Differentiation

Which “helps” organization should I support?

Thankfully, there are thousands of “helps” organizations in the U.S. There are organizations that help the hungry, financially distraught, broken families, disaster relief, animal rescue, environment, and even the restoration of literature; nonetheless, there are many to choose from. Some have good tract records and some don’t. How does one decide? For starters, it all depends on your passion and if you have the spirit of giving. Don’t do it for popularity. It needs to come from the heart. For me, the next element is localization because I like to get my hands dirty with physical participation. It is more gratifying in person. The next thing I consider and the most transparent is social media connections.

Differentiation

Most social media platforms are free so it would make no sense to NOT have a presence, but just having a presence isn’t enough. Because social media is accessible to everyone with the presence of authentic feedback, it is the best mechanism to gauge the legitimacy of an organization. There has to be personal engagement and connection on a regular basis. Social media should be used to promote the “good works” of these organizations along with reports, status updates, videos, testimonials, and connection opportunities. It should be used to organize call-to-order events and activities. As part of an exercise to differentiate organizations, let’s consider Volunteers of America and Meals and Wheels. By no means is this an attempt to discredit any organization, but merely to identify differences that can help drive traffic to the cause.

Volunteers of America and Meals on Wheels

Volunteers of America (VOA) and Meals on Wheels (MOW) both help people in need. VOA is organized to help military veterans, at-risk youth, the elderly, people returning from prison, homeless individuals and families, and substance abuse additions. MOW is designed to supply nutritious meals to senior citizens. With both organizations, they have a presence on multiple social media platforms; Twitter, YouTube, and Facebook to name a few. VOA has a well-designed website with heartfelt videos and featured highlights. MOW has a good website, but without up-front videos and pictures. The videos automatically catch my attention to view first. Another difference, MOW has fewer social contact media than VOA. For example, VOA has a presence on Pinterest and Google +, whereas, MOW doesn’t; at least it isn’t listed. The bigger presence an organization has on social media the bigger the following. Both have a presence on Facebook and display similar messaging and videos, along with news events, but MOW seems to have more comment engagement. VOA appears to have a bigger social media presence, but the first time I ever heard of VOA was about a month ago on a television commercial. It tells me that there are few in my network of friends, family, or collogues that are involved or connected. On the other hand, I’ve always known about MOW.

Conclusion

Volunteers of America and Meals on Wheels are wonderful organizations with commendable causes, which I equally support. Social media differentiation starts with a presence across all available platforms. It requires personal connection on a regular basis; lacking in one, will set you apart. As I mentioned earlier, having a presence isn’t enough.

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4 thoughts on “Differentiation

  1. Larry,
    I’m particularly interested in your topic as I help with my local MOW group. And I agree with your conclusion that a group needs to connect via social media to gain support (volunteers or funds). I think it all comes down to storytelling. Those YouTube videos you describe share personal stories that help me relate – sometimes get hooked! It would be interesting to see each group’s social media strategy/goals with Key Performance Indicators. Those would tell us the real story about why one’s truly engaged and the other is not.
    ~Scott

  2. I enjoyed your post. I too have always heard of MOW, but VOA is a new one for me. Maybe the difference in their social media engagement lies in the nature of their organizations. MOW, though a nationwide effort, seems to be so much of a local program. You can serve with your local MOW and not have much knowledge of what they do all across the country. VOA, on the other hand, seems to be much bigger rather than just local, therefore having a stronger social media presence. Do you think that plays in to it at all?

    • Matt,
      I think each organization has equal opportunity to market their locally or internationally, but in either case, success or effectiveness doesn’t simply lie with a presence. I follow the local VOA in Austin, TX on Facebook and they have daily posts.

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