Running a non-profit is hard work! I have seen large non-profits with many paid employees running newsletters, social media campaigns and more; and small non-profits with no employees and one person trying to do it all. However, the one thing many of these non-profits have in common is a tight budget and a desire to make a larger impact. There are several free tools that can help non-profits spread the word about their mission and hopefully increase their impact.
There are many free blogging sites including WordPress and Blogger and some website hosts offer a blog feature that is easy to add to an existing site. Blogs are a great way to share stories about your volunteers, clients and events. In addition, you can offer guest posting opportunities to other bloggers or business owners who have stories relevant to your mission. If your non-profit does not have a blog, you can reach out to other bloggers to ask if you can write a guest post about your organization.
In recent years, Facebook has built up their pages to work well for organizations. Facebook allows others to “like” you and interact as well. When you set up a page for your organization, a few good guidelines to follow are:
- Fill in the “About” page with your mission, website and contact information.
- Have at least two admins assigned to your page.
- Post at least once per week (or once a day if you are able to).
- Post a variety of things related to your organization; for example, quotes, upcoming events, recaps of recent events, statistics, photos and more.
- Respond to questions and comments from your followers and delete spam posts on your page.
Twitter is similar to Facebook, except each post is limited to 140 characters. You can post similar things that you do on Facebook (some even link their Facebook and Twitter accounts). Here are a few guidelines for Twitter:
- Include your website in your profile.
- Register the account using an organization email address (not a specific volunteer’s email address) and store the account user name and password with other important organization files.
- Interact with other users using @UserName to “mention” them. Some reasons to use mentions include thanking volunteers and networking with other non-profits.
- Learn about and utilize #hashtags.
Pinterest is one of the newer social media platforms. This site allows you to create an online “pinboard” or bulletin board. Common boards include quotes, recipes, infographics and photos relevant to your cause. It is best if each pin links to a website, but you can just upload images without adding a link. Use Pinterest to drive visitors to your website or blog by pinning those pages to your boards.
YouTube is not just for videos about silly pets and funny kids, it is a great way to share your organization’s mission. Create a “channel” for your organization and post original content. Some video ideas include volunteer activities, special events, showing the impact of your work and graphical representations of statistics related to your cause. You can then promote a posted video on Facebook and Twitter to spread your message.
Social Media Policy or Guidelines
If your organization has several people involved on social media, it is important to have some guidelines to follow for employees and volunteers. These guidelines should help guide what can and cannot be posted as well as protect your organization’s brand online. Do an Internet search for “Social Media Guidelines for Nonprofits” to find templates and tools to help you draft guidelines for your organization.
This is just a quick start to inspire your organization to utilize some free tools to spread the word about your mission. Connect with other non-profits to see how they use social media and evolve your online presence as you learn more. If you are a non-profit already using social media, share your tips and tricks in the comments below.