Pew’s Center on the Internet and American Life has just released a study that creates a strong connection between Internet users and social causes.
According to the study:
“It becomes clear as people are asked about their activities that their use of the internet is having a wide-ranging impact on their engagement with civic, social, and religious groups.”
Here is a great table from the report summing up the major differences between Internet and non-Internet users and their engagement with causes:
The flip side of these results are the 2011 Nonprofit Communications Trend Report, a survey data from 780 nonprofit organizations courtesy of Kivi Leroux Miller. According to this study:
- 75% of nonprofits say they’ll email supporters at least monthly. Nonprofit Comm Trends Report http://kivilm.com/trends
- Facebook comes after only websites and email as important communications tools for nonprofits http://kivilm.com/trends
- 34% of nonprofits say Twitter is a very or somewhat important tool. Nonprofit Comm Trends Report. http://kivilm.com/trends
- Facebook beats Twitter, 79% to 34% as important to nonprofit marketers. Nonprofit Comm Trends Report. http://kivilm.com/trends
- What excites nonprofit communicators: new ways to connect w/ supporters, social media & better comm integration. http://kivilm.com/trends
All of our problems are solved, right? Nope, because the last bullet on Kivi’s summary list is this one:
What scares nonprofit communicators: money woes, hard-to-implement comm strategies & lack of staff time. http://kivilm.com/trends
Individuals are finding causes and becoming involved, according to a survey last year from Blackbaud donors that give online stay longer and give more and nonprofit organizations, and nonprofit organizations are increasingly, and successfully, using social media to connect with donors and activists.
And yet nonprofits are still bemoaning the fact that they cannot commit staff to social media. They could if it was important enough. How much time and energy are spent on activities that are unproductive and out-of-step with the social world, like direct mail, I wonder?
Given all of this evidence, plus the data showing the large amount of hours spent online by grown ups every month (Over 36 hours a month for people between the ages of 35-64, prime giving years), what is stopping every single nonprofit organization from putting every ounce of energy, every dollar they have, into building relationships online? What’s stopping them are senior executives and board members who refuse to believe that social media are important, who refuse to engage themselves, and think continuing to think and act in analog ways will continue to work.
That’s our challenge this year, to enlist everyone who is online, every staff person, volunteer and board member who is engaged and learning how to use the channels to raise awareness and activate people for their causes to make the case to the bottleneck people within their organizations that the above data are simply too compelling to wait another second before significantly reconfirming their budgets, staffs and structures and immerse themselves in the social world awaiting them.