Recently, I had the honor of presenting two workshops on social networking at The Association of Junior Leagues International, Inc. 2010 Fall Leadership Conference in Portland, Oregon. In planning for my presentations I made sure to include a significant amount of time for questions at end of the session. As volunteer run organizations, Junior Leagues are run by members who may or may not be nonprofit professionals or have backgrounds in marketing. I was not surprised, therefore, that the decision to leave a lot of question-and-answer time turned out to be a good one.
The common thread in many of the questions was a sense of fear. Fear of revealing too much. Fear of encountering online negativity. Fear of being unable to contain a social media disaster. Fear of being unable to keep up with emerging technologies. Fear of not understanding social media technologies well enough to make efficient use of them. Fear that devoting time to social media might detract from time for direct service. Fear that there is not enough time to do social networking right.
While the latest “Nonprofit Social Network Benchmark Report” revealed that an overwhelming number of nonprofits are utilizing social media, among those that do not, the most common reason cited is a lack of expertise. Clearly then, what many in the nonprofit community require is some social media education. Fortunately, there are now so many sources, including ones specifically focused on the nonprofit sector, available to help guide those organizations that have been reluctant to take the plunge. If it is true that “knowledge is power,” then utilizing existing social media resources will help dispel the fear and help organizations in fulfilling their missions.