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Five Ways Nonprofits Can Transform Their Social Media ROI (Return on Investment)

May 10, 2010

For the last 4.5 years, I have been providing lots of little tips on how nonprofits can increase their ROI through my Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and MySpace Best Practices, but now that the vast majority of nonprofits utilize social media and have been for awhile, I think most of us are ready some more advanced strategies. My Top Five are below:

1. Learn basic HTML.

You need to know basic HTML to utilize the Static FBML App on Facebook, to correctly design your Twitter and MySpace profiles, your YouTube channel, and to create and maintain a blog that is visually appealing and professional. The ability to write simple code for website and image links really is the number one skill that can transform your social media campaigns. If you want to be able to add “Donate Now” buttons, e-Newsletter and text alert sign-up boxes, and/or call-to-action images to your social media profiles, you need to know HTML.

2. Launch a blog.

I launched this blog in September 2009. I was a reluctant blogger. I didn’t think the world needed another blogger. I was wrong. Blogging has turned out to be the missing piece in my social media campaigns. My search engine results have transformed. My fans, followers, and friends have soared. And my e-Newsletter list has grown faster in the last 8 months than it has in the previous four years combined. If your nonprofit utilizes social media, then blogging is essential.

3. Social media is going mobile. Be an early adopter.

When I first got on MySpace in February 2006, the early adopters were the Humane Society, Peta, ASPCA, Oxfam, To Write Love on Her Arms, and Invisible Children. These nonprofits now have huge communities on numerous social media sites and full-time staff to run their various social media campaigns. They have been featured in countless newspapers and magazines. TWLOHA won the #AmericaWants USA TODAY Twitter Charity Campaign and Invisible Children won the Chase Community Giving Challenge.

Now social media and the Web in general is going mobile. Tweet while on location. Launch innovative mobile campaigns using FourSquare. Create a mobile website and launch a text campaign linked to Twitter or Facebook. Now is the time for early adoption of the mobile Web. Be creative. Try something different. And then blog about it. Your nonprofit might then get the attention of the media and the blogosphere, or become the subject of case studies, webinars, and conference sessions. Trust me. It’s not as interesting after hundreds of other nonprofits have done it, nor as effective. The Web moves very fast now. You need a friendly Big Thinker who has a passion for social media to manage your profiles who can keep up and be willing (and empowered) to try new things.

4. Help your donors understand how Web 2.0 fundraising tools work.

It has taken 10 years for online giving to reach 5% of total giving in the United States. Donors were slow to trust the technology. The same is true with Web 2.0 fundraising. Most donors do not understand how it works or if it is safe. Create a page on your website that explains how Facebook Causes, Give a Tweet, Razoo,, etc. work and that donating on through these tools is safe and endorsed by your organization. In almost all cases of Web 2.0 fundraising, the donations are processed by Network for Good. Facebook, MySpace, and Twitter do not get access to the donor’s contact or credit card information. Let your donors know that. Make it clear that you do receive the donations made on these sites and that they are put good use.

5. Be in the know about what is coming next.

Subscribe to Read Write Web, SmartBrief, TechCrunch and Mashable. You can’t just read social media blogs from the nonprofit sector. It’s very important to know social media news coming out from the business sector as well. There are more re$ource$ there, thus many new tools launched by innovative start-ups that your organization could adopt and utilize early.

Related Links:
Social Media and Mobile Technology Webinars for Nonprofit Organizations
HTML Tip Sheet
10 Social Media Metric for Nonprofit Organizations (and How to Track Them)

3 Comments leave one →
  1. May 13, 2010 6:06 am

    As always, thanks for your post. My organization, IREX is launching a new website soon and along with that, we’ll have a blog (yay!) that I’m currently planning and coordinating. Very exciting news!

    In your opinion, how many voices should be behind a twitter account? For example, we have a main account, @irexintl and several more for our different departments (@irexmedia, @irexeducation…). We also have employees with personal accounts that I’d like for them to tweet on the go as they’re traveling abroad. Should I have their tweets filter through the main irex account or do you think it will be too confusing? It will be “via @soandso” for the audience to know exactly where it came from too.

    Just a few thoughts for this Thursday morning for ya!


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