Survey: Nonprofits' use of social media still spotty

WASHINGTON: Sixty-seven percent of nonprofit executives believe traditional media coverage is more effective than social media at generating fundraising, according to a survey released by Weber Shandwick.

WASHINGTON: Sixty-seven percent of nonprofit executives believe traditional media coverage is more effective than social media at generating fundraising, according to a survey released by Weber Shandwick. Not surprisingly then, only half report using social media on an active level.

Yet, the survey also showed that 88% percent of nonprofits are experimenting with it, and it will be a growth area in the coming year. More than three-quarters intend to make greater use of social media outlets within the next two years.

“A lot of organizations are still looking for ways to integrate social media," said Paul Massey, SVP of WS and co-lead of the Social Impact team, which works with nonprofits. “Nonprofit work with social media is no question a major growth area for 2010. Nonprofits recognize that social media is an incredibly powerful and effective tool, and are experimenting with ways to demonstrate how valuable a tool it can be."

Showing almost 70% of nonprofit professionals expect 2010 communications budgets to remain the same or be decreased, Massey said one perceived challenge of social media growth is finding qualified individuals to implement these strategies.

The issue of staff development might be outweighed by financial benefits. The Military Child Education Coalition (MCEC), a WS client located in Texas, noted that social media can be an effective way to supplement costs.

“Tools like Facebook and Twitter are a useful way to communicate and significantly reduce our overhead costs,” said Ed Veiga, VP of strategic communications and developments for MCEC. The group deals with issues facing children of military troops and personnel, and targets young parents in their 20s, an audience that Veiga said is easily accessible through social media.

“We have a small team working on our communications, but we're updating daily,” Veiga said. “I'd say it comes down to having the right people behind you. An energetic staff can accomplish a great amount with these tools.”

The survey was conducted in conjunction with WS sister agency KRC Research, between July and August. It polled 200 of the agency's nonprofit and foundation clients.

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