Three ways any nonprofit can get more from social media

If you’re like most nonprofits, you’ve started using social media or are at least thinking about starting. You may have had a lot of successful experiences that you’ve learned and grown from.

Or you’ve dipped your toe and are just plain scared and confused.

Regardless of where you’re at in becoming a Networked Nonprofit, you can always improve how your org uses social media.

1. Redefine ROI

Three ways any nonprofit can get more from social media
Graph by @mintblogger

The place where your organization falls on the continuum between being a fortressed nonprofit and being a  networked nonprofit will define how you look at ROI.

Transactionally-based organizations tend to view ROI as “Return On Investment”, looking mainly at donations or database acquisition.

With little understand of how social media can benefit your org, who can blame you for viewing ROI from a traditional, more familiar framework. “We invest in the thing called ‘social media’, and we get back the same things we’ve always gotten our other marketing channels. Right?”.

Not so much.

Redefining ROI from a networked nonprofit perspective opens up new possibilities. Consider these other ways you could view ROI:

  • Return on Insight – How do people feel about your organization? How to they discuss your cause?
  • Return on Interest - How can you find and engage with people who are already interested in what you do? How can you create even more interest?
  • Return on Ideas - What can we learn from our peers and “competitors”? Who’s talking about your cause in remarkable ways?
  • Return on Intensity - What if we could amplify the voices of our existing fans? How would that help us change the world?

2. Start Mud Wrestling

Three ways any nonprofit can get more from social media

In the Networked Nonprofit, Beth Kanter and Alison Fine state that social media is a “contact sport” rather than a “spectator sport”.

I’ll take it one step further and call it Mud Wrestling.

You have to be willing to get dirty, look dumb and be caught off guard in order to learn how to use social media successfully.

The more willing you are to do this, the better and faster your success will be. Jumping in to the mud also allows you to learn the native tongue and become “one of them”.

And by the way, your fans are very forgiving of mistakes. In fact, they’ll love you for them.

3. Go Local

Three ways any nonprofit can get more from social media

Geosocial apps make offline events the ultimate viral engine.

Start thinking about how to create events that people can’t help but talk about! Then give them the tools and a little direction.

Also start thinking about using QR codes at your event to make it easy for people to take action online – while they’re there.

Join the #zooGood Twitter chat

Geoff Livingston and Razoo will be hosting the #zooGood Twitter chat on fundraising best practices tomorrow night (10/26) at 9:00PM (EST). We’ll be discussing more ways that nonprofits can ensure success with social media.

What do you think? Comment below

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  1. I love the concept of redefining ROI. Wayne Kurtzman presented this weekend at PodCampNH, where he quoted Scott Stratten: “Every time you say ROI, a kitten and a unicorn die.” The traditional Return on Investment for social media certainly can be measured, but the question is whether it is actually worth it. Changing the definition helps get to the true power of social media, so it is thought of not as a revenue source but as a way to engage in conversations. Great piece!

    1. I understand this sentiment. And Scott makes me laugh (that's classic)… But if you can't quantify how “Return on Insight”, “Return on Interest” etc contribute to the bottom line or balance sheet… you're going to have a difficult job convincing many executives to invest (or continue to invest) limited resources in social media marketing. ROI is “Return on Investment”. Don't try to redefine it. Try to create it.

      1. Return on interest can be measured – likes and retweets are examples. The point here is that it's important to bring in the broader picture of the various difference business benefits of using social media. But you already know that.

        1. Hey – carrying Jon's sentiments and your response . . . is that measure of number of likes and retweets, etc., the actual measure or just a beginning. As Malcolm Gladwell points out in a recent New Yorker article, the Safe Dafur Coalition have over 1 million friends who have donated on average 9 cents a piece. That may be a lot given the sheer number of friends, but how does that equate to the small nonprofit that has 500 friends or likes. Or, if it's not about the money, is it that more are simply aware of your nonprofit? Know, that I'm a believer of social media, but how measuring its use to positively affect a nonprofit is a conundrum for so many of us.

  2. Social Media IS a contact sport. The tools provide you with the opportunity to engage with your prospective audience quickly. This works for building awareness, customer support and strengthening connections.

    You're basically empowering your community to connect with you. The more responsive and caring you are, the more willing they are to offer you their attention and support (to me that sounds like an epic win!).