Fundraisers should always try to communicate via their constituents’ preferred channel. Since the rise of social media, many nonprofits have begun communicating with their donors through social networks like Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram among others. But new data show that somewhere many nonprofits went wrong when adopting social media.

In a recent study entitled, “Donor Engagement Study: Aligning Nonprofit Strategy with Donor Preference,” researchers found the donor segment with the most disposable income, the Baby Boomers, dislikes the use of social networks as a major avenue of nonprofit communication.  Instead this class, along with the Millennials and Generation X, preferred peer-to-peer fundraising, simply because they consider it a better avenue for engagement.

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On a similar note, Baby Boomers stated they dislike social media because they feel it cuts out the opportunity for fundraisers to share personal stories with donors the way they could in a peer-to-peer setting.

Both of these data points should concern the average fundraiser. Social media is supposed to be a place where people can connect with each other in a personal way. In fact, this alone is why nearly every adult has a Facebook account. If nonprofits have not been able to connect with their constituents, it is not because social media is faulty—it’s the fundraisers fault for missing the inherent nuance to the medium.

How can fundraisers connect with donors on social media? Stop treating it as an inexpensive tactical marketing opportunity. It doesn’t replace or act like direct mail and certainly doesn’t replace the human interaction of major donor cultivation. Instead, use the medium to create personal stories that your constituents will want to share. Craft peer-to-peer messages that constituents can embrace, participate in, and share with their friends. Social media, to be effective in the nonprofit milieu, should foster a friendly relationship between the nonprofit and the donors that will help the former retain the latter for years to come.

Social media has proved time and time again to be a powerful tool for bringing people together. By simply being personable and telling genuine stories, nonprofits can tap into that power.

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