Social Media for Non-Profit Organizations

This is a guest post by Forest Whaling. If you would like Forrest to write for your blog, please leave your request in the comments or visit MyBlogGuest (username Fgump910).

It is no secret that the web’s new social media outlets are a wonderful way to reach a large audience and get them involved. After having the privilege of working with the CO based youth outreach program SOS Outreach, I have come to realize the power of social media and its ability to draw traffic and conversions. If you work with a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, you have many unique opportunities available to you in the social sphere as well. In this post, I would like to outline a few of these opportunities we took advantage of and how they may benefit you as well.


YouTube offers certified non-profits the opportunity to gain increased exposure through their Non-Profit Program. If you are accepted into the network (which is very simple if you are qualified) you will receive the following benefits:

  • Premium Branding Capabilities, including the option to upload your own custom profile designs.
  • An increased uploading capacity.
  • The option to place a Google Checkout “Donate” button on your pages to drive fundraising.
  • A listing on the Nonprofit channels and the Nonprofit videos pages.
  • The ability to add a call to action overlay (a semi-transparent pop-up that links viewers to your website).
  • Posting a video opportunity on the YouTube Video Volunteers platform to find a skilled YouTube user to create a video for your cause.


Having a Facebook profile is an essential part of an effective social media strategy. If your organization has video contests, podcasts, interviews, or documents, Facebook provides an easy way for you to upload these types of media to your page and connect with your fans. It is also integrated with Twitter, blogs, Flickr and other networks. It helps organizations collaborate, connect easily, and increase their network of volunteer and supporters.

Facebook Pages

The first thing we recommend is setting up a Facebook Fan Page. These new Facebook Pages were launched in March of 2009 and designed to inspire more action and participation from fans. They look more like a traditional user’s profile, but are more customizable and allow for several admins to add content. Another exciting feature is Facebook Insights. Facebook Insights is a proprietary tracking system that allows you to view your user interaction over time. You can see what is generating discussion, what people are clicking on, and other useful data that will help you assess what your community really wants.

To start your Facebook Page, follow these 5 easy steps (make sure that you choose “non-profit” under the “Brand or Product” option). Once you have activated your profile, it is time to set it up for maximum user interaction.


The biggest mistake people often make when using Twitter is to view it as an avenue to “push” their message out. Due to the nature of twitter, this will not generate results and it will just make you look spammy. This isn’t to say that pushing a message is wrong, but it is useless if nobody is there to hear it. That is why you need to first build loyal followers who believe you are authentic.

Twitter is a portal to starting two-way conversations. Search for people or organizations interested in your cause and follow them. Oftentimes they will follow you back in-turn. Once you are following each other, these conversations become possible (you can only send direct messages to people who also follow you). Listen to what people and organizations are saying and respond if you think it is appropriate. Compliment other organizations, retweet their stories, and answer their questions. This engagement will earn you more followers, as these followers will most likely return the favor in helping spread your message through retweets.

Don’t spend all day tweeting everything that comes to your head. People follow you because they want good content from your organization on subjects relevant to your mission. Make sure your tweets provide value and are re-weetable. Don’t send more than a few out per day. As this poll shows, people think 1-5 tweets a day is perfectly sufficient.

More Social Media Opportunities for Non-Profits

Have you worked with a non-profit organization? Can you think of other ways non-profit organizations can benefit from social media?

StudioPress Premium WordPress Themes     Synthesis Managed WordPress Hosting


  1. says

    Great advice, Forrest, particularly on using Twitter. What most users fail to recognize is that it is truly a great tool for two way discussion. Those people who use it for the sole purpose of “pushing” their message, tend to give up rather quickly, due to the low ROI for their efforts. Nice post!

  2. says

    Yes, the social media is really good in driving the traffic. I use Twitter on spreading my cancer awareness blog to my followers. I also put up the link on Facebook so that my friends can read my article. However, i never use Youtube to spread the word. You have given me a new idea. Thanks a lot!:)
    .-= New from KS Chen @ Google Adsense Tips Use Google Adwords Keyword Tool for Keyword Research =-.

  3. says

    I also believe in the power of social media when it comes to raising our traffic and getting the word out on thousands or even millions of people out there. If we really know how we could invite other people and keep them interested on things that we are sharing on them through social media sites, we will be more successful.
    .-= New from Janice@chiropractic social media How to Build a List with Video Marketing =-.

  4. says

    I have had a facebook for a long time but it was just recently that I began using it again actively. I also created a fan page and as of now is on the building and growing process. I know i have yet more to learn regarding using facebook to its full potential and advantage. It is my first time to hear about facebook insight. Will definitely be giving it a try. Thanks for sharing.
    .-= New from Andrew@BloggingGuide Blogging Guide: Blogger tips 1 – 4 (video) =-.

  5. says

    Social media is a really nice way to generate traffic. And YouTube is the best (in our opinion) means to do it. Maybe this is because one has to invest some time and efforts in making a video, so one naturally tends to make a video which is REALLY interesting for people. It’s much easier to “tweet” something, so more often than not one “tweets” rather “something about nothing” (at the same time – unfortunatlly!! – spamming the internet).
    .-= New from Lena & Dima@How To Build A Website How To Make A Website Into A Profile In Courage =-.

  6. says

    Yes some nice advice. What I have noticed on twitter that if we actively use twitter like retweeting some great staff, conversing with other twitter users can increase twitter followers and also traffic.

    Well I am less active on facebook.
    .-= New from chandan@work at home jobs 10 Work from Home Money Makers =-.

  7. says

    Thanks for highlighting the non-profit channel on YouTube. I also was not aware of this! It does seem to provide some real benefits in allowing viewers to search specifically for non-profit related content. The criteria is slightly restrictive however in excluding religious, political and lobbying organisations…

    I think you are totally right that organisations really need to be careful of falling into the spam trap when it comes to their use of facebook and twitter especially. This is where it becomes vital for orgs to develop a strategic social media plan and have dedicated staff to maintain these channels where possible. Social media can no longer be looked upon as an extra task for existing members of staff who are already overloaded with work. I think it takes a lot of time to use these channels to maximum benefit.
    .-= New from Emma Smith Social Media Envoy as New ‘Online Celebrity’ Endorsement =-.

  8. says

    I think social media is REALLY overestimated when it comes to regular marketing, but for nonprofit organizations it must be great. People usually have some kind of relation to one or more nonprofits, and when joining for example Red Cross` group on Facebook you do it because you are interested, not because you wanna buy something; furthermore, you probably also know that they do not want to sell you anything just because you join their group, even though you DO have the possibility to donate money if you feel like. And the chance of people doing that is a lot bigger if the payment info is right in front of them on Facebook rather than the person having to Google his or her way to the payment page.
    .-= New from Roger@Bensinkort Hvordan finne det beste bensinkortet? =-.

  9. says

    I just wanted to say that I am very pleased that people found this article useful, that really means a lot to me. The more I am exploring the non-profit space, the more I realize that non-profits are not aware of the advantages they have, especially in social media.

    In fact, my company is hosting a seminar for non-profits, which explores Social media, SEO, and PPC opportunities available to non-profits. The event filled within 2 weeks! Just glad we can help out.

    If anybody has any questions, or is interested in learning more about the PPC and SEO opportunities available, leave a comment (or visit my site). I’d love to help.
    .-= New from Forrest WhalingMicrosoft partners with Location3 for Silverlight Analytics Framework =-.

  10. says

    Hi, I am from Malaysia. Facebook and Twitter are becoming increasingly popular marketing tools for corporate companies in my country but hardly being used by non-profit organizations here. I wonder if there is a guide book to teach non-profit organizations how to leverage social media websites to raise funds. I will bookmark this page to revisit again just in case someone answer my question.

  11. says

    One time my friend told me that he had a facebook fan page for organization and he couldn’t send message to the members. I suggested him to make facebook group instead. Can you compare which one is better (related with the functionality of messaging) for non-profit org) between Page and Group of Facebook?
    Danny just posted Geld Verdienen Leicht Gemacht

  12. says

    Well, these websites are really doing their job in a perfect way. They are improving their quality and accessibility with the time and working for non-profit organization is something really heart touching. Thumbs Up for all these!
    Alex just posted SAMAA TV Channel

  13. says

    I was becoming a volunteer called Indonesia International Workcamp, several medias like Facebook and Youtube are used frequently because the target audience are teenagers who want to be a volunteer and seems like it work well.

  14. says

    Thanks for sharing. The problem is many organizations want the quick fix instead of gaining trust and developing a business relationship aka incubation. Expecting overnight results is like getting married after one date . . . .you get it.