Tag Archives: facebook

Measuring social media success? You’re probably doing it wrong.

logoA nonprofit buys billboard space on a major highway. Thousands of people drive by the billboard every day. After a week, the marketing director declares the billboard a huge success because of the number of people that are driving by the billboard. However, there is no significant gain in donations, volunteers or clients by the organization.

Does this sound like a ridiculous way to measure the success of a marketing activity? It is. Yet, that’s how I regularly hear people measure the success of social media use by a nonprofit, government agency or other mission-based initiative.

If your nonprofit is an animal shelter, or a farmer’s cooperative, or a community theater, or a health clinic, or any other nonprofit that serves a geographically-specific clientele, having thousands of Twitter followers is not an indication that you are having social media success. So what? That’s the same as the billboard out on the highway. It’s just a number, and if it’s not translating into something tangible, it’s a waste of money and effort.

For online activities to translate into something tangible, online action must create and support offline action or behavior. What could this look like?

  • An increase in the number of volunteers providing service to your organization
  • An increase in the number of volunteers who stay with your organization over a longer term
  • A greater diversity of volunteers providing service, with greater representation from under-represented groups
  • Greater numbers of donors
  • More repeat donors
  • New donors
  • Greater attendance to conferences, workshops, etc.
  • Greater attendance to events with an entrance fee, which creates greater revenues
  • Greater numbers of downloads or purchases of a publication or other product
  • Greater numbers of clients or people served
  • More repeat clients
  • A greater diversity of clients receiving services from your organization
  • Larger numbers of people writing government officials, corporate representatives or the media regarding the cause your organization promotes
  • Larger numbers of people filling out surveys that you will use in creating proposals, reports and publications regarding your organization’s work
  • More feedback from volunteers, donors, clients and the general public regarding your work
  • Volunteers and clients reporting a perception of greater support from your organization
  • Volunteers and clients reporting a new / changed perception that relates to your mission (for instance, those you engage with online reporting that they are no longer prejudiced against a particular group or community) or a change in behavior or practice that relates to your organization’s mission (for instance, if you were an organization that promotes recycling, and those you engage with online telling you they are recycling more)
  • Volunteers, clients, staff, the general public and/or the press reporting a perception of greater support from your organization, an improved perception of the organization’s impact, an increased awareness about the cause an organization promotes, etc.

A few hundred Twitter or Instagram followers may not sound impressive, but if most of those followers are in your geographic area, if there are lots of public officials and other nonprofit representatives and local people served by your organization among those followers, you’re doing well. If you are a nonprofit serving teens, and most of those followers are teens, you are doing VERY well. It’s not about the how many, it’s about the who.

How can you measure social media success ? I talk about that on my web page Evaluating Online Activities: Online Action Should Create & Support Offline Action & Results. For most nonprofits, measuring is not a matter of a software choice; it’s going to take a more person-to-person approach, involving surveys and interviews. In other words, engagement.

Quit celebrating how many people have “liked” your organization’s Facebook page. Are discussions happening on that Facebook page? Are people asking questions? Are individual status updates being liked and shared? Celebrate engagement.

Also see:

Folklore, Rumors & Misinformation Campaigns Interfering with Humanitarian Efforts & Government Initiatives

gossipUPDATED:

Preventing Folklore, Rumors, Urban Myths & Organized Misinformation Campaigns From Interfering with Development & Aid/Relief Efforts & Government Initiatives

Folklore, rumors and contemporary myths / legends often interfere with development aid activities and government initiatives, including public health programs – even bringing such to a grinding halt. They create ongoing misunderstandings and mistrust, prevent people from seeking help, encourage people to engage in unhealthy and even dangerous practices, and have even lead to mobs of people attacking someone or others because of something they heard from a friend of a friend of a friend. With social media like Twitter and Facebook, as well as simple text messaging among cell phones, spreading misinformation is easier than ever.

Added to the mix: fake news sites set up specifically to mislead people, as well as crowdsourced efforts by professional online provocateurs and automated troll bots pumping out thousands of comments, countering misinformation efforts has to be a priority for aid and development organizations, as well as government agencies.

Since 2004, I have been gathering and sharing both examples of this phenomena, and recommendations on preventing folklore, rumors and urban myths from interfering with development and aid/relief efforts and government initiatives. I’ve recently updated this information with new information regarding countering organized misinformation campaigns.

Anyone working in development or relief efforts, or working in government organizations, needs to be aware of the power of rumor and myth-sharing, and be prepared to prevent and to counter such. This page is an effort to help those workers:

  • cultivate trust in the community through communications, thereby creating an environment less susceptible to rumor-baiting
  • quickly identify rumors and misinformation campaigns that have the potential to derail humanitarian aid and development efforts
  • quickly respond to rumors and misinformation campaigns that could derail or are interfering with humanitarian aid and development efforts

And, FYI: I do this entirely on my own, as a volunteer, with no funding from anyone. I update the information as my free time allows.

Also see:

The awesome power of tweet tags

Twitter_logo_blueI still love Twitter. I know, I know – all the hip tech folks say it’s passé. Nonsense. I still get so much more out of Twitter than Facebook, professionally:

  • I get a great sense of what folks are doing in the areas of expertise and work I care about most – new resources, new ideas, new trends I need to know about
  • I can easily find and connect with amazing experts in areas of expertise and work in which I’m intensely interested
  • I can find what I’m looking for and easily screen out what I don’t care about (unlike with Facebook)
  • When I tweet, I get replies and retweets and even requests for more info – real engagement – as well as traffic to my blog and web site

In fact, I’ve gotten a couple of paid jobs because of what I do on Twitter. 20 minutes on Twitter a few times a week is well worth my time! I’m @jcravens42 on Twitter, btw…

One of my favorite things about Twitter is tweet tags – keywords or phrases with a hash mark (#) in front of them. They are my favorite way to find great information on a specific subject, and for me to reach people that aren’t following me on Twitter but are following the tweet tag (by “following”, I mean that they look for tweets with that tag, specifically).

Here are my favorite tweet tags as of today. If you don’t know what one means, and I haven’t said so below, just click on it and have a look at some tweets that use the tag:

#volunteer (usually used regarding people giving back to causes or communities, but there is a USA university that uses it for their sports team references too)
#volunteers
#voluntario
#voluntarios
#nonprofit
#ngos (non-governmental organizations)
#vvbook (for mentions or links to The Last Virtual Volunteering Guidebook)
#ework
#ttvolmgrs (Thoughtful Thursday discussions for managers of volunteers)
#tech4good
#apps4good
#Civictech
#ict4d
Community, environmental & human development-related tags (caution: some software developers sometimes use some of these tags for their work, which can be confusing, and “development”, and therefore “dev”, can also mean fundraising in the USA)
#humanitarian
#comm4dev
#research4dev
#ideas4dev
#capacity4dev
#globaldev
#sdgs (sustainable development goals)
#undp
#unitednations
#usaid
#defyhatenow
#Afghanistan
#Ukraine

#Kentucky (usually in combination with another tag, like #volunteer or #nonprofit)

#pdx (Portland, Oregon-area – usually in combination with #volunteer)

#fogro (Forest Grove, Oregon)

How do I find tags to follow? Either via other Twitter accounts I follow, or I think of them and wonder if any is using them and so I look for them. I also look at what’s trending on the left side of my Twitter screen on my laptop, and sometimes those trending tags inspire me to share something using such myself.

I also leverage Twitter tags associated with United Nations Days that are somehow associated with my work or interests. For instance, August 19 is World Humanitarian Day, a day meant to honor those who have been killed whilst doing international aid work and to recognize the work being done by humanitarians worldwide – local as well as international humanitarians. The tag the organizers use ever year is #WorldHumanitarianDay. Some years, they have a second tag for a specific theme; in 2016, that tag was #ShareHumanity. So I used HootSuite to program tweets in advance that would be posted a week before the day, the day before, and then lots the day of, and that were tagged with #WorldHumanitarianDay and/or #ShareHumanity. The result was that many people following those tags ended up retweeting my tweets, and I got a few new followers as a result (and some great people and organizations to add to my Twitter lists).

Tweet tags to use and follow will differ from person to person, and organization to organization. For instance, when I was in Ukraine, working for the UN, I recommended that @UNDPUkraine use these tags regularly, both on their own tweets and to follow:

#Ukraine
#UNDP
#uatech4good
#mdgs
#innovation
#comm4dev
#urbanplanning
#poverty
#humanitarian
#health

For a government program regarding water and sanitation in Afghanistan, I recommended:

#Afghanistan
#UNICEF
#water
#watsan
#sanitation
#wateris
#food
#health
#toilets
#equality
#industry
#energy
#poverty
#humanitarian

Give it a try yourself! Searches can be saved, for easy daily or weekly references. I don’t check all the tags every day – usually just a few times a month. And this is anonymous – people can’t see which tags you are looking for and following yourself.

Should you create your own tweet tag for a conference, a program, your region, a cause, etc.? Only if you believe you can get lots of other people to use it, and you understand you will not own the tag, that absolutely anyone on Twitter can use it. How to get lots of people to use a tag you have created? That’s the subject of a future blog…

Relationships take time, even via social media

Stop looking for the magic social media management tool, the one that allows you to send one message to “all” the social media platforms and magically get lots of likes and followers. The one that keeps you from ever having to actually log in to Twitter, Facebook, Instragram, etc.

Stop it NOW.

That approach to social media is like walking into a room full of people, making an announcement, even a powerpoint presentation, never taking questions or looking to see if anyone is listening, walking out when you’re done, and then wondering why no one gave your nonprofit money, came to your next event, provided input on your programs, joined as a volunteer, etc. – and using that same experience to say, “Well, I guess everyone likes us or they don’t care, because no one said anything to me!”

Timo Lüge blogs at Social Media for Good and in a recent blog: says this:

“Social media is about building and sustaining relationships. It is not a one-time interaction. In other words: you need to stop thinking about how you can get people to ‘like’ a post and instead develop a long-term strategy for how you want to interact with the community. You and your management need to accept that that will take time. Focus on the quality of the interactions instead of the quantity.”

That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t use a social media management tool to schedule tweets or Facebook status updates or anything else in advance, or to create analytics – I use Hootsuite to schedule my daily tweets in the morning and afternoons, as well as bi-weekly posts to Googleplus and, sometimes, to Facebook. But I still take the time log into each of those platforms, individually, and to read messages by people and organizations I follow, like those messages, comment on them, share posts by others, reply to comments that have been made to me, etc. I also make sure I tag people and organizations related to what I’m posting on social media, so they know they are being talked about, and might be encouraged to reply. In other words, I spend time with the audience, just like I would in a room full of people, to hear their feedback, to hear what they are doing and thinking, to acknowledge their points of view and to get a sense as to whether or not I’m really connecting with people. That’s what building and sustaining relationships look like, online or off. And that’s what it takes to make social media worthwhile for any nonprofit (or for-profit, for that matter).

vvbooklittleFor more about building relationships online, see The Last Virtual Volunteering Guidebook, by Susan J. Ellis and myself. The community engagement principles offered here work with the very latest digital engagement initiatives and “hot” new technologies meant to help people volunteer, advocate for causes they care about, connect with communities and make a difference. Tools come and go – but certain community engagement fundamentals never change.

How to look at the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative

I had planned on writing my thoughts about the Chan Zuckerberg initiative – then found this blog by Anil Dash (thanks, Susan Tenby) which says it better than I can:

It is absolutely fair and necessary to be critical of Zuckerberg’s philanthropic efforts, both past and present, to ensure that this gift of $45 billion dollars is put to good use. That is because the default dispensation of the money will be to waste it. For example, Zuckerberg donated $100 million to Newark schools to almost no effect, in a gift that was revealed to have been explicitly managed by Sheryl Sandberg to be timed to offset the negative publicity surrounding the release of the movie The Social Network. Given that track record, our default assumption should be that this is a similar move, though obviously this announcment (sic) being coupled to the birth of their daughter makes such assumptions seem churlish or rude.”

Please read the full blog by Anil Dash here.

Internet tools needing improvement

There are a lot of software applications – apps – I use regularly – and some that I’m using less-regularly, because of “improvements” by developers. So many apps are becoming so poorly-designed that they are becoming unusable, yet I read about many of these companies whining about how many users they’ve been losing.

So let me do you a favor, designers: here’s more than a dozen ways that the apps I use regularly – and millions of others use regularly – really, truly could be improved:

  • Flickr – Bring back the narrative slide show view. Yes, most people just look at photos, and look at them on their smart phones. But there are a lot of us who want to see the narrative too – not every photo is self-explanatory.
  • Facebook – So many changes needed:
    • Make adding and removing people from lists as easy as adding and removing people from circles on GooglePlus. Right now, it is SO hard to do. And there’s no “at a glance” way to see who is one which list. I would use Facebook oh-so-much more if the lists were easier to use.
    • Make it possible to put Facebook pages into lists. I would love to be able to put causes I really love, and want to follow, on a list, so I could look just at that list sometimes.
    • Make it possible to delete smart lists from a person’s view of lists – I have a company listed on my account that I have NEVER worked for. I have no idea how it got there, but there’s no way for me to remove it! It looks like I worked there – but I never did.
    • Create a blog space for users the way MySpace used to have. I could create a blog that someone could view WITHOUT being a member of MySpace – but the only way for someone to comment it on it unless they were signed in. You would end up taking market share from Tumblr and Medium and so many blog spaces if you did that.
  • Twitter:
    • Make it possible to view lists I create, as well as the list of accounts I follow and the list of those that follow me, viewable however I want (alphabetical, oldest to newest, etc.)
    • Keep it simple! That’s the beauty of Twitter! Please stop trying to be like Facebook. I connect with people and organizations I really need to know, even get job leads, from Twitter – that NEVER happens on Facebook. You are going to ruin Twitter if you keep “adding” Facebook features.
  • YahooGroups, formerly my favorite app:
    • Please, please, please go back to non-threaded discussions. You’re threaded way of doing things have killed discussions on most of the groups I’m on.
    • Create a fee-based service for users who don’t want ads on their groups, including no ads in emails generated by messages on the group. I will HAPPILY pay that fee! So would many, many thousands of other users!
  • Google
    • regarding GoogleGroups: go look at YahooGroups from 2002 or so – if your interface looked more like that, you’d still massive numbers of users from not only Yahoo, but from various online collaboration web sites as well.
    • GoogleCalendar: Please reconsider your decision to stop sending calendar updates via SMS! I don’t always have great Internet access. And there are LOTS of people that still use feature phones that don’t have apps. We need our SMS reminders!
  • iTunes – STOP BEING STUPID. Instead, start beta-testing your interface with non-software developers, as well as people over 25. I am not a stupid person, and yet, it takes me way too long to figure out how to add a song to a playlist, how to remove one, how to play just one album, and on and on.

Those are my ideas. Get right on that, ‘kay?

Taking a stand when you are supposed to be neutral/not controversial

handstopSo many people responsible for communications at nonprofits, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), government programs and international development agencies like the United Nations do their work from a place of fear: fear of negative publicity, fear of reprimand from supervisors or partner organizations, fear of controversy, etc. One of the consequences of this fear-based work style is that these communications professionals overly-censor themselves on social media, avoiding messages that relate directly to their program’s mission, simply because they don’t want to make anyone angry.

It’s impossible to work in communications and not make anyone angry. Impossible. While I think it is very important to be culturally-sensitive/appropriate in communications, the reality is that the work of most mission-based organizations is meant to grow understanding and change minds – and that means, at least sometimes, being challenging, even provocative. I long ago accepted that not everyone is going to like the messages of whatever program I’m representing, even messages that seem quite benign and non-controversial to me. As long as I make all messages reflective of the mission of the program, and ensure all messages come from a place of sincerity and honesty, I make no apologies.

If you want to post a message to social media that promotes something that relates to your program’s mission, but you want to keep negative responses to a minimum – or have a solid response to anyone who complains about such a message, including a board member or donor, here’s what you do: find the message you want to say on your headquarter’s Facebook or Twitter account, or a partner organization’s account, and share it or retweet it.

Here’s an example: I’ve had colleagues at the UN say, “We cannot talk about rights for gay people. It will make too many people angry.” Yet, the UN has a human rights MANDATE that includes rights for gay people. So, what could an office in such a position do in order to promote that human rights message and have a firm defense for doing so in the face of criticism? Follow the United Nations Free & Equal initiative on Twitter (@free_equal) and on Facebook. This is an initiative of the Office of the High Commissioner for United Nations Human Rights (follow that initiative on Twitter and Facebook as well). Share and retweet the messages that initiative says that you feel you cannot say yourself, such as this video from the UN Secretary General in support of the Free & Equal initiative. No one can argue that you shouldn’t share it – unless they can point to a specific, verifiable threat as a result of such a message that could endanger staff.

Another example: while working in a country with a lot of armed conflict going on, our communications office decided that celebrating the UN’s international day of peace with our own messages could be seen as taking sides in the hostilities – saying “We hope for peace” could be interpreted as encouraging one side to “give in” to another. So we decided not to post our own messages – but to share and retweet official UN messages related to international peace day.

It’s a good idea to make a list of Twitter accounts and Facebook accounts that interns and/or volunteers could monitor and whose messages they could share or retweet without pre-approval from a supervisor. You might want to also make a list of accounts they should absolutely *not* retweet or share; for instance, at one work site, I would not allow articles from a certain media outlet to be shared or retweeted via our official account, because I felt the media outlet was profoundly biased against our work and because I felt their articles were often riddled with misinformation.

No matter what: keep communications mission-based. Think about the intent of your message: To educate regarding an issue related to your program’s mission? To encourage someone to do something related to your cause? To celebrate your program’s activities or accomplishments? To create goodwill with a certain community? Always be able to justify any message you want to send.

And did you see what I just did there?

Also see:

Why you should separate your personal life and private life online

 

 

How to Handle Online Criticism / Conflict

Volunteers can help you reach more people on Facebook

Most nonprofits, NGOs, government agencies and other mission-based organizations have taken a big hit regarding their social media outreach because of changes to Facebook’s newsfeed algorithm. These changes greatly affect how many people see a status update on a Facebook page that isn’t sponsored through paid advertising. That means that, even if people have “liked” your organization’s Facebook page, they won’t see most of what you post, because of how Facebook has newsfeeds configured now. According to the International Business Times, the reach for many Facebook pages posts was at about 16 percent, but over the last few months it’s down to 2 percent or less. Facebook is a for-profit company – they want you to pay for people to see your organization’s Facebook page posts.

I’ve read some comments from nonprofit managers that say they will stop updating their organization’s Facebook pages as a result. But Facebook is a primary communication method for oh-so-many people – to stop updating your organization’s page means you are cutting yourself off from current and potential volunteers, donors, clients, and other people who care about your mission.

In How a Few Tiny Horses Bucked the Facebook Algorithm, the nonprofit TechSoup does a great job of talking about what your nonprofit can do to greatly increase the number of people that see your Facebook page updates, and TechSoup profiles a small nonprofit that’s done it all with great success. I won’t repeat their recommendations here – but I will make an additional suggestion: involve volunteers in your efforts.

The TechSoup article talks about how much sharing images can increase your organization’s Facebook page reach. I can immediately hear so many people saying, “We don’t have any photos to share.” YES YOU DO. Or you should. Are volunteers taking photos during their service time and sharing those photos with you? You need to be encouraging volunteers to do this! And another volunteer can maintain the archive of these submissions, make sure photos have keywords so that they can easily be searched, etc., if your marketing staff has no time.

I hear someone saying, “We’re a domestic violence shelter. We can’t do this!” Yes, you can: a photo of a massive amount of dirty dishes in the sink, with the description, “Tonight, we fed more than 20 people staying at our shelter this evening.” A photo of hands holding each other, with a description about how your shelter is there to help. A photo of a group from the knees down. A photo of your Executive Director. A photo of artwork created by children at your shelter. I came up with that list in two minutes (I timed it). Imagine the ideas your volunteers could come up with that would allow photos that show impact or reflect your mission, but completely protect the identity of those you serve and of your volunteers.

The TechSoup article also talks about leveraging holidays, pop culture events, memes, “or even just plain old Friday. International days as designated by the United Nations is another good source for leveraging events or themes by others to generate content for your own Facebook page – these often come with ready-to-use logos, photos and keyword tags. Many of these posts that can be created days, weeks, even months in advance, and scheduled in advance to be posted by a tool like Hootsuite. This is another place that volunteers can be a huge help – most nonprofit marketing staff will tell you they don’t have time to leverage holidays, memes, UN days, etc. – so why not welcome volunteers to submit ideas? The marketing staff can still have final say on what will be posted, of course.

And, of course, ask your volunteers regularly to like your Facebook page status updates, to comment upon them, and to share them – this all leads to your page getting more viewers!

Involving volunteers in social media is, of course, yet another example of virtual volunteering!

Facebook’s days as a primary online communications tool are numbered, of course. It’s already been abandoned by millions of teens. Just as the dominant online tools America Online and MySpace ultimately fell out of favor with most users, so too will Facebook. But, for now, it’s worth sticking with.

Two celebrity charities using Facebook very well

There are two celebrity charities that are using Facebook very well as a means to promote their missions. Their Facebook pages are worth watching because what they are doing with social media are activities even tiny nonprofits, NGOs and government initiatives should be doing: using social media PRIMARILY to educate about their cause or mission, not primarily to talk about how desperate they are for funds. These pages also provide lessons for any celebrity that wants to front his or her own charity.

smartgalsThe two charities are the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media and the Amy Poehler’s Smart Girls. Both are focused on the empowerment of women and girls. The Geena Davis Institute has the tagline, “Changing media to empower girls,” and the web site is www.seejane.org/. Smart Girls says, “We emphasize intelligence and imagination over ‘fitting in.’ We celebrate curiosity over gossip. We want you to truly be your weird and wonderful selves!” The Smart Girls web site is here.

Have a look at their respective Facebook pages: every post is somehow about furthering their initiative’s respective missions, and many of the links on the posts DON’T point to content created by the charities. Notice how many people comment on the Facebook pages – how most of the comments aren’t trolls – messages just to make people angry – but real attempts to offer insight on what is being posted (that means both sites do a good job of deleting inappropriate comments). Negative comments are not deleted – and often spark more discussion. And look how often the content of these Facebook pages is shared by Facebook users! That’s how I found out about these two organizations – because my friends kept sharing such.

Obviously, both organizations have paid employees or paid consultants that are monitoring the media for particular types of stories and monitoring comments. For a small nonprofit, I think this is a WONDERFUL task for a volunteer, not because “Hurrah, I don’t have to pay that person” but, rather, because it is an interesting, impactful micro task that many people would LOVE to do as a volunteer. Also, volunteers might be more daring in their suggestions for things to share on Facebook than a paid employee. Your organization can still have an employee serve as the Facebook page manager, and only she or he has control to post something, but why not invite Facebook posting ideas from ALL employees and ALL volunteers?

What celebrity charities do you think are doing a great job using Facebook or other social media, and why?

Marketing staff: either help promote volunteer engagement or GET OUT OF THE WAY

logoMy blog today is actually for public relations and marketing staff at nonprofits, rather than those managers of volunteer programs. And my message is this: either help promote your organization’s volunteer engagement OR GET OUT OF THE WAY.

I talk to people managing their organization’s volunteer engagement activities – recruiting volunteers, supporting those volunteers, creating the majority of opportunities for those volunteers, helping other staff engage with those volunteers in their work, etc. – and among the many complaints I hear about challenges to their success is this one: the public relations and marketing staff won’t support me.

Those leading volunteer engagement at your organization need a variety of support from marketing and public relations staff:

  • in using the organization’s Facebook page, blog, web site and other online activities to recruit volunteers and tout the accomplishments of such
  • in reaching out to the media about what volunteers are doing
  • in connecting media to those working with volunteers at the organization when the media says they want to do a story about volunteerism
  • in understanding when volunteers are doing something particularly special or innovative, or staff working with such are, such that it would be worthy of external attention (or internal attention, for that matter)
  • in including information about the organization’s volunteer engagement in all traditional publications, including paper newsletters and annual reports
  • in talking about volunteer engagement as more than just the monetary value of volunteer hours

Yet, I hear from staff again and again that the outreach staff won’t create a link on the home page to information on volunteering (though they will regarding donating money, no problem!), that they won’t include any volunteer-related messages on Facebook, that they won’t use any photos from a recent volunteer engagement event in outreach materials, and that they will include information about volunteerism in the annual report only regarding the monetary value of the volunteer time given.

Public relations and marketing staff: if you are not going to create a detailed strategy for supporting your organization’s engagement of volunteers through all of your various outreach methods, then let the manager of that engagement do it him or herself, and stay out of the way as they execute that strategy. If you aren’t going to include information about volunteer recruitment and accomplishment in social media channels as often as you do about fundraising campaigns, then say nothing as staff in charge of managing volunteers at your organization create their own blogs, web sites, Facebook pages, Twitter accounts and Instagram or Flickr accounts to share the information they want out.

What would be FAR better than forcing managers of volunteers to do marketing and public relations on their own? If you, public relations and marketing staff, sat down with the staff that work with volunteers at your organization and said, “How can I support you? Tell me what you’re doing. Let’s meet once a month and talk about it.” What you might find is that, instead of additional work, you get much-needed information to raise your organization’s profile online and in the media. Maybe volunteers are taking amazing photos of your organization’s work that you could use in a variety of ways. Perhaps there is a really marvelous story waiting for you to discover: maybe your organization is engaging in virtual volunteering in some really innovative ways, or is involving someone as an online volunteer who could never do so onsite. Maybe some hot current trend, like micro volunteering, is happening at your organization but you don’t even know it. Maybe volunteer engagement has helped your organization engage with communities or demographics you never would have reached otherwise. An organization that involves volunteers can be seen as more transparent and open to the community than one that doesn’t – are you leveraging that image properly in your outreach work?

No more excuses, public relations and marketing staff: support your staff that recruit and engage with volunteers – or get out of the way and let them do their own publicity themselves.

This message brought to you by: Grumpy Jayne