social media

The Nonprofits That Rule Social Media & The Web

posted by
Craig Van Korlaar, CNP,
Consultant and Project Manager
Create Etc.

A while back, you might remember seeing a beautiful infographic about the social media practices of the top 50 nonprofits. When I first came across it, I was really excited. Upon closer inspection, I noticed that these were not ranked in terms of social media use, but rather based on net income. This is absolutely a valuable metric, but I was curious how this data might vary if the list was based on organizations with the strongest social media presence...the ones we stand to learn the most from.

When I could not find up to date lists containing this type of information, I figured the first step would be to gather it myself. Here is a taste of five different lists I have built over the past few months. For a legend explaining how the rankings are computed, scroll down past the lists.

Top 10 Organizations in Terms of Facebook Likes

  1. Invisible Children (Shot from 26th to 1st in under 2 weeks after release of the Kony 2012 video)
  2. National Public Radio
  3. WikiLeaks
  4. TEDTalks
  5. United States Olympic Committee
  7. Livestrong
  8. PETA
  9. (RED)
  10. Humane Society of the United States

View all 50 top nonprofits on Facebook (including logos & like buttons)  

The Nonprofit Publisher’s Perfect Storm



posted by
Ryan Johnson

Vice President, 
Publishing and Community
 for WorldatWork

I really hesitate to use the phrase “perfect storm” here, because it has become so over-used since the movie of the same name was released more than a decade ago. Nonetheless, I think it is descriptive for what nonprofit publishers, like me, have experienced recently. But I’m a first time blogger here, so before I invoke that well-worn (but apt!) cliché, I think some context is in order.

My job title indicates that I am responsible for publishing and community at a Scottsdale-headquartered nonprofit profession association. In case you haven’t heard of WorldatWork, we have more than 20,000 members and annual revenues of around $20 million. Although, we serve members around the world, our average member works in the human resources department of a large company (5,000+ employees) in North America. My guess is that we are larger than the average Arizona nonprofit, in both employees and revenue, but if part of your organizational mission is to deliver information, content or education, this story may resonate.

Social Media Marketing for NPOs: Give Your Organization a Voice


posted by
 Carly Rowe,
Social Media Specialist

In January of this year, nonprofit organization Invisible Children released “Kony 2012,” a video about Joseph Kony. In less than 2 months, the YouTube video has gained over 100 million views and educated millions about the crimes of the Lord’s Resistance Army in Uganda.

In March, over 2 million people signed an online petition asking the city of Sanford, Florida to investigate the death of 17 year-old Trayvon Martin. Using Facebook and Twitter, signers have shared this petition with their followers and friends.

We have entered an age where silence and misinformation are no longer acceptable, and supporters are eager to rally around causes.

Is your organization using social media, or are you still trying to figure it all out? The time to wait has come and gone. Now is the time to act and give your cause the voice it needs. Here are some helpful tips that will get you organized and help build a strong community online.

1. Plan, plan, plan. By planning ahead and creating a content schedule, you will save your nonprofit time and money. Sit down with your marketing team (which could be just you and another volunteer), and list out all of your ideas. From there create a list of blog topics. Decide how often you would like to post and begin to delegate the work. If you decide ahead of time when blog posts are due and when they will post, it will make it easier to create a routine that ensures regularly posted content.

Keep Your Tools Sharp, Even When They Are In the Shed

posted by 
Michelle Myers,

Project Specialist,
ASU Lodestar Center

In 2009, I graduated from ASU's Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication with a bachelor's degree in journalism, public relations emphasis, and took an internship in Australia. After a short period of time, that public relations internship turned into a full-time job. A few months later, I decided to quit the PR job in Australia to return home and back to a job in the service industry I had all through college. (Not the best idea I've ever had.)

In addition to a great experience, my time in Australia came with two great epiphanies: I did not like working in an office and I wanted to travel. These lessons, combined with the income and flexible schedule of my job, brought me to the decision that I was going to take a year off to travel and figure out what I wanted to do with my life. Well, as we all know, one year can turn into two very quickly; and, while I was able to get quite a bit of traveling under my belt, I was no closer to deciding where I wanted my life to take me.

Get Creative! with Nonprofit Social Media

posted by
Isaac Kiehl,
Communications Coordinator,

When starting out with social media as a nonprofit, it can be a tricky and confusing process. It’s not like the for-profit sector where you have a goal to gain customers through deals and offering products/services. It’s about your cause.  You now have supporters, donors, partners, and those directly affiliated with your organization to think about and cater to. Besides a website, the musts of nonprofit social media include a Facebook page and Twitter account. They provide an easy way for others to show their affiliation and support while being able to directly engage with the nonprofit. Your cause and organizational updates are able to become clearer and more regular through your messaging. I personally began employment at my first nonprofit, ICAN, a year ago, and this is how I’ve been able to make my social media mark on the brand.

The Facebook and Twitter pages had already been set up, but they were scarcely used. I re-evaluated the mission and audience of the organization and found a healthy mix.  As I began to post on a daily basis, I started including real-time photos and posts about events, donation thank you’s, and basic organization updates. Eventually, I began adding in “behind the scenes” posts about staff to make our brand include more than just the faces of those we serve, but also those who were providing service. Within a year, both the Facebook and Twitter followers more than doubled, and engagement increased almost 300%. I was surprised at how easy it was to post real-time happenings and how the engagement increased. When we switched from having our Facebook posts being automatically tweeted verbatim on Twitter to a tailored message for both platforms, Twitter engagement increased as well. It’s been well worth the extra 30 seconds to post a message twice, but customized for each.

Digital Communications: A Wise Investment

posted by
Abbie S. Fink,
Vice President /
General Manager
HMA Public Relations

Do you have a fan page? What’s the hashtag for that conference? Did you see that great blog post? Will you write a LinkedIn recommendation for me?

These phrases and others are becoming increasingly more common among marketing, development, and communications professionals at nonprofit organizations. And with the ongoing support for the value of digital communications strategies, they are sure to stay part of our business lingo for a long time to come.

Digital communications has found a permanent place within organizations. Those that embrace it, making it a part of their daily communications efforts, will find it a worthwhile and beneficial means to talk to and with your organization’s stakeholders.

When it comes to digital communications, it is about engagement and influence, not numbers. Yes, it is exciting when your Facebook fan page hits a major numbers milestone. Or you reach a couple thousand followers on Twitter. But in order for your Facebook or Twitter stream to impact your organization, those fans and followers need to act on the information you are sharing. It may be that a fan page of 500 engaged followers will be more beneficial to you than a fan page of 5,000 inactive or passive followers.

Digital communications is most successful when your content is being shared across other platforms. And content should not be all about you and your organization. Consider sharing information about successful programs in other states, sending kudos to other nonprofit executives in your community, and serving as a resource for other social service organizations. This mix of information about the community, as well as your organization, will make your social networking efforts a success.

Jungle of Trolls: Coping with Social Media Disasters, Controversies, and Blunders

posted by
Kayla L. McKinney,
Project Specialist
ASU Lodestar Center

A few weeks ago, we at the Center had a fiasco on our hands. What happened, you ask? We entered the wild, savage jungle of Internet Commentary.

Here at the Center, we're a calm bunch. We're extremely respectful of one another, and we get along like fuzzy critters in a Disney movie. Nothing particularly controversial happens, except when someone eats the last Reese's cup in the candy jar.

Pictured: Travis "Sweet Tooth" Butterfield

So, in June, when one of our blog posts sparked a heated discussion in the comments section, we were all caught off guard. The blogger, Katie Hawkes, had written this post encouraging our audience to be optimistic about volunteering. We've had a couple bloggers explore similar sentiments, too, including my fellow Lodestar staff member Laura E. Tan and Public Allies Arizona alumna Angela Soliz.

But not everyone agreed with Katie.

As the first negative comments rolled in, one of my coworkers told me he was concerned and believed we should delete them. I imagine he reacted like the majority of people would, probably even you. You want to defend your friends and coworkers (or, you know, at least the ones you like...). The best way to do that would be to make the problem disappear, right?

Getting the Most out of Facebook for Your Nonprofit Organization

posted by
Maria Rainier
Freelance Writer & Blogger
First in Education

Social media is a powerful marketing tool for businesses of all types, and it is especially useful for nonprofit organizations, which typically struggle more to reach a large audience on a tighter budget. Facebook is a leader in social media, with approximately 500 million users across various demographics. It's an especially valuable tool for nonprofits, since it's free and offers a large, accessible audience.

By using Facebook, nonprofits can connect with other organizations and reach supporters. They can raise money, recruit volunteers, or spread awareness about their cause. However, simply signing up for an account and posting some information about the organization is not enough to make Facebook an effective marketing tool. Here are a few tips for getting the most out of Facebook:

Create a Page, Not a Group

Research Friday: Social Media is all around us - How do we embrace the trend?

posted by
Robert Duea,
ASU Lodestar Center

Welcome to Research Friday! As part of a continuing weekly series, each Friday we invite a nonprofit expert from our academic faculty to highlight a research report or study and discuss how it can inform and improve day-to-day nonprofit practice. We welcome your comments and feedback.

If anyone ever once doubted the energy and organizing force of technology, rest assured they don't anymore. Social media, particularly, have proven to be powerful and exceedingly important, especially as we watch the uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt. I will long remember the images of so many people feverishly using their handhelds to discuss the death of Osama bin Laden in social media spaces. Within an hour (and with a huge helping hand from social media), thousands had mobilized and gathered all over the United States to celebrate, remember, and embrace. Clearly, participation is in, and passive observation is out.

Two weeks ago, I introduced readers to La Piana's "Convergence: How Five Trends Will Reshape the Social Sector."[1] In the report, the authors describe five trends that will dramatically alter how the social sector functions. In my previous post, I reviewed the first trend in "Convergence," which is "Demographic Shifts Redefine Participation." This week, I'll discuss the second trend, entitled "Technological Advances Abound.

"Convergence" makes the following assertion: "To have a credible voice in this [technologically advanced] environment, nonprofits need to empower everyone in their organization to be a spokesperson." The report emphasizes moving away from one stylized corporate message to a natural, multi-voiced approach to connecting with the public.

Creating, Building, and Sustaining Nonprofit Communities

posted by
Hannah Humphrey,

Public Allies Arizona Alumna /
Outreach Coordinator,


What does it mean to be a community organization? Nonprofit professionals use the word "community" a lot. We talk about serving the community, building community, and engaging community. But sometimes we forget that "the community" is not just an abstract demographic.

I'm lucky to live and work in downtown Chandler, a community with an active merchants' association and a city that is very interested in creating a sense of place. What I've learned from Chandler is that community is not a place — it's a practice. This community works because we know our neighbors, because we look out for each other, and because, sometimes, we care enough to argue with each other. I see community when the barber shop next door to my office holds packages that were delivered when we were out. I see community when business owners get up early to go to a meeting about parking restrictions. I see community when someone asks me for a recommendation, and I can say, "Sure, I know exactly who can help you. They're just down the street."

If you're looking for ways to find community, the best strategy I've seen is Asset Based Community Development (thanks Public Allies!), which uses the strengths that already exist in a community to effect positive change. You can click here to read more about the theory, or you can start exploring the resources near you with an asset map.