People use social media for various menial tasks. Whether it is to post a selfie, browse their newsfeed, or watch videos, people are constantly “connected”. But what if social media were used for more than cute dog videos? We often hear about organizations needing donations or volunteers, but how do we see or hear about these opportunities? The trinity of social media: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram.
The University of Amsterdam has conducted a study which focused on gathering empirical data on the use of social media by non-profit organizations. This study focused specifically on Twitter. In the study, which was written by Anouchka Borst, there was a primary focus on how volunteers for non-profits were specifically affected by Twitter. Because it was the University of Amsterdam that conducted the study, an obvious focused was placed on the Dutch/European economy in regards to budget cuts for non-profits.
As of 2017, non-profit organizations will be facing a cut of one billion euro – this equals about a 50% loss. This puts an obvious stress on non-profits. Some organizations will not be able sustain themselves because of this lack of funding which will result in a loss of valuable resources for many people who benefit from non-profits. This budget cut means that many organizations have to turn to less expensive options in order to communicate their message to an audience. And what better way to do that than by using social media.
Organizations in the Netherlands have turned to social media to not only advertise their cause, but also attract volunteers and attention. Prior to social, non-profits would have to use traditional media channels (billboards, newspapers, TV ads, etc.). A method that would have cost them valuable funding. With social media that funding can be delegated elsewhere while the company/organization benefits from the attention garnered from Twitter.
This way, organizations can also interact with their followers, and engage with them in a more human fashion. Twitter is almost like a fourth wall break for companies around the world. While focusing on the Netherlands specifically provides a relatively small and unique sample, I believe many aspects of what is happening with Dutch non-profits can also be applicable to North American non-profits. Social media has created more cost-effective ways for non-profits to be successful, and while quantitative figures are difficult to come by, the results lie in the likes.
Source: Borst, A. R. (2014). Non-profit organizations’ use of Twitter for engaging potential volunteers. October 4, 2016. Web. http://dare.uva.nl/cgi/arno/show.cgi?fid=525401