The effectiveness of social media in Irish charities : an investigation into application, fundraising and transparency

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Buggy, Pauric
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MBA in Business Management
Dublin Business School
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Social media platforms have risen to prominence in recent years, arising from internet and technology developments, transforming the manner of daily interactions around the world. Businesses in every industry have tried to harness these benefits, with recent efforts in the charity sector achieving international prestige. Public confidence has been affected by high profile transgressions in Irish charities, while donations are also diminishing due to the financial difficulties the country has experienced in recent times. This research aims to clarify if Irish charities are effective in using social media and if it can be used to overturn these problems. The initial research phase required an extensive and critical examination of the latest available literature on the topic. The author could then develop comprehensive theories on the use and capabilities of social media. Through a method of qualitative interviews, with candidates chosen to represent a cross-section of the sector, the author was able to apply the secondary research to the current situation in Ireland. Three charities and an external agency with expert industry experience were chosen to provide this in-depth primary data. The findings illustrate the practical benefits of effective social media utilisation. It’s now an essential component of communication strategies as the Irish public are increasingly reliant on it to source information. With optimal strategies, charities can capitalise on social media presence. This cannot be monetised directly, but it produces value by increasing donations from other sources. Furthermore, by demonstrating outcomes and transparency, social media creates value by improving reputation and trust. From an organisational perspective, this research provides important indications for Irish charities and guidelines to meet present day challenges. Continued research is required as this topic is constantly evolving, while smaller charities would benefit from an investigation of the situation organisations with less resources. Author keywords: Social media, charity, non-profit, Ireland, online communication, fundraising, transparency