Social is Here for Good: Boys & Girls Clubs
There is no shortage of worthy causes to support during the holiday season and throughout the year. But when I sit down with Julie Barschow, Marketing Consultant for Boys & Girls Clubs of the Austin Area (BGCAA), I am still stunned to learn that in Austin alone there are over 6,300 registered non-profits.
How does BGCAA stand out in a crowd of worthy organizations? “We’re really not a charity, we’re an investment in the future of our community and in Austin. There are more than 68,000 kids in Austin living in poverty, and the Boys & Girls Clubs of Austin serves 12,000 today. Our goal is to continue to grow and to serve more of that need, ensuring that Austin’s most vulnerable kids find a path to a great future”
Boys & Girls Clubs of Austin’s mission is “to inspire and enable all young people, especially those who need us most, to realize their full potential as productive, responsible and caring citizens.”
As a participant in our “Social is Here for Good” campaign, Barschow is meeting with me to discuss how the Austin chapter is using social media to support its mission.
“Do less, better”
If you want to connect with BGCAA on social, the best place to find them is on Facebook or Twitter. “We exist on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, and Instagram but in general, we try to do less, better—rather than opening accounts and then struggling to try to provide content for them.”
Barschow isn’t the only content creator. She coordinates a team of four or five people—staff and volunteers—to manage social as project-based tasks.
“It’s all about the likes, comments, and shares”
From local non-profits to Fortune 500 companies, employees are often an organization’s best advocates. In advance of BGCAA’s “Day for Kids” event in September, Barschow sent a one-pager guide to staff, event partners, and participants with the event hashtag and suggested social posts. While the effort yielded an uptick in social sharing by staff and volunteers, Barschow is still looking for ways to encourage engagement.
“We have figured out that for Facebook, it’s all about the likes, comments, and shares. We know we are reaching people less and less with our organic posts, so we are trying to figure out how can we make our organic content more engaging so that it surfaces in the feeds of others.”
“A big apple to chew”
As many non-profits—and organizations of all types and sizes—know well, the limiting factor to social efforts can often be human capital. “There is an endless realm of ideas, but it’s a volunteer army,” Barschow says.
BGCAA has a lot of great content, from photos and video of kids in cooking classes or playing sports, to individual success stories that the Program staff share every month. “There’s always content. It’s just a matter of having the human resources to go out and get the story, add it to the calendar, and post it. It’s a big apple to chew.”
“The main thing is to raise awareness”
The three main social goals that Barschow keeps in mind are raising awareness, driving traffic to the website, and finding volunteers.
So far, the most successful endeavor has been securing volunteers—by posting specific volunteer opportunities with a link to an Eventbrite sign-up, BGCAA has been able to staff entire volunteer sessions through social posts.
Web conversions? That’s a different story. Barschow is working to identify what will convince readers of a social post to click through. “Research shows that people like to help one person, so we are trying to spotlight more stories about individual kids.”
When it comes to raising awareness, paid social is one (small) piece of the puzzle. “There are roughly 800 people living in Austin who like and follow our parent organization (Boys & Girls Clubs of America) but not us. So we are running a Facebook ad campaign targeted to those people, as well as to Austin residents who already like other youth development or human services organizations.”
“They are our future givers”
In addition to limited time and resources, Barschow has also faced pushback from the board on the importance and value of social. Recently, she has seen a shifting of opinion, with leadership realizing that social isn’t optional. It’s something they need to be doing, and doing well.
According to Barschow, “Although the demographic of social might not be our major givers today, they are our future givers, they are our volunteers, they are someone who wants to get involved. Everyone starts somewhere."
Boys & Girls Clubs of the Austin Area is one of five featured organizations in our “Social is Here for Good” Holiday Campaign. Vote for BGCAA and they could receive a donation and day of service from the Spredfast team.