The recent discussion about the use of Twitter and other social media sites by fundraisers flagged up some really interesting points both for and against.
Both sides were compelling. However – and this is probably unsurprising, considering I’m the online editor of Third Sector and champion of all things digital – I came down in favour of using social media, and Twitter in particular.
As an initial Twitter doubter, I’ve since seen the error of my ways and now can’t imagine my working life without using it in some capacity – whether to help source stories, read comments or do research.
There was some concern among the commentators that Twitter is an invasion of privacy and that it would therefore be inappropriate for fundraisers to use it to approach donors. However, I think this misses the beauty of this social networking tool.
Users willingly sign up, knowing that they may be messaged by those that follow them and those that don’t. It is the very nature of the site. It promotes engagement and discussion and, most importantly, interaction.
It can help give an organisation a more human face by making a charity more approachable. And it offers engagement on a level that chugging and door-to-door fundraiser hasn’t been able to, by providing a open, relaxed environment where a donor or charity supporter can raise any concerns or issues they have with an organisation immediately, without having to wait weeks for a letter or phone call, and maybe even for no response at all.
It is also an information-sharing space, where people can learn more about organisations, about what’s new and interesting, and helps to develop relationships and connections.
It’s true a charity’s Twitter feed shouldn’t be a series of mundane messages, and nor should it become overly familiar or unprofessional. There is a balance to be struck. But it’s definitely worth a try.
And I don’t believe it should replace other forms of fundraising, which have been tried and tested and are successful. Instead, it should sit alongside them, because charities that aren’t using Twitter are missing out. So go on, give it a go…