Mar 18, 2018

How Nonprofits Can Use Social Media to Boost Donations

by Digital Marketing Institute

Digital marketing is a great way for those in the nonprofit sector to expand their sphere of influence. Many charities continue to rely heavily on direct marketing tactics such as flyers and direct mail campaigns. Although these offline strategies are an important part of a well-balanced marketing plan, organizatiosn run the risk of missing out on increased reach and donations if they fail to incorporate digital into their overall business objectives.

In this blog, find out how social media can help you to increase donors, retain your existing database and share the story of your brand to a global audience.

How Social Media and Nonprofits Complement Each Other

Using social media as a marketing tool has quickly become the norm throughout a range of industries. According to IDC, a global marketing intelligence firm, buyers who use social media regularly have larger budgets than those who do not use social media. Typically, this budget is 84% larger.

The good news? This increase in budget relates to the increase in exposure that social media marketing provides charitable organizations. Many large-scale non-profit organizations like Greenpeace, UNICEF, and PETA With more and more people using social media daily, social media engagement allows charity organizations to widen their net and reach a larger audience on a relatively limited budget.

By increasing exposure to potential donors, a well-rounded social media strategy positions your success by spreading awareness and generating donations.

Get Ready to Launch an Effective Social Media Strategy

Effective social media usage provides an efficient platform to tell the story of your charitable organization. By engaging with those who support and appreciate the work you do for your community, a best-in-class non-profit social media strategy can help you find those who believe in the work you do.

Set your non-profit organization up for success by taking advantage of the opportunities and connection that social media can provide with these steps for a successful social media launch:

1. Brainstorm and outline your social media goals

Okay, you and your marketing colleagues have decided that implementing a social media strategy is the right step to boost donations and connect with supporters. The first step in creating a high-performance social media strategy? Outline why you’re doing it.

What do you want your non-profit’s social media strategy to accomplish? If your organization provides shelter to vulnerable populations, your goal is to get individuals off the street. Or, perhaps you’re an animal rights advocacy group. In that case, your goal may be to share information that keeps people informed about how they can protect wildlife in your area.

Your social media goals should align with your mission and value. Ideally, your organization will choose to create a social media strategy that accomplishes one or all of the following:

  • Boosts donations
  • Recruits volunteers
  • Engages with your target community and supports
  • Develops your brand and shares the story of your charitable organization

After you and your team have established the goals of your social media presence and marketing, it’s time to figure out how you’ll track and measure the success of your social media strategy. For non-profit agencies looking for a way to easily measure their outcomes, try regularly tracking how often supporters are commenting on your posts, how many direct messages your social media accounts are receiving, or using a “hashtag strategy” to see how often your organization is tagged in posts.

2. Reach the right audience

Your social media strategy is only as effective as the results you receive. If your charitable organization hasn’t yet defined a target audience, now is the time. As tempting as it may be, it’s important that your messaging is directed towards a specific audience rather than the general public.

Ideally, your target audience is an idea of who your “quintessential” supporters are. To begin generating your charitable organization’s external target audience, it’s wise to start by considering your internal personas. Compile demographic information and the reasons why volunteers and board members care about your organization and attempt to form various personas based on your findings.

Once you’ve created several personas, it’s easier to determine the values and demographics of the potential external supporters that your social media strategy will aim to connect with.

3. Develop a comprehensive social media strategy

With a clear idea of your target audience and social media goals, it’s time to formulate an actionable plan. The first step in creating a comprehensive social media strategy is discovering what social media networks your target personas spend the most time on.

With so many social media networks available now, it’s important to clarify that you don’t need to be active on every platform to have a successful social media strategy that boosts donations. Rather, uncover the platforms where your target audience is most active, and focus your efforts on 2-4 of these networks. Again, survey your volunteer base and board members to gain an understanding of where they spend most their online time to see where your efforts are best directed.

Now that you know where your social media marketing will take place, what posts will be most effective in reaching your target audience and boosting donations? Ideally, your posts will tell the story of your organization and engage with an audience who will support your mission. Some engaging content groups for charitable organizations include:

  • Advertising for upcoming donor events
  • Volunteer stories and call-outs
  • Successful endeavors carried out by your organization
  • “How-to” posts that demonstrate how supporters can help

Boost Donations with Powerful Messaging on Social Media

According to Marketing Sherpa, 95% adults aged 18-34 are most likely to follow brands through social networking. With the majority of adults connecting with brands on social networks, it’s imperative that charity organizations have an effective and active non-profit social media strategy in place.

To boost donations and reach fundraising goals, try out these tips for successful social media marketing for nonprofits:

1. Use Twitter and Facebook to keep your audience informed

Social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter are a great means to communicate important events, send updates to supporters, and connect with potential donors. Strategies such as live tweeting and sharing live events on Facebook allow supporters to see real-time updates of a seminar or fundraising event. Quote speakers, share photos and make sure to link back to your charitable organization’s website while live tweeting or sharing photos on Facebook.

2. Maintain an active “needs” board on Pinterest

Pinterest is a social media platform treasured by bloggers and photographers alike. However, Pinterest also provides an amazing opportunity for non-profit organizations to share their immediate needs. By creating a board that specifies items required for the regular functioning of your charitable organization, such as canned food, children’s clothing, or women’s hygienic products, supporters can browse much-needed items and donate as they can.

Upon creating your active “needs” board, make sure that you share this update on your other social media platforms, like Twitter and Facebook.

3. Fundraise online using crowdfunding

Looking for an easy, accessible method to boost donations online through social media? Online crowdfunding typically takes place online, setting out to generate funds from a large number of people who donate small amounts of money. With a variety of crowdfunding tools available online, you can easily create and share your crowdfunding endeavor on all your social media platforms.

Ideally, your organization will hold multiple crowdfunding events throughout the year as funds become necessary. For charitable groups, it’s important to define exactly what the donations will be used for. For example, if you’re in desperate need of a new stove for your shelter kitchen, share the story of what happened to the damaged or old appliance. If your organization is planning to host a Thanksgiving dinner for a vulnerable population, let potential supporters know when the event is, and provide them options as to how they can help in non-monetary ways, such as donating cans of food to your organization.

With any social media strategy, measuring analytics is vital to enhance the effectiveness of processes and shared content. Tools like Google Analytics provide actionable insights to track the effectiveness of your social media activity. Make the most out of this informative data and use it to streamline your strategy and drive traffic to your online donation page.


Just like a for-profit business, non-profits need an active online presence to maintain a connection with their target audience. By leveraging the power of a comprehensive non-profit social media strategy, charity organizations can experience a boost in both donations and brand awareness.

Thankfully, the implementation of a successful social media strategy can be cost-effective. If your organization is choosing to manage social media accounts in-house, there are a variety of helpful tools to streamline the process and share content quickly across multiple platforms. When your social media accounts are used to meaningfully share the story of your non-profit and how it helps a community or population, you can cultivate a supportive following, expand your reach, and connect with high-value, loyal donors.

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