Using Social Networking Sites to Attract Constituents

At the quarterly Not-for-Profit Webmaster Round Table meeting this week, I initiated a discussion on social networking, stimulated by Tuesday’s Wall Street Journal article, A New Generation Reinvents Philanthropy. In addition to the popular MySpace and Facebook sites, the article mentioned many new ways in which our supporters are finding to raise money for their favorite causes.

David Milner, who has run the webmaster group for several years, raised an interesting question.  If pages are created on these new sites and successfully generate interest in the organization, this will hopefully increase traffic to the nonprofit’s main web site.  But if the nonprofit maintains the MySpace and Facebook sites while neglecting its own web site, how will this come across to the constituent?  I also asked – how does the nonprofit decide which content to put on these sites while making sure there is consistency with its own web site?

The social networking sites present an interesting opportunity for us to engage a new audience.  It is likely that visitors will seek out an organization on these new networks before visiting an organization’s main web site.  So we’ll need to make sure that our nonprofits have a presence on these new sites while also keeping our own web sites fresh.  This will be a challenge, but it’s easier to go where our constituents are than hope that they’ll find our organization web sites.

In addition to MySpace Impact and Facebook’s Causes, other sites mentioned in the article that are attracting interest especially among younger constituents include, DoSomething, Firstgiving, GiveMeaning, Kiva and SixDegrees.