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Utah nonprofits hope to find new patrons via Facebook, Twitter with Fluid’s help

15 May, 2009 McKell Naegle

Fluid in the news . . .
Fluid in the news . . .

The Tanner Dance program at the University of Utah is on Twitter and Facebook.

But Rebecca Meadows, director of development and marketing, is frank about the fact she’s not yet using those social networking sites for her twin goals: marketing and raising money.

“You have to have a strategy and we don’t,” said Meadows, one of 14 nonprofit leaders in attendance last week when John Dye and Philip Case of Bountiful’s Fluid Studio offered a two-hour introduction to social media, which struggling nonprofits are using to reach more potential donors.

“You’ve been forced to do more with fewer resources,” said Dye, Fluid’s President. “You need to go where the people are and social media are where the people are.”

His point was that nonprofits can use Facebook, Twitter and other methods to build a community of people who share their passions. From that community, donors of time, talent or treasure may arise.

Facebook and Twitter are Web-based networking programs by which messages spread “virally” — but in a good way — among friends and like-minded people.

“People don’t want to be sold to,” Dye said. “They want to interact and be heard.”

And that two-way communication is something social media has that static Web sites — as well as traditional advertising — lack.

One key, Dye and Case said, is to emphasize the nonprofit’s role in the wider world.

“You need to be a good member of the community. Promote others even more than you promote yourself,” Dye said. “If they know you’re into this to be self-serving, they’re probably going to turn you off.”

The message resonated with Meadows.

While Tanner Dance needs to raise money because of legislative cuts and drops in ZAP tax collections, she was thinking about a problem faced by a range of arts groups: Schools can no longer afford buses to take children on field trips.

“You want the kids to have the experience of coming to the university to see a performance,” Meadows said.

So as she sat in last week’s seminar, Meadows had a flash: What if hers and other arts groups collaborate on a Facebook “Cause” site to raise money for the buses?

Several Salt Lake City nonprofits already have used Facebook to raise money.

The Road Home shelter last fall promoted a flag football game between former Cougars and Utes. Tickets were $5 each and the proceeds went to The Road Home.

And the Utah Humanities Council just created a “Cause” link from its Facebook page, garnering $10 from two donors by last week.

By Kristen Moulton

The Salt Lake Tribune
Updated: 05/15/2009 09:33:31 AM MDT


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