How to Get Started with Social Media (for Non Profits): Tips from #SM4NP in LA

25 Aug

I am proud that Fundly is sponsoring all of the Social Media for Non Profit conferences: we started in San Francisco, then traveled to New York and most recently were in Los Angeles.

The conference series is especially important because social media is both super important and super hard. It has the potential to help you find many new supporters and to build a more direct relationship with these supporters.  However, social media is also very difficult. So difficult that even the founder(s) of Facebook don’t always get it right … Just a couple of days ago, we saw that Hughes’ Jumo threw in the towel. Jumo was aiming to force new bonds between causes and supporters but never got much traction.

So, we are especially grateful that Darian and Ritu put together conferences which feature practical tips for non profits on how to make social media work in real life. No theory, all action. There are so many tools and platforms out there for you to use. Let’s get started!

Some of the tips highlighted at the conference:

Your supporters are already engaged – go join them!

Your (potential) supporters are already communicating and collaborating with each other on social media. Participate in the conversation on these powerful, existing platforms. Most platforms (Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.) have tools and people dedicated to help non profits be successful. And don’t forget that many people still turn to Google search when they are looking for a cause to support.

Put your supporters to work – it makes them happy!

More than just monitoring supporters on these platforms, make sure a supporter can “join” your organization. Enable communication and collaboration amongst your supporters and ask your supporters to make a substantial contribution. Engagement is a contract of mutual “ask” and “give” both of which need to be substantial and meaningful in order to be fulfilling.  Research has shown that “giving” (both money and non-monetary help) makes people happy … and that happy people are more inclined to give. That’s your challenge! I spoke about that more in my presentation on engagement.

Not all supporters are created equal. Evan Bailyn shows that your true “brand (cause) advocates” are both high energy and high influence.

Not surprisingly, you should make those supporters super heroes (Charles Porch) and give them a special role in your campaign (Matt Mahan).

Give back by telling stories about your success

Other speakers spoke about how you can close the loop with your supporters and “give” back by sharing your success stories. The language of Facebook is visual: for your story to be heard you MUST include pictures or videos (a “photo economy” as Guy Kawasaki called it in SM4NP San Francisco). JD Lasica spoke on storytelling 2.0 for non-profits and specifically on the use of video.

For your story to be heard on Twitter you MUST include hash tags and link to interesting articles (a “link economy” as Guy Kawasaki called in in SM4NP San Francisco). Here is a super useful Hash tags list (and Twitter chat schedule) shared by Beth Kanter during the SM4NP conference in San Francisco.

Help is on the way.

Many of the speakers shared lists with tools for social media engagement and online fundraising and further reading. Some of the top sites are listed here:

All presentations from the conference can be found here:

In summary …

Here are 5 Tweets to sum up what we learned in at #SM4NP in LA:

  1. Get your team in rhythm, in harmony on social media. They have to work from the same place. ~@bgbreck | tweeted by ntenhross
  2. Messaging that is Compelling, Concise, and Credible is Contagious. ~@dheyman | tweeted by ilovegarick
  3. The psychology of engagement: happy people give more, and giving people are happier. ~@davidjboyce1 | tweeted by aleshalesha
  4. A successful brand advocate needs both influence AND energy for your cause — equally valuable assets. ~@ineffable111 |tweeted by geoffliving
  5. Nonprofits are now media organizations too. Stories persuade people to be excited about their mission. ~@jdlasica | tweeted by hilwhite1

And a bit overdue, but as a bonus our top 5 favorite tweets from #SM4NP in NYC:

  1. Inspire first. Do it with inspiring content. @charitywater
  2. Help supporters tell your story. Stories have to be retellable — that means short and focused. @fundly
  3. You’ve lost control. And that’s okay… You never had it. @kn0thing
  4. Ask proudly. You are doing the donors and the world a favor, by filling the world with goodness.  @dheyman
  5. Consistent Messaging. Align ALL your channels to the same message (including offline). @causes

Please visit to check out our online engagement and fundraising tools. Get your free trial today!

Dave Boyce

CEO, Fundly


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