When I was growing up, my grandmother and her friends baked at the synagogue every week. They made yellow pound cake, cinnamon buns, marble cake and other delicious foods. Every Saturday morning they would prepare platters of their baked goods, plates of herring and crackers as well as pour shot glasses of Canadian Club. No one was allowed in the social hall until “the Hungarian Mafia,” as they were lovingly referred to, said it was OK to enter.
My grandfather was the vice president of the synagogue for close to 50 years. One of his jobs was to find a sponsor for the weekly Kiddush; without the funds he raised, the volunteers couldn’t prepare food for the congregants.
Being a young professional in Detroit, money is tight and I can’t always donate what I wish I could. I am also a father and a husband so my volunteer time is extremely limited. My grandfather may have scoffed at those two excuses, but traditionally there were only two ways to help a nonprofit: donate money or your time. Both integral resources for a nonprofit. In today’s world there is a third option; it’s called social media engagement.
By spreading the word via social media of our affiliations and involvements, we open the opportunity to exposing more people to that organization. It’s free marketing for them — better than any marketing they could pay for.
As a consumer, you are more likely to believe your friends’ endorsement of a product than a paid-for ad. The same is true in the nonprofit sector. Your engagement in an organization does a ton for its presence.
Here are a few suggestions of how you can help your favorite organization:
• Add your service work to your LinkedIn profile and tag the organization. I put my JVS board membership in my current position. Every time someone sees my profile, they know I am passionate about JVS. They can click the link and find out more information.
• Check in on Foursquare/Facebook when you go to the nonprofit’s location or to events. People will notice and know you are participating at the moment.
• Tag yourself and others in their pictures. Make sure to do so only when it’s relevant. See the photo of my daughter wearing a onesie that says “If I could walk I would Step Forward.” This was the night before the Federation’s Super Sunday. I tagged my friends who I knew were participating in the event and friends who work at Federation.
• Comment on and share important posts on Facebook. You do it for funny memes and articles, why not for your favorite nonprofit?
• Re-Tweet posts that you like and use their hashtags on Twitter. Don’t overdo it or you risk losing credibility with your circle of influence.
It’s arguable that a blog is considered social media, so it gets an honorable mention here. Comment on blogs. It not only lets the organization and your networks know how you feel, it also helps with the site’s analytics, which increases their social capital. The same suggestions apply for YouTube, Instagram, Socialcam and any other network.
I am not saying that if you take these suggestions, you don’t need to donate money or volunteer. It’s just another way to help out. My grandparents held parlor meetings in their home; these suggestions are the modern digital equivalent.
I believe if my grandparents were my age, Bubby would be posting pictures of food she made on Pinterest and Instagram daily! Zaidy? I’m not too sure about him — he was always a tough nut to crack.
Benji Rosenzweig is a commercial real estate broker, blogger, father, husband, Detroit advocate and musician. The order of those things changes daily. Read him at www.BenjiUnSpun.com.