For many people, his words seemed unfair when he said that many nonprofits use excuses like “lack of resources” or a seemingly inherent “resistance to change” attitude to avoid social media. I have to say I agree with most of what he said, first because I experience what he has experienced every day as a speaker, teacher, and consultant to nonprofit organizations. And second, because even if you disagree, this conversation must happen again and again until things change for the better.
While I agree with most of what Seth says in his post, I don’t agree with this statement:
Of course, some folks, like charity: water are stepping into the void and raising millions of dollars as a result. They’re not necessarily a better cause, they’re just more passionate about making change.
Seth, it isn’t MORE PASSION that makes a group like charity: water effective at stepping into the void. It is because they more fully embrace the changes in the ways we communicate. I’m sure nobody at charity: water will claim more passion for their cause than folks busting their tails for other good causes. I’m sure everybody at charity: water will say their buy-in to understand, use and leverage social media tools and the new ways we all communicate made a huge difference.
For the record, on a near daily basis I hear these things from people working in the nonprofit sector:
11 Reasons Nonprofits Give For Not Using Social Media
1. I don’t understand it.
2. I don’t have time.
3. We don’t have the resources.
4. We don’t even know where to start.
5. It’s overwhelming.
6. I can’t figure out how to use it for my organization.
7. There are legal issues we can’t sort out.
8. I don’t know how to avoid the “crazies.”
9. Our firewall won’t let us use these tools.
10. We’re still trying to figure out how to update our web site.
11. We are afraid our employees will waste time with these tools.
Personally, I have solid, reasonable, practical tips to overcome each of the above (which will be an upcoming blog post).
Back to Seth Godin’s post. I whole heartedly agree with this statement:
The marketing world has changed completely. So has the environment for philanthropic giving. So have the attitudes of a new generation of philanthropists. But if you look at the biggest charities in the country, you couldn’t tell. Because they’re ‘non’ first, change second.
Anyone involved with a nonprofit or any consultant working with a nonprofit who DISAGREES with the above – i.e. the fact that many nonprofits are ‘non’ first, change second – consider yourself LUCKY to be working in an environment where the fear of change does not dominate, especially of changing and new technologies.
For those of us who are not so lucky – meaning we witness this fear day after day – it is up to us to be the teachers. Evangelizing social media, no matter how passionate, can fall on deaf ears when others are listening through a filter of fear. We need to step back, dial down our enthusiasm for a moment, hold someone’s hand (figuratively and in some cases literally), and present sensible and rational reasons WHY and HOW a nonprofit can use social media regardless of resource limits and regardless of fear.
Channel the fear you encounter from others into something more like caution so that they at least try something; dipping a toe in a pool before they swim in an ocean.
It is up to us to lead the way. If nonprofits – organizations charged with good work for good causes – are behind when it comes to social media, it is OUR FAULTS.
What are YOU doing to help nonprofit organizations get up to speed with today’s technologies and communications tools?