Getting Started with Social Media Volunteers

by Sean Debutts · 1 comment

After working for six months as the social media coordinator at Puget Sound Blood Center, I’ve learned valuable lessons about cultivating a base of social media volunteers. The social media community has an impressive commitment to volunteerism and nonprofit fundraising that. The Blood Center’s own social media volunteers send alerts via Twitter and Facebook during emergency blood shortages, educate friends through blog posts, leverage their social networks to fill blood drives, and donate special skills such as graphics design.
Before recruiting your own social media volunteers, be sure to have the following tools:

  1. Twitter. Learn this before others. Twitter allows you to rapidly get your nonprofit’s name out and to forge connections. Follow the social media leaders in your community and the potential volunteers you meet at events, and they will begin taking notice of you.
  2. Personal Facebook Profile. After you’ve known a potential volunteer on Twitter for a while, request to become their Facebook friend. Facebook allows for more relaxed, intimate communication.
  3. Facebook Fan Page. This acts as your nonprofit’s Web site on Facebook. Use it to create events, to post updates for volunteers, to share photos and videos, and to acknowledge volunteers.
  4. A Blog. Create one on Blogger.com or WordPress.com. They give much freedom to customize the formatting, theme and multimedia content of posts.
  5. YouTube. This is your free video-hosting service. You can apply for an enhanced nonprofit account.

Use these tools as you network at local social media events. It’s not enough to contact potential volunteers online. Meet them in person. Browse the calendar of your local of chapter of Social Media Media Club. See if your city has tweetups (“Twitter meetups”) or social media charity events. Attend several, and invite others to become social media volunteers after they know you personally.
I started by inviting local social media leaders to spread word about the Blood Center’s first Tweetup Blood Drive. I established a date for this inaugural event and stressed how groundbreaking and exciting it would be. Volunteers received instructions, starting dates, promotional strategies and promotional tools. From June 1 (the start of promotion) to June 23 (The date of the drive), we got almost 200 Retweets, several Blog posts and 35 donations. I made sure to acknowledge all volunteers and blood donors in a publicly viewable blog post, complete with photos and a video highlighting their hard work. Such positive feedback, as I will explain in my next post, is crucial to maintaining your volunteer base.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Joe Garecht November 17, 2009 at 12:12 pm

Great tips. It’s also important to note that your social media efforts should be tied in with your overall fundraising efforts… non-profits should be consistent, and not have one persona in person, another online, and still a third on Twitter and Facebook. Consistency of message and brand matters!

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