Social media outreach best practices

Nonprofit decision-makers are likely always in the process of ways to leverage social media to help with fundraising and outreach.
Date Published
03/13/2015

The explosion of social media has become hard to ignore. It seems that everyone has signed up and is active on multiple social networks. From Facebook, to Instagram and Twitter, there are literally millions of conversations that take place daily on these channels.

However, social media isn’t solely for casual use and personal entertainment. Many brands have found a way to leverage the activity that takes place on these platforms and use it for marketing purposes. The same rings true for nonprofits and other charitable organizations.

Many of the constituents of a 501(c)(3) organization are likely active on social media. Because of this, it would be wise for nonprofit decision-makers to develop a plan of action to connect with supporters on the platforms they use most. This is especially true for nonprofit fundraising efforts. Here is a list if best practices for charitable organizations to develop a sound social networking strategy that can deliver positive results on a consistent basis:

Assess the current effectiveness of social media outreach
One of the undeniable truths about social networks is that it takes active participation to generate favorable outcomes. Nonprofit Hub suggested that charitable organizations take an in-depth look at their social media activity. This includes identifying supporter demographics to create a plan of action for effective communication, as well as reviewing the kinds of content being disseminated and the frequency of messages being sent on social media channels.

Narrow constituent focus
There are some age groups that are inherently more active on social networks than others. Eleventy Marketing Group suggested that nonprofits that have a constituent base made of millennials between 25- and 34-years old should begin targeting these individuals in their social media outreach plans. This is not to suggest that other groups shouldn’t be included in communications via social networks, but given the size and influence of the millennial base, nonprofits should leverage this and use the group to their advantage.

Goal setting is key
As with any outreach effort, it is important to understand the desired objectives that a nonprofit would like to see as a result of these activities. 501(c)(3) organizations should carefully map out what they would like to see happen as a result of any campaigns launched on social media. Will it be to capture increased donation amounts? Or will the nonprofit like to see more people become involved in a specific cause of movement. Whatever the case, before any social media outreach efforts are undertaken, it will be important to have an end goal in mind first.

Know the times when supporters are most active
Although social media activity never stops, there are periods of time that are slower than others when it comes to activity. Nonprofits need to be able to identity when their supporters are more likely to be engaged on the various social networking platforms and launch campaigns or send communications during those times. For example, the Bit.ly blog wrote that the time when people are the most active on Twitter is Monday through Thursday from 1p.m. to 3p.m. While this may not apply to the constituent base of all nonprofits, this data does serve as a guideline on the most ideal times to connect with people via social media.

These are just a few suggestions on how nonprofits can use social media to help with fundraising, outreach and getting people to support the efforts of the organization. Charities that are not effectively leveraging social networks are putting themselves at a disadvantage by not utilizing technology at their disposal to further their cause.

In addition, constituents smile favorably upon organizations that take a modernized approach to doing business. Decision-makers and nonprofit leadership should not take social media and its power for granted. 

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