8 Social Media Mistakes Nonprofits Make and How to Avoid Them

May 14, 2020 | Digital Marketing, Social Media

Olivia Warnes

by Olivia Warnes

Improve your social media and engage your supporters by avoiding these simple mistakes.

Nonprofit KPI Analytics

Don’t let these mistakes hold you back!

As a nonprofit, you know you need to be on the main social media platforms to reach new supporters and keep them interested.

However, lots of nonprofits are making simple social media mistakes that are actually harming their digital marketing, by putting people off of engaging with your nonprofit or giving them the wrong image of your organisation.

It’s not enough to simply have social media accounts, you need to invest time into properly understanding how to engage supporters and get your message across.

We’ve compiled a list of the top social media mistakes nonprofits are making to help you see how to improve and really get the most out of social media marketing.

Instagram Image Nonprofit

 8. Not investing time

It’s not enough to just have a social media account, you need to invest time into the content and appearance of your profile and constantly build and improve.

Social media is now heavily saturated and so your nonprofit needs to put in constant effort, to provide valuable content and analyse what needs improving, to be able to stand out from the crowd.

A social media account without the effort behind it will end up looking dated and out of touch and could do more harm than good.

Think of it similarly as similar to having a bad website, it’s not going to make your nonprofit look trustworthy or seem like you understand your supporters, and may put people off from donating.


7. Bombarding followers

The opposite problem to not investing much time is too bombard your followers with too much content (and not much value). Often nonprofits seem to fall into a pattern of not posting for a while, and then unloading all the content they can find about a recent event or cause.

This clogs the feeds of your followers and actually puts them off reading the content. When it comes to social media often less is more, post consistent high-quality content over constant low-quality/repetitive content.

To avoid these mistakes, put time into developing a schedule of what and when you will post on your social media platforms. This way you can make sure you’re providing regular and valuable content to your followers.

Studies have had mixed results, but we’d recommend tweeting between 5-15 times a day and posting on Instagram no more than twice. To find the sweet-spot for your nonprofit, you’ll have to experiment and see what gets the most engagement/retains followers. For more information on best practices for nonprofits on different social media platforms, check out this article.

Also, make use of the like features or stories to share/appreciate content when a key event comes up.


6.  Constant calls to action

We know that one of the main aims of your social media is to drive traffic back to your website and donation page. However, if all you post are donation links and calls to action, followers won’t feel as though they are gaining anything valuable from following you and it will come across as though you’re just forcing them to donate.

Don’t worry, we’re not suggesting doing away with the calls to action altogether, just disperse them amongst other interesting posts, for example, stories relating to your cause. Keep your website link in your bio to ensure if anyone is inspired by your content they can still donate easily.

A good rule to follow is 80/20, make sure 80% of your content is purely interesting, educational or entertaining in its own right, and save the other 20% for your calls to action.

This helps to ensure followers get a valuable experience from following your social media and are still reminded of how to make a difference.

Nonprofit KPI Analytics

5. Not making it personal

People don’t follow nonprofits just to feel like its a distant corporate organisation! Supporters want to learn a deeper more personal insight, which is much more emotional and engaging than broad faceless content.

Sharing the stories of the people (or animals) you’ve helped is a great way for followers to get a personal view of the work your nonprofit does, and really shows the value of donating.

If it’s not appropriate for your nonprofit to share information of the people you help you can still have a personal and engaging social media presence, share the stories of your volunteers, why they work with you and what they want to share with the world.


4. Ignoring the social aspect

Social media isn’t just a way for you to share content, it’s also a way for you to engage with supporters and make real connections!

Hold Q&As over social media to answer the questions your followers are interested in. Respond to tweets about your nonprofit and congratulate others doing good work for your cause.

You can run polls/surveys and even ask your supporters to create content and share it with your network.

A great example of user-made content was the ALS ice bucket challenge, which made millions for the nonprofit and got a massive amount of people interacting with in their social media.

Engage with the people in your network and they will feel a lot closer to your nonprofit, and likely be more loyal.


3. Not making the most of visual posts.

Videos are the most engaging format for digital marketing, they allow you to get a complicated message across in an easy to understand and emotive way.

6 out of 10 millennials would rather watch a video than read a newsletter, videos are the way a big portion of your supporters wants to receive content.

Videos allow you to really show the viewer what you do/what you’re fighting, without you having to try to describe the importance. A video has the power to pull on the viewer’s heartstrings and really get them to see what matters.

xxxCheck out this list of top nonprofit video campaignsxxx to see how different nonprofits made it work for them.

Gifs and images are super useful at catching the viewers eye and they make your post a lot more inviting. A big block of text isn’t very appealing to the eye and won’t encourage your supporters to read more. Use gifs and images to get your information across in a much more interesting way.

Gifs and images are also really sharable! Followers will share a powerful image on their stories or their own account and increase your outreach!

@humanesociety on Instagram made our list of great nonprofit social media accounts for doing this so well, check out these examples of how they use images to spread their message.

2. Focusing entirely on bad news

This is an easy trap for nonprofits to fall into. You need to show people the importance of your cause so you focus entirely on posting about what’s wrong.

While it is important to share this kind of information, too much will make your account too heavy for most people to enjoy following.

Make sure you balance out the gloom with information encouraging on the success stories you’ve seen and the good work your nonprofit has done.

Thorn, who focus on building technology to defend children for sexual abuse, have made sure their Instagram doesn’t become too bogged down with upsetting content by including updates on the hard work of their team, awards they’ve won and the improvements they’ve made in protecting children.


1. Not utilising hashtags 

Not using hashtags means you’re missing out on one of the greatest tools social media has to offer!

Hashtags are a great way to increase your outreach, on Instagram, having just one hashtag on your post can increase engagement by up to. 12.6%! Add popular hashtags relevant to your cause to your post, just search which are trending highest and join in!

You can also highjack seemingly unrelated hashtags to your cause and create a unique and effective campaign, for example, WATERisLIFE started using the #firstworldproblems to show people the more serious problems the people they help are dealing with.

You can also make your own! Create a hashtag and encourage supporters to share it with their posts. You can start a movement!

It’s really simple to add hashtags to your posts, but beware that best practices vary for Instagram and Twitter. On Instagram, you can get away with using a large amount without these getting in the way of the post, whereas on twitter you are limited to choosing one or two that are super relevant.


Need help with your digital marketing?

Managing your social media can be tricky, and its got to work well with an efficient website too!

If this all sounds like too much to handle on your own, contact Twenti to see how we can help you.  Click here to organise a free consultation with us.

Ready to reach thousands of new donors online?

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