This is cross-posted in the Huffingtonpost Impact Section.
According to nonprofit insiders, the last few years have been quite a financial struggle. The beginning of 2010 brought an unexpected bright spot with the surprising popularity of mobile funding, which was used effectively by the Red Cross, Habitat for Humanity and others to fundraise for Haitian Relief. Building on that inspiring moment of global citizenry, nonprofits continue their quest for the funding to stay operational, and, for an understanding of the challenges that await them.
As we move deeper into this new decade, Shauna Causey, an immensely creative and strategic thinker, is emerging as one of the most powerful advocates the nonprofit community has in its corner. Beloved as she is respected; and dynamic as she is charitable. She sits on four nonprofit boards, and is the founder of the widely acclaimed Voluntweetup, which helps to train nonprofit entitles on great ways to use social media.
Recently, it was announced that VolunTweetup is going global. This is great news for those of us familiar with Causey’s extraordinary work. From continent to continent, she’ll now be able to show nonprofits how to connect with their target audience, refine their message, and to engage social media sites like Twitter and Facebook in ways that can pay huge dividends.
As my interview with her reveals, this is a woman on a mission. And nonprofit services — advocacy, arts, civic, cultural, education, health and otherwise — will greatly benefit from her expertise.
What are some of the strategies you urge nonprofits to adopt?
I ask non-profits to consider a few thoughts: treat social media primarily as a friend-finder rather than a fundraiser, be incredibly generous, and look for ways to empower the community and create advocates for your cause. In addition, I’ve been spending a lot of time helping non-profits with the three ideas below. Now that many non-profits have accounts already set-up, we’re moving past the basics and digging deeper into strategies:
Make Social Media Work For You. So many non-profits see social media as a chore rather than a strategic way to interact with their community to yield serendipitous results. Whatever goal a non-profit has: finding board members, raising awareness, finding funding opportunities, connecting with lobbyists, or finding keynote speakers for an annual luncheon, using social media channels can be the most important asset in reaching those goals. Twestival is a great example of this. From start to finish, the entire fundraising event was planned and executed using social media channels. And what a great success story! The last Twestival in March raised $460,000 and attracted 14,000 people to raise money for Concern Worldwide.
Make People Smile. Add humor and wit. I encourage non-profits to mix in fun messages with their educational pieces. I saw a very simple example recently from the Humane Society that made me smile. Mixed between tweets raising awareness about puppy mills and tweets interacting with others, was this photo of an adorable dog with a note saying “Happy Friday!”
Diversify The Social Media Tool Box: Livestream a press conference or interview with the Executive Director, share volunteer photos on Flickr, and post an event on Plancast. Meet people in person by going to social media, blogging and tech events. I had a chance to meet Bonin Bough from Pepsi while I was at South by Southwest. Pepsi’s massive project to help non-profits, Pepsi Refresh, is impressive. They are sharing non-profits’ stories through photos, pictures, video and audio and they show up in-person to events. They’re also putting their money where it counts, ditching the Super Bowl ads this year to give more than $20 million to non-profits through social media outreach. Another example is Mark Horvath. He uses a myriad of channels–the most powerful being video–to raise awareness about extreme poverty and homelessness through his InvisiblePeople.tv channel.
What has the response been like so far for your seminars?
I started Voluntweetup but it’s an event owned by the community. We’ve had three Voluntweetup events so far and I’ve been blown away at the talented people who’ve volunteered and the turnout from non-profits. Voluntweetup is a completely free training event for non-profits and a volunteer event for many of the top social media talent. It’s “unconference” style which means the community determines the topics that are discussed. The last Voluntweetup event had 130 non-profit executives and 50 social media volunteers. We had topics covering the basics of livestreaming (taught by popular blogger and lifecaster Chris Pirillo) to a panel of success stories (that featured strategies from Jolkona and BloodCenter. Voluntweetup was also featured at Blogworld last year.
The exciting news that we’re announcing here is that Voluntweetup is going global! We’re opening it up to other cities who are interested in hosting social media trainings and they’ll all be on the same day: August 19. We’ve had other cities request to run events and we want to help them execute events. Anyone interested in leading an event or any non-profit interested in attending Voluntweetup can contact us here.
All of the people who have volunteered their time to help at Voluntweetup are listed here. It’s an all-star group of very generous people.
In fact, you’ve always been helpful and supportive of nonprofits, right?
Yes, aside from Voluntweetup, I also serve on a number of non-profit boards, and regularly volunteer with Social Media Club Seattle, Seattle Works, Reel Grrls, Leadership Tomorrow, and, the United Way. I also run a Twitter account to broadcast Seattle-area non-profit news: WA NonProfits. I’m currently working on two new exciting projects: a book featuring amazing women in tech (including some excellent non-profit stories and strategies), and a flash mob for a cause. Sarah Evans has mobilized leaders across the country to organize flash mobs on June 4 to raise awareness for social services. I’ll be helping to organize the flash mob in Seattle.
I feel so blessed to be able to assist. Though, I had no idea how much demand there is for help. In the last year, I’ve had the opportunity to speak at 20 events across the country and in Canada–all of them about how non-profits can effectively use social media and how companies can align with non-profits to create cause marketing strategies. This is just the beginning. I am committed to producing meaningful partnerships that impact lives all across the world.