristband, the Lance Armstrong Foundation, recently started a Facebook campaign that encouraged fans to share their personal cancer stories on the social-networking Web site. The foundation wasn't trying to raise money through this effort. It was trying to bring people together behind its cause.

In this case, Mr. Sniderman writes, "the community is the end goal." The campaign did raise money, but as Brooke McMillan, the Lance Armstrong Foundation's online manager, said in the Mashable post, the social good came from "the actions of the people in the community."

Participation in online communities, Mr. Sniderman writes, "can help make [donors] feel like they are part of the organization and part of the solution."

That connection is crucial for advocacy groups, which depend on mobilizing members to rally in support of their causes. "Having a million people is more important than having $1-million," says Ben Rattray, chief executive of the social-change Web site Change.org.

Do you agree with this assessment? Is social media truly changing the way nonprofits connect with supporters—or are these tools merely new ways to accomplish the same goal?

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