Social Media Marketing Best Practices For Nonprofits

In my role as a social media strategy consultant, I’ve had numerous opportunities to meet with and advise a wide variety of charitable groups. While charities should already be aware of the power of social media, it seems that many of them are focusing on Facebook (and increasingly Instagram) with the sole aim raising their profile in the community.

Social media is useful for many things beyond simply spreading the word about a nonprofit and its cause (though platforms like Facebook and Instagram should certainly be incorporated into any social media strategy for a nonprofit). Just as there are many social media channels besides Facebook and Instagram that can be just as effective in meeting the organization’s mission, depending on the objective you are currently targeting, many others exist as well. The first step in establishing a social media presence is to consider the goals you hope to achieve.

Effective Fundraising Through Social Media

In order to raise more money and get more donations, non-profits can use social media for a variety of purposes, including but not limited to:

Obtaining Funding

My impression is that this is the business-to-business aspect of nonprofits. There is probably no better place than LinkedIn to locate grant-making institutions and businesses, as well as the Board members and decision-makers who govern them. This could be the first step in attracting attention to your organization’s story and objectives.

Individuals with a High Income/Target Audience

With LinkedIn’s advanced people search, you can zero in on the right people in a way that other social media accounts can’t, which is great news if you’re trying to expand your business among the high-income demographic. There are a number of approaches to discovering useful contacts on Twitter. I’m not suggesting you spam these people, but if they are active members of these communities, there are ways to meet them, network with them, and hopefully solicit donations from them.

Obtaining Donations from the General Public

There is little doubt that the average person uses the most popular social media sites owned by one Mr. Zuckerberg. However, Twitter is also significant for social media content because 1) it’s a place to get found thanks to all the Twitter searches that are happening and 2) your content is available to anyone.

Keeping Your Subscribers

If you want your organization’s fans to follow you everywhere you go, you must go where they are. It goes without saying that you need a Facebook and Instagram page, but I would also recommend getting active on Twitter and maybe even starting a Facebook or LinkedIn group to encourage discussion and collaboration.
Including these social media campaign efforts and tools in your marketing strategy can greatly expand your organization’s reach.

Promote Events

Promoting an upcoming event via social media can be done in a number of ways, but the most important is to list it on all of the sites frequented by your target audience, especially Facebook Events and the redesigned LinkedIn Events. Only advertising on one platform could mean missing out on potential attendees: ConnectOC, a local nonprofit I helped found, recently held an event for other nonprofits to learn how to better utilise social media, and we received almost as many RSVPs on LinkedIn as we did anywhere else.

Community Engagement

Organizations need to start making shareable content and videos to tell their stories because this is the one part of a social media strategy where I see a need for them to do so. Additionally, this can be accomplished on the video-sharing website YouTube. Whatever the case may be, it provides nonprofits with a means of exposure in the other 75% of the Internet where we don’t spend our time. This includes Google and other search engines, the second largest of which is YouTube, where a video series can serve as a means of establishing credibility and publicising the organization’s mission.

This gives you more material for posting on other social media sites, whether it’s an infographic, an example of your charity’s work, or a response to a comment about your organisation.

Working Together with Other Charities

In the corporate world, I see parallels between this and Strategic Alliances. Charities can use LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram for this B2B purpose because of the ease with which they can communicate with their friends and other platform users, much like they can use these social media for finding grants. Get in touch with groups in another part of the country or the world that share your mission and see if there’s a way you can work together.


Though I usually advise against paid promotion as part of a nonprofit’s social media post strategy, the ability to micro-target specific demographics on Facebook, Instagram, and related sites to promote your page and increase public awareness is something to think about if you’re having trouble reaching a larger audience and improving your brand’s visibility.

Search for Volunteers and Interns

It’s so obvious that, hopefully, lots of charities are already employing this strategy. Did you know, however, that a sizable segment of the professional population is actively considering volunteer work as a means to supplement their job search? Even though this is a temporary solution, it can give your organisation a huge boost by tapping into the knowledge and connections of a potential mentor and, who knows, maybe even a future board or staff member for your organisation, not to mention the expanded reach of their personal Instagram and other social media channels.