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Social Media for Nonprofits: Top 10 Dos and Don’ts

The rules of social media are similar for everyone, but when it comes to nonprofits, things can be a little more serious. Most nonprofit organizations ask for donations of some sort, whether it be time or money, and they often represent sensitive issues. It’s always important that you don’t offend your audience, but it’s even more important when you’re dealing with a sensitive subject to begin with.

So, before you go out there and start tweeting on behalf of your nonprofit, browse these 10 dos and don’t s of social media for nonprofits.

1. Don’t: Constantly gross your audience out

Have you ever found that the act of “liking” a non-profit’s Facebook page did nothing but make you lose your appetite? It happens all the time, and it’s understandable. Shock value gets attention. The problem is that it’s often the wrong kind of attention. If you must post horrifying images to make your point, be sure to do it sparingly.

2. Don’t: Create posts based on assumptions

Your audience may be filled with well-intentioned people who simply cannot afford to donate their time or money, but they’re happy to spread the word about your cause. Posting something like, “sharing isn’t enough” is likely to alienate folks who are already doing the best they can.

3. Don’t: Be rude

This should go without saying, but not every non-profit seems to know about this “don’t.” With access to robust social media analytics, we can see how many people are seeing posts and how many are engaging with them. If your engagement is low, it’s not your audience’s fault. It’s yours. Don’t try to bully people into clicking, commenting or sharing. It’s not going to work. Didn’t your mother ever tell you that you’ll catch more flies with honey than vinegar?

4. Don’t: Set it and forget it

The most successful non-profits on social media know that it takes time and care. It’s not like a newsletter where you just push out content. People aren’t likely to respond to cold, flat updates, but that’s not the only danger with setting it and forgetting it. When you fail to pay attention to what is scheduled, you risk posting an insensitive comment at a sensitive time. For example, at a time of natural disaster, it’s probably best to hold off on promoting your gala (unless it’s to raise money to aid in disaster relief).

5. Don’t: Make a half-hearted effort

People are quick to recognize when you’re sincerely making an effort and when you’re doing the bare minimum. If you plan one post per week and never interact with anyone else on social media, you’re probably better off spending that time doing something else.

6. Do: Create thought-provoking posts

It’s those “things that make you go, hmmm” that really get us thinking about improving ourselves and the world around us. These are the things that make people want to share and donate. Be creative, inventive or clever, but get people to think about your cause in a way that they never have before.

7. Do: Be humble

You may not want to take credit for your actions. You’re probably a rather selfless person. Who else would go into a business not to make money? But it’s important to understand that everyone isn’t exactly like you. And that’s okay. Your job is simply to encourage people to do the right thing. Give them a little nudge in the right direction. Be positive and focus on the cause. Translation: this isn’t a space for you to pat yourself on the back or start fishing for compliments. Whenever relevant, build up other non-profits and charitable causes too. We’re all in this for the greater good, right?

8. Do: Make a consistent effort

Whether you’re running a large corporation or a small non-profit, social media requires time, attention and care. It’s not enough to set it and forget it (as we’ve learned above). Post consistently and interact with others on social media as much as possible.

9. Do: Ask for what you want

While no one would recommend begging for donations or volunteers, it is important that you remember why you’re doing this. Most non-profits don’t have any trouble asking for things for other people (fosters, clothing or food) but when it comes time to ask for monetary donations, they get shy. It’s okay to ask for these things; just don’t do it every day. Try to sprinkle requests for monetary donations in sparingly.

10. Do: Be creative

The more people see your posts, the more likely they are to respond. If you want to reach a larger audience, you may have to work for it a bit. Think about the types of things that you share on social media. Think about the things you see your friends sharing. How can you create something similar that is related to your non-profit?

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