Six Ways Non-Profits Can Use Social Media to Grow

Non-profits can use social media to engage their audience, raise funds and handle internal and external communication. Non-profit consultant Alex Steed explains how.

Non-profits have the same opportunities as businesses when it comes to using social media, but they do have some unique challenges. They often have a group of volunteers who are spread out over a wide geographic area, no steady stream of income, and a wide variety of stake holders to whom they are responsible.


I recently sat down with Alex Steed who has a strong background in both social media and working with non-profits to talk about how non-profits can use social media to get their message out there. Below are some of the highlights from our conversation:

  • Don’t get too sexy too fast. “A lot of the people who are substantially engaged in these fields are still populations that are largely intimidated by the technology.” By using simple solutions, such as wikis or Google Cal, you can get quicker buy-in.
  • Use social media to tell your story, especially the good work you’re doing. “Really focus on telling a positive, interesting, resonant, and dynamic story about [yourself]. [That way] people don’t get “donor fatigue” and “ask fatigue” and don’t want to avoid you every time they see you.
  • Use location based apps like Foursquare or Gowalla to promote volunteer opportunities. “If we’re doing something here on this day in Portland, where we’re clearing a trail, it might be interesting to use a location-based technology to let people know what sort of opportunities exist within the non-profit or charity.” By tying your Foursquare into Twitter or Facebook and your message will even go farther.
  • Use wikis to keep stakeholders up-to-date and for internal communications, especially for decentralized volunteers. “I’ve been a big fan of something as simple, easy, interesting and straightforward as PBworks to help non-profits figure out how to stay in touch with each other and not just how to stay in touch with the outside of the organization.”
  • Online video featuring your participants can help your message go viral. “Video itself is inherently viral, not in the national viral or global viral phenomenon way, but in that if you have a video and you’re tagging people, people still love to be featured somewhere. They still love to be featured talking about things. If you tag someone in a video, and then you put it up online, they’re sharing that around and they’re basically helping you evangelize for the organization.”
  • Share social media ROI with board members to show engagement and reach. “Board members are actively viewing the organization’s social media presence in order to maintain an understanding as to how many people are engaged. There are monthly board meetings and there are board reports, and that is the end of the reporting process.”

For more information and ideas on how your non-profit can use social media to grow, be sure to check out the entire interview with Alex Steed at the flyte blog.

You can follow Rich Brooks on Twitter for a plethora of tweets about web marketing, entrepreneurship and zombie defence skills.


About the author

Rich Brooks is founder and president of flyte new media (, a Web design and Internet marketing firm in Portland, Maine. His monthly flyte log email newsletter and company blog ( focus on Web marketing topics such as search engine optimization, blogs, social media, email marketing, and building Web sites that sell


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