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[Book Interview] Nonprofit Example of Social Media Excellence: Women for Women International

December 5, 2010

[tweetmeme] Organization: Women for Women International
Organization Size: Approximately 70 DC/stateside employees; more than 100 field staff employees in eight countries in Africa, the Balkans and the Middle East
Name: Lauren Shopp ||
Title: Multimedia/Online Coordinator

1. What was the very first social media tool your organization utilized, and when?

The first social networking tool the organization utilized was MySpace is 2007. Following that, Women for Women International moved on WordPress, Facebook, YouTube and Twitter throughout 2008-2010.

2. What social media tools are you currently utilizing? Which tool has been surprisingly useful in getting out the word about your organization and its programs?

Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and the Notes from the Field WordPress blog. Each tool is useful in its own way—the blog helps spread stories about the field from staff and supporters who travel to our country offices, Twitter helps disseminate information about current events and policy issues and Facebook is a great way to promote fundraising efforts and connect supporters—the tool with the most bang for its buck is Facebook, for sheer size alone. We currently have nearly 50,000 Facebook fans and posting there helps us reach the most people, though the focus of how we’re using Facebook is changing (more on that below).

3. Who maintains your social media campaigns? Are they paid, full-time, part-time?

That would be me! I am full-time and paid, though, like everyone else in the non-profit world, my time/resources are limited, so I don’t get to do social media strategy/long-term planning all day long.

4. Are you tracking Return on Investment (ROI), and how? Please summarize your ROI.

One of my goals for 2011 is to better track the amount of time I spend on social media posting, planning, etc, and measuring that against actual engagement, as measured by: donations (via special source codes) and engagement (comments, reTweets, etc). Because Women for Women International has an engaged and vocal online supporter base, I am lucky that my time investment usually pays off.

5. Of all the mass communications tools your organization is using (website e-newsletters, social networking sites, mobile), which is resulting in the most online dollars being raised (directly or indirectly)?

Definitely the e-newsletter; our first e-newsletter in 2008 resulted in hundreds of responses and donations, though we have seen some donation activity on Facebook through special source codes tied to campaigns.

6. Did you experience resistance from higher ups in the organization initially utilizing about social media, or were they supportive?

I am very lucky to work at an organization that values social media, and have never received push-back regarding investing my time and efforts there. If anything, I have been encouraged to develop a solid social media strategy with help from our Director of Marketing, as well as continued support from my fellow marketing staff here. No one at the organization is unsupportive of social media; if anything, they may not be as informed as to why it is important or how we use it, but thankfully that is usually easily explained.

7. What the best piece of advice you could offer nonprofits about social media, and online communications in general?

Never underestimate how much time you will put into social media! I developed a full-scale social media campaign that required daily posting for summer 2010 and didn’t even come close to posting every day.

8. Are you currently investing resources in mobile marketing i.e, a mobile website, texting, mobile Apps, text-to-give, etc.?

We are investigating mobile solutions in 2011; fingers crossed that it goes through, as I think mobile is insanely important for the non-profit world right now.

9. What do you think are the most important skills necessary in a social media practitioner?

Patience, flexibility, creativity and a willingness to go against your gut instinct. Patience for dealing with any push-back or lack of understanding/constantly explaining what you do; flexibility for derailing plans and adapting to breaking news or other important announcements; creativity for getting the attention of an increasingly distracted/overstimulated online audience; and willingness to go against your gut instinct because, as I’ve learned, I usually don’t know what my users want—I can make very educated guesses, but ultimately, my job is to shut up and listen to them.

10. What is on your To Do List for 2011?

I just finished the Women for Women International social media strategy for 2011 today, actually. A lot of my to-do’s for next year regard sharing more of the amazing media assets we receive from HQ staffers who travel to the field, engaging our supporters by encouraging them to share their stories of sponsoring a woman through our programs and improving the way we share information about policy issues and current events. Though many of the countries we work in are talked about in the news (DR Congo, Iraq, Afghanistan, Sudan), some aren’t as well-known (Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Nigeria) and we often need to explain why operating in these countries is important. Overall, I want to make sure that we’re showing our supporters what we do and then opening up the stage for them to discuss.

11. Anything else?

I feel very lucky to work in a field I enjoy at an organization whose mission I support and who encourages the voices of everyone to be heard—our staff, our supporters and the women in our programs. That is the essence/purpose of social media to me: sharing our stories or experiences in hopes that someone else will relate, reach out or spread the word.

Related Links:
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List of Nonprofits Mentioned in the Book

One Comment leave one →
  1. December 6, 2010 8:18 am

    The experience of Women to Women very reflects the findings and best practices developed from Ventureneer\’s survey of how nonprofits use social media.

    The bottom line, as Shopp, knows is taking time, both to listen and to post.

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