Every nonprofit fundraiser knows that data is all-important in any fundraising endeavor. Data is what lets you reach out to your member base through emails and telephone calls. Data is how you keep your members informed and up to date on new initiatives and projects. Data is how you generate the money necessary to keep your nonprofit organization running.

These days data is readily available from many different sources, but one of the greatest boons to data collection for nonprofits has been social media. Social media provides a wealth of data that is unlike anything ever seen before. But this amount of data isn’t always a good thing. Many organizations are running into a new type of problem: they simply have too much data.

Many fundraisers will take the data gathered with social media and immediately input it into their Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system as they have always done with data they have gathered in the past.

Yet this may not be the best approach to take with social data. Many fundraising experts have recently stated that social data ranks among some of the least valuable data for CRM. This is because social data, when unattached to anything else, doesn’t really mean much.
Think about a Twitter handle that mentions your nonprofit. You might jot this down somewhere, or even enter it into your CRM system, but without a name or a phone number attached that Twitter handle is pretty much worthless data as far as fundraising is concerned.

Just because social media isn’t necessarily useful for gathering data certainly does not mean that it doesn’t have its purpose.

Recent studies have found that even nonprofits with a generally older donor base are expected to be active on social media. Even members that don’t use social media want nonprofits to be active so that they can engage a younger generation of donors.

But don’t view social media as a way to raise immediate funds. Social media rarely generates fast cash, but should instead be viewed as a long-term strategy, great for casting a wide net and growing your brand’s recognition.

Many organizations approach social media as a platform for brand building. Social media is great for this, but the fact of the matter is that people don’t want to hear from brands, they want to hear from you.

Nonprofit fundraisers have the unique opportunity to connect with their members on a personal level. Your organization is full of experts on all sorts of things, start putting that expertise to work in your efforts to build a solid web presence.

Social media can be a powerful tool for nonprofits, but it is markedly different than many of the tools used in the past and new strategies must be developed to use it effectively. Nonprofits have a great deal to gain from social media, but it can also be a double-edged sword. Put in the time and effort to engage members and donors and give them what they want and you’ll quickly see the value of social media.

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