5 Ways To Bring Your Offline Community Online

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A lot of not-for-profits have great communities, and that has been the case for years, long before social media made its razzle-dazzle splash. Now that social media is here, it may seem like there is pressure to abandon your “real-life” supporters in favor of those 2-dimensional avatars you can chase after on Twitter.

Fear not! There are plenty of ways to incorporate your existing supporters into your online world. In fact, I have five tips for you. Right. Here.

1. Drive Your Supporters to a Facebook Page

While Facebook pages get a bad rap often times from the business world, I think Facebook pages can be highly effective for cause-based organizations. The ability to share photos and videos makes these powerful outreach tools, names with faces are easy to find, and it’s easy for you and your supporters to interact.

For this reason, I highly recommend adding an invitation to “Like” you to your traditional fundraising pieces. Adding your Facebook Page link to event invites can also be effective. In fact, one way to really drive traffic to your Facebook Page would be to have a drawing at a fundraising event; everyone who “Likes” you on a computer located at the event gets entered into a drawing for a prize. People could continue their real-life conversations as soon as they got home to their computers.

2. A Google+ Hang-out

Although people still seem to be largely undecided on how effective Google Plus is as a social media platform, the “hang-out” feature is one thing that everyone seems to love. Unlike Skype, a hang-out easily accommodates several people for no charge, which allows for larger, more engaging conversations. Your offline community may be used to Skyping or other types of online chat platforms, so jumping online in this way might make the transition to online interaction a bit easier, and much more personal.

3. Invite Video Submissions

We’ve touched on this idea before, but one great way to help put a face and a voice to a name is to allow people to submit videos. One way to do this (and to track your fundraising effectiveness) through your traditional fundraising piece is invite people to submit a video about why they donated or what your charity means to them. This will give you powerful online marketing tools, but it will also bring that person online. They’ll want to see their video on your site and hence will be drawn to your online space. Sharing the videos on your Facebook Page would be a good way to drive supporters there. If you really want to spark interest, send one response video back per day, focusing on someone whose message particularly struck your organization.

4. Fun Name Tags

Having a fundraising event? Invite people to add their Twitter handle to their name tag. You know everyone these days has their smart phones with them–it wouldn’t be hard for people to follow each other in real time. Collecting the Twitter handles at the end of an event can help you add to a Twitter list, which can enable everyone to stay in touch in the wide world of Tweeting.

5. Interview Your Supporters

Do you have loyal supporters who have been with you for years? I bet you do. Wouldn’t it be great to introduce them to the rest of your community while also finding out what has kept them around for so long? Consider an interview that you would then post to your blog. This interview of course could also be shared to Facebook and Twitter. Your interviewee will be drawn to your online platforms to see how their interview turned out, and other members of your community will get a chance to know a long-standing community member a bit better.

These are just five ideas. Of course there are many more options! Have you tried or thought of one? Share it here because we love to hear your thoughts!

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