(this is an excerpt from Randy Vaughn’s guest article at the Orange Leap “Rise and Shine” blog)

Nonprofits are not unlike small businesses in trying to optimize their presence on social media, especially on giants like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Pinterest.  The former, currently with over 1 billion users worldwide, remains a mysterious laboratory where organizations make repeated marketing mistakes in efforts to tap into the potential viral power these social networks possess.  Notably, many of the communication blunders made on social media are the same ones made offline, too.


This sounds like a no-brainer, but you’ve got to keep this one simple, too.  Identify your ideal audience with whom you want to join in expanding your cause.  Determine their behavioral patterns for charitable giving and volunteerism.  Segment your audience (i.e., young audience with no kids, empty nesters, male-female, etc.) and know what they love, what fuels their passion and how they communicate.


Drive your nonprofit message to these specific profiles with resonating messages that match their passions.  Connect via the channels where they communicate.  No one may see that new photo gallery you put up on your website if you don’t tell them on Twitter about it, or on Facebook or through email marketing.   Consider the age-old question, “If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?“  Apply that and ask, “if I launch a small fundraising campaign targeting millennials but only put it on my website, will it have any impact whatsoever?”  You may find that while it is necessary to have it on your nonprofit website, it may be equally (or more) important to build the campaign around Twitter or your Facebook page, depending on the audience you are wanting to reach.


You are passionately “competing” with other nonprofits for donor dollars.  While maybe not as cut-throat as in the business world, if your nonprofit provides an indistinguishable service in a cause that similarly can be performed through any number of other nonprofits (i.e., how many dozens of nonprofits are building water wells in Africa – they are everywhere), a donor has no motivation or urgency to donate to you as opposed to the other guys.  Showcase the unique way you do this, highlight the unmatched zeal or the extraordinary people behind the organization, and prove to each donor that their dollar could not be better spent anywhere else.


With each campaign, with each piece of marketing content, and with every emotional touch point, tell the audience what you want them to do.  Donations are often made with emotion (particularly small ones), so tell me where to text my donation, where to click to donate or how to sign up to volunteer.  If you post a video on Facebook, use overlaying annotations or on-screen text to drive me to the action step.  Don’t tell me to vaguely “visit our website for more information” because I will likely “do it later” (aka, “never”) or simply surf around yet never making a commitment. With the right stories and clear call-to-action, your message will compel me to take action.