How Cecil Shorts III helps United Way FL | Miratel Solutions

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A social media case study for nonprofits – Cecil Shorts III on Twitter

While we often write about the value of nonprofits incorporating a broad range of social media tactics to improve their online reach and fundraising potential we don’t often present a case study. As a result I thought it would be valuable to highlight a specific example of just how great of an impact social media mentions can make for a charity both in terms of building awareness but ultimately in finding new donors.

Chances are that your organization is already followed by a number of people who are very active and well followed in the social media world and if that’s the case the support that they can provide your organization can have significant impacts as found by a United Way branch in Northeast Florida. Cecil Shorts III is best known as a star wide receiver for the Jacksonville Jaguars of the NFL, the 26 year old Shorts was signed by the Jaguars in 2011 and like many professional athletes looks to give back to the community where he plays. Each time he tweets (his twitter account is here) about the local United Way chapter they receive a flurry of interest as Lisa Daniel of the United Way explained;

“We see an increase in web traffic and engagement every time he mentions us on Twitter,”

While not every nonprofit can call upon someone as recognized as an NFL player who just happens to have 29k Twitter followers I’m sure you’ll find that a good number of your active supporters each have Twitter and Facebook accounts with several thousand people who follow their updates. It’s never easy to ask people to share via social media but not only are many people willing to do so but the viral and organic nature of spreading awareness can be a huge boon to organizations of any size. However it’s the research below that really brings this point home.

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Georgette Dumont is a University of North Florida assistant professor of public administration, who studied the potential impact of social media for nonprofits. She conducted a study that looked at how social media users interact with nonprofits both in Duval County and nationwide and found data that surprised her. Among those in Duval County who follow nonprofits via social media a remarkable 65% decided to donate as a direct result of a social media post. The benefits also extend to events and volunteerism which the same study showed 68% attended an event and 62% volunteered due to a post.

“Social media has to be very strategic. There has to be a reason for these organizations to use it to meet their greater goal, which is their mission. This is surprising (because) when I work with nonprofits, I tell them they are not going to make a lot of money off social media,”

We all understand that the effective management of costs by a charity is of great importance and it’s here where social media can provide the most cost-efficient method to deliver a message, tell a story and share images or videos that can explain more about what your organization is doing. Dumont found that she’s seeing nonprofits use social media very effectively to introduce potential donors to their cause, that critical first step where a person becomes aware of the work a charity is doing where otherwise they might not know.

Trying to measure the return on time invested is a tricky matter for organizations but what is clear is that social media can quickly improve engagement with your audience and this is important for donors who cite that understanding what a charity is actually doing with funding and receiving regular updates are key concerns.

Ultimately though there’s a very good chance that your existing supporters will be only too pleased to help build awareness for your cause via their own social media networks if you take the time to ask, you might even have another Cecil Shorts III following you and not even know it!

My thanks to the Jacksonville Daily Record for some of the source information and quotes.

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