Social media marketing for nonprofits

The Easy Guide to Social Media Marketing for Nonprofits

Social media is important for every business, but it’s critical for a nonprofit. Social media for nonprofits can help you attract new supporters, keep current donors and volunteers updated on the work you’re doing, and lead to grant opportunities. In fact, after engaging with a cause on social media, more than half of people take further action.

Best of all, even if you have no budget to spend on your nonprofit marketing strategy, you can take advantage of social media to spread the word about your cause.


Social Media for Nonprofits: Best Practices

Managing your social media accounts may sound straightforward enough. Unfortunately, it’s easy to put in hours of work and see no results. As charitable organizations work quite differently from for-profit companies, you need to use a specific social media strategy for nonprofits.

Decide on Your Goals

Your social media strategy needs to have a specific goal. The three most common goals for nonprofits are:

  • Sharing news about the organization

  • Building brand recognition

  • Informing users of the cause


You should decide on your own goal from the very beginning. Think about what would be most helpful for your nonprofit and what action you can reasonably expect from your social media followers.

After you’ve chosen a goal, determine how you’ll measure your progress. For instance, if your goal is to share news about your organization, look at post shares. If you have only a few shares on each post, test different types of content to find out what makes posts more shareable.

Be Consistent

To keep your audience engaged, you need a consistent posting schedule. Your social media strategy will fail if you only post infrequently. For instance, if you wait until you have an event to advertise, you need to start fundraising, or you want to find volunteers, you’ll find you have a limited audience. However, if you’ve been posting regularly throughout the year, your audience will already be engaged.

Never leave it to the last minute to figure out what you will post. Design a content calendar in advance that features a mixture of content types and messages. Decide how much you can reasonably expect to create and stick to just that.

Bear in mind, though, there’s no need to create everything yourself. To keep your account active, curate content from other sources. This will help you maintain quantity without sacrificing quality.

In addition to posting regularly, you need to be consistent about checking your account and interacting with followers. Check your inbox a couple times a day to answer queries. Also read the comments your posts receive. Respond or even just like comments — either way, you’ll show your followers that you are listening.

Write a Social Media Policy

Allowing a combination of employees, interns, and trusted volunteers to manage your accounts is useful. Your social media strategy may be too much for one person to handle alone, especially if you want to be active on multiple platforms. However, it’s critical that everything you publish is in line with your values. This is where a social media policy for nonprofits comes in.

The policy should be simple and straightforward — to ensure everyone involved both reads it fully and understands it. If other people will be creating content for social media accounts, specify the tone you want. Depending on your organization, you may want to keep things professional or you may like to address followers informally. Also define what purpose the posts should serve: it’s no good receiving hundreds of likes from a picture if it’s only minimally related to your cause.

In addition, explain what information is suitable for posting on social media and what is prohibited. The latter may include any information about clients you consider confidential.

Finally, explain how to interact with followers in messages and comments, including what to do about spam and trolls.

Tell Users to Take Action

It’s important to make it clear what you want your followers to do — whether that’s donate, become a volunteer, visit your website for more information, or just spread the word. Add calls-to-action to at least some of your posts.

Use Social Listening Tools

Listening to what your audience is talking about can help you make a bigger impact. Find out when they’re discussing your cause and join in the conversation. Also look at what’s trending and think how it may relate to your organization. Finally, watch for mentions of your nonprofit to always know what people are saying about you.


Best Social Media Platforms for Nonprofits

The right social media platform for your nonprofit will depend mostly on who makes up your target audience and what platforms they prefer. You should also consider what type of content you’ll be creating.

Whereas it’s a good idea to be on more than one platform, this will only be effective if you have sufficient resources, as each will take up more of your time.

Facebook

Still the most used platform in the world, Facebook allows you to reach a wide audience. It’s useful for all types of content, but it’s a top choice for live video streaming — such as at an event or showing your progress for a project. Great features include the chance to add a donate button and the fundraising tools.

Instagram

Instagram is ideal if your target audience is Millennials and Gen Z, as many of these users are moving away from Facebook. You’ll need high-quality photos and videos to stand out. Take advantage of Instagram Stories to create content that helps your followers feel a greater connection to your nonprofit.

YouTube

If you want to create longer videos, YouTube is your best option. It’s ideal for mini documentaries, behind-the-scenes looks at your nonprofit, and interviews.

Twitter

If you have regular updates, Twitter is a good choice. It’s particularly appropriate if you’re able to show how the work your nonprofit does is relevant to current events.

TikTok

One of the newest players on the scene is TikTok. As videos need to be short and informal, this is perfect for showing the fun side of your nonprofit. You can also use TikTok to encourage people to create content about your cause.

LinkedIn

Use LinkedIn to connect with other nonprofits, find support from large donors, and show that you are a credible organization. This is the place to post if you have articles about how you are making an impact and to share industry information.


Social Media for Nonprofits: Tips for Growing a Following

No matter the primary goal of your strategy, you’ll want to grow your following to help your message reach more people. There are specific things you can do on social media to achieve this.

Have a Contest

You have several options to run a contest on social media. At the most simple, you can just pick a random winner out of everyone who likes or shares one of your posts. For a little more engagement, you could require users to answer a question or come up with a caption for a photo. Then, you pick the best answer from the comments.

If you have many creative fans, ask them to create content related to your nonprofit. This will provide you with a wealth of user-generated content to continue driving engagement.

Whatever you end up choosing, you’ll need to offer an incentive. The prize should be related to your nonprofit — for instance, a special look behind the scenes, VIP entry to your next event, a year’s membership, or a goodie pack. Announce the winner publicly and thank everyone for participating.

Post Stories

Demonstrate how you are having a real impact in the community with heartwarming stories about what you’ve achieved. Highlight your volunteers’ actions as well as looking at the big success stories. This will show people how small actions can make a big difference, inspiring more individuals to get involved. For the same reason, it’s important to thank your small donors — not just the large ones!

When posting stories, favor uplifting content. If you never talk about anything other than problems, your social media account will become depressing and lead people to unfollow. Positive stories give people hope and show how their efforts can make a difference.

Use Visuals

Pictures speak louder than words — and they’re critical when you’re trying to spark emotion for your cause or organization. Even text-based posts need a visual. Otherwise, users may skim over your posts for something more eye-catching.


Examples of Social Media Strategies for Nonprofits

Unsure what kind of campaigns will resonate with your audience? Check out these examples of nonprofits that are seeing huge success on social media.

1. CARE

An organization that empowers women and girls, CARE uses social media to tell stories of the people they’re helping.

2. The Trevor Project

Committed to preventing suicide among LGBTQ youth, The Trevor Project shares a variety of facts and resources. Its Tumblr account is particularly effective and a great example of how to curate content.

3. WATERisLIFE

The social trend newsjacking involves taking advantage of a trending topic to become part of the conversation. WATERisLIFE did this with the popular hashtag #FirstWorldProblems, creating a series of videos to draw attention to disparities between rich and poor countries.

There’s nothing complex about social media for nonprofits. Plus, it’s possible to implement a variety of strategies without much (or any) investment. The trick is to know what you’re doing before you jump in to ensure you see optimal results.

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