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A small nonprofit can be a global conversation: Heather Mansfield

Dec 27, 2012

Heather Mansfield is the owner of DIOSA Communications and author of Social Media for Social Good: A How-To Guide for Nonprofits. A pioneer in employing social media for the nonprofit sector, Heather shares her rich experience of using the Internet for fundraising, community-building, and advocacy with Ashok Kumar of OneWorld South Asia.

Heather Mansfield

OneWorld South Asia: You are a principle blogger at Nonprofit Tech 2.0. What is Nonprofit 2.0 all about?

Heather Mansfield: Nonprofit Tech 2.0 is a blog that I have been using for over three years. I study social media tools knowing that a lot of nonprofits do not have the time to study what works on Facebook, Pinterest, LinkedIn, YouTube, Flickr, Tumblr, Myspace, Foursquare and changes which YouTube has launched on their channel. Then I write about these.

Nonprofits can read my blog and on Nonprofit Tech 2.0 and save their time by not learning about the social media tools themselves. So it is a how-to guide for NGOs in helping them to use social media for their benefit.

OWSA: How crucial is social media for nonprofits?

Mansfield: Social media is very important to make sure that your website looks good and you are publishing an email newsletter. Once you start using Facebook to communicate your messages, to drive traffic, to build your email newsletter list, the more powerful your presence is going to be. So, Twitter and Facebook can be very powerful but if you don’t have a website then they will not be as powerful as they could be.

OWSA: How do you look at the utilization of social media by the nonprofits in the developing countries?

Mansfield: Believe it or not, whether it is the developed countries like the United States, Australia or the developing ones like India, the biggest and the universal challenge for NGOs all over the world is capacity. They do not have a dedicated staff person who has the time to invest in the dynamics of social media. It requires time to run a Facebook page, to study Twitter, to learn YouTube.  So, it makes sense if the Nonprofits are geared up to meet the latest challenges in tapping the resources of social media in an efficient way.

The other challenge is to make sure that these NGOs have financial resources because it requires some level of graphic design work and training.

OWSA: Is the significance of social media only for bigger NGOs or is it equally relevant for the small ones as well?

Mansfield: Social media is equally important for very small NGOs too as they are the ones who have the least time and resources. Very large NGOs do not need any more convincing that what they already enjoy, but tiny non profits have a hard time in establishing their brand and presence.

OWSA: When we say social media for social good, what does it imply?

Mansfield: Well, that’s a tough question. No one has ever asked me this question. There are multiple definitions for social good. For me, my fascination with the Internet has always been what you do to get people to do something that make the world a better place to live. What do you do to get people to care, to take action, even if it is small little action like liking on Facebook, following on Twitter or clicking to make a donation or for becoming a volunteer.

Social media for social good is using social media in a way that inspires people to do something that is socially good for mankind, womankind and animal kind.

OWSA: How do you think engagement of nonprofits with social media will catapult them among the masses?

Mansfield: Once NGOs learn how to use social media it is not going to be just government that is going to be talking about the developmental issues but a small nonprofit will be able to engage with the United Nations, the Indian government online. So, a small nonprofit can be a global conversation and they will not be relegated to a remote corner where no one pays attention to them.

OWSA: Social media and the sustenance of the nonprofit sector seem to be two parallel lines. One looks at serious engagement with issues and problems confronting societies and the other is seen as communicating with friends and loads of fun. Do you think there is a relationship between social media and the sustenance of nonprofits?

Mansfield: Social media has and will continue to increase online donations for NGOs. There is a maths to social media. As your communities, the Non Government Organisations (NGOs) grow on social networks, so does your online donor community.

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