Should your organization use social networking sites?

25 Jan 2008

Are social networking sites like MySpace or FaceBook likely to be a good fit for your nonprofit's goals? Brett Bonfield outlines some guidelines to help you decide if social networking is right for you.

Social networking sites have received a lot of attention from the nonprofit world because they align with nonprofits' desire to reach out to larger communities. If your local animal shelter could tap into a network of cat lovers in your area, the logic goes, wouldn't that allow it to find homes for even more pets? Adding to the buzz, there are a number of success stories about nonprofits using social networks to reach new volunteers, locate audiences interested in their cause, build up supporter lists, and even raise money.

On the other hand, the success stories can be a bit thin compared to the number of nonprofits experimenting with these sites, and the investment in the staff time required to build and maintain an online social network can be substantial. Each nonprofit has its own set of priorities, and it's unlikely that social networking will top the list for every organization.

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