Photo by Amy Humphries via Unsplash
Photo by Amy Humphries via Unsplash

Most of us have been on the internet long enough to know that using social media for social change is a real thing – many of us followed movements like Occupy, Arab Spring, and Standing Rock in ways we never could have before the rise of social media, and we’ve been able to truly witness the work that nonprofits and social change organizations are doing in real-time. As well, we’ve been able to more easily support and hold each other accountable for the work we’re doing. 

And yes, while our newfound awareness of how much ill in this world really needs healing can be completely overwhelming at times, I firmly believe that since social media became a big part of our everyday lives, our connections to teachers, inspired thinkers, and activists, and thus our thinking and our ability to discourse, has evolved in many positive ways. While it’s still got its kinks (especially in the “organizing” realm), the ability to leverage social for acquiring real followers, for building teams and raising funds, and for education and solidarity, cannot be denied. It’s in your best interest to learn how to make use of it.

Doing it cheaply and effectively

Everyone knows you work for a nonprofit because you believe in its cause. Pretty much no one gets paid much at a nonprofit (and if you do, that’s fairly suspicious because hey – all that fundraising is supposed to feed starving children and clean up oceans, right?). Excepting that one fantastically rich philanthropist who wants me to do it all, most of my non-profit clients are coaching clients; I help them evaluate best practices and get set up and streamlined, and then through things like my blog and resource-packed newsletters, I offer plenty of free things to help people stay inspired, efficient and motivated.

Again though, it can be difficult when you’re one person, or a small group of people, who really need to stay focused on feeding children and keeping the oceans clean. As if non-profits aren’t already soliciting funds and volunteers, suddenly they’ve got to find someone with the time to develop and maintain a social following too – and that time and effort needs to see absolute return on investment or it’s useless. 

Social media can have a profound effect on your non-profit's reach if it's done right. #socialmediafornonprofits #socialchange Click To Tweet

Social media can have a profound effect on your non-profit’s reach if it’s done right, and there are a million and one resources online to help you do this cheaply and effectively. In this post I’ve filtered out a few of my most recent and easy-reading favorites, and also featured some examples of how tiny non-profits have made major leaps with social media.

11 Ways to Grow Your Nonprofit Social Media Followers – a guest post on Classy.org, a fundraising platform for social impact organizations, this is a basic outline on best practices for growing your following; at the end, however, is a superb and free download focused specifically on non-profits. You’ll need to sign up for their newsletter, but that’s how the “free download” game is played in this world – and on that note: you can build your email list by creating your own free download. Ten Easy Ways to Help Clean Up Our Oceans (even if you live in the Midwest)? Yeah, you can do that.

Social Media for Non-Profits: High-Impact Tips and the Best Free Tools – of course Buffer would offer information about this (I’m like, the biggest Buffer fan on the planet – seriously, this company can do no wrong). I can guarantee that the information you’ll find in this article is going to be eye-opening for anyone operating a non-profit and wondering why their social media efforts aren’t always generating donations. Buffer’s little-bitty monthly fee is worth its weight in gold.

Why and How Your Nonprofit Can Make Time for Social Media – written by Joe Waters of Selfishgiving.com – peep his blog for all kinds of pro tips on “cause marketing” – he’s an expert and I’ve learned a ton from all the information he provides.

45 Facebook Live Ideas For Nonprofits to Show Impact – obviously, Facebook Live has changed the game forever – from live animal rescue videos to sidewalk filming of police brutality, Facebook Live is probably one of the easiest and cheapest ways non-profits and social change groups have made amazing use of social media. Here are some tips on how to make best use of it. 

Still overwhelmed?

Take a breath. People have done it with nothing other than a computer and a crappy digital camera. For some good laughs and some real genius, check out some of the winners and finalists of the Shorty Awards’ Best in  Non-Profit for 2016 (and maybe get brave and go for it – you can still enter for 2017!). 

And probably the biggest non-profit social media rockstar right now is Charity:Water – no doubt if you’ve already been reading about this topic, you’ve encountered their name in nearly every current article out there about non-profits who’ve succeeded in leveraging social media for their cause. They’ve gotten so incredibly sophisticated since they started with that $0 advertising budget. Yes, indeed, they catch a lot of flack for how much money they now spend on advertising efforts, but here’s the thing: while Charity:Water is now this giant thing, $10 will go a long way on Facebook for your little non-profit, once you get some tactics down for using it wisely.

Finally, here’s a big fat case list of people and grassroots organizations who’ve managed to make change with their social media efforts. 

It can be done. You can do this. And so can I.

Social Media for Social Change
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