Five reasons why your nonprofit should be taking advantage of emerging media

Emerging media platforms create so many opportunities for easy and efficient communication. Many business and organizations already use emerging media, and take advantage of all it offers them. It is even necessary to achieve success in a lot of ways, considering the average internet user spends about 106 minutes using social media each day and teens use about 9 hours of media in general a day. It is important for business and organizations to stay relevant by capitalizing on the vast amount of use.

Consider this information below from the Pew Research Center:

Nonprofit organizations can take advantage of emerging media to spread awareness of their message, and to generate donations. Many nonprofits generally do not have a large budget for marketing, so emerging media can be a great affordable tool for them.

Nonprofit organizations traditionally utilized marketing methods such as radio, news, and television advertising. Additionally, the primary donor appeals would be sent out through mail. The traditional methods are still useful in a lot of ways, but there are more opportunities for growth.

Here are five benefits nonprofits can glean from using emerging media:

Closer donor relations. Donors from all generations use emerging media. Even though more mature donors may not value it as much, there are still opportunities to reach them through emerging media. You can see in the graph above that over 30% of people 65 and older and 50% of people ages 50-65 use social media. Furthermore, donors that feel connected to the organization will continue to donate. By using emerging media the nonprofit organization can not only stay fresh in the donor’s mind, but can also take opportunities to show appreciation by thanking donors over social media and even calling out individuals that went above and beyond.

  • Feeding America periodically posts donor and volunteer spotlights to show their donors and volunteers appreciation, but to also inspire people to support the mission.Screen shot 2016-08-31 at 10.01.58 PM
  • Here are some ways you can thank donors with emerging media.

Establish new donor relationships. Emerging media can also be utilized to establish new donor relationships. If the nonprofit uses emerging media to authentically share their story, and successfully reflect the mission, new followers may feel compelled to join in on the cause. For example, by sharing success stories or clearly demonstrating the need for the organization followers could become interested in supporting the organization.

  • The Malala Fund uses personal stories to inspire change. They frequently post real women across the globe that are fighting for their right to be educated.Screen shot 2016-08-31 at 10.04.03 PM

Increase one-time donations. Another benefit of using emerging media is to increase one-time donations by establishing an immediate need, selling merchandise, or sharing a wish list if the organization collects items as well as money. Followers that may not be interested in joining the team as a long-term partner, may be interested in buying a shirt or even helping by donating to an immediate need.

  • Kitten Lady, a neonatal kitten rescue organization, utilizes Instagram to sell merchandise that supports the organization. Additionally, if one of the kittens is very sick there will be a one-time request to support that specific kitten. Orphan Annie was given a second chance at life due to this strategy.Screen shot 2016-08-31 at 10.07.30 PM.pngScreen shot 2016-08-31 at 10.08.39 PM

Spreading awareness/educating about the cause. Awareness is another reason it is important to utilize social media. Brand awareness is built after the target is exposed multiple times. Having a social media account that is active will allow followers to be exposed to the organization in addition to gaining a better sense of what the nonprofit does.

Build community around the cause. Emerging media can be used to help build a community around a cause by encouraging interactions. If donors feel connected it can secure retention, and if potential donors feel connected they may decide to become committed donors.

  • The END IT Movement is a coalition of organizations that are fighting to end slavery. The movement has created a community of followers that participate by drawing red Xs on their hands and sharing photos to various social media platforms. Not only does The END IT Movement raise awareness for the organization, but they also allow their followers an opportunity to interact and to feel like they are contributing.2c95cab8a9f33bc4e3c9f0d7d9557904

Emerging media is an asset to nonprofit organization, and could make a big difference in donations, donor relationships, and spreading awareness about the cause. What do you think of these five benefits? How else can emerging media help nonprofit organizations flourish?


Author: hannahbakeryoung

I am an IMC grad student at West Virginia University.

4 thoughts on “Five reasons why your nonprofit should be taking advantage of emerging media”

  1. It is interesting that you’ve discussed non-profits using emerging media. It seems as though when people think of non-profits they think of community awareness and traditional methods, whereas non-profits can have global appeal. I recently heard a podcast promote a non-profit on their show and it lead me donate to the organization. Like you said, using emerging media can help spread awareness.


  2. Hi Hannah,

    Coming from the nonprofit world, albeit not a traditional nonprofit, I think all of your points really resonated with me. Social media is a huge tool nonprofits can use to create deeper relationships with donors that doesn’t take as much resources as some direct marketing efforts may.

    I could see this blog post having a follow-up post. Where I know I, and I’m sure other nonprofits, struggle is how best to allocate time and resources to manage a consistent, effective social media strategy. Here are some thoughts that cross my mind as concerns and tips when a nonprofit is considering starting a social media presence:

    1. How much time will it take to manage social media? – There are a good amount of web applications out there that help organizations manage social media accounts, schedule posts, and track engagement. This helps pull everything together in an easy to manage space. I know time and resources can be a tough conversation for some nonprofits, so any method to become more efficient is hugely beneficial.

    2. Do we have enough to say? – I know this is where I struggle. Creating relevant content that’s worth posting at a frequency that keeps you relevant in the social media space. I’ve attempted repurposing and cross-promoting content as a way to get the most benefit out of already created content.

    Another general struggle that I know nonprofits may face is a general lack of knowledge in how to effectively manage social media, and how to leverage various resources to find best practices in engaging donors on social media.

    I think the nonprofit industry is one that can definitely see huge successes from using social media, but executing it can seem like a daunting task for nonprofits.

    Awesome post!


  3. Hi Hannah! This is awesome! I have never done work with a non-profit before, but agree that emerging media is definitely a great route for them to choose. Social media is a must for organizations like these, but I also think that the Go Fund Me projects are another great way for non-profits to get their messages out there and collecting donations for those in need. Overall great post!


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