Learnings from Social Media Day of Giving Long Island: Subjects and Costs
Non-profits need help in establishing or upgrading their social media efforts and it’s still early in the process as this technology and culture work their way through our society.
Charities are looking to the emerging tools of the Internet such as social media in a time where they have fewer economic resources on which to draw and when donations are drying up.
A group of volunteers came together in order to help these agencies use social media to better assist the people they help. This activity sprang from an effort in Detroit championed by Jeff Pulver and General Motors.
As part of the activities of this day, which brought together 22 representatives from agencies invited by the umbrella organization, the Health and Welfare Council of Long Island, to meet with a dozen volunteer social-media practitioners from the New York area.
The workshop was made possible by the work of Jonathan Ezor and Jeffrey Namnum and the support of Touro Law Center.
Running the Numbers
Nearly every one of the 15 agencies in attendance at the Social Media Day of Giving Long Island at Touro Law Center on Tuesday, Oct. 19, 2010, indicated they had an established website.
A total of 7 of the 15 agencies representatives indicated they had a Facebook presence, with three agencies describing it as “kinda.”
Assigning a score of 2 to agencies with a Facebook presence, a 1 to a “kinda” and a 0, the group averaged to 1.13.
A total of 5 of the agencies said they had a Twitter presence, 2 were “kinda” and 7 did not for a average score of 0.93.
Only one organization said they had a LinkedIn presence, while there were 3 “kindas” and 1 yes for an average score of 0.40.
So, the benchmark to judge against would be: the group’s score of 1.86 for having a website
Summary: The non-profits all had websites and to a lesser extent, Facebook presences, and were not, as a group, actively participating in Twitter and LinkedIn.
The group needed specific help in Facebook to unlink personal accounts from organizational presence; they needed help on deciding between groups and pages. Conclusion: These topics can be addressed with standing links and text.
The groups’ Twitter presence largely represented homework assigned before the workshop. They were all asked to create a Twitter account. Less than half (7) did.
Action: Create a Twitter tutorial, discuss the pros and cons of establishing and account and identifying presence and then a walk through of the mechanics of creating and account.
Linkedin – The agencies were not actively taking advantage of the highly professional and focused networks available on LinkedIn.
Action: Discuss the pros and cons of LinkedIn, walk through tactics and strategies for LinkedIn.
Mobile and video – While emerging technologies such as smartphones, tablets and video are seen as important influences in the communication channels of the near future, these organizations were very early in their adoption of technologies and a more advanced session would help organizations that were actively engaging in at minimum, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.
Sessions needed :
How to effectively communicate through social media tools.
How to manage the people resources needed (employees, volunteers)
Hands-on to enhance presence.
Forward-thinking session on the tools to come
How to estimate costs and time:
How to solicit donations digitally and within the legal parameters.
Figuring the Cost
While the workshop was offered at no cost, there were costs in terms of facilities, food, and the time of everybody involved. I don’t have entirely accurate numbers but I went through some rough back-of-envelope figuring and determined that the workshop costs added up to $20,000.
The biggest costs were facilities and food. While any kind of estimate tends to unfairly set a value, I would say that having the wonderful facilities for 6.5 hours is at least a value of $2,000 including support personnel, electricity and IT infrastructure.
Touro Law also generously offered coffee, donuts and pastries in the morning, and then a box lunch in the afternoon, food would be fairly valued at $800.
There is a cost of transportation. Some lived nearby while others came from as far away as northern Manhattan and Staten Island. So, the rough value of transportation would be approximately $10 per person.
In the days before the event, organizers held weekly phone conferences and also devoted other time to organizational activity. I figured four people working an hour and a half a week on this for five weeks, at a value of $50 an hour cost $1,500 total or a value of $126 per person.
The actual time of the people in the workshop, valued at $50 per person per hour, cost $13,000 for the 6.5 hours.
Additionally, the creation of websites, Facebook groups and LinkedIn groups as well as other content preparation time, amounted to 15 hours at $50 an hour or a cost of $750.
The volunteers spent time prior to the event communicating and organizing information and content. Estimating that each volunteer spent about an hour each on this at $50 an hour, another $600 cost.
Say that each agency took an hour to prepare itself, at $50 per hour, that produced a cost of $900.
So, adding these costs together yields a total cost of $20,000, or a cost of approximately $400 per person. I don’t know if you could get away with that on a tax audit but it would be interesting what a tax attorney thought of this method of valuation.
I put my rough spreadsheet up on the web and you can play with it if you like.
The true benefit of the workshop will come if the agencies can take the broad range of things they were exposed and create value on the behalf of the people they serve. How do you measure that? I would like to see the agencies all have social media presences, after they first establish goals and targets, and to measure the resources that go into doing that.