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Social Media for Non-profits
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Social Media for Non-profits: How to Build a Winning Strategy

Updated on August 4, 2021
7 minute read

For non-profit organizations, social media is an essential tool for driving community engagement and brand awareness.

Published August 4, 2021

For non-profit organizations, social media is an essential tool for driving community engagement and brand awareness.

According to a 2019 report from the YMCA, 33% of young people (aged 18–38) show support for the causes they care about by sharing them on social media.

But with so many different platforms and features, it can be hard to know where to focus your energy for the best results.

To help make it easier, we’re sharing how to build a successful social media strategy for non-profits.

How to Use Social Media for Your Non-profit: A Step-by-step Guide

Whether you want to create your very first social account or audit your existing content, these steps will get you on the right track:

  1. Define Your Organization’s Objectives and Set Social Goals

  2. Determine Your Target Audience

  3. Build Your Content Strategy

  4. Plan and Schedule Your Content

  5. Track and Measure Your Results

Step #1: Define Your Organization’s Social Media Goals

The first step in your non-profit’s social media marketing journey is to define your goals.

To start, spend time answering the following question: What do you want your social media content to accomplish?

As a non-profit, your goals could include any (or all) of the following:

  1. Build greater brand awareness

  2. Educate people about your cause and mission

  3. Raise funds from new and existing donors

  4. Engage your existing supporters

  5. Increase your reach by attracting new audiences

  6. Inspire other (non-monetary) actions such as volunteer sign-ups

The Innocence Project — an organization committed to exonerating the wrongly convicted — for example, uses Facebook to encourage donations.

Keep in mind that you should be setting “SMART” goals:

S – Specific

M – Measurable

A – Achievable

R – Relevant

T – Time-bound

If you follow this framework while setting your goals, it will be easier to track your progress and measure your success.

For a non-profit, your SMART social media goals might be to raise $5,000 from Instagram donors by the end of the year or drive recruit sign-ups by 10% by the end of Q3, for instance.

ICYMI: Later offers a 50% discount on annual and monthly subscription payments for qualified non-profit organizations. Find out more here.

Step #2: Determine Your Target Audience

The potential audience for a non-profit on social media is massive — take a look at the stats:

But not everyone will resonate with your mission, so before you start posting, you need to determine your target audience (aka the group of people most likely to support you).

Where are your supporters located? How old are they, on average? What interests or values do they have in common?

Defining your audience will enable you to target them more effectively with content tailored to their interests.

Take The Trevor Project, for example. This organization, which provides crisis counseling to queer youth, has a well-known and well-defined audience: LGBTQ+ kids and young adults.

If you scroll through their social media pages, it’s clear their content has been designed to appeal to that community.

The Tory Burch Foundation, on the other hand, is focused on empowering women entrepreneurs, so their content is written for an older, business-focused audience.

TIP: Leverage what you know about your current supporters (their interests, demographics, etc.) to help define your target audience on social media. There’s usually an overlap between the two.

Step #3: Build Your Content Strategy

With your non-profit’s social media goals and target audience defined, it’s time to build your content strategy.

First, you’ll need to identify the best social media channels for your organization.

Instead of spreading yourself thin by trying to establish a presence on every social network, start by choosing one or two key platforms to focus on.

For instance, if you’re primarily targeting Gen Z, you may want to prioritize TikTok and Instagram. But if your target audience is new moms, you’ll probably find more success on Facebook and Pinterest.

Take the Malala Fund for example.

While present on pretty much every social network, they put the majority of their focus on TikTok and Instagram to engage with adolescent girls and young women.

Step #4: Plan and Schedule Your Content

Once you know which social networks to focus on, you’re ready to start planning your content.

To keep your posts organized, you can create a digital content calendar that outlines what you’re going to post and when — and plan a few weeks (or even months) in advance.

While putting your calendar together, keep the following best practices in mind:

**1. Share Stories About People


Take your social media followers behind the scenes of your non-profit by introducing them to your team, major donors, and the communities your organization supports.

**2. Prioritize Visual Content


Studies show that visual content far out-performs text-only content on social media. People are 3x more likely to engage with Tweets that include visuals, and videos out-perform static images on most social media platforms.

**3. Create Easy-to-share, Educational Content


As a non-profit, you’re considered a subject matter expert in your industry.

Take advantage of that by using your expert status to share valuable, trustworthy, educational content.

Consider creating carousel posts on Instagram or infographics — they’re visually appealing and a more digestible way to share information.

**4. Encourage Engagement With Clear Calls-to-action (CTAs)


Always include clear CTAs to let followers know how to support your cause.

Ocean conservation non-profit, Oceana not only directly asks followers to “TAKE ACTION,” but they also drive clicks to a webpage with a petition site.

5. Consider Partnering With Like-minded Creators and Brands

One of the most effective ways to boost your reach on any social network is to partner with people who share your values.

By working with influencers or creators, you can leverage their audience to increase awareness of your cause and grow your following.

New to the world of influencer marketing? Discover everything you need to execute your first collaboration in this blog post: The Ultimate Guide to Influencer Marketing

Step #5: Track and Measure Your Results

To determine what content works best for your non-profit on social media, it’s always worth experimenting and monitoring how well different types of posts perform.

If you’ve created a “business: non-profit” account (available on every social network) you’ll be able to access Instagram Analytics to learn more about your posts’ performance.

You can learn more about who your audience is, what times of day they’re active online, and what type of content they engage with most often.

You can also use your Later’s Instagram Analytics feature for an easy-to-understand, visual overview of your social posts’ performance.

Social media marketing can be a game-changer for non-profits. It’s a powerful tool to help you achieve your goals and reach all-new audiences.

But building out a social media plan requires trial and error, so be patient, test out new content, and refine your social strategy when necessary.

You’ll be a social media pro in no time!

Want to learn more about social media for non-profits? Subscribe to Later’s weekly newsletter for all the latest social media news and strategies!

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