Category Archives: fundraising

Image via SproutSocial

Image via SproutSocial

At museums, cultural institutions, and other non-profits, the social media team is responsible for supporting and marketing the programs, events, and mission of the organization. Due to the collaborative nature of museums, it is essential that all stakeholders meet regularly with the social media and marketing team. Although almost every single department could potentially contribute content and ideas to the social media team, it is the most important to meet with the curatorial, education, public programs, membership, and development departments. Each of these departments has a large stake in the museums’ success as well as different, specific audiences.

The curatorial department is the bread and butter of the museum. Without art and exhibitions, the museum would not exist. Sharing information about the museums’ collection, current and forthcoming exhibitions, and curatorial programs is the best way to get people interested in the museum.

The education and public programs department is responsible for creating programs to engage the public with the museum and its collection. These programs are usually less academically focused than the curatorial programs and try to knock down barriers to entry to engage new audiences.

The membership and development departments are responsible for fundraising efforts at the museum. Individual and corporate fundraising is essential for non-profits as public and private grants become increasingly scarcer. The membership and development departments seek to inform the donors, potential donors, and non-donors about the importance of fundraising support.

Although it may seem like there is the potential for there to be too many cooks in the kitchen, it is essential to make sure that all of these different voices are represented and the respective audiences are being served.

Ultimately, the marketing and social media team should have the final say and sign off on social media messages and campaigns, as they are responsible for staying true to the institutions overall brand.

Image via Jeffrey on Flickr

Image via Jeffrey on Flickr

Social media and Web 2.0 tools have changed the landscape of marketing dramatically in recent years. Popular social media sites, such as Facebook and Twitter, have an impressive amount of daily users from around the world. Consumers are able to give immediate feedback about their experiences, interact with people who share similar interests, and reach out to companies and organizations with the click of a button. The conversation is now almost entirely driven by the customer instead of the content creator, which can be a scary thing for a conservative institution.

Museums and cultural institutions and the lovers of these organizations, engage in social media as well. Instead of referring to “customers,” however, museums and cultural institutions engage with visitors, members, donors, and people who are passionate about the institution’s mission. Museums use social channels to promote events, share their collections, keep current constituents engaged, and reach new audiences.

One of the most important foundations of social media marketing is telling your story and telling it well. This is particularly relevant for museums and cultural organizations. An article published in the Washington post from June of 2014 boasted that there were more museums in the United States than there were Starbucks and McDonald’s locations…combined.

At over 35,000 museums and counting, there is an incredible variety of cultural organizations for people to choose from. This is why telling your story is essential and incredibly valuable. It is important for museums to share their message, story, and mission to inform people about what makes your organization special and why they should choose to visit and support your institution.

Museums and cultural institutions should focus on spreading their mission and telling their story on social media to make them standout of the crowd. Every organization has something that makes it special, and if you are able to communicate this effectively over social media your institution will benefit.

Yesterday I was able to attend a development conference at work. There were absolutely fascinating keynote speakers who shared their expertise in crisis management and negotiation. Their talks were both practical and philosophical and, of course, inspiring.

There was a live tweet board on the stage next to the presenters, and attendees were encouraged to tweet out reactions and memorable quotes during the presentations. I was excited to see this participatory element introduced to the conference, and though many did not participate, those who did effectively synthesized crucial points  in 140 characters or less.

As insinuated by the live tweet board, a key element of the conference was digital media strategy. Although digital and social media is just a hobby for me, it was encouraging to see the ways in which social and digital media can be leveraged to reach new audiences and round out a larger marketing campaign. Even though I am not an expert, I’d like to think that I understand many of the abilities and limitations of these forms of communication, and I get really excited when I see them being used to their full potentials.

Speaking of full potential, I had the pleasure of attending the American Museum Membership Conference in Atlanta back in April. There was a really great presentation by Fiveseed about their social media campaign for History Colorado Center. This interactive aspect of their re-opening campaign expanded their audience and engaged brand new constituents. Social and digital media’s ability to reach a broader audience is fascinating to me as a non-profit fundraiser.

I hope to read more, explore more, see more, and learn more about digital and social media strategies for non-profits. I am starting master’s program in management this fall, and I am eager for the opportunity to get back in the classroom and learn about something completely new. I’m sure this won’t be the last time this topic is discussed in my blog.

Please feel free to share any resources you’ve found helpful regarding digital media strategy!