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DC Week: Non-Profits and Social Media Panel

With one of the only standing-room only attendance levels of the day, the "Is There Really An App For That? Non-Profits and Social Media" panel was highly anticipated to be one of the most informative and interesting discussions of the Advocacy 2.0 day. Moderator Brian Reich assured the crowd that they were in for an active discussion and a strong brainstorming session, and that he was setting out to make it "not just another boring panel". With some of the largest and most successful non-profits represented on the panel, attendees were anxious to hear advice from the masters, including Tammy Gordon from AARP, Wendy Harman from the Red Cross, and Allison McQuade of Global Giving.

Harman and Gordon agreed on one central point: the people that support your organization through social media should be treated as just that; people, and not "bottlecaps to be collected" as Harman said. Their input can be especially effective in times of crises: "Listen to what people expect organizations to do in crises" she noted, "and then make sure to meet those expectations." Tammy Gordon spoke extensively about the relationship between the organization and the supporter, noting that it is important to "establish social media guidelines: be transparent, responsible, non-partisan, trained and responsive" in your social media activity. When organizations wonder who to talk to and how, she tells them: "Talk to people you know. Talk to people you want to know. And talk to people you don’t know that are talking about what you are."  Alison McQuade told panel attendees that they shouldn’t try and think of their donors as only source of financial support. "Donors are great," she said. "But what do you do when your donors are tapped out?" This is exactly the situation in which she would tell an organization to take control of their donors through social media.  Your supporters are your greatest tool, she said, and there are "lots of other ways to engage them; everyone has different talents and it’s up to you to get it out of them."

Brian Reich did more than simply moderate the panel and actually offered some of the most compelling advice of the day. When it comes to content, he said "Anything can become  good content; your job is to take the content and place it in a context for your audience." He also had one of the most re-tweeted phrases of the day, which is oftentimes all too true: "The biggest challenge with organizations and social media is that they are run by people uncomfortable with social media" But, he added: "Often, there are people in the organization that can more than handle it." The panel itself was one of the most tweeted-about of the day, with people such as @riaglo tweeting:  "In panel led by @wharman, @floridagirlindc, @akmcquade, @brianreich- fast paced soc media coaching by the best practitioners."