Colleen Dunbar

It’s 2013: Where’s your nonprofit’s social media policy?

posted by
Colleen Dunbar,

Project Specialist,
Marketing/Communications
ASU Lodestar Center

Should you change your nonprofit’s Facebook profile image to show support of a hot political issue? What do you do if someone comments with a racial slur on a photo of your volunteer? How do you react if you find your page to be the victim of the ever-dreaded troll?

As they say, “With any social media profile, comes great responsibility.” (Just kidding, no one really says that. But they should!)

If you have ever found yourself in one of these situations, then you know that making a wrong or inconsistent decision can have disastrous results. And those disastrous results are very, very public. Having a social media policy in place will help you answer these questions, and inform you or your social media manager on what to do in similar situations. And it’s extremely easy to create.

What’s in a social media policy?

Every nonprofit’s policy is going to be different, because every nonprofit has different needs, different audiences, different missions, and different campaign goals. But to give you an example of what a social media policy consists of, here’s a sample of the ASU Lodestar Center’s:

The day I made an impact

posted by
Colleen Dunbar,

Project Specialist,
Marketing/Communications
ASU Lodestar Center

A few Decembers ago when I was home in Vancouver, I went with some girlfriends to serve breakfast and hand out holiday gift bags at a drop-in center for the less fortunate, where community members are offered shelter, activities, and a daily hot meal. The morning that we went also happened to be Women’s Wednesday.

I don’t remember her name, or really what she looked like, but I remember her asking us for a pen to write with. I also remember her sitting by herself, hunched over a table, long after the scrambled eggs and hash browns had run out.

Once we had finished cleaning up and were getting ready to leave, she came into the kitchen. She handed a few of us letters, said they were for everyone, and then she left.

The letter that I held was titled “Favorite Ladies,” and this is what it said:

Micro projects for macro impact

posted by
Colleen Dunbar,

Project Specialist,
Marketing/Communications
ASU Lodestar Center

Linton Weeks wrote an article on NPR back in 2009 on microvolunteering, and he said it right: we live in a micro world. “What began with microscopes and microbiology has morphed into microeverything.” Twitter is a microblogging platform, Kayla McKinney previously discussed the trend of microgiving, and now there’s microvolunteering.

Microvolunteering is an easy, commitment-free way to give back. Volunteers can choose the projects, causes, and organizations they help, and organizations can potentially get help from numerous volunteers. It can almost be seen as a form of crowdsourcing.

How does it work?

Sparked is a project-based microvolunteering site, where nonprofit organizations “challenge” the Sparked community, and the volunteers then respond. Volunteers may offer suggestions or solutions to the challenge, or they may give a “thumbs up” to other participants’ answers – either option will help the challenging organization get the best possible solution (or solutions) to their challenge.

I am relatively new to the Sparked community, having only been an active member for a couple of months, but it’s the microvolunteering site that I am most familiar with. However, it is not the only one. Help from Home’s tag line is “Change the world in just your pyjamas!”, but they also encourage volunteers to change the world from their classroom, work, and more. They also emphasize the fact that projects take “between 10 seconds and 30 minutes” – again focusing on the ease and speed of microvolunteering. VolunteerMatch is a great tool for nonprofits to recruit volunteers, as well as for volunteers to see exactly what opportunities are available in their area. This site has two functions; the first is traditional volunteering, like making Thanksgiving food baskets for a food bank, or wrapping gifts to raise money. The second is virtual volunteering, like reviewing scholarship applications for a foundation, or guest blogging about a specific cause.

An intern's perspective

posted by
Colleen Dunbar,

Project Specialist,
Marketing/Communications
ASU Lodestar Center  

One piece of advice that aspiring nonprofit professionals should consider is to participate in an internship program. I’m in the public relations/communications/marketing industry, and internships were not required in either my undergraduate or graduate degree programs, but speaking to professionals in this field, they are definitely encouraged. I have since had the opportunity to work at multiple nonprofit organizations as an intern, where I learned what I was good at, improved on many of my skills, and learned what makes a good internship program.

You can do it!...

All of the organizations I interned with had faith in me. They all gave me fairly substantial responsibilities that would have a public impact on the organization. Press releases, social media, and websites were just a few of my responsibilities, all of which are highly visible, and nowhere in my work did they put “made by our intern.” The fact that the organizations trusted in my abilities enough to hand these responsibilities off to me boosted my confidence level immensely — which is really important for someone who is in his or her first real career-related job.

An intern is not someone who is there just for you to pass off the tedious, boring projects that you don’t want to do (okay, I did get a few of these, and I accepted them with a smile on my face!). I really felt that these organizations wanted to use my talents to advance their missions, instead of just putting me in the dreaded coffee getter-photocopier-paper shredder role that so many of my fellow marketing students were subject to.