By: Dave Ed On: April 03, 2012 In: Opinion Comments: 0

Many charities are finding that the traditional one sided dialogue with supporters might not be enough. Sure, supporters come in all shapes and sizes, reasons for giving are complex, some want to be more involved than others, and everyone has a different take on what involvement means. But if an organisation is going to reach out to new audiences, gain the all important recommendation, create a buzz…without spending loads of money on Direct Mail (money that could be better spent on projects or converting donors into committed givers) then they have to embrace what is actually a technological gift, the natural home to any charity (especially those who are seeing their donor base ageing and narrowing). Social Media.

And to do that they have to understand the rules. It’s about being in it together, not overtly selling. It’s about being open and equitable, having a genuine conversation, the transparent sharing of information, an honest discussion of views, values, goals, good things as well as bad. And also, that the charity only exist, the work will only get done, if others can be bothered to engage.

And it takes a different tone of voice. But, and I think this is the crux of it, not a new tone of voice. It’s a welcome step back from the over polished ‘Charity Brand’ we’ve seen proliferate in recent years. Social Media is the opportunity for charities to be seen, once again, to be run by committed, passionate, totally engaged individuals. These are the driving force of any charity ( one of their greatest assets) and they’ve been hidden behind brand identities, design styles and colour ways. All very good, but slightly homogenising, dispassionate, don’t you think? Which is ironic.

Ignoring social media isn’t an option. Most of the tools are available free of charge, anyway, so there’s going to be a time when donors are going to ask, ‘why on earth are you spending so much of my money on paid media?’ And they’ll be right.

The trick is to have a good idea. A great idea. An idea that is relevant, that is ‘on message’, ‘on brand’ but also online. And it’s got to be an idea that captures their imagination, an original creative idea that engages them, that puts them in control of the information you want them to have.

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