Social Media Best Practices for Nonprofits
Social media channels are great tools for nonprofit organizations to utilize. Whether you’re using Facebook, Twitter, TikTok, LinkedIn or any other platform, staying connected with your donor base and volunteer network isn’t just beneficial, it’s necessary. When used correctly, social media can greatly amplify your organization’s efforts at building bridges to your communities and engaging with your stakeholders.
Here are a few tips to help any nonprofit looking to branch out into the digital world:
Engage Donors on All Platforms
Use all platforms where donors may be active. This will require research based on who your nonprofit is interacting with. There should be a specific focus on the platform that has the highest concentration of active users who could serve as potential social media ambassadors, volunteers or donors.
Be willing to shift across platforms depending on demographic shifts. For example, nonprofits focused on youth engagement should consider TikTok, Snapchat and Instagram as components of their social media strategy. Many platforms, including Facebook and Instagram, offer free services and tools for organizations looking to connect with clients.
Make Your Impact Visible
Use visual storytelling to communicate the impact of your work, so people can see the impact of donations and how they're truly making a difference. Consider before/after content of a community event or initiative, and/or testimonials from those who have benefitted from your work.
To make a donor’s impact more visible, go behind the scenes and show the public what they don’t normally see about your organization. Be sure to promote the employees and volunteers who help to keep your services running smoothly.
Limit Your Fundraising Content
Donation asks have a lower engagement rate than other forms of content, which can alienate your audience (especially those that aren't yet sure whether they're ready to donate or not). It will also cast your organization in a different light from one that primarily focuses on being helpful and communicative. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t ask for support online — just that it should not dominate your online presence.
Communicate With the Public
Social media can heighten awareness of an organization’s services and its mission. This simultaneously educates its followers about matters that relate to the nonprofit’s mission. It’s also a critical way for nonprofits to communicate. Social media platforms are where accomplishments, awards and an organization’s impact on society are displayed to the public.
This helps to show donors, potential donors, board members and the public all of the organization’s positive features, hereby positioning it better for fundraising, making connections and engaging different demographics of people that it normally wouldn’t be able to. Nonprofits have tight budgets and can use social media to market their services and recruit staff for only a small fee, if any. At VIP Community Services, we communicate our mission, notable activities, milestones and more on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn.
It’s surprisingly common for nonprofits to forget to be active on social platforms. Social media is a two-way street where organizations can connect with their stakeholders and where the two parties can learn and grow from each other. Without an active presence on the platform, outside of posting and scheduling, followers are less likely to stay engaged.
It’s also important to maintain transparency. This is a core component of a nonprofit's reputation, which should be maintained on social media. This includes responding to all non-spam questions, directly addressing concerns and providing ample avenues for communication. This is particularly important to ensure that searches about your organization yield a generally positive impression about the organization and its services.
Post a question or a poll to get the public engaged, share an article or story to get opinions and use hashtags to attract a different audience than usual. The more up-to-date and active a social media account is, the more current an organization will appear.
Inez Sieben is the chief strategy officer of VIP Community Services, a nonprofit founded in 1974 on the belief that people can become self-sufficient and transform their communities into safe, thriving neighborhoods. The organization works to successfully house individuals and families, treat addiction, and provide physical and mental wellness. VIP Community Services is a Federally Qualified Health Center and Certified Community Behavioral Health Center. For more information, visit www.vipservices.org.