Many of us are familiar with the (sometimes teeth-pulling) process of digitizing our “IRL” nonprofit. Some organizations (if we’re fortunate) embrace the change while others resist it. As the digital media pioneer for his organization, Noah Kravitz’s work with Furniture Bank sets an excellent example for any still social-media-resisting nonprofits.

In just eight months as a Community Manager and Fundraising Coordinator for Furniture Bank, Noah has already had the opportunity to help rebuild the organization’s website, digitize many of the processes and systems, and quarterback a content marketing strategy tapping into heartwarming stories and building an online community of supporters. He has recently taken the lead on a thriving corporate volunteer program and he is growing the organization’s follower base on almost every major social network.

Furniture Bank is a charity and social enterprise that redistributes gently-used donated furniture to families and individuals reestablishing their lives. Clients who receive furniture include the formerly homeless, women and children escaping abusive situations, newcomer families and refugees. Working with 70+ shelters and partner agencies in the Greater Toronto Area, they operate a 30,000 square foot facility fully equipped with a furniture showroom, warehouse and a five truck fleet that picks up and delivers donated furniture six days a week.

 

Strategies for going digital

Noah ushers Furniture Bank into the digital era by engaging staff in social media and implementing new cloud computing tools and systems. As a result, he’s learned many lessons about working digital media into a multi-generational organization:

“Even though you know that your organization needs to ‘get caught up with the times’ and it’s part of your job to get there, it’s not worth rushing the process. Chances are that there are staff and volunteers in your organization that have been there a lot longer than you have, and if you ‘go, go, go,’ you risk them saying ‘no, no, no.’”

He advises fellow communicators looking to digitize their organization to understand that colleagues may have been doing their work a certain way for many years (even if they recognize that it’s not the most effective) and adapting to tech change is probably going to be quite scary. “Take every opportunity to learn your staff’s comfort level with technology by working with individuals one-on-one or in small groups. Show colleagues what these new tools can accomplish and teach them how to use them at their own pace.”

Not everyone is contributing towards content creation but slowly but surely more staff and volunteers are buying in. “Our Volunteer Coordinator is in his 70’s and we took his volunteer journal/profile that was sitting on his hard drive and made them into blog posts. We have our truck drivers and driver helpers engaging by taking photos on the road and at client’s homes to capture impactful moments… Slowly but surely we are getting there!”

 

Where to prioritize MarComm efforts

While Noah works incredibly hard for his organization’s growth, he accepts he is only human. “There will always be 80+ things to accomplish and to do to improve upon your nonprofit’s ‘MarComm’ program, yet there’s only 8 hours in a work day – don’t sweat it!” Noah stresses that peers should devote time to social media listening– develop lists of influential communicators, read influential articles and look for free social media marketing templates. “It has helped me tremendously in terms of gaining an appreciation for our work and sector, and has helped me come up with new fresh ideas to bring back to Furniture Bank.”

 

To continue the conversation with Noah, connect with him on Twitter: @NoahZKravitz

Alexandra Axel

Alexandra Axel

Media Director at The Caregiver Space
Alexandra Axel is the media director for The Caregiver Space, a nonprofit with a free online social network that allows caregivers to share their experiences, find critical resources, cope with stress and effectively combat the isolation and exhaustion of providing care for someone they love. Additional to her work at The Caregiver Space, Allie enjoys writing poetry and short fiction, devouring books, biking, crafting, urban agriculture and imperfectly cooking. She currently resides in Brooklyn with her partner and their pup, Hen.
Alexandra Axel