The use of social media is crucial for the nonprofit sector, in order for different NGOs to spread their message, initiatives, to create engagement or the so-called brand awareness and to receive more donations and funds. Therefore, social media are important both for small and big NGOs, especially those with a small budget, because the different channels could help them reach a larger audience in a fast and cost-effective way. But social media in the nonprofit world is about more than getting “likes” and the social media strategy should be integrated in the overall marketing strategy of an organisation.
The benefits of social media for nonprofits are many and as it has been said before, have to do with the increasing of the organisation’s reach, the possibility to share a mission for free, to attract new donors and to make them feel engaged to a certain cause. Many well-known nonprofit organizations have employed social media tactics in successful marketing campaigns, like World Wide Fund for Nature, Make-A-Wish Foundation, Save the Children, Amnesty International and Winds of Rescue.
The Covid-19 pandemic made the use of social networks even more important because nonprofit organisations have faced many financial burdens. Their services were and are highly demanded but the possibilities to host in-person fundraising has been limited, that is why the use of social networks and effective ways to drive people to donate was crucial. The Salvation Army reported in December that fundraising was down 18% compared to prior years. Still, there are different ways for an organisation to achieve its fundraising and marketing goals.
How it works: First of all, managing the social media is not about just sharing information, but it should be the creation of an engagement that is linked to the interaction with social media users. Social media allows nonprofits to connect with supporters by responding to questions or joining in new conversations that could be helpful for both the potential donors and the organisation itself. A study conducted last year on more than 9,000 nonprofits showed Facebook as the principal social network for non-profits. In addition, another study conducted on NGOs showed how more than 39% of people discovered nonprofits they donate to on Facebook. Twitter is the next most commonly used platform. Other popular channels include YouTube, LinkedIn, Pinterest and Instagram. A different strategy should be created for every single social network, even if it is important to remind that, while it could seem an effective strategy to use all the possible platforms to share some information, it is smarter to determine which platform your target prefers and uses more often, in order to focus the efforts in the most effective way.
At the base of every social media strategy there should be, in fact, a previous recognition of the goals to achieve and also the audience to reach, in order to provide a specific and efficient result. For example, for Facebook, which is the most effective social media for nonprofits, the strategies regard the length of the posts, that should be short to make sure that people will read it and easily find the link for the donation. Another important factor is the use of hashtags to gain more followers, especially those that potential donors typically use. Moreover, with every social network it is important to create interactive content, that could be videos, stories, or even surveys, and another fundamental factor is the frequency of posting, that should be regular and continuous. When possible, another tactic that could be used regards the inclusion of citizens, professionals and VIPs in the overall social media strategy. The organisation should make sure that these individuals know about it and its mission and drive them to share the cause with their followers. A key is to try to deliver the mission and the message in the simplest and most attractive way possible. To conclude, it is very crucial to monitor the analytics to check how a social campaign is going in terms of follows, likes, comments and traffic of the website from the social media postings.
Many organisations simply do not have the funds to pay an expert to create a social media strategy, that is why very often this part is neglected and the responsibility for it is given to a person without the necessaries skills to provide an effective social media strategy. However, to be able to compete at every level today the nonprofit sector cannot neglect this aspect anymore and must ensure all the competences and effort for the creation of a real strategy.