What Is Your Social Contract?

Posted by on June 18, 2012 in Non-Profit, PR+Social Media, Strategy

Mitch Joel had a great post on the Social Contract of Social Media yesterday and while his post focused largely on brands and sales there’s some great application on nonprofits and fundraising.

Why are you engaging in social media? Is it to get people to make donations? To share with others? To learn more about the problem you are trying to solve? To get monthly supporters? To get social fundraisers? Any one of these, and others, may be the answer  to the question but the key is to be upfront and consistent with why you are there and what you want your audience to do.

We’ve all seen it. The fun contests, the photo sharing, the information and friendly tone. And then? Make a donation by going here that will help us do this. That undermines everything else you’ve been doing in your fun, easy-going, engaging tone! If you are on Facebook to gain donations, fine, don’t hide it. Ask people. Ask often. State your case. State what the donations will do. Report back on what they will do. Have matches. Have challenges. Thank people. That’s all fine and good, if people know that’s what you are doing they can choose to engage or not.

The social contract is all about one thing; trust. The charitable sector is essentially a trust economy so the more you have of it the better off you’ll be and you should not trade that trust for anything! Asking people for money or to get involved doesn’t break trust. Baiting and switching people or acting inconsistently is what breaks trust.

So be fun and engaging, or not. So ask for donations and support, or not. Regardless of what your social contract is be upfront about it and consistent with it. Build trust and don’t violate your social contract.


Brady has spent his career in marketing and fundraising for international development organizations. He received his Masters degree in Nonprofit Administration with a concentration in fundraising management from North Park University in Chicago, Illinois where he is also an adjunct professor at the School of Business and Nonprofit Management. Currently, Brady lives in Vancouver, BC where he is the Strategic Director for Charity Express, a digital agency focused on strategy and execution for small and medium sized nonprofit organizations changing our world.

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