5 Engagement Winning Tips for Nonprofits on Facebook

November 7, 2016

Written by NewsWhip

For nonprofits and NGOs, Facebook is a platform for community building and inspiring followers. Here’s how nonprofits can engage and grow their audience on Facebook.

Everyone wants to save the world. Some, maybe a little more than others. We’re talking of course, about nonprofit organizations.
For NGOs and nonprofits, social media can build awareness on a much larger scale. Not only that, but it’s increasingly fundamental for well, funding. An impressive 43 percent of Millennials now prefer to donate via social media, along with about a fifth of Gen Xers and Baby Boomers.
With 95% of NGOs worldwide on Facebook, some guidance is needed. NATO recently hosted a “Social Media for International Organizations” forum in October. With social media algorithms shifting so quickly, it’s vital for nonprofits to make sure their Facebook content isn’t lost among viral videos of cats and the shenanigans of politicians.
How can nonprofits and international organizations engage on social? We dove into NewsWhip Spike to look at the best practices in place right now.

1. They’re actionable

Hopefully, as a nonprofit, you want to inspire others to better the world too. Don’t leave your audience guessing — some of the top posts in our analysis of NGOs and nonprofits came from direct prompts to participate.
[fb_pe url=”https://www.facebook.com/267582156682708/posts/1092113840896198″ bottom=”30″]
Stand Up to Cancer shared this post about a father who lost his wife and child to cancer. With just the photos of the family and a simple prompt asking people to donate via text, the post drove over 8,000 shares, 2,500 comments, and 24,000 likes and reactions.
[fb_pe url=”https://www.facebook.com/18813753280/posts/10154685419738281″ bottom=”30″]
This post from the Human Rights Campaign used a relevant photo of celebrity Ashton Kutcher to catch their audience’s attention. In the caption, they shared their message, and included a link for followers who wanted to participate.  
Your content may inspire followers to read more information or better yet, contribute immediately. So make it easy as possible for them by telling them how they can help, or by sharing a link.

2. They partner with others to extend their reach

As we saw above, the Human Rights Campaign wasn’t afraid to use a famous face to further their content’s reach. Partnering up with influencers or brands is a way to get your message to bigger audiences.
The Make-a-Wish Foundation is big on this.
[fb_pe url=”https://www.facebook.com/7175346442/posts/10154125401641443″ bottom=”30″]
This photo, posted to WWE’s page in partnership with Make-a-Wish drove over 77,000 likes, reactions, shares, and comments. By partnering up with WWE, Make-a-Wish was able to share their mission with all of WWE’s audience on Facebook as well. 
Using Spike’s branded content view, we were amazed by the many celebrities, publishers, and brands that were helping out NGOs on social media.

spike nonprofit gif

The key is finding relevant partners who care about your cause. March of Times, a women and infant health organization, partnered up with HGTV for this video.
[fb_pe url=”https://www.facebook.com/16801589212/posts/10154239604014213″ bottom=”30″]
Brands, publishers, and influencers who have similarities to your target audience are the best to approach for possible partnerships.

3. They’re visual

Photos drive substantial engagement for the top NGOs on Facebook. Photos let nonprofits show, not tell, what they’re all about, and whom they are benefitting.
[fb_pe url=”https://www.facebook.com/18982436812/posts/10153786675141813″ bottom=”30″]
Videos do well too. Best Friends Animal Society posted this video of a dog that may have been previously euthanized before a new law was passed in July. The video helps tell a story about the nonprofit’s mission and why it’s important.
[fb_pe url=”https://www.facebook.com/25372476424/posts/10154507084406425″ bottom=”30″]
We’d be bereft if we failed to mention a couple of our social media superstars here. National Geographic (a nonprofit until 2015) and NASA both come up frequently on the blog for their thrilling use of social media.
[fb_pe url=”https://www.facebook.com/168170833215856/posts/1298693483496913″ bottom=”30″]
Highly visual, they appeal to their audience’s curiosity and wonder. We even wrote a whole social media analysis on NASA and their hundreds of social accounts. 

4. They humanize the cause

Empathy is a strong motivator online. How many chain emails, or chain Facebook posts, do you see about helping someone’s lost dog or something similar? There’s been research into how social media strengthens empathy, so Facebook is a perfect medium to share your message with a vast audience.
[fb_pe url=”https://www.facebook.com/68793499001/posts/10154463873684002″ bottom=”30″]
UNICEF, which helps children worldwide, posted this photo from a kindergarten they funded in Mongolia. While geographical location may separate many of UNICEF’s benefactors and beneficiaries, certain things translate across cultures, like smiling children.
Sharing human interest stories is a way to reach your audience. National Public Radio, NPR, drives significant engagement through empathetic reporting. While recently, their stories have been dominated by the US Election season, many of their top stories on social appeal to the reader’s empathy.
[fb_pe url=”https://www.facebook.com/10643211755/posts/10154850904456756″ bottom=”30″]
This Facebook post drove over 71,000 likes and reactions, 11,000 shares, and 1,100 comments, about a Michigan barber encouraging kids to read and quizzing them, in exchange for a discount haircut.

Find this advice helpful? Download our Fall Guide to Facebook Publishing, for the latest Facebook tips and tricks

5. They encourage their audience to join in

So far, we’ve seen NGOs put faces to their campaigns, partner with influential brands and celebrities, and share instructions on how to get involved. But, the people who are the most invested in a non-profit’s mission, may also be the ones who are most affected.
Here, it’s not only about appealing to empathy. It’s about acknowledging the community and asking them to share their stories too.  
[fb_pe url=”https://www.facebook.com/60000664446/posts/10155408163984447″ bottom=”30″]
Alzheimer’s Association did this to promote “National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month and National Family Caregivers Month”. Facebook followers shared their personal experiences around the disease, and others replied to their stories, sharing support and encouragement.

Alzheimers Facebook Comments

This practice leads to a strong community on the nonprofit’s social account. With Facebook’s increased emphasis on organic sharing, it’s necessary for any content creator to build up a community.
[fb_pe url=”https://www.facebook.com/20876805343/posts/10157643673290344″ bottom=”30″]
March of Dimes did this as well, shining a spotlight on preemie infants. In the comments, Facebook users shared photos of their own preemie babies, and how far their children had come since their early births.

march of dimes facebook comments

Both community and user creation are vital to the lifecycle of social media.
Content creators can see benefits from both of these, as content is more likely to be shared by an active community. And, user generated content does extremely well, as it personalizes your content, and is content by the community, for the community.

Be the Change You Want to See in the World, on Facebook

So how can you get your message across on Facebook? Let’s recap.

  1. Share actionable posts that direct your followers to more information or how to help
  2. Partner with influencers who believe in your mission
  3. Be visual; show not tell what your nonprofit is for
  4. Put a face to the campaign. Appeal to human empathy by showing who your NGO is helping
  5. Ask your audience to join in; promote an active community and user generated content

A strong social media presence is key to growing your community and inspiring your followers. Pay attention to the kinds of content that motivate your audience, and look for further stories they may care about. By keeping a pulse on what stories galvanize your followers, you can keep growing your nonprofit’s message to more and more people.


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