The simplest guide to designing a Nonprofit Social Media Strategy

Take a look at our guide to getting the most out of social media to maximise volunteer recruitment for your nonprofit.

Between recruiting volunteers, managing budgets, staff, events and an ever-increasing need for services, it can be hard for nonprofits to find time for much else.

That’s why, when it comes to marketing, social media is your best friend. Social media marketing is a powerful tool that can help nonprofits increase awareness, reach and impact. It’s free, it’s simple to use and easy to update, and it’s the best way for your organization to reach your target audience and build a community of followers and supporters. In fact, a recent Hubspot survey found 48% of nonprofits believe social media is very valuable.

So to get the most out of social media, it’s worth spending a bit of time creating a simple nonprofit social media strategy that can help lighten the burden and increase efficiency. Every moment spent planning will save you hours of time scrambling down the track!

Keep reading to find out why social media marketing is important, what types of content you should be posting and which social media network is best, plus, a free social media content calendar template you can use.


Why is a social media strategy important for nonprofits?

One of the most valuable ways a social media strategy can help your nonprofit is by increasing the number of people your organization will reach. This can help you:

  • Spread the word about your mission to billions of people for free
  • Attract and keep donors
  • Attract and keep volunteers
  • Increase nonprofit fundraising
  • Have a greater impact

But we know charity and nonprofit managers are always run off their feet, so implementing a social media strategy has two major benefits: 

  1. It maximizes the effectiveness of your social media marketing
  2. It helps you stay organized

So let’s take a deeper look at what a nonprofit social media strategy includes. 


Which social media is best for nonprofits?

The simplest way to choose the best nonprofit social media platform for you is to consider where your followers are and what your nonprofit social media goals are.

Depending on who your nonprofit target audience is, certain social media channels work better than others. We recommend picking one or two social media accounts and focusing on them, as opposed to spreading yourself too thin over too many. Plus, you can share a lot of content directly from Instagram to Facebook without having to double your effort!


Facebook remains the most popular marketing tool for nonprofits, with over 97% of nonprofits using Facebook according to a recent HubSpot survey. As of 2021, Facebook has over 2.74 billion monthly active users. The users are fairly evenly spread, with people aged 13 through to 80 using the platform. This makes it a great tool for attracting both volunteers and donors, as well as spreading awareness of your organization to a wide range of people. You can then keep track of your volunteers using volunteer management software such as Rosterfy

The other benefit of Facebook is that it’s easy to advertise on if you have some marketing budget. The Facebook Lookalike Audience tool lets you easily find your target audience by targeting people similar to your supporters and donors, so you’ll get a more qualified audience.

So if you only have the resources to manage one social media platform, Facebook still comes out on top.


Billed as the professional social media site, LinkedIn is used by 660 million people monthly, and the average age is between 25- 49. It’s most commonly used for B2B marketing, recruitment and corporate types of content. So it would work well if you are trying to build relationships with corporates, attract new employees, or share content around workplace fundraising events. 

But if you are looking to recruit senior volunteers, young students, older adults, or to simply share day-to-day content, LinkedIn might not be the way to go.


Instagram (now owned by Facebook) has a much younger demographic than Facebook, with nearly two-thirds of the app’s billion users aged between 18-29. And importantly, it is only available as an app, so only people with a smartphone can post on Instagram. Instagram is extremely popular with both big brands and small businesses, with 83% of users saying they have discovered new products and services on the platform. When it comes to types of content, video still performs the best (although photos are commonly posted), and the most popular video content on the platform is “How-to” tutorials. 

As well as posting regular posts, don’t overlook the stories section for more casual, instant content such as live-action at an event, interviews or polls. Plus, if your volunteers or community members post and tag you on their Instagram stories, make sure you share it on your account too. This user-generated content is great for building trust and recognition through word-of-mouth, and is essentially free content for you to use!

Importantly, brands on Instagram receive approximately 10 times more engagement than on Facebook. So if your nonprofit has a strong connection to young people, don’t overlook Instagram!


Twitter is heavily skewed towards a male audience, with over 70% of users identifying as male. Around 30% of its 187 daily users are in the 25-34 age bracket, and use the network the most between 10:00am-1:00pm (whereas Facebook sees most of its traffic in the late afternoon). 

Images work well on Twitter, with statistics showing tweets with images receive 18% more click-throughs, 89% more likes, and 150% more retweets than text-only tweets.

Like LinkedIn, Twitter is also used a lot for B2B marketing, as well as for news. So if your organization has news updates or wants to connect with businesses or industries, Twitter might be worth a shot.


TikTok is a relatively new social media platform used to share videos, and has a predominantly young user base between 16-24. It grew rapidly during the pandemic, with over a billion monthly users, and over 200 million in the U.S. alone. The best videos make use of the platform's range of filters, effects and editing techniques to make captivating, snappy and engaging video content. Take a look at some successful brand strategies on TikTok here.

If you’re trying to engage with a youth audience, and you have the resources to make TikTok videos, it’s probably worth giving it a go.

Of course, there’s also YouTube, Pinterest, Quora, Tumblr, Reddit and various other niche social media sites. You may want to investigate some of these if you have a niche audience or social network, or operate in a country where another site is popular.


6 social media tips for nonprofits

1. What should nonprofits post on social media?

As you go through your strategy, always ask yourself: What do we want to accomplish on social media? It can help to have a consistent tone of voice and approach - whether it be serious, emotional or humorous - and make sure you pick a tone that suits your overall mission.

Posting engaging content will help you increase visibility and reach on your posts and boost your social media presence. Here are a few social media campaign ideas for non profits to keep their followers engaged:

  • People: People love to see other people and learn about their stories. Share content about the team, volunteers, and community you work with (with their permission).
  • Video: Where possible, try to post videos instead of simple text or photos as studies show videos get the highest level of engagement.
  • Shareable content: Shareable types of content could be something that is educational or informative, or just plain funny! If your nonprofit works to educate people in some way, think about how you could turn that into shareable content for social media.
  • Promotions or campaigns - if you’re running a nonprofit fundraising drive, special event, or campaign, post about it on social media. 
  • FAQ: Use social media to answer common questions you receive. You could even pin these to the top of your accounts so they’re easily visible.
  • Contests: Running a simple contest is a great way to get new people liking your page and reward your existing followers.


2. How to design a nonprofit social media strategy template

The simplest way to design a social media strategy template is with the use of a content calendar. This calendar can include the content (images and copy), platform and even time you want to post. Planning ahead not only takes the pressure off, but also gives you the chance to really think about what types of content will really engage your followers. In general, the further ahead you plan your digital content, the better positioned you are to produce a consistent flow of content.

Ideally, you want to create a calendar for the next three months to save you scrambling to find something to post, but it can also be done month by month. And for types of content, the general rule of thumb is 80% informational or entertaining content, versus 20% direct promotional content. This will ensure your followers aren’t always feeling like they’re being sold to, and will help grow your audience. If you can, posting daily on each social media channel is recommended.

Start by filling in major events and holidays that you can easily create social media posts for, such as public holidays, fundraising events or activities in your community. Awareness and cause days like International Volunteer Day on 5 December and Earth Hour at 8:30pm on a Saturday in late March can be key opportunities to get your organization and its mission out there. You should be able to come up with some easy content around these dates.

Next, think about some content related to your cause or within your industry that could be helpful and engaging. This might be educational, informative, or exciting news that your followers want to know about. Fill in these post ideas in empty spots on the calendar. 

In any gaps, you can add in post ideas related to nonprofit fundraising, recruiting volunteers or promotions. Remember, to keep followers engaged, these types of posts should be kept to a minimum.

Of course, you can still be spontaneous by sharing any additional spur-of-the-moment content on top of these planned posts, for example, keeping your target audience up to date with your fundraising efforts or any goals your organization has achieved.

Download our free nonprofit social media strategy template here.

3. How to maximize social media engagement

Even with great content, a solid plan of attack and a large tribe of followers, sometimes the mysterious algorithm means not many people see your posts. In that case, you can try these additional tips to maximize your nonprofit social media strategy:

  • Use hashtags to reach new audiences.
  • Add your geo-location to localize your post.
  • Make it fun with the use of emojis, stickers and polls.
  • Always use correct spelling, grammar and punctuation.
  • Make sure your profile picture is optimized (not blurry or stretched).
  • Regularly change your header/banner photo. Use the space to showcase upcoming events or fundraising drives.
  • Use the free software Canva.com to create eye-catching visuals that are optimized for the banner size. You can also use it to create graphics, posts, posters, GIF’s and more.
  • Invite followers to comment and engage through the use of questions.
  • And always respond to them! 
  • Make your posts visually appealing by designing them on the free design platform Canva or other similar programs.
  • Did you know you can schedule posts on Facebook? That way, you can publish in the evening or weekend, even if you’re not working.
  • There are also multiple scheduling apps available for Instagram and other social media accounts - experiment with some free trials and see which one works best for you.
  • Don’t be afraid to get personal. After all, it’s called social media.

Read more: Check out these 20 amazing nonprofit advertising campaigns that exploded on social media.

4. How to increase visibility on social media

Here are a few additional social media for nonprofits tips to help you increase the visibility of your nonprofit organization on social media:

  • Join and post in local community groups on Facebook to reach local audiences and recruit volunteers.
  • Alternatively, create your own group related to your nonprofits mission or industry. For example, if you operate in food rescue, consider creating a group such as ‘Food Waste Recipes’ where you can share your own recipes, and invite others who are interested in this topic to join the discussion. Just remember, this is not another page to only talk about your brand, instead use it as an opportunity to lead discussions, ask for ideas, talk about trends and learn from each other.
  • Tag others in your posts. For example, if you are running an event, tag any sponsors or suppliers. Or if you’re running a raffle, make sure you tag any companies who donated prizes. Not only is it great for them, but they might also share your post with their audience, significantly increasing your visibility.
  • For brands, a live broadcast is a way to gain visibility and drive interaction. Studies have shown that Facebook and Instagram Live streams increase website click-throughs, as well as personalizing the brand.
  • Get to know your analytics. Facebook for business offers an incredibly robust analytics tool that helps you understand who your followers are, when they’re engaging with you, and what is working and what isn’t, so you can tweak your content accordingly.
  • Always respond to comments or questions in a timely manner. Consider installing Businesses on Messenger to interact directly with your Facebook Page fans. Your level of responsiveness will be displayed on a badge on your page.
  • If you have even a small budget, consider paying for Facebook ads that are aimed at boosting awareness.

5. How to stay up to date on trends

The one thing about social media is that it’s always changing. New algorithms, trends, and social media channels are always cropping up, so it’s important to stay informed and keep up to date with changes, implementing them into your social strategy.

If you want to keep learning, take a look at these helpful social media training for nonprofits resources:

  • Facebook offers free online training courses to help you learn more about using Facebook as a marketing tool.
  • LinkedIn runs webinars to help nonprofits grow their reach and get their message noticed after the pandemic.
  • TikTok runs a campaign aiming to inspire and encourage a new generation to have a positive impact on the planet and those around them.
  • Follow @nonprofits on Twitter who share tips for how nonprofits can optimize their Twitter account

Read more: 10 Workforce Management trends for 2022 white paper

6. How to use contests and giveaways as part of your nonprofit social media strategy

Contests are a highly effective way to drive engagement on your social media pages. Encouraging people to engage with your post to enter will help drive views on that post amongst their friends, thus increasing your page’s reach to a whole new audience without spending a cent.

When it comes to prizes, it doesn’t have to be big or expensive, but it does have to be something connected to your organization or your mission. Some popular prize giveaways include:

  • A gift voucher for your services
  • A prize donated from a local business
  • Hamper
  • A local business voucher
  • Annual membership
  • Merchandise
  • Dinner with the chairperson or founder
  • Chairperson or founder speaking engagement
  • Free tickets to an event

Some simple types of content for contests include:

  • Like to win
  • Comment to win – participants leave a comment or answer a question
  • Caption contest – either the best caption (you choose) or the one with the most likes wins
  • Fill-in-the-blank contest – ask participants to answer a trivia question
  • Tag a friend – ask them to tag a friend to enter

While the contest may be run on social media, that doesn’t mean you can't promote it elsewhere. Use your email list, website and other social media sites to drive more people to enter. Encourage your staff, volunteers or donors to share the contest on their accounts as well.

Remember to include the promotion end date, and mention how you will choose and announce the winner. Always publish the winners name, and even better, if you can, try to get a photo with them!

Tracking your performance

After all this hard work, you want to track performance so you can show the results to leaders of your nonprofit to highlight the importance of social media marketing.

  • Followers: If this is increasing, you’re doing a good job of attracting more people to your page.
  • Engagement: Use analytics tools like Facebook Analytics or Instagram Insights to track engagement over time. Take note of the highest performing posts, and try to analyze why they out-performed others.
  • Sentiment: Read through the comments, looking out for any recurring themes or any negative comments. If the majority of your engagement is positive, this is creating positive brand sentiment. Sites like socialmention can help you dive further into your brand sentiment.
  • Link tracking: Before you share links to things like a nonprofit fundraising campaign, creating a unique URL can help you track how much $ was directly generated from social media campaigns. Use Google Analytics to create custom links.

Having access to this kind of information will help you improve your nonprofit social media campaigns, engage your audience and increase your nonprofits reach and impact. 

Conclusion: Nonprofit social media 

Social media is the easiest, most effective, and most direct way for nonprofits to communicate, inform and gain support for their organization, both in the form of funds and volunteers.

Not sure what to look for when recruiting volunteers? Check out our article on the top 10 qualities to look for when recruiting

Reduce time spent on admin when recruiting volunteers by linking directly to your volunteer management software. Through automations, volunteers can then register, onboard, conduct training and sign up for shifts all on their own time, without adding to your workload. 

Rosterfy allows volunteers to register for shifts when they want, based on their specific skill set. It allows for personalized and consistent communications that ensure that volunteers are engaged from start to finish, and it allows you to offer some great additions to your program including reward and recognition and training. 

If you’d like to learn more about how Rosterfy can help you better engage with your volunteers through a volunteer management solution, please don’t hesitate to get in touch

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