Marketing-savvy non-profits are posting, tweeting and sharing multimedia with the best of them. To help guide you through the ever-changing platform of social media, we’ve put together this list of pitfalls for non-profits to avoid.

Pitfall #1: Soliciting money too frequently

As a non-profit, you need to ask for support, but if you ask too often you may risk turning off donors.

Solution: Work with partners to offer donation incentives

Aside from spreading solicitations, be creative with your donation drives. Try working with a local business partner to offer a special event or an exclusive promotion that benefits both the donor and your organization.

For example, The United Way of Callaway County used Pinterest to promote its Charitable Give Back Night where a local restaurant donated a portion of its proceeds to the non-profit. Autism Speaks is using Twitter to promote 25% off a purchase for a $1 donation to the non-profit.

Pitfall #2: Not posting enough

Social media pages that aren’t updated frequently allows followers to forget. If you’re not engaging with your audience, they are less likely to respond when you need them.

Solution: Use automation tools to keep pages updated

To keep your social media pages up-to-date, consider using an automation tool like Hootsuite or TweetDeck to schedule your posts ahead of time (You can do this with VerticalResponse too). Try to schedule at least one post a day during the week. (We have great tips on how to handle social media automation.)

Pitfall #3: Not posting content people want to share

There’s no faster way to spread the word about your non-profit than getting people to share your posts. In fact, according to MDG Advertising, 68% of people are more likely to take the time to learn about a charity if they see a friend posting about it on social media.

Solution: Vary your content to see what gets shared

If your audience isn’t too keen on sharing your content, it’s time to shake things up. Try a variety of posts to see what your audience responds to.

National Mill Dog Rescue, for example, found that high quality memes get shared a lot on their Facebook page.

Memes that have a really great quality photo, a succinct and relevant message that truly matches the image and have an overall great graphic design get a lot of shares,” explains Michele Burchfield, the non-profits marketing and development manager. “In social media, shares are truly gold.”

Pitfall #4: Only catering to new (or existing) supporters

While attracting new supporters with shareable content is important, so is keeping your existing base. Be careful not to neglect an entire group of followers.

Solution: Vary your posts

National Mill Dog Rescue posts on Facebook 8 to 10 times a day. Burchfield says they work hard to post content that appeals to every section of their audience.

“We strive to post content that not only will engage our current supporters, but also attract new ones, and for this purpose, we need variety,” she says.

“We create a Facebook posting schedule that incorporates variety in the posts throughout the day. We also vary the types of posts with links, text, photo or video. The purpose of our posts also varies. From educational to inspirational, we work to evoke various emotions and actions.”

Here are some of our tips on posting to appeal to both existing and potential supporters.

Pitfall #5: Not inspiring your donors

If your donors don’t have a reason to donate or support your cause, they won’t.

Solution: Show donors how they can help

Help donors feel good about their contribution by showing recipients benefiting from your non-profit, like this Habitat for Humanity video.

“The most successful social media posts are those that engage supporters with a compelling story, both visually and in words,” says Burchfield. “People truly appreciate feeling a part of something, and when we include supporters in our stories we see more engagement.”

Want to learn more social media tips? Learn how non-profits are maximizing their social media efforts.

Wendy Burt-Thomas is a full-time freelance writer with four books and thousands of published articles to her credit. Contact Wendy at

Send your non-profit emails for free with VerticalResponse.

© 2015 – 2018, Contributing Author. All rights reserved.

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