Initial Thoughts Regarding Nonprofits & Pinterest

In what seems like an endless sea of people re-pinning cute outfits and photos of animals, the first time I logged on to Pinterest I thought, “This is not for me.”

But, I gave it a shot anyway, despite my initial lackluster feelings for the website.

I realized that the more boards I followed, the more I could avoid the outfits and artsy-inspirational quotes that continuously appeared on my home page. Finally, the things I found interesting (quirky artwork,  healthy recipes and fun craft ideas) were waiting for me whenever I logged on.

Although my feelings for have Pinterest grown in leaps and bounds, I was skeptical the first time I came across a nonprofit using the social media website.

This specific nonprofit is a nation-wide organization, doing amazing things throughout the country. I had high hopes, but I was quickly disappointed.

As I fumbled around their page, clicking on their various boards, I was (for lack of a better word) bored.

Nothing on their Pinterest was new or exciting, everything was just a re-post of material already on their Facebook, a collection of photo albums from various fundraisers and events.

I realized I was not the only person who shared these feelings, reflected in their low number of followers.

This Pinterest account lacked two main things;

-Interaction: What are people suppose to do with photos from their fundraisers? How would Pinterest users benefit from sharing them with their own followers? The photos didn’t have anything to do with the issues the nonprofit is actively trying to fix, the only time they mention their mission is in the small information box at the top of their page. How is this Pinterest account spreading their message?

-New and consistent information: Based on the times that each of their boards were created, someone just created all of the boards one day and has only returned two or three times to post new things. What is the benefit in flooding your followers with information one day every four weeks? Returning to my first point, without new information, there is little opportunity for interaction between the organization and their followers.

But hope is not lost- The deeper I dive into the nonprofit-Pinterest waters, the more I’m realize that this site could be very beneficial when used the right way and a bundle of nonprofits are already using the social media site to their advantage.

Stay tuned for future blogs about specific nonprofits that are using Pinterest in fun, engaging and interesting ways!

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What Should Be On Your Nonprofit’s Website

Fall term of this year I found myself really wanting to volunteer with a specific organization, but when I went to their website it was a wreck. The “current projects” information tab hadn’t been update since the previous summer, there was no information about volunteering and there were no stories on who they had helped or what they had done.

I surprised me because, in my opinion, a website (along with social media) is one of the most important ways for an organization to interact with people.

Here are the basics nonprofit organization’s website requirements:

Your Organizations Mission Statement
This may seem obvious, but it is a very important part of your website. Sometimes, organizations names are misleading. By sharing your mission statement with your on-line viewers, it let’s them know exactly what it is that you do and what you are working towards.

“Who We’ve Helped”
Personally, I like to see results. I like to see who/where an organization has helped, because personal stories are so much easier to relate to than just plain statistics. If an organization can prove to me that they can use their donations and grants wisely, I will be much more willing to donate to them. Without this section on an organizations website, the chances of me giving them money is approximately 0 percent.

Volunteer profiles
Although most people are not volunteering for publicity, a little appreciation from an organization is always nice. Volunteers take the time to come help your organization, and they do it all for free. Why not give them a special thank-you for all that they do?

“How YOU Can Help!”
Not everyone is made for the same job. Some people prefer hands-on work, while others prefer clerical work in an office. By listing all of the different tasks that you need help with, it increases the volunteer response because people know you have a specific duty for them.

Be accessible

Additional useful tips when putting together a website:

  • You can never have too many photos.
  • Provide your office address, phone numbers, e-mail addresses, etc, to increase accessibility for donations, volunteer sign-up, e-mail registration, telephone calls and drop-in visitors.
  • Link to your social media for increased availability (if you don’t have a Facebook and Twitter, get them ASAP.)

Here is a great list of 40 beautiful nonprofit organization’s websites.

Photo by Vilseskogen

The Importance of Social Media for Nonprofit Organizations

According to mashable.com, there are more than 400 million members on Facebook and approximately 6 million members on Twitter.

All of these people log onto social networking websites daily to do more than just keep in touch with friends and followers. A majority of people go to these websites to receive news as well.

For nonprofit organizations, social media websites such as Facebook and Twitter are great resources. Here is why:

Social media provides two-way communication.

Twitter and Facebook allow organizations to be a part of a real conversation, instead of just receiving feedback. Be sincere and use this feedback to better your company.

You can’t afford to ignore what people are saying about you on-line. Whether or not you are on Facebook or Twitter, people ARE talking about you. Don’t ignore it.

By being on Facebook and Twitter you are able to respond quickly. Customers and supporters appreciate quickness.

Social media allows organizations to reach and find supporters.
I know quite a few people who won’t make an effort to look for a new nonprofit organization that they would really like to support. Instead, they just stick with the really well-known nonprofits and donate their money to them.

Being on Facebook and Twitter has opened me up to a lot of really great nonprofit organizations I never would have known about before I was active on these websites.

Social media allows an organization to show their appreciation.
When a nonprofit organization follows me back on Twitter, I feel appreciated. When a nonprofit organization acknowledges something of theirs that I’ve retweeted, I feel appreciated. When a nonprofit organization gives me a special shout-out for mentioning them in my blog, I feel appreciated.

Cool. So I feel appreciated, what does that have to do with anything?

When people feel appreciated by an organization, they are more likely to return as volunteers, donors and/or supporters.

Social media allows organizations to show that they are human.
You are human. The people who run your organization are human. The volunteers who help you are human. Be human.

Humans are adaptive. Although your non-profit organization may have been successful without social media, times are changing. As more people throughout the world become more social media savvy, the more nonprofits need to develop social media plans and gain their online presence in order to keep these supporters.

To sum it up, nonprofit organizations need to utilize their social media. Websites such as Facebook and Twitter allow people to get to know an organization on a much deeper level than they would by just visiting their website. People appreciate interaction with organizations and that is what social media provides.

Photo by by TT PHOTOGRAPHY

How to Ace Your Interview

Recently, I read a blog featuring ten tips on how to ace a job interview really interested me.

This summer, I spent a few days sitting in on job interviews for an open position at the organization where I was interning. Throughout those interviews, I made a lot of mental notes of what to do, and not do, during future interviews.

Here are my favorite tips from this blog, as well as a few of my own.

Tips from the blog:
Be certain you understand the question.
Don’t be afraid to ask for clarification.
If you aren’t certain of what the interviewer is asking you, it is better to ask for clarification rather than talking about something off-topic. Not paying attention during the interview shows that you might not pay attention to directions once you get hired as well, and that’s never an appealing employee trait.

Avoid the use of negative terms in your answers. Instead of problems, talk about challenges or opportunities.
No one likes someone who is negative all the time. If you can’t keep a positive attitude during the interview it is a red flag that you’ll complain if/when you get the job too.

Prepare, but don’t over-do it. Your answers should come naturally, not sound like a script.
Find a list of the “most common interview questions” on-line and think about how you would answer them. Keep them in mind as you prepare for the interview, but do not memorize answers.

My own tips:
Research the organization and the position before the interview.

Some of the main questions they asked during the interviews I sat-in on were, “why would you be a good fit for our organization?” and even more bluntly, “what do you know about us?”

If you can’t answer these basic questions, then obviously you don’t want the position badly enough and no one will want to hire you.

Be confident in you and your abilities.
One of the interviews that I remember most vividly is one of a woman who was very shy and quiet. Being nervous is totally understandable during an interview, but it is also a turn-off for potential employers.

If you can’t be confident in yourself, why should anyone else be? The interview is the time to sell yourself to an employer and an organization.

Just remember that there was a reason that an organization called you for an interview.  You obviously have something that appeals to them, so just be yourself.

For the rest of the tips, check out the blog here.

Photo by Richard.Asia

Going Rogue: Mistweets Happen

This week, the Red Cross fell victim to a much publicized mistweet. Unlike the Kenneth Cole mishap (see my previous blog) that happened recently, a woman got her Red Cross twitter and personal twitter mixed up. The result? A personal (and slightly embarrassing) tweet on the Red Cross’s account for all of its 250,000+ followers to see.

To summarize what happened next, the Red Cross came back with a comical reply to inform their Twitter followers that the whole thing was just a mix-up. The woman who actually wrote the tweet also came forward and took responsibility for it on her personal Twitter (where the initial tweet was supposed to be posted.)

For the sake of space and time, I’m not going to go into all of the details of the situation, but here is a great article that explains the series of events involving the rogue Red Cross tweet.

After posting a question on Twitter asking what everyone thought about how the Red Cross handled their situation, I quickly received this reply from Jackie Mitchell, Director of Marketing and Communications from the Red Cross of Greater Chicago.

I love how Jackie puts it. When mistweets happen, the organization cannot decided the outcome, BUT with an active social media community, a great organization, a trusting boss, a combination of  seriousness and sense of humor and a little bit of karma, the ability to come out on top of the situation is amazing.

The Red Cross also posted this blog, which sums up nicely how they dealt with the rogue tweet. (Pay special attention to their “2 words of caution” listed at the bottom, I still can’t get over how much I love their sense of humor.)

Here are the top 5 lessons I learned from Red Cross’s reaction to their Twitter mix-up.

  1. Everyone makes mistakes: The people who run Twitter for various organizations are real people and the Red Cross is no exception. Technology is confusing and everyone is bound to make a mistake or two.
  2. Delete the comment, but make sure you tell everyone you did and explain what happened: Just deleting the Tweet or comment is suspicious. Acknowledging something as a mistake is much more understandable than deleting something and leaving readers to question “…what was that?”
  3. Laugh at yourself: What else can you do? If you worry about losing a job because of a mistweet, remember that a general rule of thumb is to not post anything on-line that you wouldn’t want your grandmother to see or read.
  4. Move on: Don’t dwell on the situation. Everyone wishes they had a magical time machine to rewind time and re-do some situations, but magical time machines don’t exist. Deal with the effects from the mistweet and be done with it.
  5. Don’t let it happen again: Everyone understands that accidents happen, once in a while. Frequent mistweets show un-professionalism and in effect lowers your organizations credibility.

Note: These tips only refer to situations where someone accidentally posted a tweet onto a different Twitter than it was meant for, and are not for cases where people tweet something they never should have tweeted in the first place (example: Kenneth Cole.)

Nonprofit Packers

I dedicate this blog to the winners of Super Bowl XLV, the Green Bay Packers.

After reading a recent blog I learned this fun fact:

The Green Bay Packers are the only NONPROFIT professional, major league sports team in the country.

How is this possible?

Well, instead of having one individual owner, the Green Bay Packers franchise has more than one hundred thousand individuals who own a total of 4,750,937 shares of this corporation.

To keep everything equal and prevent any individual from gaining total control over the team, there is a limit of owning 200,000 maximum shares. The shareholders then elect a board of directors and an executive committee to represent an owner at the NFL (national football league) Owner’s Meetings.

The Community Involvement page of Packers.com includes a community outreach report that explains all of the different causes, events and organizations that they support. This part of their website is definitely worth taking a look at.

The team’s charitable efforts in the last year alone totals approximately $4 million.

The Green Bay Packers are an anomaly amongst other teams in the NFL. They go above and beyond to support their community and in return, their community continually supports them.

Here are some links to articles regarding the Packers use of fans and their community involvement:

Charities find receptive crowd at Green Bay Packers games

Packers Return to Green Day As Super Bowl Champs

With voter approval, work on renovating Lambeau Field will start after this season

Photo by cdw9

Buy A Life, Literally

Recently I wrote about a blog about a Twitter campaign that I wasn’t a huge fan of, so this week I decided to share one that I really liked.

Digital Death is a campaign by the nonprofit organization, Keep A Child Alive, which aims to provide funds for necessary HIV/AIDS medicine for children in Africa and India. Not only does this organization fund the treatment of HIV/AIDS, but it also provides care for these children and orphans, and promotes awareness about the fight against this issue.

Digital Death works by recruiting some of the world’s most famous (and social media savvy) celebrities to digitally “die”.

This means no more updating Twitter, and no more posting on Facebook.

The catch?

Their fans had to go on-line and pay to bring them back to digital “life”.  Once $1,000,000 was raised, the celebrities could go back to updating their Twitter and Facebook like usual.

Since the donations buy medicine that keeps children alive, the donators are almost literally buying a life (at least helping to prolong a life anyway).

One of my biggest complaints about #BeatCancer was that the website was inadequate, but this is one of my favorite parts about Keep a Child Alive.

Their website tells you exactly where they work, what they are doing and how many children they have helped in each area. There are tons of photos on the website showing pictures of the people and places they help too.

I love it.

Keep a Child Alive also has so very catchy merchandise like this shirt. (Birthday present anyone? Color: White. Size: Small)

Here is a video that explains more about the mission of Keep a Child Alive.

Photo by Johnny Vulkan