5 Social Media Lessons for Nonprofits

Setting up a social media presence for your cause or organization is not only important, it's essential. With so many platforms available and so many ways to connect, maintaining your organization’s social media can be overwhelming. But it doesn’t have to be.

In fact, the more time you put into creating engaging content and scheduling it in an organized way, the more efficient your job will be. @HomeKindling Group and See3recently partnered with the Polk Bros Foundation to do a Social Media Boot Camp with several nonprofit organizations in Chicago that provide services around housing and homelessness. The following are a few lessons we learned on how ways to expand and improve your social media content and engagement.

1. Thank your donors on social media

If you have ever worked inside of a development team, you know that there is a great amount of effort that goes into thanking our organization’s donors and supporters. Donors are what keep our agencies open and providing services that are so greatly needed. Make your gratitude known by creating a post that thanks a donor. Received a grant from a foundation in the last year? Is there a corporate or business that recently made a donation? How about a new individual who made a donation who you are connected to online? Send them a shout-out to show your gratitude and thanks! Make sure to @mention them directly so they receive a notification and can share the post on their own channels. The example above is from Facing Forward, which shows several of their clients held up a sign thanking the Chicago Foundation for Women.

2. Post pictures of what your organization does

What does your organization do on a daily basis? Do you have regular staff meetings in which all of your staff are working together to discuss challenges and successes? Does your organization have staff who serve on a committee? Have you visited with a client who has recently overcome a challenge or is considered a success in your organization? Any time you have an opportunity to take a photo of the work your organization participates in, do so and post it online! For anyone who wants to know more about what your organization does and any potential donors who want to see where their donations are going — these images affirm the work that you organization is engaged in. It validates that your organization is working towards an important mission. Above is a great photo from the organization Northwest Side Housing Center’s Facebook page from a ‘Parent Mentor Volunteer’ night. They hold regular and ongoing events for both clients and volunteers to come events held at the organization.

3. Share articles and information relevant to your organization’s mission

With so much content readily available online, take the time to do some research and find the articles that directly relate to the work your organization does. If your organization works on issues or films surrounding animal rights, you should be following other organizations and news sources that keep people updated on issues surrounding animal rights. If your organization works in the public school system, search for unique school programs, school performances or parent group gatherings happening at local schools. If you serve low-income populations and there are businesses that have offerings on a sliding scale, write up a post about the service and offering. The Midwest Harm Reduction Institute shares articles and news from all over the world that contribute to the ongoing dialogue of the harm reduction model and it’s impact on individuals struggling with addiction.

4. Create a post that highlights a client or staff member

The highest levels of engagement I have witnessed in nonprofit’s social media is that of success stories. Why? Because people like to know that their dollars and their work efforts result in feel-good stories. Social media helps connect people to people in a digital way. Giving a face and a name to those that your organization or engagement campaign works on behalf of. Check out this client highlight from agency Goldie’s Place acknowledging a client’s ability to gain access to dental care through the organization. This story was shared by donors, staff members and friends of the client who was highlighted. Is there a particular person on your staff that everyone loves? Give them a shout-out and talk about how important their work is to the organization.

5. Ask questions and encourage your community to have dialogue

While we are all seeking for more ‘Likes’ on Facebook and ‘Favorites’ on Twitter, what will get your content noticed and popping up in more feeds are ‘Comments’ and ‘Shares’ on Facebook or ‘Replies’ on Twitter. Invite people to have a dialogue with you. Ask questions that are accessible for your online audience to answer. People may not answer initially but it will show your viewers that you want to connect with them and you want to know more about them. “How are you celebrating the holidays?” “What’s one thing you can do to make someone smile today?” “How do you give back to the community?” “What do you want to know about our organization and the people we serve?”

Interested in getting your organization involved in a Boot Camp? Email our Chief Learning Officer, Lisa Colton, to find out how this training model can help your organization sharpen its social media skills and increase your communications capacity. 

Author: Keely Jones
  • Social Media
  • Nonprofits
  • Donors