Integrating Social Media in Non-Profits Panel: Richard Waters

Dr. Richard Waters is an assistant professor from North Carolina State University (NCSU). Before returning to academics, Waters was the Director of Communication and Development for statewide healthcare organization in California. His area of expertise is fundraising in regards to non-profits.

Richard Waters (North Carolina State University)

Dr. Waters has conducted a great deal of research in fundraising in non-profits specifically quantitative aspects of the healthcare industry.  His findings show that there are some organizations that achieve great numbers with social media/technology, however there are also multiple organizations that don’t have great numbers (though people often disregard the failures).

Dr. Waters thinks that social media can be very helpful in terms of fundraising, but the face to face interaction is not going to be replaced. Though it is growing in numbers, Dr.Waters doesn’t believe in partaking in social media just because it is out there, instead we should think of a strategy.

Dr. Waters uses “Facebook Causes” as an example of using social media without strategy. The Washington Post showed that companies who used “Facebook Causes” had sub-par results. 73 percent of  the “Facebook Causes” on Facebook generate zero dollars. Though a lot of organizations partake in the application–not a lot of them see results because they dive in without researching. Even though, people are giving more than ever, e-fundraising has shown signs of decline because strategy isn’t being thought about.

Moreover, according to Dr. Waters, social media should serve as complementary tool to non-profits. Currently, it is being utilized as an awareness tool. He references a study done with a graduate student in NCSU, which looks at Twitter. They found that two-way communication is not occurring as much as we think. They found that a lot of organizations are using Twitter to publicize something opposed to engagement.

Additionally, non-profits NEED to involve constituents personally. If non-profits don’t, then the messages they send to constituents become spam.


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