Nonprofit Community building Through Social Media

Choosing a Nonprofit Community Building Strategy to Help Your Nonprofit Thrive

It’s inescapable! Social media is here to stay. To grow your nonprofit community, leveraging this sophisticated, largely adopted marketing avenue is going to be essential.

It’s not hard to leverage this ever-growing tool, though. That’s what we’ll talk through today.

A Few Stats to Get Us Started

It’s probably not surprising to know that in 2018, 69% of U.S. adults used at least one social media site. I suspect that number has risen across 2019 and will continue to do so. Facebook has been especially influential, with 80% of people ages 18 to 49 on the platform. 55% of people 50+ years old are also using it.

If you polled the followers of your nonprofit, do you think the numbers would be higher or lower than those? It’s a good possibility they’d be higher.

Just to cement the impact of social media, in 2019 there were 3.48 billion social media users across the world. That’s a growth of 288 million users since 2018, which is 9%.

How Social Media Efforts Aid Nonprofit Community Building

We’re here to talk about how you can build your community with the help of social media. Coincidentally, “Community” was one of the top words nonprofits in this survey used to describe their highest priorities.

word cloud of helpful communication strategies in 2018
Nonprofit Marketing Guide 2018

With nonprofit community building as a top priority, organizations have to figure out how to facilitate it. There are many ways you likely already foster community within your nonprofit. Maybe it’s through small gatherings for specific groups; large, free events; service projects; kids camps; classes; and I’m sure so much more.

Well, 25% of those same nonprofit organizations who were polled also stated that if they had the opportunity to hire someone new, they’d ask that person to work on social media posting for them. That’s big – not because they would hire someone to take care of their social media, but because they understand the priority social media is to their operations.

Can you resonate with that?

Now, in conjunction with that word cloud we saw above, we can see that not only do nonprofits feel that a stronger community helps foster better communication, but due to that realization, nonprofit community building is also what nonprofits seem to be working on most.

graph showing percentage of nonprofit communications teams working on a goal
Nonprofit Marketing Guide 2018

In the Nonprofit Marketing Guide for 2019, the study also asked each nonprofit to self-assess if they felt their communication methods were effective or not effective.

From the below chart, we can see that engaging with community was an essential goal for 33% of all of the nonprofit organizations surveyed. These are the nonprofits that did end up feeling effective in their communication methods. While that might initially seem low, it’s the highest result of all of the goals. That makes it the top priority for the most effective nonprofit companies.

table showing significant differences in essential goals between the most and less effective nonprofits

So, now that we discussed how integral nonprofit community building is to the success of nonprofit organizations, let’s now hit on how social media can help launch these efforts.

The fact of the matter is that people are busy. They aren’t always going to make it to our events, meetings, or fundraisers. 

Even if they do make it to our events, we don’t want to be completely out of their minds in between get-togethers. How can we stay front-of-mind for our followers, as well as continue the growth of our community from week to week? That’s where social media comes in.

Extending the Effect of Your Events with Social

“The role that [social media] can play really well is engagement, especially donor engagement and donor retention, getting people to pay attention—capturing their attention.”

Beth Kanter, Nonprofit Consultant and Author of Beth’s Blog

Your social media accounts can be used to share and promote events, to share pictures of activities, and to otherwise promote your nonprofit. However, those are all marketing initiatives, and they don’t always equate to community building.

What if you used your social media channels to also share reflections, question prompts, or quotes from your meetings or events?

It is possible to extend your nonprofit’s culture from those in-person events to remote; we can do this through social media. Once you unlock the key to this, you’ll discover that relationships with your members, followers, and donors can grow.

Nonprofit Community Building Post Ideas

Alright, let’s go through some actionable ways you can ramp up your nonprofit community building through social media.

Here are a few ideas:

Video Snippets

Share 10-30 second video snippets from your last meeting or event. “Won’t this result in passive watching,” you say?

Possibly! However, adding a question to the post can add a community feel to the watching experience.

Tip: If someone is speaking in the video, use Facebook’s captioning feature. This can capture the attention of followers who don’t scroll their feed with the volume on.

Behind the Scenes

Take a short video of one of your team members chatting through a topic that is important to your cause. While there’s room for some videos that include a call for donation or other action, it’s important that you’re also thinking of ways to serve your followers by offering education, fun facts, or other good-to-knows.

Reshare from Others

Share graphics with quotes from speakers, events, other organizations you follow, etc.


Use photos from an event to have captioning contests. Or, use one to create a graphic image that they can enjoy. Photos can even be used as opportunities to ask related questions they can discuss in the comments.


Ask a question that allows your followers to reflect on a theme for that week. Not only can they interact with your question, but they also have the opportunity to chat with one another.

Post-Event Updates

Send your followers an update after an event so they feel like they were there. Check out this example from Friends for Life Animal Shelter.


Polls are fun and enticing for your followers. Think about putting out a poll in coordination with a theme you have for the month. Or, perhaps you can use polls to prepare stats for an event or meeting in the future. Let’s say you’d like to create a comparison between the average water consumption of your followers and that of someone in sub-Saharan Africa. In this case, your poll might ask:

“On average, how many showers do you take a week?” with the options of,

“1-2,” “3,” “4,” “5,” “6,” and “7.”

If you want to make it really interactive and get them excited for the next poll, consider sharing the results of your polls in your next meeting. Maybe you can even offer a small gift via a raffle for one of the participants. At that time, you can also remind them to look out for the next poll by following your Facebook Page.

Community Groups

Create a Facebook Group or other online community for your closest followers to chat in throughout the week. They can discuss issues relevant to your nonprofit industry, asynchronous roundtable-type discussions, and Q&As.

Live Videos

Put out a live social media video so that people can watch while you talk. They’ll also be able to chat with you and one another in the comments!

How’s that for a list? I hope this brings up some other ideas for you, as well. Comment below with more ideas as they come to mind. The more lessons learned we share with one another, the better we’ll all be!

How do you cut through the noise?

There’s one more tip I want to share before we sign off, and that’s the “See First” feature on Facebook.

If your followers turn on the “See First” feature for your Facebook Page, they won’t miss a post from you. That’s because your posts will show at the top of their News Feed when they first log in. This will increase engagement on your posts, but more importantly, will increase eyes on your important posts. Pretty great!

RISE international facebook page

We all want to use every means we have to get the word out about our cause, our community events, and even more importantly, our messages. For now, it’s undeniable that social media is an essential part of the process to make that happen.

Let’s work together to learn more. Send us a tweet or leave us a comment on our Facebook page!

Thoughts or Questions?

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