Social Media Sites, Strategies & Tools for Non-Profits

Written by Robin WildingMarch 21, 2011

Social networking sites have given non-profits an incredible portfolio of free tools to use to boost their public image, garner new volunteers, and raise money. Did I mention they’re free?

There are several high-profile non-profits that are currently leveraging social media marketing, including the American Red Cross and the National Wildlife Federation.  The Red Cross has committed part of their resources into a solid social networking strategy that has paid off; their strategy includes platforms like blogging, Facebook, YouTube, Flickr, Twitter, SocialVibe, LinkedIn and more. The Red Cross has over 90 videos on its YouTube channel, the National Wildlife Federation over 75; together they have received over 4 million views—for free.

Non-Profit Social Media Strategy

Non-Profits have plenty of cost-less tools that they can incorporate into their strategy:

  • Blogs
  • Pages (on Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, LinkedIn, etc)
  • Donation-specific platforms
  • Video and media sharing platforms like YouTube
  • And more

Incorporating social media into your non-profit’s portfolio will increase your brand awareness, create viral content that opens you up to a wider audience, helps you find more volunteers, helps you to raise money for your campaigns, and to widen your overall reach.

SocialBrite - SocialBrite is an encyclopedic site of online tools created by 8 non-profit experts, and designed specifically for non-profits.  This site is geared specifically to helping non-profits achieve their social media goals, by outlining the best tactics and tools available. Their community-based forums offer a great support mechanism to bounce ideas off of philanthropic professionals in addition to asking advice. The importance of this resource cannot be stressed enough, and includes a comprehensive list of non-profit social media tools, analytics for tracking charity-based mentions, a free multimedia library, and more.

Social Media Marketing Tools for Non-Profits

1. Sharing Tools - Installing a sharing-based tool like Facebook ‘Like’ or ShareThis will help your content reach new audiences as social networkers are more than twice as likely to forward an article, post, photo or video if it is cause-based. 

2. Fundraising - The online medium has become the weapon of choice for fundraisers, and the sheer popularity of online giving has led to some great websites designed specifically for non-profit fundraising. There is a long-list of fundraising sites but some of the more popular sites include: 

  • RT2GiveThis Twitter-based fundraising tool is uber effective alongside a strong Twitter following. Using TwitPay to turn tweets into treasure was a brilliant idea from RT2Give. The system helped Red Cross’ Haiti campaign turn texts into dollars, a campaign that raised over $28million in total.
  • CrowdriseCrowdrise’s genius is that they tapped into the excitement of online gaming, and turned giving into a friendly competition. This platform leverages the popularity of online gaming and participation trends by assigning points to donors—points that can be accrued via donations of by spreading the good word (about good work).

3. Recruitment - Apart from the money earned through donations, volunteers are the greatest resource that a charity can have. There are some great social sites that can help swell your volunteer numbers, including Facebook and Twitter. The biggest social networking sites reach the greatest audiences and therefore the greatest amount of volunteers but other social sites have popped up with a specific focus on volunteering. Sites like Idealist.org and Volunteer.org can help you find motivated, socially conscious and talented volunteers.

4. Google Non-Profit Tools (apply for the program here) - Google has gotten into the game. Which game? Every game—including non-profits. Charities like the Direct Relief International and the Natural Resources Defense Council have raised millions of dollars with Google’s AdWords and YouTube non-profit program and tools. Google’s portfolio of non-profit tools includes:

  • Up to $10,000 monthly worth of AdWords clicks (generally used to find more donors).
  • Free or highly discounted Google Apps.

Case studies, educational video placement services, and free or super cheap Google partner services.

5. Targeted Ad Campaigns - Facebook Ads provided Goodwill with a great way to create campaigns targeted at specific groups and locations—in fact their Northern New England chapter garnered almost a thousand fans and a record number of click through rates, in a very short time.

6. Event Promotion - There are plenty of social networking sites that are hyper local, which makes them perfect for promoting your next event. Foursquare, Gowalla, and Facebook Places are all great examples of high-traffic generating social sites. Eventbrite is another good resource, and this one has the added bonus of built-in media sharing tools and an easy-to-use interface.

7. Board Members - Most medium to large sized non-profits understand the importance of having impressive looking board members. Using a professional networking site like LinkedIn is an awesome strategy to recruit high-profile professionals in your non-profit’s vertical. You can also use their LinkedIn profiles and networks to reach key decision makers, highly educated recruits, and big spenders. 

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