Twitter won me over

Posted on March 29, 2012


I was skeptical about Twitter, but I opened an account in June 2011. Almost a year later, I both appreciate and enjoy Twitter. It overcame all of my early objections, including:

  • Objection #1 – I don’t have time.
    It only takes me about 15-20 minutes a day to keep up with Twitter. I schedule tweets using HootSuite, which keeps my account active every day.
  • Objection #2 – I don’t understand the lingo.
    Initially, I found tweets very hard to read. They seemed so cluttered with hashtags, “@” handles, links and abbreviations. While I still prefer cleaner tweets, the jargon gets easier to read.
  • Objection #3 – It’s too late to start.
    Yes, I was late to the party. But better late than never.
  • Objection #4 – I don’t have enough to say.
    Everyone has something valuable to say. And Twitter is more about sharing interesting content with each other than coming up with my own stuff all the time.
  • Objection #5 – “They” don’t have enough to say.
    I’m embarrassed to admit I thought the Twittersphere was too fluffy to be helpful, but I couldn’t have been more wrong. I follow fascinating people. They share great articles, insights and resources that help me do my job better.
  • Objection #6 – It’s too risky.
    Before I signed up, the only tweets I saw were ones from celebrities, getting them into trouble. But applying good judgment to tweets – like any form of communication – significantly reduces risk.
  • Objection #7 – I don’t know where to start.
    Luckily, tweeps are super helpful. I followed talented people, who were always willing to answer questions. Little by little, it started to make more sense. Special thanks to my Tellabs teammate, Heather Vana (@notashortstory), for her good counsel in all things social media.

I’m not alone; More funders are tweeting. Glass Pockets counts 389 foundations using Twitter today, double the number reported in 2010. It’s a relatively small portion – about 1%* — of foundations with more than $1 million in assets.

It’s harder to count how many foundation leaders are active on Twitter. More board members and directors are testing the waters with their own Twitter accounts, according to a recent Foundation Center survey. Overall, there still appears to be some hesitancy.

Are you skeptical, too? Keep an open mind and try it for a month or two. For strategic inspiration, check out Lucy Bernholz’s blog post “Why would a Foundation tweet?”  It shares insights from an interview with the CEO of The James Irvine Foundation, Jim Canales.

I don’t have a formal mandate or extensive strategy. I’m just on Twitter to listen, share and connect. So far, I’ve found it to be a great way to engage with the nonprofit community.

Are you using Twitter to connect with other nonprofits? If no, what’s holding you back? If yes, what insights can you share?

* According to tables from National Center for Charitable Statistics, there are more than 30,000 U.S. private foundations with more than $1 million in assets.