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Yes, you can manage your own social media! Read on for ideas, strategies and tips to take charge of your social media campaigns and increase communications with your audience.

This resource guide was prepared as part of a presentation for Melbourne's Netsquared community by Sarah Worthy and sponsored by Tendenci Software for Non-profits.  

Try a free Tendenci Demo Open Source CMS for Non-profits or conveniently call 281-497-6567 for more information.

Share and download the presentation on slideshare: 

Is Strategy the Missing Piece of the Puzzle? 

If you’re one of the organizations that is struggling to show a relationship between your social media marketing and your fundraising dollars - then this guide is meant for you!  

According to NTEN’s 2012 Social Media Benchmark Report - Strategy is the #1 factor your social media marketing initiatives need to succeed.  Yet, most nonprofit organizations lack any strategy at all for their social media marketing. Your strategy ensures success with online fundraising because it gives you a plan with clear goals and metrics to keep you focused.  A strategic plan will also make it easier for you to ask for and get support from your Board and Staff. 

Online donations continue to increase, and there are several success stories from nonprofit organizations who have increased their online reach and online donations from social media marketing. 

Unfortunately, these successes are in the minority and most nonprofits are questioning how to get their social media marketing to generate value.  The primary reason nonprofit organizations are reporting a lack of financial ROI from their social media campaigns is most likely from not having a strategy and roadmap to integrate their offline, online, and social media marketing efforts for their programs, memberships, and fundraising programs. 

Create a Social Media Strategy that Boosts Your Online Fundraising Dollars! 

I’ve scoured the web for the best advice, case studies and examples and combined them with the 16+ years of experience our company has advising nonprofit organizations on their web marketing and online fundraising efforts to create this social media strategy resource guide.  

What’s Included in the Online Strategy

In addition to the 7 components that make up the core of a great social media strategy, I’ve included links to: 

  1. Templates for crafting your social media strategy with clear and actionable steps that anyone can fill out and start thinking strategically on social media. 
  2. Resources and expert articles for additional Social Media Strategy templates and best practices, including how to craft policies, procedures, and find the right platforms to manage your social web marketing efforts. 
  3. Examples from other nonprofits who are succeeding with their social media fundraising that you can use with little additional tailoring for your org. 

Use this guide to develop your strategy to achieve remarkable success and increase your organization’s Revenue from online fundraising and boost your Brand awareness. 

Start by Creating SMART Objectivessmart-marketing-objectives.jpeg

The most successful marketing strategies start with SMART objectives that align your organization’s goals with your marketing campaigns and initiatives.  Having the right objectives is vital to a successful social media strategy because it can be very easy to get off track of your purpose without having a clearly defined roadmap to help you track your progress. 

SMART Objectives are:

Specific: Your goals should be clear and well defined so that anyone in your organization could understand what you want to achieve and why the objective provides value to your organization.

Measurable: Without measurable objectives, you wouldn’t know if you had accomplished your goals or be able to benchmark your results in the long term.  By making sure you can measure your progress, you’ll be able to prove your successes and adjust your plan if you’re not hitting the right “numbers” that you had expected.

Achievable: How attainable are your goals? If you’re a small nonprofit, then setting a goal to raise $1 million dollars from a one day Facebook fundraising initiative is probably not attainable.  A better objective might be to set a goal to increase the number of your Facebook fans by 10% in the next year. 

Realistic: Does your organization have the ability to implement and manage your social media campaigns that are required to meet your objectives? If your objective is achievable for most nonprofit organizations, but your organization has a smaller or inexperienced staff for managing your social media initiatives then you may not be able to realistically accomplish the same objectives.  Avoid frustrating your team and yourself by setting realistic objectives.  

Time-Bound: Let’s all be honest - if we don’t put a deadline on a project then it usually takes far longer to complete or is never completed at all.  Create a timeline for your objectives with milestone markers to analyze the metrics and adjust, and a set completion date to ensure that your social media goals are a priority. 

Read more about creating SMART objectives at this online site: 

The 7 Pieces of an Awesome Social Media Strategy

There are dozens of articles about how to create a great social media strategy and I’ve included links to the best nonprofit oriented articles on the web.  This 7 step framework is intended for nonprofits who are just beginning to develop a strategy or have a limited budget and staff designated for online marketing. 


The 7 Pieces: 

  1. Planning
  2. Discovery
  3. Listening
  4. Measurement
  5. Management
  6. Content Strategy Integration
  7. Engagement

Your social media strategy, like all marketing strategies, is going to be ongoing and cyclical.  Many of the steps also need to be accomplished nearly concurrently in order to receive optimal results.  Use the templates as you work through this and if you get stuck someplace, send me an email and I’ll try and help. 

Planning a Social Strategymake-a-plan.png

Your social media strategy should be reviewed and updated at least annually.  The planning process includes preparing your social media policies and procedures, getting buy-in from your upper level management, and creating a roadmap for your team to use  for next year. 

Planning is the most important piece of your social media strategy.  Don’t rush this - spend the time and effort needed to do it right! 

10 Important Pieces to Planning

  1. Determine what results you want from social media marketing - This is the one place you can really ask “what’s in it for me? (my organization)”.  (give examples, ask for 3 objectives)
  2. Determine what success means for your goals, and how to measure them 
  3. Describe how social media will help accomplish these goals for your organization
  4. Identify your target audience 
  5. Start the strategic listening and discovery processes to determine which social media channels you should use, and how your audience is interacting with each other, and organizations on them.  Where is your audience? What are they talking about? How do they prefer conversing? Frequency, location, language, age, etc. 
  6. Determine which social media channels you’ll focus on and describe why you selected these within the context of your organization’s overall objectives this year.  
  7. Consider you staff - who is going to be involved, do you have support from your management? 
  8. Select the tools for social media that you’ll use for the different activities.  As you review your options, consider the best tools for the different activities involved in a social media campaign like: listening/monitoring, measurement, engagement, integration with your website and your email marketing software.
  9. Create an estimated budget.
  10. Get agreement from everyone at your organization.  


Find out where your target audience is engaged online by doing a quick survey of your supporters and members.  Select a small sample of your advocates and give them a call or reach out to them in person.  Ask them what social media channels they are active on, what platforms are most important to them, and what they use social media to do.  


The Discovery phase begins during Planning, and this is where you start to dig deep into the online data collected from the places your target audience has and will interact with your organization.  This includes your Tendenci CMS website, social networking analytics, benchmarks, social media user surveys, offline surveys, and any other data that helps you get to know who supports organizations like yours and why.  

During the Discovery phase, you are looking to identify market trends among your donors and potential donors to incorporate into your social media strategy. 

Understanding these trends will help you:

  • Develop personas for your different groups of advocates so you can understand why a donor, member, volunteer, and corporate sponsor might select to support your organization.
  • Determine where potential new supporters are engaging online and why. 
  • Identify programs, topics, and events that most appeal to your target audience so you can incorporate those into next year’s planning. 

You’ll use the information you uncover during the Discovery phase to select which social platforms you’ll use to listen and engage with new and existing supporters.  Use this information to focus on the right platforms instead of trying to manage a strategy across every social network.  


Here are 5 Free tools that you can implement today to help you with your online market research: 

  1. Google Alerts 
  2. NTEN Benchmark reports
  3. Technorati
  4. Wildfire social media monitor 
  5. Twitscoop

The Discovery and Listening Phases may seem very similiar.  The key difference between discovery and listening is that during the discovery phase, you are looking at indirect data sources and the listening phase provides you with direct communications from your audience.

Strategic Listening to your digital audience

Listening Strategically on Social Networks

Strategic listening means you have defined what you want to listen for and can only happen once you have completed your Planning and Discovery steps.  You want to understand what topics and people you need to listen to and how they fit into your overall objectives.  

Listening gives you insights into who is giving, why, what else are they interested in and demographic information for very little cost. If all you did with social media was listen to the conversations to gain a better understanding of the audience and incorporate this information into your other marketing initiatives, then you’ll see a return on your investment in dollars and cause awareness.  

Listening and Discovery may seem very similar and the key distinction between the two is that with Discovery, you’re collecting demographic data from the market as a whole and with listening, you use that information to narrow down where you collect individual information.  You’re Listening for key influencers within your industry and the most relevant and engaging topics within the specific social platforms you’ve selected to participate in so you can maximize your engagements online later on. 


 Think of the Discovery and Listening phases in another way to see the distinction:

You look through upcoming community events and see that many of your members and potential donors are going to a particular party this weekend.  You decide you’ll attend because you’ll have the best chance to connect with like-minded people.  This is Discovery. 

Once you are at the party, you see several small groups of people gathered and chatting.  You take a moment to get a bite to eat and walk around, listening in on some of the conversations so that, ultimately, you can find a group that is engaged in a topic you also are interested in and then you’ll join them.  This is Listening. 

Listening is an ongoing process and helps you understand what people are talking about so that you can join the conversation when it’s appropriate.  

Measurement and Metrics


Metrics from your social media marketing are used to demonstrate that you’re meeting your organization’s objectives.  You’re strategy should include a description of what you’re measuring, how, and what tools you’ll use.  Throughout your social media campaigns, you’ll refer to the results from your measurement to determine if your efforts are working or if you need to change course re-align your projects with your goals. 

You’ll also use your measurement reports to demonstrate the value and results to your Board, your donors and corporate sponsors, and anyone else with decision making influence at your organization. 

If you have a strong measurement plan built into your social media strategy, you’ll have an easier time getting buy-in as well as create the proof you need for your social media budget next year.  


Establish a baseline for each of your objectives to help you determine what and how to measure your social media ROI.  Use benchmark reports and any data from any other online channels your organization is using to estimate what “success” looks like.  

For example, if one of your objectives is to increase your online memberships - estimate how many new online memberships you would need to get this year to justify using social media marketing to increase memberships.  You can use this baseline throughout the year to keep you from veering off course and provide a “goal” to reach.  

Measurement gives you the data you need to make sure you’re spending your resources in the right place and on the right tasks.  For example: you’re initial research may have determined that your audience was mainly on Twitter.  However, as you measure and analyze results during the campaign, you notice that most of your traffic coming to your website to donate online is directed from LinkedIn and not from Twitter.  Because you measured these results in alignment with your objectives, you can adjust and redirect your resources to LinkedIn instead of Twitter to see if that will increase your online donations even more.  

Management of Social Strategy

Management is  the phase where you take everything you’ve been doing in the other phases and analyze, evaluate, compare your results to your stated objectives.  Your social media manager uses this analysis to determine if any course corrections are needed.  

Your strategy helps you create a vision a year out, but there’s no way to know who or what’s going to be engaging your community online months later.  You’ll want to select a person or team to manage your organization’s social media efforts and then give them the ability to make decisions “on the fly” and adjust course as needed.  Social Media Management requires coordination and a strong ability to stay focused on your roadmap while simultaneously engaged in real time conversations.  Keep this in mind when you are in your Planning phase and creating policies and selecting your staff.  


The people who manage your social media strategy are vital to your social media success.  Check out these 6 traits to look for in your social media manager, according to Entrepreneur.com:

  1. Naturally Curious
  2. Writes Conversationally
  3. Operates with a Sense of Urgency
  4. Understands Your Business-Related Goals
  5. Seeks Input from Others 
  6. Respects Confidentiality

Social Media Content Strategy

 Before engaging with your community online, you’ll want to spend some time planning what types of content you’ll share that is both interesting to your target audience and aligned with your organization’s objectives.  

You’ll achieve the best results if you integrate your social media content with your overall content marketing strategy and promote your organization’s programs, events, fundraisers, and stories across multiple channels.

Social Media is a great way to reach a large number of people for very little money and you can share your organization’s upcoming events, membership drives, case studies, research reports, educational material and other content that tells people what your organization is doing, why someone would want to support your organization and how to support you.  


Remember when you are crafting your content for social media that one size doesn’t fit all.  Facebook allows longer posts and has different engagement rules than Twitter.  Content on Pinterest is very different from content on YouTube and Google+.  

If you are marketing across multiple social media platforms, determine the call to action within a message first - what do you want someone to do when they view your message?  Then, make sure you have that information within the message as you format it for each channel.  Include a link to your website to help ensure that regardless of which social network a potential donor comes across your organization, they can quickly go to your website and learn more about how to get involved.  



Your strategy for engagement should include a schedule for delivering content and the resources your social media management staff will need to respond to comments and feedback.  Most importantly, engagement is about being genuine and helpful.  Look for people you can help instead of seeking out people who can help you.  

Look for the influencers in your industry and reach out to them for partnership opportunities like guest blogs and inclusion of your events in their online calendars and newsletters.  


Include your corporate sponsors in your engagement strategy.  Thank them and ask your followers to follow your sponsors and ask your sponsors if they’d promote your events and fundraising efforts to their clients and followers as well.  By collaborating with your corporate sponsors, you can reach far more potential advocates than you would going it alone.  People are also more likely to follow and share content on social networks if others in their network are also engaging with that content.  

Additional Resources and Social Tools:

Now that you've had an introduction to what makes up a great nonprofit social media strategy, here are my handpicked recommendations for templates, statistics, and articles that will help you craft a social media strategy that grows your online donations, community, and Brand.  

Free (and nearly free) Social Media Tools and Templates

Strategy and Social Media Management Articles

Resources for Measurement and Market Trends

You can do it!

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