Social Media as a Fundraising Tool in South African NGOs

Social Media within the context of the emergence of Web 2.0 is a phenomenon whose reach and impact has grown exponentially and has radically changed the way in which individuals interact and the way in which companies do business. Social Media achieves this in part through the supporting technological infrastructure which is extending the reach of the internet beyond its traditional boundaries thanks to the increasing role played by mobile devices in linking users to the internet, particularly in developing regions of the world whose fixed line internet infrastructure is limited. The other element that allows social media to achieve this is the interactive character of Web 2.0 coupled with the modern consumers’ desire to generate their own user content and media as opposed to merely being recipients of mass media flows generated and directed outwards by large faceless commercial interests.

The opportunity to consolidate and grow market share offered by integrating social media into an organisations business strategy is coming to the fore at a time when the South African NGO sector is experiencing a funding contraction. Despite this research is showing that NGOs, locally and abroad, are not using social media strategically in their fundraising efforts. This study sets out to understand why this is the case by conducting exploratory research into the role played by social media in South African NGOs. Using an existing, but non-exhaustive, database of KZN NGOs an online survey was sent to 481 NGOs to which it received 41 complete responses. The data was analysed to generate descriptive statistics to help reveal the parameters that delineate the research topic. The variables in the survey were also operationalised so that they produced meaningful measures for submission to analysis by Tjan’s Fit-Viability Framework which examined what proportion of the organisations possessed the core characteristics and capabilities to implement a social media fundraising strategy, against the proportion of those that were implementing such a strategy. Hypothesis testing for proportions was also conducted to test the significance of relationships that the literature suggested existed between certain organisational traits and the implementation of social media fundraising strategies.

The significant finding of the research was that far more organisations possessed the characteristics and capabilities to implement a social media fundraising strategy than were implementing a strategy. This presence of unutilised potential prompted recommendations built around educating the NGO sector on social media within the context of Web 2.0, as well as on how to implement and maintain social media strategies drawing on case studies and research conducted with NGO stakeholders.

Some of this information may be useful to actors in the sector now; so while the thesis will eventually be broken down into smaller and more focussed think pieces it is available in its entirety through following the link:

The Role of Social Media as a Fundraising Tool in South African NGOs

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