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Basics of Social Media Management for Nonprofits


    Most nonprofit professionals know that social media is key to successful nonprofit marketing.

    And successful nonprofit marketing almost always leads to which is key to nonprofit survival. 

    However, anyone who’s ever tried to craft and execute a good nonprofit social media strategy knows that it’s not always easy to do so.

    Nonprofits are often understaffed and underfunded, with the existing staff stressed and overwhelmed. In such circumstances, social media marketing isn’t always a priority. Even when it is, nonprofit professionals can lack the necessary know-how to make social media work for their organization.

    Furthermore, organic reach has been plummeting in recent years in favour of social media ads, which makes managing social media even more challenging.

    Read on to learn how to boost your nonprofit’s success through social media marketing & get your basics of social media management right.

    Basics of social media management for nonprofits

    1. Set specific and clear goals

    When you don’t have an action plan, you can easily waste a lot of time on social media. Far too many nonprofits go straight to posting on social media without taking the necessary time to set clear goals beforehand.

    Successfully capitalizing on your social media platforms requires thoughtful, strategic action. And that starts with goal setting.

    Set SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Timely) goals that are rooted in your nonprofit plan.

    Think... What does success look like for you? What are you trying to accomplish? How will you know you succeeded? How will you measure it?

    Your nonprofit social media goals may be related to:

    • Increasing donations
    • Recruiting volunteers
    • Boosting website visitors

    And more.

    Try to set a specific, realistic goal with a deadline. For example, increasing donations by 10% within 6 months.

    Pro tip: Your goal for LinkedIn should be different from your goal for Facebook. Have different goals and separate strategies for each social media platform you will be focusing on.

    2. Define and reach the right audience

    Without knowing who you’re talking to, how will you say things that are of interest to them and make them want to act?

    If you haven’t done it already, conduct market research with current donors, and even staff and volunteers. Take time to understand why they care about your mission.

    Based on this research, make a list of characteristics your supporters share, including:

    • What’s their gender?
    • How old are they?
    • Where do they live?
    • What is their job?
    • What are their hobbies and interests?
    • What are their values and aspirations?
    • What other organizations do they like?
    • What do they like on social media?

    You can also include other relevant characteristics, such as income and education levels.

    Based on this information, create a donor persona. For example, say you’re an animal shelter. Based on your audience research, you might create a donor persona called Katy who’s 24 and a student. She majors in Gender Studies, is a vegetarian, and is interested in human rights and global issues.

    Defining your audience and creating your donor persona helps you choose the right social media platform to reach them, as well as  appropriate strategy.

    3. Choose a social media platform

    Once you set specific, measurable goals and know who your audience is, it’s time to start creating a social media strategy by discovering which social media network(s) your target audience spends the most time on.

    While it’s recommended to have a presence on multiple social media platforms, it’s wise to pick just a few to become well-versed in. It’s impossible to become an expert in all social media platforms, especially when you’re just starting out. 

    Choosing the right social media platform is very important if you want to successfully utilize social media for your nonprofit’s success.

    Each platform has its unique set of uses and capabilities, reaching different kinds of audiences. This is why understanding your audience is key.

    Once you know which social media platform your audience spends the most time on, you can then invest time and energy into learning the ins and outs of it.

    Then, consider which kind of content will be most engaging for your audience and will be the most effective in reaching your goals.

    We’ve included this social media cheat sheet by Flipcause to give you an idea of why people are using each social media network. However, you can only really know which one to use once you do your own research!

    4. Have a consistent brand image

    Social media is inherently visual.

    This is why it’s important to establish a consistent brand image, and a visual aesthetic that reflects your brand and appeals to your target audience.

    If you don’t have one already, this is a great moment to create branding guidelines setting out your brand colors, photo filters, iconography, photo styles, as well as your brand voice.

    To whichever extent you’re able to, post high-quality photographs and videos. You’re much more likely to be successful on social media if you have beautiful, professional photos and videos.

    Of course, every social media platform is different, so, for example, the types of videos that are created for YouTube should be different to those created for Facebook and Instagram. This is why it’s important to choose one or two platforms to focus on at the beginning.

    Source: Oceana Instagram

    5. Focus on engagement

    Social media is exactly that, social. Therefore, your social media posts should, first and foremost, generate engagement. The more people like, comment, or share your posts, the more people will see them. This kind of engagement is called “organic” (engagement you’re not paying for).

    The key to engagement is to post interactive content. For example, you could host a Q&A session through Instagram’s Questions stickers or run Twitter polls.

    Here are a few more quick tips for increasing social media engagement:

    • Post regularly and frequently.
    • Ask your audience for feedback and input.
    • Reply to comments and messages. According to a study done by The Social Habit, 42% of consumers expect a response on social media within 60 minutes. As far as selected channels such as Facebook, 85% of consumers expect an answer to their questions within six hours, while 64% of Twitter users expect an answer within an hour!
    • Always tag/mention people and partners in your posts.
    • Use hashtags (#) to increase the visibility of your content. This increases your reach as your content can be found organically.
    • Add social media buttons to your website and into your and ask supporters to follow you on social media.
    • Share user-generated content. Not only do you get great content, but you increase your reach and get supporters for life!

    Pro tip: Communication with donors and supporters should be personal. Today’s audience expects authentic, interactive, and responsive communications. Show real and immediate gratitude and treat your supporters as individuals. 

    Source: ASPCA Instagram

    6. Share compelling stories

    Storytelling is a very powerful tool nonprofits have at disposal.

    As a nonprofit organization your stories of impact are your superpower. They help build and maintain trust with your audience, and this is imperative to success.

    Furthermore, today’s donors want to know what, or rather who, is behind the logo, the brand, and the numbers.

    People love authenticity and realness. The more you can share genuine human stories, the easier it will be for people to connect to your nonprofit organization. Stories make your organization more relatable and personable.

    Additionally, a phenomenon called the identifiable victim effect, which refers to the fact that people are more likely to help out when they can put a face to suffering rather than associating it with a vague group, is on your side here. When telling stories, share stories of specific individuals and how their lives have been changed through the help of your donors.

    Here are a few more quick tips for capitalizing on storytelling:

    • Tell the stories of your staff members, donors, and volunteers, sharing impactful videos and blog posts directly from the field.
    • Feature faces. A study from Georgia Tech found that Instagram photos that feature faces are 38% more likely to get a like and 32% more likely to receive comments. Share photos of your beneficiaries (with permission of course), your team, volunteers, and more.
    • Create a series of before and after posts which highlight the positive changes your activities brought about.
    • Don’t be afraid to use humour! Relatable, funny content makes your message more memorable and your brand more human.

    Pro tip: When sharing stories, don’t forget to share a clear call to action. Pay attention though, as it shouldn’t feel like you’re always asking for something. When your posts do include a call to action, make sure to invest time and resources in creating follow-up content that shows your audience the impact their support had.

    Source: charity:water Instagram

    7. Utilize paid ads

    The truth is that social media is increasingly not free for organizations. Or rather, it takes time to manage well. And that means having someone manage social media at least part time.

    Furthermore, many social media platforms are becoming increasingly pay-to-play platforms. Especially on Facebook and now Instagram, many organizations are continually getting reduced organic reach.

    We will be writing an article about paid advertisements on social media soon, so stay tuned!

    8. Measure, evaluate, and refine

    To truly get the most out of the time and energy you invest in working on social media, it’s crucial to track your success.

    Measure your success looking at relevant success metrics (KPIs - Key Performance Indicators).

    Common social media KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) include:

    • Number of likes
    • Number of shares
    • Number of link clicks
    • Number of followers
    • Number of comments

    This will be relatively simple to track, seeing that each social media platform has an analytics dashboard that provides and helps you keep track of engagement over time:

    Once you look at your data, take the time to understand it.

    For example, if a specific Instagram post received a lot of comments and shares, what do you think contributed to its success? Maybe it was successful because it was an infographic or maybe because it was a joke or the photograph was particularly compelling?

    Use these insights to create better social media posts in the future.

    Here’s a quick overview of some of the major social media platforms and some of the strategies you can capitalize on:


    This social media network needs little introduction. Even with the rise of other social media networks, Facebook is still very popular.

    In fact:

    2.8 billion monthly active Facebook users by the end of 2020 (Facebook)

    1.8 billion of Facebook users (66%) use the app on a daily basis (Facebook)

    3 Facebook success strategies for nonprofits:

    • Post on Facebook daily or at least a few times per week. You can post a mix of your own original content and content created by others.
    • Launch a peer-to-peer fundraiser. In an average peer-to-peer fundraising campaign, 15-18% of donations are referred directly from Facebook. (Source: nonprofitsource.com) Help your fundraisers meet their goals by equipping them with the right information and the right tools. 
    • Set up an AI-powered chatbot. This way, you can interact with your supporters at all times of the day, while freeing up some of the precious staff time. 
    Source: Facebook Fundraisers


    Instagram is a video and photo-sharing app owned by Facebook. It’s mostly popular among Millennials.

    6 in 10 online adults ages 18-29 use Instagram.

    75 percent of Instagram users take action, such as visiting a website, after looking at a brand’s post.

    Engagement rates on Instagram are 15 times higher than Facebook and 20 higher than Twitter.

    Source: (nonprofitsource.com)

    3 Instagram success strategies for nonprofits:

    • Host live events. Instagram lends itself wonderfully to live video format. You can host a variety of virtual live events, such as Q&As, interviews, and live streams from the field. You can even host fundraising events.
    • Use Instagram Stories. Since they only last 24 hours, Stories are more “in the moment” than posts. They are designed for engagement as they will be watched by your current followers. Organize polls, break announcements, and show behind the scenes.
    • Use IGTV. IGTV videos are long-form videos ranging from a few minutes up to an hour in length. It’s still early days for organizations on IGTV, so it’s a great chance to stand out early on.

    Pro tip: Use hashtags liberally when publishing content. Hashtags can help get your content out there, increasing your reach. You can also do that by adding location and tagging others in your posts and stories.

    Source: UNICEF Instagram


    Part content platform, part social network, YouTube is a massive platform where people post, view, and share videos. YouTube is an untapped resource for many nonprofits.

    68% of nonprofit video watchers view similar videos within 30 days.

    Among millennials, YouTube accounts for 2/3rds of the premium online video watched across devices.

    The most viewed brand videos are on average 31–60 seconds long (32% of all views).

    Source: nonprofitsource.com

    3 YouTube success strategies for nonprofits:

    • Add a tagline to your videos’ descriptions to help it be seen by more people. You can also include helpful links and ways for people to get involved in your video descriptions. Use relevant keywords in your video title and video description to increase searchability.
    • Design enticing thumbnails to draw viewers in. Pay attention to the title too. Make it interesting but never clickbait.
    • Have a channel trailer. This is a video that automatically plays when a viewer opens your channel page.

    Pro tip: Explore a variety of video formats until you find formats that work for you. For example, you can post ‘how to’ videos, interviews, or inspiring speeches, and check what your audience engages with the most. It’s also wise to find a format you can create easily and post consistently.

    Source: The Nature Conservancy YouTube


    Twitter is a social media platform where users post and interact with other users via “tweets.” 

    77% of Twitter users feel more positive about a brand when their Tweet has been replied to.

    Twitter users send 700% more visitors to donation pages on Giving Tuesday than on a typical day.

    Source: nonprofitsource.com

    3 Twitter success strategies for nonprofits:

    • Add your nonprofit’s mission to the "About" section of your Twitter profile. This is important so everyone who’s finding you for the first time knows what change you’re seeking to create.
    • Post often. Be concise and clear when tweeting. At times, add images and videos to your tweets.
    • Engage with other Twitter accounts. While all social media platforms are about communication, this is particularly important on Twitter where communication is quite instantaneous and where people go to inform themselves about current events. Furthermore, this can bring more supporters to your account as it increases your reach.

    Pro tip: Use polls. People like voting so this will inspire engagement and maybe even bring in new followers.

    Source: Ted Talks Twitter


    LinkedIn was designed to be a professional network supporting the business community. 

    LinkedIn can be very useful for nonprofits, although it’s often overlooked by them. For example, you can use LinkedIn to position yourself as a thought leader in your industry, establish credibility on a specific subject matter, or look for and recruit Board members and professional/pro bono volunteers. 

    3 LinkedIn success strategies for nonprofits:

    • Keep your LinkedIn posts professional. Share statistics, infographics, pictures and videos to demonstrate your social impact.
    • Join several groups related to your industry. Post and interact with others in these groups, so as to get new connections.
    • Post articles to LinkedIn. Whether you’re aiming to garner corporate funding, reach out to major donors, or demonstrate social impact -- sharing articles is important.
    Source: American Red Cross LinkedIn


    In 2020, TikTok is the trendiest social media platform, with 850 million (and growing) active users.

    TikTok might have started as a social media platform for silly challenges, but it’s rapidly evolving into much more and catching on with millennials and older generations.

    3 TikTok success strategies for nonprofits:

    • Go “mobile first” when creating for TikTok. TikTok videos do not need to be shot on professional equipment to be successful. In fact, they might appear inauthentic and ad-like if they’re too polished.
    • Instructional or surprising/provoking content performs well on TikTok. Bring in a fun and fresh perspective.
    • Create a hashtag challenge. Challenge your audience to perform a certain activity and use that hashtag. This is a great way to spread the word about your cause and encourage participation.

    Pro tip: Hop on the trends of “sounds”. These are viral songs that most users are creating videos to.

    Source: UNICEF Tiktok


    Pinterest is an image sharing platform designed to enable saving and discovery of information on the internet using images and, on a smaller scale, animated GIFs and videos. All these are displayed in the form of pinboards. Pinterest boasts over 469 million active monthly users.

    84% of people use Pinterest across multiple devices.

    67% of Pinterest users are under the age of 40.

    87% of pinners have purchased a product because of Pinterest.

    Source: nonprofitsource.com

    Pinterest can be used to visually represent your nonprofit’s brand, share useful information, and drive visitors to your website. This is especially true if your nonprofit operates in a more “visual” industry (think an art gallery, a museum, or an environmental nonprofit).

    3 Pinterest success strategies for nonprofits:

    • Create infographics. Infographics perform really well on Pinterest. You can, for example, create an infographic showcasing some of your impact methodology.
    • Share useful resources. For example, if you’re a nonprofit focused on health, you could create a smart visual about nutritious breakfasts and share that on Pinterest. If you’re an animal shelter, you can link to an article outlining how to get a dog settled into a new home.
    • “Sell” on Pinterest. Add a $ price in the description section of your pin. If you don’t sell physical items as part of your fundraising strategy, you can also “sell” more intangible items such as “5 sets of school supplies for 1 month”.
    Source: LIVESTRONG Foundation Pinterest

    Ready to go big on social media?

    Social media platforms can be a bit fickle. You can unexpectedly go viral and then have almost no views in the months afterwards. Or you might find yourself “doing all the right things” and still not seeing any success on social media.

    However, it’s important to keep giving it your best shot. With social media, persistence and consistency are essential.

    Regardless of your cause or size, social media can be a powerful tool to spread your message and garner new support. We hope these tips will inspire you to get started or rethink the basics of your social media management!

    You can use social media to increase donations and improve your nonprofit visibility. But your audience needs somewhere to go when you attract them and engage them on social media.

    That is where GiveForms comes in!

    GiveForms can help you capitalize on all that social media engagement and raise funds by letting you seamlessly accept donations online. Your supporters can donate using a credit card, PayPal, Google Pay, or bank transfers. With a focus on intuitive, human-centered design, GiveForms goal is to help you increase your online donations.


    When you use GiveForms, you gain access to a plethora of nonprofit-specific benefits

    • A customizable donation page optimized for mobile
    • Embeddable donation forms directly on your website
    • Donor dashboard to help you search, view and export your donations

    Get up and running in only 15 minutes!

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