Eugene Nonprofit #6 – McKenzie River Trust

Part of the office building where McKenzie River Trust is located.

In my J440 class last term I worked on a media kit for McKenzie River Trust. If it isn’t available right now, I will include it as part of my resume in the future. Founded in 1989, the McKenzie River Trust was incorporated as a 501(c)3 nonprofit in 1990. They now conserve and protect nearly 3,300 acres of land in Oregon’s Lane and Douglas counties. To do this, they either buy land off willing owners, or they protect it via conservation easements. The organization envisions “a future in which intact, functioning ecosystems provide clean water, abundant fish and wildlife, and productive natural landscapes throughout western Oregon.” Three of their goals are to protect special lands, restore natural systems, and connect people to places they care about.

Of all the local nonprofits profiled so far in this blog, the McKenzie River Trust by far maintains the most simplistic approach to social media. While they use Facebook and YouTube, they only advertise their Facebook page on the bottom right corner of their homepage. Interestingly enough, they are also the only nonprofit not to have a Twitter account. Given the number of people who use it and the opportunity to share important information, this seems like a lost opportunity, even through the perspective of minimalist social media.

Also, the frequency with which they update their Facebook page is sporadic. Some days, such as last Friday as of this writing, they post multiple times within the day. Other days they post only once. Sometimes they post nothing. Usually the gap between posts will be no longer than a few days, however.

What they may lack in consistency, though, they make up for in their two-way communication. Last Friday, for example, they posted – among other links – a KLCC article about the McKenzie River Trust purchasing the Coyote Spencer Wetland area located five miles southwest of Eugene. One fan, a student at the University of Oregon, left the following comment:

Sweet! Looking forward to a tour this Sunday ^_^

The McKenzie River Trust responded in a little under an hour, with their response receiving a like:

Hi [name omitted]! You must be in the UO Wetlands class. Ryan says he’s looking forward to meeting you on the field trip this weekend.

Their willingness to engage with their audience is a positive development in the McKenzie River Trust’s social media plan. Unfortunately, this only works when they’re providing information on a regular, consistent basis. Even if they change nothing about the frequency of their posts, their message would be reenforced by the introduction of a Twitter account. However, I would caution against the introduction of other mediums, as the McKenzie River Trust may benefit from a more simplistic approach.

Their ZMOT broadly reflects the focus on the nonprofit’s mission of protection wildlife. A Google search for the McKenzie River Trust produced the following results:

What’s good about their ZMOT is that it means that McKenzie River Trust are able to maintain focus on their organization. Not a single one of these links has anything to do with anything but the organization. Of course, only a couple links are stories that actually show what the nonprofit does, and many of them are listings on other websites. This limits the organization’s exposure to its potential audience.

People cannot have a positive or a negative image of an organization they have never heard of and understand little about. To correct this, the McKenzie River Trust should consider expanding their social media plan – probably no more than a Twitter account – and continuously engage their audience. They have a good message and do good at what they already go. They simply need to do more of it.

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4 Responses to Eugene Nonprofit #6 – McKenzie River Trust

  1. Hi Chris. Thanks for the comments about our website and social media efforts! I like your recommendation that the McKenzie River Trust should join Twitter. This has definitely been suggested to us before. One reason we haven’t is that our major goal for social media is to communicate with our supporters, and our supporters are largely older – thus, fewer of them are on Twitter. Additionally, we have a workload challenge: I am the sole staff who manages not just our social media but a lot of other things in our office for administration, communications, PR, and outreach. Social media is a very small part of my job right now, so adding another platform for communications feels like a pretty big challenge. We’re a small staff. How would you suggest we address this?

    • cmckee2 says:

      Hi Liz! Seniors are the fastest growing social media demographic, so I wouldn’t necessarily write it off your strategy. However, I’ve noticed that other local nonprofits struggle with small staff and limited resources as well. That’s why I don’t recommend expanding your social media use beyond Twitter. Not only would your work load be spread out that much thinner, but many other nonprofits simply abandon those websites they don’t frequently use (such as Foursquare). Personally I use Facebook more than I tweet, so if you don’t feel it fits well with your strategy then don’t use it. If your goal is engaging your supporters, then you would be relying more on Facebook anyways.

      • Liz says:

        Hey Chris, I’ve definitely noticed the graying trend on Facebook, but I didn’t know that applied to Twitter, too. I use Facebook in my personal life, so it was a familiar and relatively easy step to start the MRT page a year or so ago. I think Twitter will definitely play a role in MRT’s communications at some point; Foursquare, not so much. Appreciate your thoughts and the encouragement to take the plunge!

  2. Pingback: Final Winter Term Best of Links – Prompt Response | Chris McKee's J452 Blog

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