Idealist.org’s Allison Jones Uses Social Media To Connect Nonprofits With Those Who Want To Do Good
Allison Jones serves as editor of Idealist.org, a site for nonprofit organizations and professionals that connects people who want to do good. The site hosts a nonprofit job board, and Allison manages the organization’s blogs and social media accounts, including Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
“Idealist acts as a connector,” she told MadameNoire. “We make it easy for organizations to find people to help them fulfill their mission. We attract individuals who want to do good, and, for the organizations, we make it easy for them to reach out to those people.”
Jones spoke to MadameNoire about how nonprofits can leverage social media, her goals for the rest of the year, and diversity within the nonprofit sector.
MadameNoire: What’s your perspective on social media for Idealist and what is your strategy?
Allison Jones: I try to align anything we do in social with our big three organizational objectives. The first one, organizationally, is “Everyone who can benefit from Idealist knows about it.” The second is, “People who connect with us always leave with one actionable step.” And the last one is “We’re operating sustainably.” Social can help with all of those, but the first two especially.
For my job, the first objective means I need to define the audience and then expand our reach by engaging with that audience. And the second objective tells me about the kind of content we need to be creating: making sure it’s actionable, making sure it’s helpful, and making sure I’m tracking people’s steps. Are they sharing it? Do they say they like it? That sort of thing. The social media strategy is aligned with furthering these objectives.
MN: Why is it important for nonprofits to use social media and technology?
AJ: Internally, social media is really helpful for staying on top of trends in your field, building knowledge, and staying connected to other people. When we talk about social media, we generally talk about it from an external, grow-your-audience, perspective. But internally, for your own professional development, your own knowledge, and your own awareness and sharing, social media is incredible.
On the external side, I love social media, but the first questions should always be where is your audience? And what is the purpose? Organizations would get really excited about Twitter, but then they say, “Oh, we want to reach 15-year-olds. Maybe we should have a mobile strategy instead of a Twitter strategy.” It’s important to think about that and be critical when you’re planning.
MN: Looking at the nonprofit sector overall, do you see a lot of ethnic and racial diversity?
AJ: It depends on the organization and it depends on the role. At my last job, where I worked for a nonprofit that managed charter schools, I saw a lot of women of color, which is important for me. I was a fundraising and marketing manager and every other month or so I met with other women of color who did the same thing at other charter schools. We were all doing communications-type work for charter schools, and it was wonderful to see other professional young women of color, but it was also like a brain trust and we had a nice back-and-forth.
As far as across the sector, I think we could definitely do better, especially as we get to the executive ranks, which is a problem cross-sector. A lot of companies and organizations, for-profit or nonprofit, are getting better at getting people in the door, but what does turnover look like among the people of color that you attract? Are they rising up and do they have a variety of positions? These are the kinds of questions that come up and they are something that we just have to keep working through.