Effective nonprofit social media use – and 3 tips to make it happen

Despite what you might expect, or hope, there’s no magic formula for writing great social media content. Similar to newsletters, direct mailers, and even what you have on your website, compelling content is content that’s personal, relatable, real, relevant, sometimes emotional and shows who you are as a nonprofit.

Here are three practical tips to make your organization’s social media posts pop:

  1. Show and tell who you’re helping.
  2. Don’t be a “me” monster.
  3. Tell your readers what to do.

Sometimes a bad example can be just as useful as a good example. 

Here’s an example of both the right and wrong way to communicate with your followers. The question to be answered: Which of these social media posts do you want to finish reading?

(1) We have a lot of fundraising events coming up where you can help people in need. We also need lots of help to be able to make them happen, so you should think about volunteering with us. Click here to find out more about our summer events.

(2) “My family never would have been able to afford this kind of food, but thanks to you, we’ve eaten fresh vegetables every day for three weeks.” Mia J

This is the impact you’re making by giving to and volunteering at events like Food4All. Click here to see our summer event calendar and find out where YOU can get involved.

While both posts were just three sentences long and had similar CTAs, their levels of impact are very different.

If you’re anything like us, the first post was a turn-off within the first sentence. 

Though informative, the post as a whole feels dull. Saying “you should think about” seems weak and indirect. But verbiage like “WE have”, “WE need”, and “YOU should” feels self-centered and sends the message that your organization is only interested in what the reader can do for them. 

On another note, while fundraising can be a necessary part of running a successful nonprofit, we advise you to use words like “fundraiser” cautiously, as it can bring to mind pushy tactics intended to guilt people into handing over a dollar.

Certainly, your nonprofit is making a difference, but it’s important to show the role your reader plays in the story. And while you should never be afraid to include a direct CTA, it has to be done appropriately and not make the reader feel like you only see them a wallet or a warm body.

On the other hand, the second post invites you into the story of a real person.

By including a quote that clearly communicates a need that was met, and by putting a name with the need, the reader can better imagine themselves or someone they love in the beneficiary’s position. This creates empathy AND shows why the reader should care about what your nonprofit is doing.

The language used in the second part of this post then places focus on the reader, showing the way they’ve already been a part of the solution and inviting them to do so again. While it’s still clear that volunteers are needed to meet needs, the reader is given the implicit idea that doing something beyond themselves will make them feel good, too – which happens to be totally accurate.

This just goes to show the power a story, even a short one, can have.