We’re almost constantly being approached to help one charity or another; sometimes it seems that these requests are coming daily – whether this is reality or not, it certainly seems like it.

Having worked for or been involved with charitable organisations for a number of years I’ve seen many “pitch styles” used, pulling at heart strings, guilt, or more sincere approaches simply asking people to give as much (or as little) as they can.

Something I’m finding difficult to understand is why more charities, community groups and the like aren’t using social media to tap into and connect, communicate with the potential huge supporter base it could offer.

Sure some don’t have the resources to do this; some have such tight budgets that even getting someone in to help them navigate the social media stream can be prohibitive.

In the work I do for community groups I’ve seen organisations using social media really well, others are making an attempt, while the third group have said “we just can’t see how it will benefit us”.

Recently I spoke at a charity’s conference on using social media; it was apparent from the instant I started talking that they could see how effective this could be. Sure there can be challenges (who speaks, what’s said, how often), but any challenge can be overcome with the right planning and strategy being implemented from the outset.

If more charities were to start using social media I’m sure they would soon discover that they not only connect with potential supporters, but they would soon start building relationships with other groups in the community. If they are able to build these relationships I’m confident that like in business, knowledge will be shared, tips will be passed on, and they may even discover more cost effective ways to raise the funds they need.

Those in business who are using social media know and understand the opportunities it enables to reach the masses, which makes for some interesting and perhaps unique ways of marketing for business, so why not for charity as well?

The potential social media offers business can also mean great things for charities and community groups.

When once we were only able to talk with our current supporters and those identified as being potential supporters, social media now opens more doors to enable messages to get out there. The opportunities social media gives mean that messages are able to be spread wider than ever possible before.

Using social media gives anyone a better way to find people, and when it comes to charities it means you can find people who care about a causes; once you’ve ‘found’ then there’s the chance to connect with them, build a relationship and get them to help.

It won’t happen overnight, but building an online relationship with ‘your’ supporters means you have a quick, easy and virtually free way to gain more help and support.

Charities who adopt social media as part of their communication strategy will soon find that their ‘first level’ supporters will pass on messages to their friends and other connections on social media sites – meaning messages will be transmitted exponentially. You can’t get this from a phone call, from a mailer or by having people on the street asking for support.

For charities or others working in the community wanting to venture into the world of social media check out #10Ways to Support Charity Through Social Media,

The tips given are:

Ø  Writing a blog post

Ø  Sharing stories with friends

Ø  Following charities on social networks

Ø  Supporting causes on awareness hubs

Ø  Finding volunteer opportunities

Ø  Embedding widgets on your site,

Ø  Organizing tweetups

Ø  Expressing yourself with video

Ø  Signing or starting a petition

Ø  Organizing an online event

Whatever a charity, or anyone using social media should understand is that a simple, quick message on one social media site can and will soon spread. The important thing is to connect, join in the conversation and engage; it’s not the place to be pleading for help, subtlety works best.

You’ll find support will come your way simply by spreading your message, letting people know what you are doing, and showing examples of the work being done.

Don’t miss the boat, get on board and start sailing in the waters of Social Media, you have nothing to lose.

(This post originally appeared on AdageBusiness)


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