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Social Media for Nonprofits-DC Conference Recap

(Photo taken at the SM4NP-DC conference; uploaded to GuideStar’s Instagram.)

The following is a post by Diana Hand, GuideStar’s senior marketing manager.

On October 5 a few of my colleagues and I attended the Social Media for Nonprofits conference in DC. It takes place yearly in cities across the US, Canada, and in New Delhi and is a great way to learn tips to easily integrate into your organization’s social media presence and network with nonprofits in your area. The program included speakers engaged in philanthropy from Facebook, LinkedIn, Microsoft, KIMBIA, Blackbaud and more with different topics on leveraging your brand through social media. Although the takeaways for engaging with social media were quite possibly endless, here are a few that I thought to be particularly insightful:

  • Be fearless. I remember when I just started using social media on behalf of an organization and I was so scared that I would mess up or the brand would be thought upon poorly because of something I could potentially mess up. Honestly, there isn’t time to be scared anymore. As the narrator of the documentary KONY says, there are more people now on Facebook than there were on the planet 200 years ago. Information is now, and technology the form of communication, so we have to take advantage of the pros and cons that come with it. Social media is becoming more powerful each and every day. All you can do is learn from your communications and your mistakes. If you make a mistake, ask yourself what didn’t work and why. It’s always good to know how to make something better for your next fundraising campaign and there are usually at least a handful of takeaways to improve your campaigns.
  • Reach beyond your bubble. Some of your biggest resources are people doing the same job at different organizations. Leverage these contacts and see how you can help each other. Also, look outside the sector for tools, resources, and apps that may help you do your job. My go-to resource for the latest and greatest in digital marketing is Mashable. I use ideas from different campaigns and find ways to integrate them into our current marketing tactics.
  • Let urgency conquer fear. Social media is constantly changing, and there are new platforms that may or may not be the new Facebook. When Pinterest and Instagram first became popular, I was interested as to how we were going to approach these platforms. Being a data company, how were we to turn our numbers into a picture? On Instagram, we are just dabbling in showing faces behind our company and better demonstrating who we are as a company. On Pinterest, we dabbled a bit at first by showing the people behind the data, who our company is, where we are located, and what the employees at GuideStar have been up to. We then expanded to focus on particular nonprofit cause areas, infographics of all kinds, and even special pin boards to celebrate holidays or special occasions. There is a way almost all organizations can have a presence on these platforms, you just need to be creative and think outside the box of how you want to represent yourself in that particular medium.
  • Keep your brand’s voice fresh. Be professional at all times, but at the same time be compassionate. You need to create a voice for your brand but don’t make it strictly news speak. Do you need to have one or many people as your brand’s social media voice? Sometimes having multiple voices helps bring in different perspectives and keeps content fresh.

During the course of the conference we were able to live tweet some great takeaways and share our challenges. I’d love to hear from you: What is your greatest social media challenge? If you could make a change tomorrow what would it be?

Two Comments

Thank you for the recap. If I could make a change tomorrow, The Claus Academy would be a blog, not a website. Our website is horrible. All it contains is information, boring information. I want a lively site where students can interact with the public and vice versa; where videos and pictures can be posted. The Claus Academy is a vibrant place with clients making amazing changes in their lives.

So, what’s holding me back? I do not know how to set this up. Is there a place I can go to that will guide me step by step through this process? Also, as a non profit, we have no money. Free resources are the best for us.

Thank you for listening!


  • Lindsay Nichols

    Thanks for your comment Barb. Some immediate ideas that come to mind that would need little to no budget are taking interaction off your site and onto your social media channels for students to engage on those platforms. If you are just getting started on social media, I’d look to Facebook and Twitter first. There you can share videos, pictures, and the latest news on your nonprofit. If you want to take it one step further, you can share photos on platforms like Pinterest, Instagram, and Flickr. Perhaps choose one or two platforms, get comfortable with them first, and promote links to these channels on your site as well as your other promotional materials so your students can get engaged and visually see what is going on at The Claus Academy. The great part of social media is that participation in most is free, and it’s a great way to connect with supporters outside of your website.

    I’d suggest checking out these other articles from my colleagues for some social media inspiration! Social Media – Try It, You Might Like It Follow-up to 10 Common Mistakes Nonprofits Make in Social Media Webinar

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