Social Media Strategy for Nonprofits

6 Easy Steps to Social Media Success for Your Nonprofit

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A group of people in bright blue t-shirts are posing in front of a photo booth with funny props like huge glasses and moustaches on a stick.

Thanks to the rise of the internet, we are all much more connected than ever before, able to contact each other with only a few clicks. Social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and YouTube have made it incredibly easy to stay in touch with people and keep up-to-date with the latest news from the world around us. 

Many nonprofit organisations are already utilising social media by posting regular updates to engage with their target group. However, since social media is still relatively “new” and complex, many other organisations are either not using it effectively or choosing not to use it at all. 

That is a mistake. 

Social Media For Nonprofits Important Statistics

Social media can and should be your best friend in any type of business. For nonprofit organisations especially, social media is imperative to standing out, attracting new donors and gathering more donations.

According to Nonprofit Tech for Good, 71% of nonprofits worldwide agree that social media is effective for online fundraising. Meanwhile, 29% of online donors say that social media is the communication tool that most inspires them to give.

Graphic showing statistics for social media use for nonprofits:

84% of Facebook users share a post to show their support for a cause and hightlight issues that are important to them.

57% of traffic to fundraising campaign pages comes from social media sources.

29% of online donors say that social media is the communication tool that most inspires them to give.
Image source: Social Media for Nonprofits

In our tips below, we highlight the key areas that nonprofits need to think about when it comes to utilising social media effectively — from using it in the first place to carefully thinking about the content you post. Let’s get started on nailing your social media strategy. 

1. Make use of your social media accounts 

It’s all well and good having your social media accounts set up and ready to go but, if you aren’t actually using them, they’re not going to have any impact. 

Many nonprofit organisations are said to be put off by the fact that their posts won’t have any reach or generate any likes, feedback or interest. This is something that you’re going to need to get over. 

It’s good to remember that every single major charity will have started out in exactly the same way — no followers, no subscribers, no likes. It takes time and effort to build a following, but you’re not going to get anywhere if you don’t at least start the process. 

2. Don’t buy followers

While on the subject of starting the process, whatever you do, don’t buy your followers

While it may make you feel better being able to say that you have a 100,000-strong follower count, if those followers actually interact with what your nonprofit is setting out to achieve, then what’s the point? Working in a nonprofit is all about making a difference, and you want your followers to have the same willing mindset, ready to engage with whatever your charity is trying to achieve. 

Buying followers can also be a huge waste of money and credibility. Many social media sites are now cracking down on fake, bought accounts so you could lose face if you get caught out, making you seem a lot less legitimate to your actual followers. 

3. Post regularly

Posting fresh content on a regular basis is imperative for gaining fresh followers. This doesn’t have to be every hour of every day, but keeping your followers up to date with your nonprofit’s latest goings-on will ensure they stay engaged with you and your brand. 

Whether you decide to share a recent blog post about a fundraising event you’ve participated in, send out a poll asking for feedback, or post a story-focused video — the content you share can make a big difference to not only how people interact with your organisation, but the actions they take as a result.

A blonde, pony-tailed child in a bright blue t-shirt is setting a plant in soil, using their hands to cover it’s roots with soil. In the background, we see the arm of another kid doing the same. In the foreground, we see the leg of an adult person standing by.
Community events often make for great visual social media content.

For example, do they share your posts? Do they comment on them? Do they follow your call to action? Social media platforms allow you to track and monitor what your followers like and don’t like, letting you work out an effective content plan accordingly.

4. Keep on top of trends 

Trends come and go, so it’s important to recognise when you’re flogging a dead horse. Facebook is no longer the social media powerhouse it once was, for example, with platforms like Snapchat and TikTok all becoming more and more popular over recent years. 

While you may think these apps have no place in the business world, you would be mistaken. Keeping up to date with the latest trends and technologies will enable you to use them to your advantage.

Take Oxfam, for example. During their fundraising for various concerts and sponsored walks, they have utilised Snapchat to keep followers informed and up to date. These videos have then been made into a video diary and uploaded to YouTube, ready to be used for marketing purposes later on down the line.

Guess who has Snapchat?? Oxfam does that's who. But rest assured that we will be hijacking this account for Oxfam Trailwalker 2017. Just scan the logo to see what your trailwalker mates are up to.

Posted by Oxfam Trailwalker NZ on Thursday, February 9, 2017

5. Engage with followers 

According to a study by Texas Tech University, researchers found that companies who used Twitter to engage in conversations with their followers were more likely to gain brand loyalty from those individuals.

Nonprofit organisations rely on their donors, so make sure to involve them. You need to humanise your company and prove to your followers that you’re as invested in them as they should be in you. 

United Way Greater Toronto — a not-for-profit organisation that supports local social services — is a great example of how to do this effectively. After setting up dedicated campaigns aimed at not only drawing attention to issues in the local community but also celebrating what’s been done to combat them, the team have seen great success in stimulating conversation and finding out about their followers’ personal stories. 

6. Use hashtags

While on the theme of engaging with your followers, hashtags can be an incredibly useful tool for starting discussions and getting people involved with your campaign. Take Melanie Geiss from the Creative Center of America, for example. At a recent Mental Health Kansas City conference, she and her team used the hashtags #MentalHealthKC and #MHCKC19 to both communicate mental health resources to attendees and spread a message of hope beyond the event itself.

This, in turn, sparked interest from the event’s guests and provided a platform for vulnerable, affected people to share their stories. In other words, their dedicated social media campaign turned what could have been a negative topic into something much more uplifting and inspiring; something people wanted to actively get involved with.

The Mental Health KC social wall, designed in lime green and blue, displayed on a monitor.
The social wall at the Mental Health KC conference.

The #ALSIceBucketChallenge provides another example of how hashtags can be utilised effectively for fundraising purposes. While many people will likely remember it for the endless videos of people chucking buckets of water over their heads, the campaign actually had a good cause at its heart; encouraging people to become more aware of and raise money for the motor neurone disease amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. 

Try to think about some out-of-the-box ways you could promote your nonprofit organisation. Sharing shocking statistics and difficult-to-watch videos may have been highly effective in the past, but think about how you can turn a negative story into something to be shared and celebrated. Open up the conversation and encourage others to share their stories, using a dedicated hashtag centred around your organisation’s key objectives.