social media

Four ways to improve your nonprofit marketing efforts

posted by
Johann Beishline
Director of Search Marketing

Marketing doesn't have to be painful for nonprofit organizations with limited resources. Here are four ways nonprofit organizations can improve their marketing efforts while also spending less money and less time on the issue:


Do Your Research


Know your audience. Who makes up your audience? Analyze your nonprofit organization using Facebook Insights data to understand your core audience and its wants and needs. Examine the data on individual posts to determine which status updates and which photos have been shared the most. Also take the time to understand your organization’s Google Analytics data to get a better idea about who is visiting your site. Make sure to use Google’s Social Value graph to learn more about the correlation between your nonprofit’s Facebook and Twitter traffic with your sales and donations.


Define your goals. Once you've figured out who your audience is, articulate what it is you want from your supporters. Do you want your supporters to buy your merchandise? Donate their time at volunteer events? Donate money to support your operations? Once you’ve figured out why you matter to your audience and what your goals are, use this information to develop your nonprofit organization’s marketing strategies.

It’s 2013: Where’s your nonprofit’s social media policy?

posted by
Colleen Dunbar,

Project Specialist,
ASU Lodestar Center

Should you change your nonprofit’s Facebook profile image to show support of a hot political issue? What do you do if someone comments with a racial slur on a photo of your volunteer? How do you react if you find your page to be the victim of the ever-dreaded troll?

As they say, “With any social media profile, comes great responsibility.” (Just kidding, no one really says that. But they should!)

If you have ever found yourself in one of these situations, then you know that making a wrong or inconsistent decision can have disastrous results. And those disastrous results are very, very public. Having a social media policy in place will help you answer these questions, and inform you or your social media manager on what to do in similar situations. And it’s extremely easy to create.

What’s in a social media policy?

Every nonprofit’s policy is going to be different, because every nonprofit has different needs, different audiences, different missions, and different campaign goals. But to give you an example of what a social media policy consists of, here’s a sample of the ASU Lodestar Center’s:

Eight marketing tools to effectively communicate your nonprofit’s message

posted by
Asher Elran,
Dynamic Search

What most people do not realize is that nonprofit organizations experience similar complications and obstacles that a businesses face. Whether it is a small group or a large nonprofit corporation, the struggle to get the marketing message out there for the public to respond to is a battle that is fought every step of the way. If you are involved in this ongoing struggle with your nonprofit organization, we have eight tools that can help your organization get its marketing message across loud and clear.

1. Decompress the marketing budget with WordPress

In addition to the everyday headaches of marketing your message to the public, nonprofits often also struggle with a much lower marketing allowance than the for-profit competition. Nonprofit organizations can use WordPress, an easy to use application, for blogging and websites, making telling your riveting story and engaging your supporter’s interest easier and with far less expense.

Sometimes nonprofit social media successes are solely in the execution

posted by
Anne Byrne,
ASU Lodestar Center

Question: I am starting a nonprofit organization, and I need to secure our 501(c)3 status. I don’t know how to fill Form 1023, the Application for Recognition of Exemption, from the IRS. Do I need an attorney to complete it? Can you help?

Questions about the application for 501(c)3 status or form 1023 are by far the most common I get in my role as a professional-in-residence at the ASU Lodestar Center. The instructions from the IRS are almost 40 pages and the form itself is 26 pages, so it is no wonder the task may feel overwhelming! Fortunately, there are resources available, and a clear perspective will help focus your efforts.

The power of social media for Hurricane Sandy

posted by
Trevor McCann
Chief Executive Officer
Rainbow SEO

With charity events, it all comes down to public awareness. Charity isn’t something that you “sell” but something that you spread to other likeminded individuals. Working in the internet marketing field I primarily work with selling ad space, improving company branding and exposure. However, when I had the unique opportunity to work with a local company on marketing a charity event; it was an enjoyable yet different experience.

The two companies we worked with were A Family Storage, which is a self-storage company, and Cool Box Portable Storage, which is a mobile storage company similar to PODS. Any donations that were dropped off at A Family Storage would then be moved in a Cool Box container up to Hurricane Sandy relief centers.

To market our event online, we decided to use the power of social media to spread awareness of our charity event, specifically Facebook. Facebook gives us a unique approach to targeting different demographics than you would be able to achieve with traditional internet advertising platforms such as Google Adwords or MSN Adcenter. Although we could target different demographics, we still paid the traditional per click basis that Adwords or Adcenter uses.

After deciding to use social media, we set up a campaign with a relatively small budget to test what kind of interaction we would receive from our ad. We first set up our campaign to geo-target our location which was specifically Tucson, based on the companies’ location. Next, thanks to Facebook’s unique platform, we were able to target who our ads were shown to contingent upon pages that users had “liked” or listed as interests. We chose to target users who had liked “Charity”, “Charity Events”, “Non-Profit”, “Hurricane Sandy Relief” and many similar variations. This helped to refine who our ads were sent out to and prevent unnecessary ad spending.

The social media for social good landscape

posted by
Logan Harper,

Community Manager
UNC School of Government

Social media, whether it be Facebook, Google+ or Twitter, thrives due to its ability to cultivate connections and promote interactions in real time, regardless of users’ location. Accessibility and connectivity are joint rulers of this digital world, transforming how we perceive and consume information. From celebrities’ tweets to multinational companies’ posts on Facebook, social media simultaneously allows individuals and various groups to promote themselves and their messages while creating a dialogue with interested followers — which is why it comes as no surprise that an increasing number of nonprofit organizations and governments are embracing social media and using it to communicate their messages to a wider audience.

In the United States, one major development in the utilization of social media for public outreach has been the State Department’s employment of technology in the field of diplomacy, also known as “21st-century statecraft.” As noted in the American Prospect, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton described statecraft in a speech she delivered to the Council of Foreign Relations back in 2009, saying, “We are working at the State Department to ensure that our government is using the most innovative technologies not only to speak and listen across borders, not only to keep technologies up and going, but to widen opportunities, especially for those who are too often left on the margins." Led by Clinton’s Senior Advisor for Innovation, Alec Ross, the relatively new approach has already been applied (successfully) in several scenarios. One of the most well-known examples of 21st-century statecraft occurred in June 2009 when Jared Cohen, former member of the State Department policy planning staff, asked Twitter to postpone scheduled maintenance during the Tehran election protests in order to allow protesters to continue to use the social media platform to communicate and organize.

Twenty-first-century statecraft is but one approach to using social media to advance a social cause. As the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill’s Social Media for Social Good infographic illustrates, several grassroots and nonprofit campaigns have effectively harnessed social media in the pursuit of their objectives. The infographic focuses on four initiatives — the response to the 2010 Haiti Earthquake, Charity: Water, Tweet Drive, and Twestival — and breaks down the campaigns’ success (how many people participated, how much money was raised, etc.). It also examines how the nature of donating and volunteering is changing in the age of social media. For example: At the beginning of 2010, the total amount of money raised via mobile donations was $1 million; after the Haiti earthquake in January, that amount grew to $50 million.

Online Video For Nonprofits

posted by
Patrice Sheldon
Freelance Public Relations 

A recent post by Isaac Kiehl highlighted social media, and in particular the use of online photos, as a means by which nonprofits can improve interaction with the community. Online video takes this interaction one step further.

A report by tech giant Cisco found that 51% of all consumer internet traffic in 2011 was video traffic. The figure is expected to rise to 54% by 2016, at which time video-on-demand traffic will have tripled.

A particular benefit of videos for nonprofits is that, unlike the written word, or even still photographs, video uses moving imagery and sound to convey a message that in text often appears dry and disassociated from the viewer. The visceral experience allows the viewer to be effectively immersed in what it is you are trying to convey. Content is king, and according to content marketer Joe Pulizzi, nonprofits are the easiest of all to develop a content marketing strategy for, because they can tell the best stories: “All they have to do is go to their customers and do a short video or tell a story in words or pictures about how that person’s life was affected, as well as a short bit about how the not-for-profit played a role. That’s it.”

How to Create Something Out of Nothing - Socially Speaking

posted by
Conni Ingallina

Founder and President
Management Solutions

"We want/you need a social media campaign—Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Google+... and... and... and..."

If you have worked with associations within the last 7 years, chances are you have heard this at some point or another in a strategic planning meeting—somewhere. In an age where everything is at your fingertips and people are tweeting about what they had for dinner and checking into their favorite places in a blink of an eye, it has become taboo for someone to admit they don’t use social media in some capacity or another.

However, depending on the association you work for, getting the group to join the 21st century is more like getting a root canal than holding puppies. The challenge is explaining to your board the benefits of having the organization use social media tools, but also wondering how you are going to get a fan base when your members aren’t connected. Essentially, how do you start a social media campaign when your members aren't able to support you, virtually?

Justifying the means—for the naysayers.

5 Ways to Land Your Dream Job Using Social Media

posted by
Ryan Avila,
Public Relations/SEO Specialist

Social media is useful for casual communication, but it can also be a tool for job seekers. By using social media to your advantage, you may even be able to land your dream job. Below are five strategies you can use to increase your chances of success.

1. Connect with the organizations that interest you.

If you are interested in working for a particular organization, follow that organization on Twitter, like it on Facebook and try to make a connection on LinkedIn. When you connect with the organization on multiple platforms, potential employers and members of the human resources department are more likely to notice you and remember your name. Monitoring the organization's social media profiles will also keep you up-to-date on any open positions within the organization.

2. Connect with the organization leaders.

Reaching out to an organization is a good start, but you should also try to connect with the organization's leaders. People in leadership positions may have the power to invite you to an interview, recommend you for a job or even hire you. Whenever possible, follow them on Twitter, become Facebook friends and make a connection on LinkedIn. Respond to their posts, monitor their profiles for signs of a job lead and do your best to build on-going, amicable relationships with each connection.

Lights, Camera, Nonprofit Social Media Engagement!

posted by
Isaac Kiehl,
ICAN, Positive Programs for Youth, 

Communications Coordinator

One of the primary gauges we use for digital communications is post reach and engagement, including number of views and amount of individuals who have interacted with a “like” or comment. As a nonprofit, your message is most likely tailored toward a specific cause, whether it’s through news, links, or photos.

Your ultimate breadwinner for social media engagement is photos. People LOVE photos and that’s the way it has always been. Do you remember being younger and loving books packed full of photos? The same rule applies with social media! Always tell/share your story with a photo, the more original the better.

If you have a news update or link, take or find a photo that fits with your nonprofit’s mission and enhances the update. This increases the likelihood of people reading your post. Also, get creative and show the “behind the scenes” of your organization. People respond well to seeing staff and activities going on at an organization and it increases transparency. As a smaller organization, we regularly showcase employees who are celebrating birthdays and anniversaries on social media which, in turn, increases employee appreciation.