Eugene Nonprofit #7 – St. Vincent de Paul

Today I will post my final blog entry in my series of profiles on Eugene-Springfield area nonprofits. Throughout this term I have received valuable feedback from local representatives and learned a lot about what makes a social media strategy work. I appreciate all the help I have received and hope that my blog in turn is a useful resource for others!

St. Vincent de Paul own several stores in Eugene and Springfield, including this boutique store on the corner of 6th and High in downtown Eugene.

For my last blog post of the term, I will write about the St. Vincent de Paul Society of Lane County, the local affiliate of the national and international Societies of St. Vincent de Paul. Proclaiming to be Lane County’s largest nonprofit human services organization, St. Vincent de Paul was founded in 1954 and helps over 84,000 individuals and families every year. They state the following as their mission:

“We assist the poor and those in need of consolation, seeking out and utilizing every resource. Being mindful of the sanctity and dignity of all, any charitable work that advances those goals is within the mission of St. Vincent de Paul.”

To carry out their mission, St. Vincent de Paul works in six areas: affordable housing, emergency services, homeless services, recycling programs, retail thrift stores, and self-sufficiency services.

St. Vincent de Paul uses Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Foursquare. They also maintain a semi-monthly blog, Do Something Nice Every Day, written by Community Relations Director Rebecca Larson about how even small acts of kindness can make the world a better place. Another blog, “Where in the World is Terry McDonald,” is in the works.

While the blog can be found under the “News and Events” menu, only Facebook and Twitter are featured in the top right corner of the website. Typical of other local nonprofits, their Foursquare appears vacated. However, their other three social media websites have all been recently updated. Both Facebook and Twitter are updated on a fairly regular basis, with their posts on both websites often sharing the same content.

What is interesting about St. Vincent de Paul is that while they do post some promotional material, they also like to publicize inspirational stories, often ones about the people they help. One interesting example is the following tweet/post, which received 21 likes on Facebook:

A family was getting by on $167 a month in unemployment. They came to us with a shut-off notice for their utilities. We paid the $400 bill.

The nonprofit also uses both platforms to engage in two-way communication with their consumers. Last Friday as of this writing, for example, they responded to a question from eBayGreen and tammera111 about recycling mattresses by tweeting a CNN video.

Their ZMOT shows a moderate focus on their mission and the good they do for the community. A Google search for St. Vincent de Paul of Lane County produced the following results:

Many of these listings show a positive reception to St. Vincent de Paul, with only small negative reviews that are typically outnumbered. Likewise, this ZMOT shows a strong focus on the organization itself. However, the appearance of only a couple links explicitly outlining the work they do is a bit troubling. To be fair, this depends on coverage from outside media. Still, their emphasis on the difference they make directly on others is a unique asset the nonprofit could use to its advantage.

The trick for St. Vincent de Paul is to translate these stories into independent news coverage such as the KEZI story to generate positive coverage of the organization and maintain customers. Of course I am hardly an expert at this, so I unfortunately offer no solutions. Overall, though, St. Vincent de Paul maintains an original, vibrant social media approach that can attract and maintain customers and donors.

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