Alongwith brands looking to establish themselves via social media, NGOs have since quite sometime been as eagerly interested to do the same! The budget constraints in NGOs are a lot stronger, and hence it needs to be seen whether a NGO can establish a valuable presence with strong returns with their meagre budgets.

Lately however I came across Annamrita which has recently joined Facebook. I knew they were looking to do something on social media but were not sure. Suddenly I saw them on Facebook, doing very well with a large fanbase and daily activities! My initial instincts said ‘ads’ but I thought probably not as it was a NGO (which brings to mind cash-strapped) so maybe the fans were via Iskcon’s email database or some such.

Facebook Ads - Annamrita Just saw this ad the other day and realised that it was indeed via ads that they have established a 33k+ strong Facebook community and still growing!

It raises an interesting question! Whether NGOs spending on Facebook ads is a good use of their money aka donations!

My initital thoughts were that its not a cool thing to do. If they start spending on ads on Facebook, tomorrow they could sponsor newspaper ads and billboards and so on! Where does it end?? Then of course I remembered many NGOs who do in fact have billboard ads and newspaper ads all the time! These spiritual organizations like Isha Foundation and Art of Living are doing it often!!I am digressing here :)

On deeper thought what I think is that ‘NGOs should not do paid marketing’ is like an old cliche thinking. What is more important is to evaluate whether that expenditure is worth while and will it pay back?

1. Facebook ads are low-cost : An ad campaign for 50k fans would cost approx 1.5 lakhs. This is not such a big amount for an organization like Annamrita. Most probably the Facebook page over some time would easily recover this amount and bring in a lot more!

2. Post such an ad campaign, it would be necessary to keep the community very active and robust. Professional and dedicated social media resource would be needed to run the community. This would be added ongoing costs!

3. Donation – generating processes would have to be implemented going beyond the usual call of action ‘donate’ in the daily status updates. Specific donation drives, awareness campaigns and viral activities have to be undertaken to really justify the spend.

At the end of day I would say that if the organization plans to take up social media as a serious channel for donations then starting off with some ad spend is fine in view of long-term benefits. The amount of ad spend would depend on organization… though post this ad spend I feel that it is that NGOs duty that it follows the spend with serious action ensuring that the spend is not only recovered but leads to a very strong community supporting the NGO via donations and other means in long-term!

Usually getting a good-sized fan base remains a major challenge and as a result many social campaigns just don’t go ahead. I am going to follow Annamrita as a case-study, I believe eventually it will be very valuable for them to have this community on facebook. If this campaign works then it also becomes an easy starter process for other NGOs! Would be good to get some figures on spend v/s donations received from them! :)

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  • Anonymous

    Check this NGO too.. That have 126k fan base and I ran the Blore 10k for them.
    http://www.facebook.com/india.savethechildren

    • http://www.priyankawriting.com Priyanka Dalal

       I wonder what they are upto… cause they don’t even seem to be providing a ‘donate – call to action’. Their overall activities could really be notched up considering their huge fan base!!