Why your nonprofit needs a social media policy

Social media is a powerful tool for nonprofits wanting to find new donors and broaden their influence that can eventually lead to more donation processing. Using Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube also connects your organization with longtime contributors and keeps them in the loop regarding your activities or the progress your nonprofit makes.

It almost seems silly not to fully embrace these different platforms to get the word out about your efforts. However, when not properly monitored, there is a downside to this type of communication just like any other. This is why every nonprofit must have a social media policy. 

What to consider
Remember that whenever any staff member accesses or posts under your nonprofit's name, they're doing so on behalf of the organization as a whole.

Therefore, a good policy can ensure your employees are in sync with the editorial voice you want to express as well as the values you want your nonprofit to display online. 

Emily Stumhofer, an attorney at the Nonprofit Management Risk Center, told The Nonprofit Times organizations must first think of their social media strategy. What objectives do you have for using a Facebook or Twitter page? 

Similarly, nonprofit marketing expert, John Haydon, goes by the POST method for social media:

  • P - People - Make sure that you understand your audience!
  • O - Objectives - Set some social media goals before you start posting willy-nilly.
  • S - Strategy - Strategy is about the value you give followers in exchange for their attention. How will you convince followers to support your organization?
  • T - Technology - You can use the basic tools that social media platforms offer, but there are tons of more comprehensive solutions out there that can be beneficial as well!

Also, which employees will maintain the accounts and post under your nonprofit's name? It could be wise to form a social media committee so all of the people writing can get on the same page, Tech Soup advised. This way, you'll have a limited and manageable number of people posting for the organization. 

Next steps
After you have a social media writing group formed, plan out what kind of content you want your employees to write, share, like or retweet.

Are there certain topics or websites you and others should avoid sharing or commenting on? Make sure you have clear guidelines in place regarding what's appropriate and what's not.

Put steps in place so your team knows how to check the content they're sharing is accurate and they have the author's permission to share it. 

Interacting with others
Keep in mind that for your social media accounts to be effective in engaging the public, you'll need to respond to them in a timely fashion. This might give you pause if your Facebook page or Twitter account receives negative comments, but it's something your nonprofit must address, too.

Make sure you and your team follows the same list of rules for interacting and engaging with the public before they hit the reply button. 

Having a good social media policy in place is important for any nonprofit wishing to develop a reputable and personable editorial voice. 

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