Social Media for Grant Writing Success: Part 2

At the risk of repeating myself (again and again), grantsmanship is about establishing relationships. Last time I talked about the relatively new phenomenon of social media in fund raising. Corporations and foundations have lined up with their own Facebook and Twitter pages to provide information about the grants they offer for schools and non-profits.

Relationships are two-way.

Does your school have a Facebook page?

If not, just know that the benefits of creating one extend far beyond grant seeking. The simplicity and ease of creating a social media presence has created a tidal wave of new web pages for schools. I’ll provide resources for developing your presence but it’s important to know that the design of your page is extremely important. The very simplicity of the media creates challenges for web site creators. You need to craft a page(s) that is arresting and clear, what will you want to communicate to visitors? How will you want visitors to communicate with you? Then stand back and be prepared for people “liking” you.

On Facebook, the act of liking is crucial. You need to know it’s not just a simple acknowledgement that you’ve visited a site, you are opening a channel to communicate with a host of new friends. The act of liking is viral, if you like the site, you will be joining the list of other “likes” which grows by leaps and bounds. You need to be prepared that to be effective, your page needs to be maintained and updated on a regular basis. Facebook provides a good help center to get you up to speed with ways to use your account to generate buzz about your school.

Start lining up permissions from parents if you want to post pictures of students, there’s a right way and a wrong way to give out information about children on the Internet. Some schools have a general policy saying they will not post pictures or names of students and other members of the community. Pictures of activities at your school with the faces of many children, with no identifying information are one way to compromise. You want your site to be attractive and to show a place that is active and alive.

The best how-to for this issue is located on the site of an organization called “National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children” (who knew?). They are located in Great Britain and have been in existence since 1884. They recommend creating an ironclad policy for the collection and dissemination of information about children in all types of media and there is a fact sheet on their website. The first item on the list is “Never supply the full name(s) of the child or children along with the image(s).” Even group pictures should be carefully scrutinized to make sure all children are appropriately clothed, and parents have been notified in advance.

You will also want the blessing of your school principal and district superintendent. They may have great ideas for content and development of the sites.

You want grant providers to be able to tell, at a glance, what your school is all about. As they say, a picture is worth a thousand words.  They will want to see how your school is working to address issues of importance to them. Is there an emphasis on academic achievement? This is essentially an ad for your school. Think like a Madison Avenue ad executive, short, punchy and informative.

Therefore, Facebook and Twitter (and other social media sites) are a wonderful way to get your school online. It’s also a way to provide grant providers with a snapshot of the wonderful things you do every day in the name of school achievement. So, visit grant maker Facebook pages, but be sure you have one of your own so they can learn about you.
How to set up a Facebook page for your school:

You may be way ahead of me with a Facebook presence of your own. Let me know how you’re doing, I’d love to feature your school in one of my blogs. How are you using social media in your school?


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About Neva Fenno

Neva Fenno, M.S.Ed., MLIS, has been a special education teacher, school library media specialist, curriculum specialist and grants manager for several urban school districts in New York and Massachusetts for 30 years. As grants manager for 7 years, she managed up to $28,000,000 a year in federal, state, foundation and corporate grants from application through fiscal administration. She has hundreds of stories to tell, not all successes, but from each story there is a lesson to be learned.

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