Nonprofit 411: How to Make Social Media Work For Your Nonprofit

THEOBy Theodora Higginson, Director of Strategic Projects, Tech Goes Home.

By now you’ve probably heard how important social media is for nonprofits. It’s a relatively ‘free’ and easy way to tell your story – a tremendous value-add for organizations like ours with larger impact goals than financial reserves. I say relatively because it’s not actually free; it requires (wo)man-hours, creativity, and patience. But it pays off. Through social media, we’re strengthening our support network and connecting with prospective volunteers, partners, and donors for Tech Goes Home.

Each platform has its advantages and drawbacks, so before diving in, it’s a good idea to determine which sites align with your nonprofit’s marketing strategy and have the greatest probable impact given the resources you can allocate to it. For us, Facebook is a great way to share photos and stories from the field and a forum for participants and trainers to celebrate their accomplishments with friends. Through Twitter, we’ve established a healthy partnership with a fellow Boston nonprofit with whom we co-hosted a mission-related Tweetup last month.

Social Media Strategy Tips for Nonprofits:

  1. Prioritize – Don’t waste your time trying to be on every social channel. Instead, define your goals and target audience, and let that guide which social channels you use and how you behave on them. Better to do a few well than a lot poorly!
  2. Listen – Find and engage with people and organizations who care about your mission. Track relevant keywords or hashtags (including your organization’s name).
  3. Reciprocate – Frequently share content from others, and celebrate partners’ successes in your posts more often than you celebrate your own.
  4. Entertain – Use social media to bring your nonprofit to life! Share quality photos and stories that show your impact, as well as the personalities in your organization.
  5. Evolve – Experiment with different types of content, frequency, times of day/week, etc. Using the analytics, pay attention to what gets the most engagement (1-3% of fans per week is considered healthy engagement for a nonprofit Facebook page), and hone your strategy accordingly.

Because we see so much potential value in the social connections, we also help local micro-businesses use social media through our TGH Small Business program. Knowing that getting started can be daunting, we offer basic tutorials in English and Spanish on select platforms. They’re all free to download here. For several sites, we also include links to a collection of free one-minute video tutorials by Grovo that we find helpful. Though we designed the material with a small business audience in mind, the instructions are applicable to nonprofits as well, so we wanted to share them with fellow MNN members.

Tech Goes Home is an affiliate member of the Massachusetts Nonprofit Network and offers offers peer-to-peer advice based on social media experience, as well as free introductory tutorials on popular social channels.