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    For more on prospect development, visit www.afpnet.org. Search: Resource Center

    ProsPect DeveloPmentFinding, cultivating and stewarding prospects

    Is social media transforming Philanthropy?By Sa lly Boucher, cFre

    Raise funds throughnontraditionalmethods, including community,nationalandinternationalcampaignsWithintheprospectresearchpro-

    fession, the discussion of the uses,misuses,prosandconsofsocialmediahas been an active topic for severalyears.AsurveyconductedbyWealthEngine (JuneJuly 2011) of 1,300U.S.based fundraisersandprospectresearchers explored the ways non-profitsareusingsocialmediaintheirprofiling, prospecting and engage-mentactivities.

    2. Whats working: Details from social media sites help flesh out prospect pro-files and alert analysts to events that may warrant additional research.The majority of development profes-sionalsrespondingtothesurveyindi-cated theyusesocialmediamost fre-quently for finding details regardingemployment, education, familial rela-tionshipsandmaritalstatus.LinkedInisthemostpopularsite,with72per-centofrespondentsand84percentofthosewhoidentifiedprospectresearchastheirprimaryfocususingLinkedInasaregularsourceforthistypeofinfor-mation.LinkedInwasgenerallyconsid-eredmorereliablethanotherplatforms,such as Facebook andMyspace, andsomerespondents felt itwas likely tobeevenmoreuptodatethancorporatewebsitesforaccurateemploymentandjobtitleinformation.

    Facebookwasnotoriginallycreatedtobeacompany.Itwasbuilttoaccomplishasocialmissiontomaketheworldmoreopenandconnected.ThisistheopeningofaletterMarkZuckerberg,Face-bookCEO,includedwiththeFacebookinitialpublicofferingappli-cationfiledonFeb.1,2012.Unlessyouhavebeenunderarock,youhavewitnessedthephenomenal

    resultsoftheneweraoftransparencyandconnectionbeingusheredinbysocialmedia.TheArabSpring,themeteoricriseofnewcharitieslikeCharity:Water,andthemobilizationanddeliverycoordinationofresourcesandmanpowerinHaitihaveallbeenfueledinpartbysocialmedia.Zuckerbergcontinued,Thereisahugeneedandahugeopportunitytoget

    everyoneintheworldconnected,togiveeveryoneavoiceandtohelptransformsocietyforthefuture.Thissoundsalotlikephilanthropy,notunlikewhatwedoeveryday,work-

    inginthetrenchestopositionourorganizationstobuildabetterfuture.Isntphilanthropyatitscoreallaboutcreatingandstrengtheningrelationshipstoenhanceourmissions?Socialmediaisallaboutconnections.Philanthropyisallaboutrelationships.Whatistherelationshipbetweensocialmediaandphilanthropy?

    What Is Social Media?Socialmediaisliterallytransformingthewayweliveandwork.Inthebroadestsense,thewidespreaduseofsocialmediaisbreakingdowncommunicationbarriersandopeningorganizations,companies,governmentsandindividu-alstonewkindsofinteractionsandnewlevelsoftransparency.Socialmediaplatformshavesubstantiallychangedthewayorganizations,communitiesandpeoplecommunicateandarenotablydifferentfromtraditionalmediafortheiraccessibility,lackofhierarchicalstructureandrapidinteractivity.(SeeFigure1.)

    1. Charitable organizations are using social media in creative and innovative ways.Manynonprofitsareusingoneormultipletypesofsocialmediatohelpmeetsomeofthesestrategicobjectives:EnhanceprospectdevelopmentthroughprofilingandprospectidentificationIncreaseconstituentengagementviacommunityandrelationshipbuilding

    www.afpnet.org Advancing Philanthropy 45

  • JenniferHuebner,aresearchanalystattheUniversityofVirginiainChar-lottesville,Va., explains how shehassuccessfully harnessed the power ofLinkedIn:IvesetupsearcheswithinLinkedInwithspecificcriteriatolocatealumni who have recently been pro-motedorchangedpositions.Thishasbeenagreatwaytoidentifyprospectswhomaywarranta second look.Wehaveused itnotonly in ferretingoutdetailsofemploymenthistoriesbutalsoasanopportunityforourgiftofficerstoproactivelyreachouttoprospectswithcongratulationsandbuildrelationshipswiththem.Facebook is considered a useful

    research resource by 52 percent ofrespondents (54 percent of research-ers),withTwitterandYouTubeadis-tantthirdandfourthinpopularityforresearchpurposesat13percentand12percent, respectively. (See Figure 2.)Researchersareusingthesesources,inadditiontothewayssuggestedabove,todeterminethesocialandprofessionalnetworksofdonorsandprospects;

    identifytheinterests,hobbies,causesandmissionsaboutwhichprospectsshowinterestandpassion;

    digdeepertobuildamorecompre-hensivepictureoftheirprospect;and

    find photographs and/or video oftheirprospects.

    3. Tapping into social networks helps nonprofits build prospect lists.Fiftysix percent of respondents usesocial media to determine the socialandprofessionalnetworksoftheirpros-pectsanddonors.Thishelpstobuilda 360degree view of an individualprospect by identifying relationshipsthatcancorrelatetohigheraffinityforyourorganizationanduncoverpoten-tialinfluencersandnaturalpartnersinthequalification,cultivationandsolici-tationprocesses.This type of networking informa-

    tionalsocanbeuseful in theareaofprospecting. An organizations innercircle,forinstanceitsboardmembers,isfrequentlyaskednotonlytogive

    buttoget.Thesediscussionsarenor-mally conducted facetoface, duringwhichcommittedboardmembersmay,giventheirunderstandingoftheirinter-estsanddrivers,suggestsomeoftheirsocialand/orprofessionalconnectionsasgoodprospectsfortheorganization.Asimilardynamiccanworkwithin

    thecybersphere.Nonprofitsareusingthenetworkingdatavisibleinapplica-tionslikeFacebookandLinkedIntopro-actively identify their supporters con-nections. These connections alsomaybegoodprospectsfortheorganization.Nonprofitsarealsoidentifyingpros-

    pectsandpotentialprospectsthroughexisting groups on social networkingsites. For instance, a healthrelatedorganizationmayjoinhealthandwell-nessFacebookgroupsinitsregionornationally.There,itcanlistenandlearnwhatmemberscareaboutandaddrel-

    evantandmeaningfulcontentinanon-threateningmanner.Inthisway,itcanidentify the interests and passions ofgroupmembers anddeterminewherethereispotentialoverlapwiththeorga-nizationsmission.Followers and those who interact

    with, like, add content to or postmessagestoorganizationblogs,micro-blogs, websites, social networkingpagesorothersocialmediaoutlets,areexpressingadesiretobeginormaintainarelationship.Minimally,theorganiza-tionshouldbeawareofthesefollowersand supporters and research them ifwarranted.Onestep is tocrossrefer-encethesesupporterswiththeinstitu-tionscurrentdatabaseofdonorsandprospects.Mark Miller, director of philan-

    thropic marketing and communica-tion at Childrens National Medical

    The Ethics of Social MediaMost respondents to the WealthEngine Social Media Survey 2011 strongly cautioned themselves, their organizations and anyone using social media as a source for prospect data to be fully aware that social media data are self-reported and should be verified using other sources when possible. Many researchers either do not in-clude details from social media if they cannot be cross-verified, or at the least include a note within the profile that information is self-reported and not verified.

    Seventy-five percent agree that social media is ethical to use because it is pub-lic information just like any other public source, but almost all drew the line at creating connections with prospects (friending) for the purpose of collecting per-sonal and otherwise hidden information. Among the 5 percent who disagree that it is ethical to use data from social media in prospect research, their concerns center on the accuracy of the information. Many respondents commented that the use of these data should be in accordance with the APRA Ethics Statement, which says in part that any data collected and recorded be both accurate and appropriate to the fundraising process.

    ProsPect DeveloPment

    FIguRe 1

    46 Adva n c i n g P h i la nthropy November/December 2012

  • CenterinWashington,D.C.,explains:Wewantedtobetterunderstandhowourdonorsareusingsocialmedia,sowe crossreferenced emails from ourdonordatabasewithpubliclyavailableinformationonthreesocialmediasites:Facebook,TwitterandLinkedIn.Withthisinformation,wevelearnedwhichtoolsourdonorsareusingandwhichplatformsareworthinvestingintomeettheirneeds.Includingthistypeofbasicresearch

    inyourorganizationssocialnetworkswill tell you if most of your follow-ers are already donors to your causeandwhich are potential annual fundor majorgift prospects. Additionalresearch, social media surveys andcontinued engagement through socialmediaandothermethodswillgiveyouideasonhowtomosteffectivelyculti-vatethoserelationships.

    4. Social media provides organizations with new ways to engage followers and cultivate relationships.Nonprofitsthatareusingsocialmediato engage and cultivate relationshipswiththeirdonorsfinditvaluableinanumber of ways.More than 90 per-cent of survey respondents use social

    networkingsitestoshareinformationabout their organizations, missions,upcomingeventsandactivities.Whilethese are important and worthwhileactivities, many experts stress theimportanceoflisteningtoandinteract-ingwithfollowersasbeingakeyingre-dientfordevelopingrelationshipsandturning them into beneficial connec-tionstomeetorganizationalobjectives.

    For the past two years,ChildrensNationalMedicalCenterhaspubliclyrecognized hundreds of communityandcorporatedonorsthroughaweek-longthankathononTwitterduringThanksgiving.Nonprofitsarestillfig-uringout thebestways touse socialmedia for fundraising, Miller says,buttheyshouldntignorethetremen-dous value in stewardship, especially

    How survey respondents (1,300 prospect researchers and fundraisers) are using social media in prospect development.

    How Researchers Use Social MediaAccording to the WealthEngine Social Media Survey 2011, 16 percent of prospect researchers have found blogs to be useful sources of

    information for prospect research; 17 percent use social media resources once a month or even less often; 25 percent of researcher