Blog | Sep 24, 2010 | 6 Comments

[social media ROI]

[what it means for mission-driven organizations]

I’m very pleased to bring you this guest post from friend and colleague, Patricia Eaton, whose consulting practice focuses on communications and financial growth strategies grounded in a solid analytic framework.

It is not surprising that U.S. mission-driven organization (MDO) mega brands have only a fraction of the value of commercial brands. For example, at the top of the MDO heap, YMCA of the U.S.A. is valued at $6.4 billion (Cone, Inc. 2009) – a seemingly respectable amount. But not so much when compared to top U.S. brand Coca Cola that weighs in at a hefty $68.7 billion (Interbrand, 2009). It prompts the question ‘how can MDOs build brand value and scale up capacity and impact?’ Instead of putting Coke in every fridge – how about ensuring healthcare, education, a clean environment, and economic opportunity for every person?

Mission-driven organizations are all over social media channels such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, etc., getting noticed, engaging people, and mobilizing resources on a large scale. In fact, 97% of charitable organizations actively use social media compared to only 80% of the Inc. 500 (eMarketer). Social media operates peer to peer, with a multiplying effect that hierarchal communications channels such as advertising can’t touch.

Social media are in a constant state of flux and growth due to large-scale participation — over 500 million users on Facebook alone. Brian Solis, social media expert, defines the next evolution as ‘social commerce.’ He quotes Lora Cecere of the Altimeter Group who posits that social media “. . . no longer is social for the sake of being social, but gives rise to horizontal processes that extend beyond marketing to drive social commerce.” This forthcoming layer of monetary exchange has implications for mission-driven organizations in terms of fund development strategies.

The Nature Conservancy and other organizations have raised several million dollars combined on Facebook; the Red Cross raised $32 million for Haiti relief through its mobile phone campaign, and Earthjustice has used location-based Foursquare to spur donations. These early successes suggest that a tipping point in the use of social media for fundraising could occur in the near future. MDO executives may well consider the potential of social media when evaluating return on investment for marketing programs. Donor acquisition and marketing campaigns launched on social media channels may require an initial investment in appropriate technology, but could achieve quick payback with a competitive edge and long-term revenue streams.

Additional resources:

HubSpot: Inbound marketing software to grow traffic, leads, and sales

Eloqua:  Marketing automation

ConstantContact: Marketing via email, events, social media  Customer relationship management

About Patricia Eaton

Patricia Eaton develops communications and financial growth strategies grounded in a solid analytic framework that achieve measurable results. She provides consulting expertise in the areas of employee/customer engagement, integrated communications strategy and execution, customer intelligence and application of insights. Contact her at

Photo credit: Keith Burtis on flickr. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

Author: Claire Wagner

I'm a seasoned freelance writer/editor and an enthusiastic community manager. I'm passionate about developing and sharing good content.


Interesting facts – what social media do you recommend the most? I have had some mild success on Twitter, Facebook, and (social bookmarking).


Claire Wagner Reply:

Steven, I have learned an enormous amount from Twitter and made great contacts, including the person who designed this blog for me. I could not organize my work or my life without the social bookmarking site delicious. It is an absolute essential. I love my personal Facebook page for contact with friends and relatives. I have also just created a WagnerWrites business page on Facebook (see my previous post) but I’m still not sure what that experience will be like in the long run. I do it primarily to demonstrate my knowledge of Facebook. And flickr is where I get most of my blog photos – only things that are licensed for reuse, of course.

Thanks so much for reading and commenting. I’ll check out your blog, too.


Steven H Reply:

Yeah, I use Flickr for photos too, definitely the best source for stuff under Creative Commons.

Also, I have an account at delicious but only bookmarked a few of my own blog posts. Do you ever get significant traffic off of it?

Facebook Page is a must. I heard a study that traffic which comes from Facebook has the lowest bounce rate and spends (on average) the most time on your site.

Thanks for the feedback,


Claire Wagner Reply:

Steven, I haven’t yet analyzed my traffic very carefully – this site is still fairly new. I doubt I get anything from delicious, but it doesn’t hurt to bookmark my site and each post I write. However, I get immense value from delicious just for my own organization purposes. I couldn’t do research without it! Thanks.

Patty Eaton Reply:

Hi Steven,
Thanks for your commment — I’m glad you found my post interesting.
My experience is that social media channels work in harmony and cross reference each other. Twitter is a great way to start or enter a conversation and provide a link to your blog or Facebook page. YouTube videos are fun to have on your Facebook or blog — and create strong associations and memories for your readers. Social media are so dynamic that you can try almost anything just to see if it works — you just might start a new trend!


Steven H Reply:

Thanks for the reply Patty! That makes a lot of sense. Have you tried Digg, Reddit, or StumbleUpon at all?


Steven H


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