This week I’ve been thinking a lot about nonprofits in the digital space, particularly in light of the fact that I’m preparing to speak to representatives from nonprofit organizations this weekend.
Social media is predicated upon the concept of sharing and word of mouth: we share things that we hope others will share. But all too often, we share things in a random way, without really thinking it through. I find that many nonprofits, and small businesses, share without a plan; a strategy. They just share. And, even more often, what they share tends to be rather narrow, focusing on just one or two things.
Sit down and take a look at what you’re sharing on behalf of your nonprofit organization. What types of things are you sharing, and how would you feel about your organization if you were looking from the outside in?
Here are 7 things your nonprofit should be sharing via various social media channels:
No matter what you do and share, you should always share stories. These might be the stories of your organization, the stories of your clients, the stories of your work, the stories of your volunteers, or even the stories of your employees. Everything you share should be a story, or part of a story, that is connected to your greater story, and perhaps even the larger story of your community. People remember stories, and they are easier to pass along than just mere facts.
Share the Need
This is the “Why” of your organization. Why does it exist? I’m actually surprised at how many nonprofits don’t do a good job of articulating why they exist in the first place. Sharing the need might include sharing facts and statistics, but that’s not enough. Those facts need to be shared within the context of a story. It’s one thing to know that there are five-million people who suffer from a disease nationally, or even 3,000 who suffer from it locally, but another thing to illustrate this by sharing the story of one of those people, and how it affects them and their family. Don’t just spit out numbers. We have become numb to large numbers and we need to see the need on a more personal level.
These are your successes. How are you bringing about change with your efforts? How are you meeting the need you’ve already shared? Perhaps this is working to cure a disease or simply make life better for someone. Whether it involves people, your community, animals, or whatever, people need to see change. If they are going to invest in your nonprofit with some sort of donation, they need to know that you are actually doing what you set out to do. They want to know that their donations are making a difference, and are a part of bringing about change and solving a problem.
Share the Opportunities
Let your audience know how they can help. If you need money, share it. If you need donated goods, let us know. If you need more volunteers, either long term or short term, voice that need. And be as specific as possible, while again, sharing these opportunities within the context of stories and change.
Share Images and Video
Words are great, but we’re a distracted bunch here on the internet. Pictures, infographics, and videos can all be a great way of telling your story in different ways. Don’t just feed my text with numbers, show me people whose needs are being met by your work. Show me how you are making a difference. With video, people can tell their own stories in their own words. It makes it all much more personal.
Share your Vision
This goes back a bit to sharing the need, but goes a little further. What is your vision? What do you hope to accomplish? Not just the “why,” but the “how.” How are you going to make change? How will the world, or at least your community, be a better place because of the work you do? What are your goals, both short term and long term? These are all important questions that your audience wants to know.
Share your Heart
This is probably the most important one, but let your passion show through. Let us know why you feel so deeply about this need, and why it is important to you. Nonprofits often come across as rather detached and clinical. Let your voice and heart shine through. If it doesn’t sound like you believe in, and are invested in, your cause, then when should we believe in it?
In fact, the best shares will probably include more than one, or perhaps all, of these. Be more intentional about what you share online. Have a strategy. Think carefully about how it all fits within that overall strategy, that includes not only all of your online properties and social networks, but also your offline communications.
How and what are you sharing on your nonprofit social media properties?
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