The irreplaceable role of social media in nonprofit communications

William Woods Undergraduate

In the world of nonprofits, communications and marketing is critical for growth and  success. The mission of the organization of course remains priority. However, without effective communications to raise awareness and support, to bring in volunteers and donations and to form a connection with those you are serving, your mission cannot advance and your organization will not thrive to its fullest.

There is much to the allure of working in the nonprofit world: a career filled with passion and fighting for what you believe in and the everpresent knowledge that what you are doing is making a difference in someone’s life.

However, bachelors of communication students hoping to pursue a career in this field will quickly learn that with the glamour of this profession also come some major hurdles. One of the most common of which being scarcity of resources and limited budget.

In a world of multi-million dollar corporations shouting their message across platforms, with voices so loud you think you may never be heard, there is a need for smart utilization of tools and resources and a constant stream of creative thoughts to rise up and stand out.

The key is to “look for tools that will allow you to maximize your efforts, that are within budget, but that will also save time,” explains Mandy Herbert, Director of Marketing and Public Relations for Patient Services Inc. (PSI), an organization that helps people with chronic illness afford life-saving treatments.

“Because at a nonprofit, you don’t always have 40 hours a week to dedicate to PR — Good tools will allow you to improve your communication strategy in order to stand out within your industry.”

Social media is the prime example of a widely effective, money-saving tool to share your message, while Google Alerts and Hootsuite, a social media management tool, are great examples of time-saving tools.

Having a strong online presence and utlizing social media is savvy for anyone in the communications and marketing business, but for nonprofits this tool is pivotal to competing with others and having your voice heard.

According to the 6th annual 2016 Nonprofit Communications Tends Report, of the six most common communications channels used by nonprofits, social media ranks second, only behind having a personal website, with 71 percent of nonprofits utilizing it as a resource.

Of those social media platforms, the ratings for usage in 2016 from most-used to least are Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, Instagram, LinkedIn and lastly, Pinterest. The report also states that nonprofits use Twitter multiple times a day and Facebook at least once a day — keeping a consistent online presence on the web.

Social media also aids nonprofits in one of their strongest communications strategies: Good storytelling.

In an excerpt from Mobile for Good: A How-To Fundraising Guide for Nonprofits, author Heather Mansfield explains, “56 percent of individuals who follow nonprofits on mobile and social networks take further action, the number one action being making a donation, after they have read a compelling story published by a nonprofit.”

Bachelor in communication students interested in learning more about the role social media plays in the world of nonprofit communications, as well as nonprofit growth rates, job titles and descriptions, possible conflicts that could occur and other information on what to expect from this career, please view the inforgraphic below.

The 2016 Nonprofit Communications Trends Report [Infographic]

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