The Importance of Social Media to Nonprofits

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by F. Duke Haddad

My full-time position involves working for an outstanding organization with a great mission. The overwhelming majority of the funds received are directed toward providing programs and services to those in need. Few funds are available to provide a comprehensive communications and awareness program to the various internal and external constituencies that need to know what we do. Thus, we must utilize every opportunity for greater social media engagement.

I was on vacation recently when I took a photo in a dry cleaner and sent it to our communications director as it related to a program we were promoting. I also attended an event the other day where our organization was scheduled to receive one half of the proceeds from the event. I made sure our organization’s leader was interviewed at that site on the radio. Whenever relevant, I personally use Twitter to highlight significant activities of my organization. Not a day goes by that I am not on Facebook promoting my organization. We are in the age of social media, and you need to jump on this train!

MissionBox notes that nonprofits must use social media. It allows organizations with limited budgets to reach a larger audience in a fast and cost-effective way. Social media platforms allow organizations to tell their story. Messages can help engage supporters, increase brand awareness and promote fundraising initiatives. A recent survey of 9,000 nonprofits showed Facebook as the nonprofit primary social network.

Twitter is the second most-used platform. Other popular channels included YouTube, LinkedIn, Pinterest and Instagram. Social media influencers that include citizens, professionals and VIPs can spread the positive word about your nonprofit. Make sure these individuals learn about your organization, so they can effectively tell your story. Social media tools can identify opportunities for positive interactions. You can use social media tools by monitoring mentions of your organization, monitor partners, identify trends, and identify opportunities for user generated content.

Action provides several trends nonprofits should keep an eye on in 2020 for the purpose of enhancing fundraising results. This article noted that 39.5% of people discover nonprofits they donate to on Facebook! It was stated that nonprofits need a robust digital communications strategy to engage with their audience. This includes the use of videos in email and Facebook to trigger audience emotion. The need for an organization to have a mobile-friendly website is critical, as over half of all web traffic comes from mobile devices, according to It is recommended that by adding a chat bot to your nonprofit website, engagement will be stimulated. A key is to have a greater focus on your mission and use messaging in its simplest form to convey your message.

According to a DonorBox nonprofit blog in 2018, Facebook had 2.07 billion monthly active users, Instagram had 800 million monthly active users, Twitter had 330 million active monthly users, LinkedIn had 500 million members, Pinterest had 200 million monthly active users and Snapchat had 178 million daily active users.

To use social media effectively, tell Instagram stories by showcasing people. Seek to engage micro-influencers and market them to your advantage. Since one third of all online activity is watching video, seek to livestream on various platforms and encourage messaging. Focus social media platforms on relationship-building and one-on-one conversations. Leverage user-generated content as much as possible by having volunteers, employees and beneficiaries share stories about your organization. Strive to listen on social media to hear what others are saying about your organization, brand, plus adjust programs accordingly. Stay on top of technology and anticipate changing social media platforms.

Many nonprofits simply do not have the funds, staff or expertise to create and implement a comprehensive social media program. A blog by Sendible dealt with the issue of how to make social media impact with a small budget. It is important to realize that social media can increase fundraising results, generate brand awareness, recruit volunteers and share news, according to data by HubSpot.

To engage in social media, an organization needs to have clear goals on what it wants to achieve, know the audience it is targeting and provide a strategy to put a program in place.

According to Sendible, ways nonprofits can make an impact on social media with a small budget:

  1. Post Interactive content to encourage engagement.
  2. Include hashtags to increase your reach.
  3. Use visuals to drive website traffic.
  4. Check in daily and respond to questions.
  5. Make it easy for followers to donate.
  6. Schedule social media content in advance.
  7. Measure the effectiveness of your strategy.

When posting content, share stories, showcase your charities real world impact and do not be afraid to embrace humor.

Three Girls Media provides tips for nonprofit social media success. You need to focus on your target audience, social media platforms to be used and time available to manage social media in your organization. Strive to use the best social media platforms, which are Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram and Twitter. Strive to use colorful and attention-grabbing images. Check the accounts each day for traffic, and allocate a budget for social media using paid advertisements. Consider contests and giveaways to stimulate engagement.

Having a quality social media program is vitally important to your organization. Your competition is fierce, and they are engaged in social media. Seek to either pay a social media consultant or recruit a volunteer with outstanding expertise in social media to help you create, maintain and expand your social media program. You might also consider a creation of a marketing/communications committee that consists of community volunteers with expertise in social media, print, television, radio, advertising and related fields to provide you with best-in-class information needed to enhance your organizational brand in a dynamic environment.

You and your organization are doing great work and impacting thousands of lives every month. Does anyone, such as key stakeholders internally and externally, know this? If not, isn’t it time take a closer look at your social media program?

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