There are many benefits to personal branding and utilizing social media–of sharing your insights and telling your story for whatever reason, whether it be to market yourself as an ideal job candidate, to share your experiences, or even to snag a great date.
But nonprofit employees also know the importance of sharing insights and telling stories in nonprofit organizations. Desired outcomes of programs are not primarily monetary– and sometimes entirely intangible for that matter. Nonprofits often rely on personal stories to communicate their need, their potential, and their impact.
So why are nonprofits (known for being slow to pick up new technologies) dominating the social media scene in comparison to private companies? It’s because social media is about personal connections and telling stories… and well, that’s just our thing. Nonprofits like people who can get the story across with authenticity and honesty while making a connection– and a good personal brander can do just that. I have noticed that the young nonprofit millennial bloggers who have been most successful within the industry are sincere and passionate. They know that it’s important to brand themselves, and they are onto something: personal branding will help you be a better nonprofiteer.
- If you can create connections through your blog, then you can help people connect to those in need.
Just as personal branding enthusiasts aim to display how they can contribute to an organization or corporation, nonprofits are similarly trying to demonstrate their ability to contribute to social change. Beth Kanter outlines four ways in which social media is changing the nonprofit world, and they all strengthen organizations’ ability to create connections. There’s a shared drive in personal branding and nonprofit organizations: the desire to communicate your potential power to ignite positive change. In personal branding, you are sharing your own story, values, and goals– so that you can get hired. In nonprofit organizations, you need to be able to share the story of your organization, and their values and goals– so that they can get funding. Moreover, you’ll often have to share others’ stories to get your point across (the story of the needy family who was helped by the organization, or the story of the child whose life was saved because of your organization’s research). Making personal connections through storytelling is an important aspect in fundraising and communicating an organization’s impact. Those who are engaging in personal branding have an element of practice in telling stories and making connections. After all, these tips on how to write a story are equally relevant to personal branders and nonprofit employees, though they are written by fundraising123.org.
- If you are active in social media and joining networks, then you can expose many people to a cause.
Did you know that 60% of folks who set up twitter accounts fail to return the next month? It is incredible when you consider that the site creates siginifcant networking, info-sharing, and message-speading opportunites. If you’re one of those 60% who didn’t return to your account, then you should think about coming back– because just the sheer act of being involved in social media will make you a better nonprofiteer. According to The Herald News, 89% of charitable and nonprofit organizations are using some form of social media, and 57% reported activity in blogging. Network-increasing capabilities aside, it’s beneficial to know about twitter and other social media sites so that you can help guide your nonprofit organization– espeically if you’re a member of Generation Y. Companies and organizations are looking to these folks to be social media savvy. If you’re not, then you’re wasting an opportunity. The greatest reason to be involved on these sites is oviously that they increase the size of your network, and expose you to a lot of great thought leaders. The more people that you can reach, the more connections you can make to social causes. Also, people can help you spread your personal brand or social cause. If they are inspired by it, they just might pass it along.
- If you are authentic in your branding and communications, then you can retain supporters and summon potential donors
There is no doubt that it’s best to be an authentic blogger and personal brander. Copyblogger brings up a great point that authenticity is becoming (if it isn’t already) a buzzword in personal branding, and that it takes a good story and authenticity to have impact. The take away is simple here: be real. And I’ve found that many personal branding nonprofiteers are real; they display their struggles and concerns working within the industry. Allison Jones explores her rendezvous with nonprofit burn-out, and Elisa Ortiz candidly traces her roots in the nonprofit sector. The kind of authenticity and transparency displayed on these blogs serve well in making connections and building trust with readers. Similarly, trust and authenticity are also important in nonprofit organizations for a number of reasons. Many of the qualities that make a person a captivative blogger also make them good at connecting with other people– and that’s what nonprofits are about: making connections to inspire support for social change.
About the author
MPA. Chief Market Engagement Officer at IMPACTS Research & Development. Nonprofit marketer, Generation Y museum, zoo & aquarium writer/speaker, web engagement geek, data nerd, marathoner, nomad, herbivore