The introduction of online mediums like social media has absolutely changed the game in how nonprofit organizations fundraise, raise awareness, and gain support.
The online world has opened the doors for nonprofits to work themselves into our daily lives even when we aren’t looking for them. I’m not saying this with any disdain or implying that seeing nonprofit campaigns on my Facebook news feed is annoying or unnecessary- I think it’s great that in between posts of memes and the happenings in my friends’ lives, I can be informed on various causes and updated on how nonprofit organizations are functioning.
In terms of social media, I ‘like’ or ‘follow’ organizations that I personally care about or those that deal with issues that affect me directly. This benefits the organizations because if it’s already established that I care about their cause by liking their page, then I am much more likely to donate or share their posts with my social media community.
I wanted to look at a nonprofit organization that I follow, RASTA Sanctuary, and talk about how they’ve been recently using online mediums to their advantage.
The sanctuary itself is located in Chemainus, B.C., and focuses on the lifelong care of abused and abandoned farm animals.
On their Facebook page, RASTA shares content from their website and includes various links to it. This social media optimization (Frick & Eyler-Werve, 2015) helps drive traffic to their site which has more in depth information about the organization, volunteering, and sponsorship opportunities, even a heartbreaking section that tells the stories of animals who have passed away at the sanctuary.
They use their Facebook page regularly, not only to ask for donations and talk about their operation, also to raise awareness about animal rights and vegetarian/vegan lifestyles in general. On September 26, RASTA shared a video on Facebook from the page, Vegan Recipes News that shows how to make a “Quick and easy vegan mac and cheese.” These kinds of posts advocate RASTA’s values, and share with their audience ways that they can support RASTA through practicing animal-friendly lifestyles in an easy and attractive way.
The sanctuary also uses their Facebook page as a means of building relationships with their audience and generating support, which leads to donations. The casual nature of social media enables RASTA to post daily images of the animals at the sanctuary, captioned with their names and sometimes even including a relatable quote of what they would say to the world if they could:
Using social media in this way allows the audience to get to personally know the animals and what exactly the sanctuary is doing for them, regardless of whether someone lives in the same city, or a totally different country. Online, RASTA’s updates reach contributors and their audience at large instantaneously, and often are presented to their supporters automatically in their routine scrolling of social media, maintaining the organization’s relevance.
Frick, T. & Eyler-Werve, K. (2015). Return on engagement: Content strategy and web design techniques for digital marketing. Burlington, MA: Focal Press.