As professionals, these sites also become a terrific, low-cost way to access continuing education. On Facebook and Linkedin, for example, group pages provide discussion boards or "walls" on which people can post and answer questions. The sites also allow individuals to post interesting news articles or releases. If you are not already a part of these groups and actively participating, you should sign up and get started. And don't forget to join the AHP Linkedin Group or the AHP Facebook Group, by searching for 'The Association for Healthcare Philanthropy' and then requesting to join.
A few months ago, I was writing a fundraising appeal and hit a major case of writer’s block. I know the postscript is the most important part of the letter, but I wasn’t able to create a compelling one. So, in desperation, I tweeted “This PS sucks, can you help?” and included the P.S. Within minutes I had suggestions that were far better. And one person even asked me to send her my entire appeal to look over. Her edits made the letter even more compelling!
And as members of these professional groups attend conferences and seminars, an increasing number of them are sending updates while they’re in the session. We all saw this as congressmen and women tweeted during President Obama’s not-the-State-of-the-Union speech. If we aren’t able to be physically present, we can still use these tools to learn what others are learning.
All for free.
When I first joined Twitter, I started following a bunch of fellow fundraisers. We ask questions as issues come up during the day. Some of these fundraisers tweet from conferences they're attending. They’ll often append their tweets with a label so it makes it easy to follow those threads. In one case, people thought I’d been at a conference in the UK simply because I replied to tweets from conference attendees!
It’s Not Twitter, It’s the Relationships, Stupid.
It’s so easy to get enamored with new technology. But it’s not about the tools. It’s not about obsessing over Twitter or Facebook. Social media sites allow you to extend conversations with donors, build stronger relationships between them and your organization, listen to what others are saying about your cause or your organization, and meet colleagues for training and for real- time help. And it’s free.
Who wouldn’t want a free tool that offered all that?
Finally, even if we’re not experimenting with these tools, our donors are. More and more donors are finding ways to use social media to raise funds for their favorite causes. And most of these folks aren’t “asking permission,” they’re just doing it. Wouldn’t we all want donors like that?!