Cincinnati nonprofit wins $10,000 worth of social media services through Dooley Media contest

CINCINNATI - The League for Animal Welfare (LFAW) is about to learn how far $10,000 worth of services will go, as winner of a "social media makeover contest" led by Dooley Media

The nonprofit organization operates the first established and largest adoption center and no-kill animal shelter in Cincinnati.

"The League is thrilled to win this social media makeover from Dooley," said Carol Sanger, vice president of the LFAW board of directors. "As Greater Cincinnati's first and largest no-kill shelter for dogs and cats, it has been frustrating that even after 65 years of operation a lot of people don't know we exist. This is so meaningful because I think it's going to help us bridge that gap, which ultimately will help us help more homeless animals."

Cincinnati nonprofits entered the contest through Dooley Media's Facebook page . Each entrant completed a short entry form that asking for a description of the nonprofit, and how social media could help it  reach your goals over the next year.

Then, members of the public voted on the winner.

As part of its entry, LFAW said:

"In the next 12 months, the League for Animal Welfare will be celebrating it's 65th anniversary. It has been said that the League for Animal Welfare is the best kept secret on the eastside of Cincinnati. The usage of social media will allow LFAW to reach members of the community, bringing awareness to those who do not know about the great services we provide."

The two other finalists were Hamilton County Special Olympics and the The Dragonfly Foundation.

"Matt (Dooley) and I both have been involved with nonprofits for several years," said Kirsten Lecky, Dooley Media client strategy director. "We're both (Cincinnati Chamber) C-Change graduates,  and former United Way Emerging Leaders. Matt and I were talking about what else we could do to help nonprofits, and came up with this idea. We know there are a lot of stories and passion in the community."

Dooley Media will provide the winner with a social media channel audit, strategy session and social media training. Dooley will work with four other local digital marketing professionals to create a wide variety of social media content. 

  • Mark Bowen Media: Two hours of photography for professional head shots, environmental portraits and other photos for print and web
  • RockIt Copywriting: Content for 45 social media posts
  • Spotted Yeti: Creates one of four different video choices: Company Overview, Client Testimonials, Staff Introductions or Media Mix
  • Brian Arnberg: Logo Redesign and Facebook design update

Good social media campaigns attract people through passion and story telling, Lecky said. Every non-profit has a story to tell about the people, places and causes it supports.

"I think a lot of (non-profit social media strategy) involves connecting the heart to the hand," Lecky said. "It starts with telling stories that connect with people emotionally. Once people hear those stories, they want to give, whether that's with time, talent or treasure."

Social media delivery systems like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube are free, but as anyone who's managed a social media campaign knows, it takes resources to create a successful, long-term social media presence.

Even if a nonprofit can devote some resources to updating their social media sites, it's not always easy to create content that connects with other people."The community as a whole can vote," Lecky said.

Social media an added effort, cost for nonprofits

Luke Ebner, co-founder of Over-the-Rhine nonprofit Permarganic Co. says it's difficult for small organizations like his to fund social media positions. Permaganic is a community urban farming organization that grows, markets and sells produce. It's a regular fixture at Findlay Market.

Like many area nonprofits, Permaganic has a Web site and Facebook page,  which its staff maintains. They also hired an outside company to create a promotional video.

"On Facebook we take pictures of our produce or of an event we're doing," Ebner said. "We have an intern helping us right now. But there aren't really many grants out there to fund a social media position. Generally we'll get grants to fund materials, like seeds."

Though there are 7,700 nonprofits in the region, only 2,200 have more than $25,000 in annual revenue, according to a 2011 NKU study, most area nonprofits -- 5,000 -- have zero revenues. The lion's share of revenues go to larger organizations, like hospitals.

That leaves few resources for any nonprofit marketing, including social media. So winning $10,000 in free services would be a wind to one of the area's smaller nonprofits.

"Any nonprofit executive director I have ever met is insatiable about telling their story," Lecky said. "They are driven by passion and committed

to seeing change. A strategic social media plan will create a window into that world that will not only allow us to hear more from those involved, but more importantly, from those impacted by the service."

Connect with WCPO contributor Feoshia Davis on Twitter: @feoshiawrites

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