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Are your organization’s social media pages collecting dust and cobwebs? For most groups, there are never enough hours in the day to finish the to-do list, let alone to keep up their social media accounts. Yet social networking is an excellent, cost-effective marketing tool for charitable groups.

You actually don’t need extra staff and big chunks of time as long as you maximize your resources, automating some of your work and limiting your “office hours.” Read on for how to best accomplish this.

(Also read: Do you have a social media strategy?)


social media sharing


Limit the number of social media platforms

You don’t have to be on all social media sites. It’s better to do one or two comprehensively rather than a half-dozen poorly. Time is always an issue for nonprofits, so don’t over commit. Industry experts suggest committing to two social media platforms to be perfectly adequate to start with. You can always add more later if desired or needed.

The best platform for any organization is the one where they can engage their donors and find potential supporters. Do you know where your fans hang out? That’s where you should be sharing your most interesting posts and news to expand your nonprofit’s reach.

If you’re not sure which platforms to focus on, start by finding out which social media platform gets the most shares from your blog posts and which platform sends the most visitors to your website. (If you don’t have analytics software installed on your site, try Google Analytics. It’s excellent and free!)

Another way to find the best social media channel to start with is by researching other similar nonprofits and analyzing their social media channels to see which have the most followers or engagement.

You can find out more about key demographics of the main social media sites from Pew’s internet statistics, or learn how to find your target market by researching and potentially advertising on each social media site separately with Social Examiner’s guide.

Make your social media pages count

As with your website, make every bit of space count. These pages represent more of your nonprofit’s real estate on the internet. Generate brand awareness for your organization by using the charity’s logo for the profile picture.

Background and header images help to tell more about your mission. Keep the “About” wording concise using your main keywords for your cause and/or work and don’t forget to link back to you organization’s website, perhaps even your donation page for special campaigns.

For specific campaigns consider creating unique and meaningful hashtags for Twitter.

What to post

It’s important for a nonprofit to share a mix of texts, pictures, videos and links across its different platforms. Use images and videos generously; they can elicit emotions from the viewer in a way that the written word seldom does. You don’t have to post a lot, but share a minimum of once per day. (See more about planning your posts below.)

Ideas of what to share:

  • Images of your organization at work.
  • News relating to your nonprofit.
  • Success stories about your mission; showing who you help and how, makes connections with your audience.
  • Showcase volunteers.
  • Interact with content of others’ accounts.
  • Promote events; social media is one important tool to get the word out.
  • Give a shout out to your supporters (with permission); here is a way to acknowledge donors and volunteers.
  • Statistics about your organization.
  • Live videos.
  • Motivating facts about the mission.
  • Tips on how the community can get involved.
  • Solicit donations or help. Read below for more details.

All nonprofits should try to follow the rule of give-and-take in their communications with supporters. Start with the 80/20 rule of engagement. This is where 80% of what you share is content focused on the reader – news and stories relating to your charity, along with updates, and interesting facts for their benefit and also engaging with other content if appropriate.

Having put the emphasis on the user, you can then employ the remaining 20% for posting content of a more promotional nature. This is when you ask for shares, donations, sign-ups and other support for the nonprofit.

How often to post

The key to successful social media connections is consistency. Posting at least once a day to every site you run is considered the bare minimum. If you can do more, that’s great, so long as you can stay consistent.

This isn’t a race to get the most followers. Consistency will attract followers who have an interest in the issues your organization addresses.

Planning and automating your posts

Social media is a powerful marketing enterprise when done right. When you have decided on the best platforms for your group, map out a plan and stay with it. Questions to ask are:

  • How often will you post?
  • What will you post?
  • When will we post and be available to respond?

Social media, especially Twitter, can be time sensitive. If your audience connects with your organization through these channels, how long will they have to wait for a response?

If social media accounts can’t be checked 24/7, one solution is to list times when your account is monitored, such as “Office Hours 2pm – 5 pm EST.” Read more about strategizing your social media campaigns.

To automate your posts try a social media management tool. You can schedule your posts for the whole week ahead (or longer) within a relatively short amount of time. Events should be shared live to generate buzz for more donations.

You can also auto-post your blog posts through the Jetpack plugin within WordPress.

Final thoughts

Think about a posting frequency that will keep your audience interested. Boost social media engagement by including links to all your channels in communications with your constituents.

Print and email campaigns should also include follow buttons and don’t forget to link your organization’s social media pages to their website.

According to latest research, 65% of adults now use social networking sites – a nearly tenfold jump in the past decade.

Spend some time to dust off those cobwebs and polish up the welcome sign! More faithful fans and loyal followers are waiting for your nonprofit, just a click away.

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