Social Media Marketing for Nonprofits: A Guide

The what, when and how of social media marketing for nonprofit organizations

It doesn’t matter which industry you’re in, social media can make a big impact on any organization’s marketing strategy. The fact that social media access is free, though, does make it natural to integrate into nonprofit or startup marketing efforts, where budgets are smaller and need to stretch further.

If you’re running a nonprofit organization, social media marketing is essential if you want to get your name and influence out to the people who can support you most, without expending thousands (or hundreds of thousands) of dollars on a large marketing campaign.

We often hear from our social good and nonprofit clients that the hardest part of social media marketing for nonprofits is to discover how to leverage various social networks to be as impactful as possible. If you’re just getting started, it’s possible you’ll have these questions:

  • What content should I share?
  • When should I post?
  • How do I know my content is working?

Our Guide to Social Media Marketing for Nonprofits

Today we’ll talk through 13 content ideas that as a nonprofit organization, you can use right away. We’ll also discuss advice on how to keep your audience engaged with your nonprofit. That’s what we all want (and need to succeed), right?

Read on, and feel free to get in touch with any questions!

Unsplah image by Kat Yukawa Social Media Marketing for Non-Profits

Why is Social Media Marketing for Nonprofits Essential?

1. Eyes on your cause increase.

The more you talk about what you do, the more people will come across it and come to understand the importance of it.

2. Your credibility goes up.

Share posts that are not only relevant to your cause, but also useful for your followers! This will cause you to expose the fact that you really do know what you’re talking about!

3. It’s free marketing!

Nowadays, marketing is very costly. In fact, if you’ve looked into newspaper ads, local magazine promotions, mailers, etc., I probably don’t need to convince you!

4. Your community will grow.

From Facebook, Instagram, and everything in between, we constantly see people come together over social media to celebrate causes. Therefore, you have a unique opportunity to bring like-minded people together under your sphere of influence. These are people who might never end up in the same room together otherwise!

What Kind of Content To Create

Now that we understand that social media marketing for nonprofits isn’t much of an option anymore, let’s talk about how to do it right!

It can be daunting to think about what you should be sending out. Subsequently, that challenge sometimes results in two negative results.

  1. Nothing! No work being done, thus silence on social media, and finally, total paralysis.
  2. Talking only about your cause.

We you want to avoid both of these pitfalls! Very simply, here’s what you can focus on:

1. Helping your followers solve problems.

Think about who you are talking to and what they are going through. Then, think through what your audience needs to know.

Thus, a brainstorm starts! Brainstorm around a few categories (maybe with a few friends or board members):

  • What problems do individuals in your target market experience?
  • What FAQ articles on your website are visited most?
  • What different solutions do you provide as a cause?

For each of these categories, you might have 5-20 ideas. After that– for each of those results– you can build out 1-3 posts. Now we’re talking, right? Look forward to more ideas to come just below.

2. Information and education about your industry.

Whether your nonprofit is focused on education, medicine, illness/disease, entrepreneurship, or anything else, your audience follows you to learn more. Be creative in finding content that will enlighten them even further about the industry you’re in – not just about what you do, but about the entire industry.

3. Let them know what you need from them.

There’s always a time to pitch your cause. In fact, most people follow you via the knowledge that you are a nonprofit with limited resources. They know that you rely on the help of others to thrive. While we want to think about frequency, you do want to add in cause-specific posts (either a donation request, event promotion, etc.)

So, what is the frequency for “pitching” your audience? About every 5-10 posts.

Speaking of cause-based posting frequency, it’s possible you’ve heard about Gary Vaynerchuk’s book, Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook. Well, Vaynerchuk also lent some advice to nonprofit organizations:

“It’s about a value exchange—you can’t just expect someone to donate to your cause without bringing value to them first. It’s not guilt-tripping or relying on people feeling like they have to give. It’s an open, transparent conversation and dialogue. You need to respect your target audience.”

How To Fill Social Accounts With Enticing Content

Here are 13 simple ways that you as a nonprofit can curate content that will keep your followers engaged.

Celebrate Similiar or Other Local Nonprofits

Find news about other nonprofits who do something similar to you and praise them. Doing this can really add light to the day for that organization! As a result, you have an opportunity to make some really great connections (just from sharing a little positivity).

*Takeaway: When doing social media marketing for nonprofit  organizations, remember that we’re in this together!

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Our Secret to Great Google Searches

Google Tools timeframe - social media marketing for nonprofits

Search Google for terms or phrases that are relevant to your nonprofit industry. Depending on your preference, you might also want to use the “Tools” feature to select a certain date range. When it comes to social media marketing for nonprofits, and maintaining credibility, we want to make sure we’re providing the most relevant content to our followers.

Follow Relevant Blogs RSS Feeds

Follow specific and relevant blogs manually or through RSS Feeds. Sharing the expertise from others doesn’t diminish your own influence. Instead, it furthers your exposure as the source of information for your industry as a whole!

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Use Royalty Free Images

Search royalty-free images, and build a small story around them.

pexels royalty free photos

Which websites offer royalty-free, copyright-free images? Here are five of my favorites:

Celebrate the Day of the Week

It’s possible you’ll run out of creativity (or time) for one day. In this case, feel free to just send out a “Happy [day of the week]” post with an image.

Pro tip: use one of these tools to create one.

Jump onto Social Media Holidays

Take a peek at our social media holiday’s post, and you’ll find 300 social media holidays you can celebrate with your followers. For the most part, these are a fun way to encourage a little personality around your posting.

Highlight Days Inportant to Your Industry

Highlight days or holidays that are specific to your nonprofit industry.

Don’t Forget About National Holidays!

Use national holidays as leverage! For example, you not only can add a “Happy ____ Day!” on the day-of, but you can also use that holiday as a way to create useful content to your followers.

For instance, you might highlight a Halloween decor idea, or maybe Valentine’s Day kid fashion. Or, you can make it even more industry-focused. If you’re a medical nonprofit, maybe you share a picture of an American flag made out of creatively placed medical supplies. Or, if you’re an entrepreneurial association, perhaps you’ll put a bunch of green logos together to form a 4-leaf clover.

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Share Your Success

Humbly broadcast your nonprofit’s success! People want to know about your achievements. It can sometimes be difficult to toot your own horn, but if you don’t, who will?

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Showcase Your Team

Showcase some of your nonprofit’s team members. For instance, what do they do to keep your nonprofit running? Furthermore, what exciting projects are they working on? Lastly, is there anything unique about any of them? We all love to feel a personal connection to the nonprofits we support, and this is one way to achieve that.

Bonus: This can also make your team members feel pretty great!

Reshare Old But Still Relevant Content

Revisit social posts you sent months ago to see which performed best. You can then repurpose those posts (don’t forget to edit them a bit!) to see if they reap similar results.

Engage with Followers

Ask a question to your followers. For instance:

  • Make the question the highlight of your posts, like:
    • “LGBTQIA in the medical field, what is one of your biggest challenges?”
    • “If you could squash out only one cancer right now, which would you choose?”
    • “What kind of social media content are you hoping to see from us?”
  • Further, you can add a question as a supplement to an article or image, like:
    • “Do you agree with how he resolved that challenge?”
    • “Which one of these front doors resonates most with you?”
    • “What other endangered water sources should we add to this list?”

BWIT-what are we going to do?

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Use Quotes

Go through your blog posts and use quotes as the text of your posts. Once you have a list, you can add a quote graphic, image, or link your blog post to get more website views.


Is that enough to get started with? I think so! In fact, I think these might even get you through the year. ?

Now that we have a ton of content ideas in our social media tool belts, let’s go a bit deeper into retention.

How Can I Keep My Social Media Fans Coming Back?

Truly serve them.

Your nonprofit is 100% set-up to serve others, and that should extend to your social media followers. If you can follow the tips above, you’ll be set here!

Listen to them.

Which of your posts are they most engaging with? Do more of that!

Also, which do they engage least with? Do less of that!

In other words, it’s pretty simple, right?

Well, there’s just a little more to it. Here are some tips as to how to listen to your followers to discover which posts are resonating most with your audience:

  • First, compare the engagement stats for your social media posts,
  • Next, sort them from most engaged posts to the least engaged post
  • Then, make some assessments. Is there a commonality among the most engaged posts? For example:
    • The time of day
    • The day of the week
    • The type of post (link, attached image, video, question, etc.)
    • The tone of the post (friendly, factual, humorous, etc.)

These steps can turn out to be pretty simple if you use a social media scheduler like Buffer, Hootsuite or AgoraPulse, because you’ll have these analytics at your disposal. However, if you don’t use a social media scheduler, you can still find some really important metrics via the native platforms (Facebook, Twitter, etc.).

Post at times that work for your audience.

It’s always nice to have some answer for when to post, and thanks to one of SproutSocial‘s posts, we’re able to fulfill that need!

Please do keep in mind, though, that success within social media marketing for nonprofits varies across the board. While these might be good times for you to start with, no one knows your audience quite like you do. Because of that, it’s important to keep an eye on your results so that you can tweak your posting times as necessary.

Twitter best times to post for non-profits - social media marketing for nonprofits
via SproutSocial – social media marketing for nonprofits – best times to post
Instagram best times to post for non-profits - social media marketing for nonprofits
via SproutSocial – social media marketing for nonprofits – best times to post
Facebook best times to post for non-profits - social media marketing for nonprofits
via SproutSocial – social media marketing for nonprofits – best times to post

For a bit more customized guidance on how to experiment with your own posting times, visit Buffer’s guide to finding the right times to post on your social media accounts.

Are you ready to go?

If you don’t have experience with social media marketing already, I’m sure any guide to social media marketing for nonprofits can feel daunting.

Hopefully, we’ve made things simpler for you today! And, please, if you have any questions at all, feel free to reach out – we’re here for you! You may also be interested in signing up for our free 7-week marketing strategy course, which you can do below.

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