Interview: Bob Brown Foundation, Environmental Champions

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bob brown

Based on the beautiful island of Tasmania, the Bob Brown Foundation is a different kind of fund

In this age of rapid destruction of the biosphere, attended by cynicism and pessimism, the Bob Brown Foundation uses ecological reality and optimism to promote real environmental wins. They carry out work that aids people to protect more scenic land environments, wildlife and marine ecosystems in Tasmania, Australia, Antarctica and across the region.

The Foundation promotes the protection and enhancement of: The wild and scenic beauty of Tasmania, the ecological integrity of Australia and the happiness of humanity on Earth!

Led by Bob Brown, a man who fought for environmental protection decades before others woke up to the harsh realities of climate change, the Foundation is making a difference each and every day for the betterment of our home.

We had the honor to sit down with the Executive Officer at the Bob Brown Foundation, Steven Chaffer, to talk social strategy and moving supporters to action!

Here’s what he had to say.

ActionSprout (AS): How long have you managed social media communications and where did you get your start?

Steven Chaffer (SC): I have been managing social media communications for the Bob Brown Foundation since our inception in 2012. As the Executive Officer and sole staffer for a small but growing organization, I got my start in this area simply because there was no one else to do it. Sink or swim. We didn’t sink but I definitely swallowed some water.

(AS): Tell us a bit about where you work. Why did you want to work with the Bob Brown Foundation?

(SC): The Bob Brown Foundation is an environment not-for-profit that campaigns to protect the natural environment. We are based in Australia’s island state of Tasmania, home to some of the most magnificent wilderness areas and the tallest hardwood forests on the planet. Our founder and chair, Bob Brown, was instrumental in saving the wild Franklin River from being dammed in the 1980s and spent the next 26 years in parliament, state and federal. He was the leader of the Australian Greens before retiring from the Australian Senate to set up this foundation.

(AS): The interest in environmental preservation seems to be growing. Why do you think that is?

(SC): All of us depend on this planet’s air, water and soil to survive. Sooner or later, everyone realizes that. Bob likes to quote HG Wells: “History is a race between education and catastrophe.” Perhaps the pendulum is swinging.

(AS): What do you wish other people knew about your nonprofit?

(SC): That we are based in Tasmania, the most beautiful island at the bottom of the world. Come for a visit and see for yourself.

(AS): What do you think will change about the Bob Brown Foundation over the next five years?

(SC): We will continue to grow and encounter all the benefits and challenges that entails.

(AS): How has your strategy / options about Facebook changed over time?

(SC): My strategic avoidance of having a strategy will probably have to change. Facebook seems at risk, if it hasn’t already happened, of being awash with slick graphics and confected content. There is a lot of room for ‘authentic’ voices and images. Real things happening in the real world. But a graphic is easier…

(AS): What do you find most challenging about your job and the cause you support?

(SC): My inbox.

(AS): Tell us a bit about your Facebook Page (What’s the audience like, what kind of content do they enjoy the most, how often do you post?)

(SC): Almost 80,000 likes from people who care about the future of the planet and want to see real action to protect it. Most are fans of Bob and admire his lifetime of activism, both in and out of political life. Some of the most popular posts we put up are photos that Bob has taken. I think people like that sense of connection—of seeing the natural world from someone else’s unique personal perspective.

(AS): How do you use social actions, from ActionSprout, compared to traditional form-based actions on your website?

(SC): For us, ActionSprout Actions are a good way of converting people from passively supporting our campaigns to a more active involvement. They are a great first step for involving people more closely in our work. Whereas a lot of communication tends to be one-way, these kinds of actions allow people to move from being spectators to active supporters, without leaving the comfort and familiarity of the social media space.

(AS): I know you’ve been experimenting with donation actions on your Facebook Page. Can you tell us a little about that and how they went?

(SC): We have a decent size audience on social media at around 150,000 followers. While positive comments, likes and shares are great, it’s vital to convert this support into tangible action. People are often very happy to make a donation to support an issue they care about, but they have to be asked. ActionSprout’s donation actions on Facebook allow us to make that ask to a whole new group of supporters that ‘like’ us on social media but aren’t part of our list and therefore were never actually asked for a donation.

The majority of donations we received in our first appeal were from ‘new’ supporters, making it a successful fundraiser and a valuable list-building exercise. We have run about three different appeals now and they have had mixed results ranging from $3,000 to a few hundred dollars. Hard to know if that is down to the issue, the copy, the timing or all of the above. It will be interesting to see if our social media audience will continue to yield decent results or whether the well will eventually run dry.

(AS): What have you learned from past success? How did it change your behavior?

(SC): I think we learnt that you can’t beat a good issue; that really strikes an emotional chord with people. You can write great copy, use a stunning image and follow all the tips but if the issue does not resonate with people, you will struggle. Problem is, it can be hard to pick what will really move people. It’s early days for us and if I’m honest, still a bit hit-and-miss.

(AS): How do you measure the success of your Page? What metrics do you focus on?

(SC): I don’t study the digital tea leaves as much as I should, but I think sharing is a good indicator of a post or action’s success. If people are motivated enough, by what you have presented, to bother to share it with their friends, that’s a great sign. It is also the key to the power of social media: the multiplier effect.

(AS): Do you have any advice for other nonprofits based on your learning?

(SC): Have a go, try different things and use your own voice as much as possible. It’s an obvious point to make but there is a lot of stuff out there and almost as much advice on how to do social media. The ‘best’ time to post, the ‘right’ language, the ‘perfect’ image. While much of this advice is no doubt good, you run the risk of producing content that looks like every other Facebook post.

Key Takeaways:

People live vicariously on social media. We all do so to some extent. Your friend just went on an amazing trip and before you know it, you’ve clicked through all 100-something of their pictures. The same can be especially true of public figures. As Steven said: “Some of the most popular posts we put up, are photos that Bob has taken. I think people like that sense of connection, of seeing the natural world from someone else’s quite personal perspective.” If your organization has a “Bob Brown”, tap into this opportunity to connect with your supporters.

Supporters don’t always act until you invite them to. Many of your supporters may be hanging around your Facebook Page either not sure how to help or thinking they can’t be of help. Until you present them with an opportunity and invite them in, you’re leaving valuable help and resources on the table. Actions are a quick, easy way to encourage supporters to act.

Don’t be afraid to run against the grain a bit. There are tons of folks out there who tell the right and wrong ways to manage your Facebook Page. We’re guilty of it ourselves! While these pieces of advice are important, what’s more important is doing what works for your audience. If the advice works then use it. If not, don’t. Don’t get caught up in thinking that there’s only one right way to manage your Page. At the end of the day, only you know what that is and how to best accomplish it. This will take some experimentation and trial and error, but that’s okay. Pay attention, learn and have fun.

Need more social mojo?

Reach more supporters, cultivate donors, and increase Facebook engagement with ActionSprout today.

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Instant Content to Dominate the News Feed?

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instant actions and articles

The Rise of Instant 

Increasingly, folks from all walks of life are consuming media and content on their mobile devices. Designing and building content for mobile is now no longer an option; it’s a matter of survival. To this end, we have recently seen a jump in the mobile optimization of websites and articles.

One of the most recent examples is Facebook’s launch of Instant Articles. Announced on May 12th, the new platform instantly loads articles on a user’s mobile device in as little as a second. On average, this is down 8 seconds from their old load time of 10 seconds per article.

Previously, articles were the slowest type of content to load in the Facebook News Feed, yet were still one of the most widely shared:

“People share a lot of articles on Facebook, particularly on our mobile app. To date, however, these stories take an average of eight seconds to load, by far the slowest single content type on Facebook. Instant Articles makes the reading experience as much as ten times faster than standard mobile web articles.”

Facebook is working with nine launch partners for Instant Articles: The New York Times, National Geographic, BuzzFeed, NBC, The Atlantic, The Guardian, BBC News, Spiegel and Bild.

It shouldn’t be a surprise that load times play a huge role in the mobile optimization process. On a mobile device, people are on the go and often don’t have the luxury of waiting for their content. They may be waiting in line for their coffee, on the bus, or getting off the train. Everyday load times are gaining more influence in shaping supporter behavior.

The ActionSprout social action platform is no different, with more than half of action takers engaging with actions from a mobile device. This means that a few extra seconds can make the difference between a completed action or an abandoned one.

Today we’re excited to announce the beta release of our new instant action platform:  completely rebuilt from the ground up to deliver actions instantly with minimal load times.

Instant Actions

Actions on the new platform load in less than a second on mobile devices to ensure maximum action completion by your supporters. This means more petition signatures, more donations, and more supporters involved with your cause.

Currently, a small group of organizations are beta testing our new platform with a system-wide launch to come at the end of May. Already, Instant Actions are exceeding expectations with early results, and are showing a 10–15% increase in conversion on our new action platform over our current action experience.

Need more social mojo?

Reach more supporters, cultivate donors, and increase Facebook engagement with ActionSprout today.

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Are You Addressing Dark Social?

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dark social

Your Nonprofit Could be Losing Traffic Data to Dark Social

“The fear of loss is a path to the Dark Side.” Yoda, Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith

There is a myth that everything online is measurable, as long as you have the right tools. While this is the case most of the time, there are times when we think we have all the data but don’t. This illusion is an easy trap to fall into and can lead to decisions based on faulty data. These decisions can lead nonprofits to focus their energy in the wrong places and waste unnecessary time and energy.

One of the biggest examples of these data holes is known as “dark social”. So what is dark social and what can we do about it? In this post, we’ll explore the dark side of social media.

What is Dark Social?

When someone visits your website, they usually bring a note with them saying something along the lines of: “Hi! I’m coming from Facebook!” This information is then reported in your analytics tools, reporting, etc. But sometimes, someone will show up on the doorstep of your website with no note. You have no idea where they came from or how they found your website. This is Dark Social.

Coined by Alexis C. Madrigal in 2012, the majority of dark social happens when someone shares your website through:

  • Personal email messages
  • Instant messenger program
  • A mobile application

This means that a portion of our traffic analytics has the potential to be wrong. Dark social can show up as “direct traffic”—as if the visitor had your page bookmarked or they typed in your URL. But that’s not actually the case most of the time. What happened is that someone sent an Instant Message (with your page link) to a friend, emailed their co-worker, or came to your site through a mobile app.

dark social graph

The traffic break down from the Atlantic

The Problem

When someone clicks on your link in an email or an IM program, the referral note is lost. The same is true when someone clicks on your link in a mobile app. Usually, when someone is browsing Facebook and they click on a link, they take a little piece of data with them that will tell you that they came from Facebook. But when a visitor browses Facebook through the mobile app, no such data is taken with them. They are taken straight to your website as if they had directly typed your URL in their browser address bar.

This isn’t just a problem with the Facebook app. Other mobile apps also fail to provide the visitor referral information. Potential sources of dark social include the following:

dark social

via Chartbeat


Why Nonprofits Should Care

You may be thinking at this point, “This is interesting and all but why should my nonprofit care about dark social?” This may seem like a valid point, but now ask yourself this: “Do I want to measure the success of my online campaigns?” If the answer is yes (and it should be!), then dark social affects you.

Your website’s referral traffic is a big part of your social media return on investment (ROI). For nonprofits that make social media and online campaigning one of their primary strategies, this is a big deal! Most of your measurable traffic, and thus ROI, is lost to dark social. This makes it harder to prove that your social campaigns are making a difference!

You could also fall into the trap of unknowingly basing important decisions on erroneous data, and not taking those errors into consideration. This could cause you to waste time and money on the wrong projects.

So what can we do about it?

While there is no perfect solution to dark social, there are many ways to recapture some of the otherwise lost data.

We can use analytic tools that are working to track dark social. Chartbeat, which helped coin the term in 2012, is one such tool. They are currently working to cut dark social in half and hope that between 10 and 50% of dark social will soon be labeled correctly.

Use link trackers. Our favorite link tracker at ActionSprout is This link shortening tool will also track who shared your links and through which platform, giving you a better idea of how it spread through the dark social world.

Use an embedded email tool. People who prefer email will keep emailing your links and there isn’t much you can do about it. Instead, include an embedded email form on your website like this one.

dark social email form

This form appeared on Laura Roeder’s blog

These forms allow people, who like email, to email your link while providing you with the referral information. Now some will definitely still use their own email program, but at least you’re recapturing some of your lost data.

Include sharing buttons on your website. Like the email form, these buttons will recapture the otherwise lost data of social sharing.

dark social sharing buttons

ActionSprout uses AddThis

Pay attention to User agent strings. This one is a bit more complex. While dark social traffic has lost its referral data, it hasn’t lost its User agent string. These strings are provided by some analytics tools and can help you figure out where your dark social traffic is coming from.

What this all means

In 2014, Madrigal revisited the term he coined in a post for Fusion. More data had emerged since 2012 and he was back with some new findings. He found that most of the recaptured dark social data was coming from one place: Facebook’s mobile app. This means that nonprofits should be prioritizing shareability of their content on Facebook over other content optimization. You may not be able to track sharing through Facebook’s mobile app yet, but sharing you can’t track is better than no sharing at all.

The other big discovery was that old styles of person-to-person sharing were decreasing. Due to the increasing accessibility of mobile devices, more and more people were simply sharing through social media apps (like Facebook’s) rather than email, IM and forums.

“Facebook [has] begun to eat away at the roots of the old ways of sharing on non-commercial platforms. Mobile is becoming the dominant way people access the Internet. And true person-to-person dark social appears to be less prevalent on mobile devices.”

The key takeaways here are simple: As much as 60% of your web traffic data is off and more recently, we’ve found out that a lot of this traffic is actually coming from Facebook and its mobile app. This means that Facebook is even more important to your efforts than you thought! You’ll want to give your Facebook efforts some extra love and optimize your content for sharing through the site.

The good news is that analytics tools are slowly but surely catching up with dark social. In the meantime there are ways that, although imperfect, will recapture some of your lost dark social data. Welcome to the dark side of social media!

Need more social mojo?

Reach more supporters, cultivate donors, and increase Facebook engagement with ActionSprout today.

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Interview: Kathy Plate’s Nonprofit Social Media Strategy

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media strategy

UltraViolet, Fighting Sexism and Expanding Women’s Rights

UltraViolet is a powerful and rapidly growing community of people from all walks of life, mobilized to fight sexism and expand women’s rights, from politics and government to media and pop culture. UltraViolet works on a range of issues including health care, economic security, violence, reproductive rights, racial justice and immigration, by putting the voices of all women, especially women of color and LGBTQ women, front and center.

Kathy Plate is currently their Online Communications Director. Throughout her career, she’s revolutionized online participation, most notably through livestreaming, developing a conference mobile app, and facilitating more robust conversations on social media.

Recently we had the honor of sitting down with Kathy to talk social strategy and how she’s rocking the UltraViolet page. Here’s what she had to say.

ActionSprout (AS): How long have you managed social media communications and where did you get your start?

Kathy Plate (KP): I’ve been managing social media since 2007 as part of my first nonprofit job at the Alliance for Justice. My original role there was outreach to law students, and I found that social media was a new and effective way to do that. That led to a role managing online communications for the organization.

(AS): Tell us a bit about where you work. Why did you want to work with UltraViolet?

(KP): UltraViolet is a community of people mobilized to fight sexism and expand women’s rights, from politics and government to media and pop culture. We combine innovative, cutting-edge organizing with grassroots, people-powered actions to fight for equality and progress. I wanted to work with UltraViolet because I saw that the group was doing really strategic and culturally relevant rapid-response work in a way that no one else was. It’s also a young organization with a remote working environment—things that make us nimble and allow for a great working culture.

Doing work previously focused on LGBT equality, I saw rapid progress on certain fronts, while witnessing major backlash against women’s and reproductive groups. I wanted to shift my focus to fighting sexism in an intentional and intersectional way.

(AS): What do you wish other people knew about your nonprofit?

(KP): I think many people don’t realize the full breadth of our work. I would like people to know that we work on a wide range of issues around women’s rights and that we do far more than just run online petitions. We run strategic campaigns to win progress and that includes, but is not limited to online organizing.

(AS): The interest in equality and feminism seems to be growing. Why do you think that is?

(KP): I think the interest in equality is growing, but unfortunately I think much of that is in response to the backlash we’re seeing after years of progress. I also think that there are many younger women who grew up with more equality than generations in the past, but then on campuses, in the workplace and at home are still facing incredible amounts of sexism—and they aren’t willing to put up with it.

Social media has also allowed for many people who wouldn’t otherwise necessarily have a public voice to call things out and agitate and advocate on a bigger level. And that has unfortunately resulted in a lot of online harassment against feminists.

(AS): What do you think will change about UltraViolet over the next five years?

(KP): I know that we’ll continue to grow—we’ve doubled in size over the year that I’ve been here. I think we’ll have even more of an impact on pop culture than we do now, with innovative new programs.

(AS): How has your strategy / options about Facebook changed over time?

(KP): Facebook is constantly changing, from technical details to algorithms that impact who you’re able to reach. One of the ways my strategy has changed is that I’m not looking for just one tactic that will equal success; I think one of the best ways to stay relevant on Facebook is to post often with various types of content. And, to not be afraid to post some things more than once.

As someone who works in social media, I usually see things first as they become popular online, but a lot of people aren’t on Facebook all day, or even every day, so it makes sense to post important things more than once. One of the things I do every week is see what content did well earlier in the week and would be relevant to repost on the weekend for people who may have missed it.

(AS): What’s something you wished you learned sooner in terms of social media?

(KP): I wish I’d realized right away that Twitter would take off the way it did. I remember going to a panel where people talked about whether or not it would take off—at the time it was mostly SMS, and not many people had smartphones yet. I remember thinking that there was no way it would stick around as a major influence, but as it grew I realized I was wrong.

(AS): Tell us a bit about your Facebook Page (What’s the audience like, what kind of content do they enjoy, how often do you post?)

(KP): Not surprisingly, the majority of our audience is women. They like a mix of content; calls to action do well, but not if we post too many too often. And people will share when they are outraged by something, but also appreciate feel-good posts about inspiring things that people are doing to combat sexism. For instance, of our most popular posts last year, one was really serious about Marissa Alexander’s sentence for firing a warning shot, and another was about Mo’Ne Davis and the Little League World Series.

(AS): What organizational goals do your Facebook efforts support?

(KP): We think of Facebook as a great way to engage our members and hopefully connect with new supporters. We are concerned with far more than how many people like our Page and want to make sure that we keep the level of engagement high.

Another goal on Facebook that includes engagement is building or spreading awareness, and one of the main ways we do that is with infographics and shareable images. We’ve discovered that our members are willing to share infographics on topics such as rape culture, incarcerated women, unequal pay, gun violence and the wage gap.

(AS): Tell us about a recent successful social campaign or series of posts.

(KP): We like to integrate social campaigns into our broader campaigns. A recent example of one that performed well was our campaign to get Target to raise its minimum wage. After Walmart and other stores raised their wages, we launched a petition to Target asking them to raise their wage as well. We kept the momentum of the petition going with online ads near the Target HQ, and we also asked our members to tweet messages at @Target asking them to raise the wage. We had additional tactics ready to go, but after publicly saying they wouldn’t, Target raised its wages two weeks ago.

Another not quite so recent example is our work around Marissa Alexander. Our members had never taken action on women in prison before, and we weren’t sure they would, so we decided to raise awareness on social media. That’s when this image went viral and we realized that our members would be willing to take action. When Marissa Alexander was finally released, we were able to raise broader awareness of the criminalization of domestic violence survivors.

(AS): What did you learn from this success more broadly? / Is there anything you do differently now?

(KP): One of the things we learned from Target was the power of sending messages to top executives in addition to the corporate account. I won’t name names, but one of the executives responded on Twitter.

For Marissa Alexander, we realized that members are willing to take action on issues that are new to them if the framing is right. It’s also an example of how being able to turn campaigns around quickly is really important. When you have something going viral on social media, you need to be nimble and know how to make the most of that momentum.

(AS): How did you measure this success? What metrics do you focus on?

(KP): Our main metric for success is if something helps us to win a campaign, or bring greater awareness to an issue. With our petitions we focus on shares driving action, and we use Share Progress to test different share messages and images. On Facebook we focus on metrics around engagement, and we also track how many people are signing our petitions via shares on our Page.

(AS): Do you have any advice for other nonprofits based on your success?

(KP): One of the things I think about before sharing content on social is whether or not I would share it on my personal account, and whether the language and framing would be similar. There’s a time and place for social posts that are more official-sounding, but taking a more personal tone gets people engaged on a different level and leads to higher engagement.

Key Takeaways for your Social Media Strategy:

Don’t be afraid to post some things more than once. These days on Facebook, it’s hard to spam people unless you’re going out of your way to. It’s safe to say very few nonprofits are getting anywhere close to spamming their audiences. Therefore, there is no reason you shouldn’t be reposting important pieces of content or content that performed very well.

Reposted content on Facebook will be delivered to a different group to those who saw it the first time. This offers folks a chance to see something they missed. It also increases the reach and engagement for you. Kathy has the right idea to check in once a week and see which pieces could use some extra love: “One of the things I do every week is see what content did well earlier in the week and would be relevant to repost on the weekend for people who may have missed it.”

Engagement is king. Page likes are nice to have but at the end of the day, they’re just a vanity metric. What will propel your mission and influence real change is engagement. Engagement is measured as the sum of likes, comments, shares and clicks on your content. This should always be your number one metric on Facebook.

Infographics and shareable images go a long way. We can’t overstate this: visual content is much more likely to be shared. Experiment with turning your content into an infographic or an awesome image. Be ready and keep your eyes open

Be ready for trending topics. Kathy stated this perfectly: When you have something going viral on social media, you need to be nimble and know how to make the most of that momentum.

Would you share your content? People share things that reflect well on themselves. We want to appear informed, make our friends laugh or be the first to share a video. So when posting content to your own Page, ask yourself this: Would I share this on my personal account?

Need more social mojo?

Reach more supporters, cultivate donors, and increase Facebook engagement with ActionSprout today.

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15 Nonprofit Social Media Professionals to Follow

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Nonprofit Social Media Professionals

The Top Nonprofit Social Media Professionals to Follow:

Volunteering, Tech and Thought Leadership


volunteer match Nonprofit Social Media ProfessionalsVolunteer Match strengthens communities by making it easier for good people and good causes to connect. The organization offers a variety of online services to support nonprofits and receive millions of visitors a year. They have become the preferred internet recruiting tool for more than 99,000 nonprofit organizations.

hands on Nonprofit Social Media Professionals

HandsOn NetworkInspires, equips and mobilizes people to take action that changes the world. They put people at the center of change and connect them to their power to make a difference because people drive change, passion overcomes obstacles, service bridges and bonds, innovation drives results and servant leadership transforms.

Our vision is that one day every person will discover their power to make a difference, creating healthy communities and vibrant democracies around the world.”


points of light Nonprofit Social Media Professionals

Points of Light mobilizes people to take action on the causes they care about through innovative programs, events and campaigns. Points of Light is creating a culture of volunteerism, one that celebrates the power of service.

idealist Nonprofit Social Media Professionals

Idealist Is on a mission is to close the gap between intention and action by connecting people, organizations, ideas, and resources.

“We want to live in a world where all people can lead free and dignified lives.”


nten Nonprofit Social Media Professionals

NTEN Tips, resources, and live webinar coverage about all things nonprofit technology. NTEN is the membership organization of nonprofit professionals who put technology to use for their causes. NTEN helps you do your job better, so you can make the world a better place.

amy sample ward Nonprofit Social Media ProfessionalsAmy Sample Ward Speaker, author and CEO of NTEN. Dedicated to supporting and educating organizations and change makers in the use of evolving technologies that cultivate and engage communities. She’s focused on real social change and the tech that supports it.

nonprofitorgs Nonprofit Social Media Professionals

Nonprofit Tech for Good The mission of this Twitter profile is to serve as a portal to all nonprofit organizations. Nonprofit Tech for Good is a leading social and mobile media resource for nonprofit professionals that provides valuable, easy-to-understand information, news, and resources related to nonprofit technology, online communications, and mobile and social fundraising.

farra trompeter Nonprofit Social Media Professionals

Farra Trompeter is the VP at  and on the Board at . She’s passionate about smart communications for nonprofits, fundraising, nonprofit branding and activism. She has led dozens of organizations through major brand overhauls, multichannel campaigns and is a frequent speaker around the country on topics like social media, online fundraising, and donor engagement.

Nonprofit Social Media Professionals

TechSoup is on a mission to connect your nonprofit with tech products and services and learning resources to make informed decisions about technology. Their goal? To ensure every nonprofit and NGO on the planet has the technology resources and knowledge they need to operate at their full potential.

Thought Leaders:

kivi Nonprofit Social Media Professionals

Kivi Leroux Miller is a nonprofit marketing and communications trainer, consultant, and blogger. She is president of Nonprofit Marketing and the award-winning author of two books, “The Nonprofit Marketing Guide: High-Impact, Low-Cost Ways to Build Support for Your Good Cause” and “Content Marketing for Nonprofits: A Communications Map for Engaging Your Community, Becoming a Favorite Cause, and Raising More Money.”

john haydon Nonprofit Social Media ProfessionalsJohn Haydon is a expert on digital marketing and fundraising for nonprofits and is one of the most sought-after digital marketing experts for nonprofits and charities.

philanthropy Nonprofit Social Media ProfessionalsPhilanthropy The Chronicle of Philanthropy’s is an independent news organization that has been serving leaders, fundraisers, grant makers, and others involved in the philanthropic enterprise for more than 25 years. Sharing news, advice, and commentary on the nonprofit world, they also offer a robust advice section to help nonprofit workers do their jobs as well as one of the biggest listings of career opportunities.

foundation center Nonprofit Social Media Professionals

Foundation Center Established in 1956, they are the leading source of information about philanthropy worldwide. Through data, analysis, and training, they connect people who want to change the world to the resources they need to succeed. The Foundation Center maintains the most comprehensive database on U.S. and, increasingly, a robust, accessible knowledge bank for the sector. It also operates research, education, and training programs designed to advance knowledge of philanthropy at every level.

npq Nonprofit Social Media Professionals

Nonprofit Quarterly offers journalism for the nonprofit sector, covering nonprofit trends, news, democratic activism and philanthropy. Known for its rigor and understanding of nonprofits and philanthropy, it relies on its readership to guide its editorial agenda keeping it a relevant and a trusted source for hundreds of thousands.

nancy schwartz Nonprofit Social Media Professionals

Nancy Schwartz is a nonprofit problem solver and coach that helps nonprofits succeed through effective marketing. She offers planning and implementation services to organizations large and small.

Need more social mojo?

Reach more supporters, cultivate donors, and increase Facebook engagement with ActionSprout today.

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The Best Ways to Love Your Donors on Social Media

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love donors

Show your Donors how much you Appreciate them!

The Internet is opening up tons of opportunities for nonprofits! For one, it allows nonprofits to dramatically expand their reach with donors.

To begin our discussion on how to effectively shower your online donors with love, let’s take a look at the Blackbaud 2011 donorCentrics™ Internet and Multichannel Giving Benchmarking Report.

  • New donors are increasingly turning to the Internet rather than to direct mail for obvious reasons.
  • However, new first-time online donors also have the highest attrition or turnover rates: 60% only give once. Ouch!
  • Those that do return to give at another time tend to become committed and highly valuable supporters, volunteers, cheerleaders—and they drive more engagement online as well.

Now that we know what’s at stake, let’s get right to the most central point: how to increase donor retention.

The secret? It’s all about showing the love!

But what does that mean? We’ll answer that question through these proven methods.

Personalize Automated Donation Response Emails

We’re now programmed to expect automated, impersonal and scripted Thank You emails in response to spending money online in almost any context. This includes giving donations to nonprofits as much as making a purchase on Amazon. It’s a given. Simply saying thank you means diddly squat.

It has no weight, so to speak. So, while it’s not possible to personalize each and every email to every donor, you can put far more effort into your automatic responses.

  • Don’t ask them for anything else within a Thank You email. It’s definitely frowned upon and won’t win you any brownie points with donors.
  • Communicate that you put some LOVE into this!
  • Be as personal as possible. Keep in mind that you are a human talking to other humans.
  • Go light on the links other than to informative, relevant, useful or entertaining content.
  • Use Smart Includes to insert their name and other info like how much they gave.

Again, put some love into the automated Thank You emails. Don’t send a boring theme or nothing but a “Thanks” and a transaction receipt.

Go Old School: Direct Mail Responses

Is it a good idea to send a thank you letter or card to donors through the mail? Absolutely! And you can apply just about everything we said concerning automated emails above. Put some love into these, which translates into personality.

If it feels or looks like the things they mindlessly toss into the physical trash or recycle bin on a regular basis, they’re goners. Here’s a really good Thank You Letter Template ready for personalization and tweaking.

Showcase Both Your Biggest and Smallest Supporters

This is your nonprofit’s story and all your donors are equally a part of it. When it comes to interfacing with first-time online donors and increasing retention, you might want to focus on the smaller guys. It’s all relative of course; we’re speaking in generalities here. Be sure to experiment and see what works best with your particular audience. Odds are you’ll find that the big upticks come from shining a light on examples like these:

  • Little kids who create and engineer ways to make donation money. The “money” is secondary to these kids; superficial. All they care about and focus on are the impact and results that the money’s intended for.
  • The average person who anyone can relate to.
  • Hard-luck cases who overcome the odds and their donations are a form of giving back.

We can’t help but melt like butter for situations where people overcome big obstacles to give a little, but produce big impacts.

These everyday stories make a difference to people as well, and add to accessibility.

How do you show your donors some love? Let us know in the comments!

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Megan Cantrell’s National Parks Strategy for Social Media

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Protecting our National Parks for Future Generations

The National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA) is an independent, nonpartisan voice working to address major threats facing the National Park System. The NPCA was established in 1919, just three years after the National Park Service.

Now, nearly 100 years later, the NPCA has a million members and supporters fighting to protect and enhance America’s National Park System for present and future generations.

We’ve admired the work of the NPCA for some time, and were very excited when Megan Cantrell agreed to an interview. Megan is currently their Senior Coordinator of Online Communications. We sat down to talk social strategy, online supporters and the future of the NPCA.

Here’s what she had to say.

ActionSprout (AS): How long have you managed social media communications and where did you get your start?

Megan Cantrell (MC): I actually got my start here at the NPCA. I have been managing the National Parks Conservation Association’s (NPCA) Facebook account since its creation seven years ago. Working with the web team, we started a Facebook Page and that is when we started building our social media program.

(AS): Tell us a bit about where you work. Why did you want to work with the National Park Conservation Association?

(MC): When I was in high school, I was a Student Conservation Association (SCA) high school volunteer. That took me to Yellowstone National Park and to the backcountry of Yosemite National Park. Visiting these two parks, helping maintain trails, educating hikers about Leave No Trace and just being in these majestic places—who wouldn’t fall in love with the idea of national parks?

Because of this deep connection created through the SCA, I found that I wanted to continue doing more for them. The NPCA takes volunteering to the next level. Volunteering for a day to help clean up trash, build fences and providing hands-on (and much-needed) help is important. But there are many issues that face our national parks that you can’t tackle with a shovel or hammer. The NPCA is America’s voice for our national parks. We help national park advocates find their voice to speak up on important issues that our national parks are facing. Bringing awareness to comment periods, Congressional bills being introduced, development threats, etc. The NPCA and our one million members and supporters use our voices to protect our national parks for present and future generations.

(AS): What do you wish other people knew about your nonprofit?

(MC): Your voice matters. Taking action on behalf of our national parks is important and we (the NPCA) cannot do it without you. We often are asked: Does my action really matter? It does. Sometimes our fight takes years of litigation in order to pull off a huge win for our national parks, but the steady drumbeat of our national park advocates helps—tremendously.

(AS): What do you think will change about the NPCA over the next five years?

(MC): In five years? Lots! The 100th anniversary of the creation of the National Park System is in 2016. It has grown to include more than 400 of our country’s most important historical and cultural sites and iconic landscapes. While our national parks are referred to as our country’s “best idea”, they face many challenges, ranging from encroaching development to climate change to years of underfunding. Our national parks need people to not just visit them, but also to take action to ensure that they are protected for generations to come. To ensure that our national parks thrive in their second century, we must empower a new generation of people to advocate for them.

But that’s not all. In five years, the NPCA will also be celebrating our 100th anniversary. A century of advocating to protect and enhance America’s “best idea”, gearing up for our own second century.

(AS): How has your strategy / options about Facebook changed over time?

(MC): Our strategy has been flexible. It has to be, with the advancements and changes Facebook makes. We constantly evaluate how our posts are performing. Each month we take Facebook’s analytics and plug it into a document we created that highlights our main priorities:

  • Reach
  • Engagement
  • Stories Created
  • Sharing

We want our fans to be well-versed in the issues surrounding our national parks so that when there is a time to take action, they can, and they can do so knowing why it is important. We also want to provide our fans with quality content that engages them in conversations, prompts them to share and tell their friends.

We have made a concerted effort this last year to include me early on in the campaign strategy meetings. This has really helped in understanding and identifying campaign goals for the different programs. Hopefully, continuing to do this will allow us to not only better plan, but also better track how our campaigns are doing and continue to evaluate and tweak for the future.

(AS): Tell us a bit about your Facebook Page (What’s the audience like, what kind of content do they enjoy, how often do you post?)

(MC): The NPCA’s Facebook Page is full of passionate national park advocates. We love reviewing comments from our posts where fans are answering other fans’ questions about national park issues, and doing so correctly and with facts. Our most engaging posts have to do with top ten lists, photo slideshows, national park issue victories and urgent action requests. We try not to post more than three times a day. We can post anywhere between 30–55 posts a month.

(AS): What organizational goals do your Facebook efforts support?

(MC): The NPCA is America’s voice for our national parks. Our goal is to cultivate and engage our Facebook fans to become invested in the future of our National Park System. Care about how they are now and what we can do to leave them in better condition for future generations.

(AS): What kind of social calls to action do you use?

(MC): Mostly we prompt them to take action on behalf of our national parks. Sometimes, when last-minute legislation is presented, we ask folks to call their Senators and Representatives.

(AS): Tell us about a recent successful social campaign or series of posts.

(MC): Our most successful social media campaign was during the government shutdown in 2013. Our national parks had to close because they are managed by the National Park Service which is part of the Department of Interior, which is part of the Federal Government. For 16 days, people were not allowed into their parks. The NPCA’s social media networks was the place where people were looking for answers. We sent out facts, updates on the budget issue, an FAQ blog on the shutdown, helped resolve issues of false information, etc. It was a campaign that was necessary to do, in order for the correct information to be disseminated to the public.

(AS): What did you learn from this success more broadly? / Is there anything you do differently now?

(MC): People are listening. Every morning a team would update each other on news from the night before, issues being discussed on social media, what emails to our Member Services team are saying, etc. We would then create a communications plan for that day. This happened every day during the shutdown. The people were talking and it was up to us to listen so we could address misinformation, share updates on the budget process, etc.

I think we learned a lot from that campaign, about the power of social media and our supporters. One thing we did think about afterwards was being able to create multimedia (graphics and video) more quickly to help illustrate the issues at hand.

(AS): What did you learn about your audience from this success?

(MC): Our fans are paying attention. They are well-informed about national park issues and often help address misinformation on their own. Our organization learned that social media is a powerful place to communicate.

(AS): How did you measure this success? What metrics do you focus on?

(MC): We used the analytical tools that we had: Facebook and Twitter. We did realize after the campaign that it would have been nice to thoughtfully track our landing page traffic with UTM coding and Crazy Egg. But we looked at the number of comments made on our Page, shares, likes, retweets. The overall engagement rate and traffic to our sites over the course of the shutdown was the highest it has ever been.

(AS): Do you have any advice for other nonprofits based on your success?

(MC): When there is an emergency issue, listen to your audience. Hear what they are saying and let your teams know so you can respond quickly. There were a lot of stories that were blown out of proportion over the course of the 16 days, where the whole story was not told. Knowing that our supporters were hearing these false stories, we were able to respond accordingly and tried to disseminate the correct information about what was really happening in and around our national parks.

Key Takeaways for National Parks Strategy:

Every Voice Matters. It’s easy for supporters to feel like their voice doesn’t matter in the scheme of things. This is especially true when issues feel too big or solutions feel impossible. It’s your job to remind them that their voice does matter and that it can and will lead to change. Let them know that you can’t do it without them!

Current events. Campaigns centered on current events tend to overperform. But don’t go out and pick just any current event; make sure that it’s something your supporters are passionate about and that will move them to action.

Know what your most engaging posts are. Looking at your most engaging posts usually leads to the discovery of patterns. There are probably a few types of content that your audience enjoys the most. This is also true for content formats. Do images outperform videos? Do you supporters seem to enjoy articles? Pay attention and repeat what works. The Page Analyzer is a tool that will help you do this quickly and easily. The report will show you only the highest-performing content from your Page.

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Mini Guide: How to Source Beautiful Action Images

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Legally Source Images for Your Social Actions

When looking for the perfect image for your action, where do you go? Can you simply Google image search what you’d like and drop it into your action? While many people who publish online take this route, it is illegal and they do get into legal trouble from time to time.

The thing is, it doesn’t have to be this way! There are tons of great options to source your images legally. Some are even free and provide you with beautiful, high-quality images. Let’s take a look at the legal ways to source images.

Sourcing Images the Legal Way

Free Resources

Search.creativecommon allows you to search sites like Google Images and Flickr for creative commons images all in one place. With 13 sites to pull from, this is a treasure chest of free images.

Death to Stock Photo Enter your email address into their form and receive a new pack of high-quality, beautiful images every month. These are free to use online and on social media. Each month’s pack has its own theme and usually includes about a dozen images.

Free Images and StockVault are both free websites that allow you to search for free stock photos within their databases.

Affordable Resources

iStock is run by Getty Images and provides affordable stock photos. You can choose to pay per download on a credit basis, or opt for a subscription.

ShutterStock Offers three levels of plans: free, pay as you go, or subscription.

Premium Resources

Getty Images, Corbis Images and Big Stock provide some of the most beautiful, high-quality images around. But they come at a price. Starting anywhere from $100 to a few thousand per image, these sources aren’t cheap. More often, this is where you come to splurge for a big campaign or project.


Once you have your image, you’ll need to attribute it. This can either be done on the image itself or in the image caption. Each source will have its own attribute system, so be sure to read the fine print. Usually, it will call for you to list the title, author, year and source, but this can and will differ.

Attributions can be easily added to images with tools such as Pixlr.

Sharing your Original Images on Facebook

Do you take your own original pictures? Do you attribute them before you publish? If not, you should be.

Here’s an example from UNICEF and Sierra Club. As you can see, each image includes the organization name and logo. Now, when folks share your image on social media, they are also sharing your cause.

sourcing images unicef

sourcing images sierra club

What are your favorite sources for images? Let us know in the comments!

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Can I Promote on Facebook without Spending Money on Ads?

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organically promote

Yes! How to Organically Promote your Cause on Facebook

We’ve all heard the news. Organic reach is declining and the only way to reach fans and supporters is through paid ads. Facebook as a free medium is gone and the game is now called “pay to play”. It’s the end of an era, folks… or is it?

How true are these claims? Is the only way to reach supporters really through paid ads?

While there is definitely some truth in these statements, it’s not as black and white as it seems. Yes, Pages can still reach their fans through organic reach if they know what to do.

The key to promoting your cause organically on Facebook is inspiring your supporters to shout from the rooftops about your cause. Inspiring this kind of reaction requires posting content that compels supporters to share it far and wide through their social networks. When this content is paired with your nonprofit’s name and a simple call to action, you’ve got yourself a powerful organic promotion machine!

I know, I know, this is easier said than done. Content such as I’ve described doesn’t just grow on trees. But, there are tried and true ways to encourage more of your supporters to share your content and thus your cause.

Make them look good

The secret to getting more of your content shared is posting content that your supporters want to be seen sharing. When supporters engage with a piece of content on Facebook, they do so because they want someone to see them do it. Facebook users are keenly aware of the fact that by engaging with your content or taking any social action, they’re communicating something to their friends.

As a Page manager, your job is to create content that helps your target audience express themselves to their friends. In other words, when Facebook supporters interact with your content, it becomes a part of their image on Facebook; a part of their personal narrative. How does your content help them achieve this?

One way to measure this is to ask yourself: “Would I personally share this piece of content?” If the answer is no, your supporters may not want to either.

Learn what they like

So we’re posting content that makes our supporters look great—well how do we figure out what it is that they want to share? Luckily, there are many tools that will help you figure out what your supporters are interested in.

Page Analyzer. This free tool will generate a report of your most popular and engaging posts. Patterns in this report are an indication of what your supporters like. Be sure to look for patterns in subject matter, format, tone and style, and length of post.

Facebook Insights. Scrolling through your Facebook Insights will give you an idea of which of your posts engaged the most people. This is another place to look for patterns, both in what your supporters like and don’t like.

insights promote

Timeline is an ActionSprout tool available with a free account. Similar to Facebook Insights, Timeline will show you which of your posts performed the best and worst. This tool also allows you to sort, filter and search through your results.

Timeline promote


Be timely

Time and again we see that some of the highest-performing content concerns current events and issues that people are passionate about. This type of content not only helps your supporters build their online persona, but makes them appear in the know and a source of information to their friends.

Keep your eyes open for relevant content or trending hashtags that relate to your cause. Bonus points if you spin this content into an Action!

Use the right emotions

To effectively promote your cause organically, you want as widespread sharing as possible among your supporters. To accomplish this, your content needs to contain and evoke the right emotions that inspire this kind of sharing. According to Kimberlee Morrison:

“Emotions such as inspiration, happiness and amusement led users to broadcast the information to others through Facebook shares, and tweets.”

In contrast:

“When users encountered emotions that made them feel out of control such as anger, sadness and fear, they were more likely to “narrowcast” the information, by engaging in discussion in comments, or sharing with smaller groups of other users. Arousal was most important when it came to narrowcasting.”

This means whenever possible, provoke inspiration, happiness and amusement through your content.

If you do promote, only pay for what’s already working

If you notice a piece of content that is really rocking, it might be worth putting a little money behind to give it an extra boost. Setting a budget of $15 a day can be enough. Be sure to save this for content that is truly performing higher than usual!

How do you inspire the sharing of your organization’s content? Let us know in the comments!

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Timothy DuWhite Fights for Justice through Social Media

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social media

Believe Out Loud empowers Christians to work for LGBT equality

Formed in 2009, Believe Out Loud is an online community that empowers Christians to work for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) equality. Reaching an average of 3–5 million people per month, they are the leading platform in Christian faith and LGBTQ advocacy.

Since the advent of the modern gay rights movement, many Christians have raised their voices for (LGBT) equality. Led by Jesus’ message to love thy neighbor, they are fighting hard against injustice of all who are discriminated against.

Timothy DuWhite, Program Associate of Believe Out Loud, is no different to those who came before him. As the primary social media manager, he is in the trenches day in and day out, working hard to maintain a safe place for people to talk about these sensitive and personal issues.

We were so blown away by the success and quality of the Believe Out Loud Facebook Page, we asked him for an interview. Luckily for us, he agreed! Here’s what he has to say on social strategy, how to foster an engaged audience and keep them coming back for more.

(AS): How long have you managed social media communications and where did you get your start?

(TD): I have been managing social media communications for about 5 years now. As a professional spoken word/teaching artist, a lot of my early experience stemmed from me creating an online presence for myself. Much of this personal work translated well into my position as the Program Coordinator at a nonprofit by the name of “Urban Word NYC”. At Urban Word, I was not only responsible for facilitating all programmatic responsibilities, but also for engaging with the youth we served via different social media platforms.

Today, as the social media manager for Believe Out Loud, all these previous experiences in navigating personal accounts, as well as relationships with youth, help to inform the way I approach this work now.

(AS): Tell us a bit about where you work. Why did you want to work with Believe Out Loud?

(TD): On the most basic and fundamental level, Believe Out Loud appealed to me simply because I am a queer man of faith who could use some affirming at times. On a more structural level, what I found fascinating about Believe Out Loud is how they used these various platforms to counter the non-affirming narratives that so many LGBTQ folks are forced to digest. A huge advantage of social media today is that it gives everyone an opportunity to have the sort of conversations that are important to them; Believe Out Loud exemplifies that.

(AS): What do you wish other people knew about your nonprofit?

(TD): I think it’ll be good for at least our audience to know that we are a staff of three. Within that staff I am the primary one doing all this particular engagement. I offer this information because another aspect of my job is comment moderation on the posts we publish every day. Thankfully we have such an expansive and engaged audience; however, it does come with its pros and cons. Pro being we get to have real in-depth conversations with a large array of people and identities. Con being if those conversations are in some way derailed or spammed by people wishing to only agitate, it becomes difficult for one person (me) to keep up with them all and make sure our Page remains a “safe space”. So just keeping that in mind would be helpful.

(AS): What do you think will change about Believe Out Loud over the next five years?

(TD): Given the nature of social media, I can confidently predict that in five years the different platforms that we prioritize in online engagement would likely shift or completely change. Another thing that I see changing, which we’re already in the works of doing now, is cultivating more offline work. Just last year, we hosted our first big offline event by the name of “Level Ground”. It was the first queer of faith film festival New York has ever seen. The best part of doing offline work is that we actually get to meet and connect with the people who “like”, “share” and comment on our Page. Meeting our audience members just further informs and inspires our work.

(AS): How has your strategy / options about Facebook changed over time?

(TD): The most important key to successful online engagement is consistency. By remaining consistent, you are offering a sense of reliability to your audience members, which is imperative for maintaining them. With that said, strategies may vary given certain news updates or upcoming campaigns; however, things such as the time of day we post generally stay the same.

One of the changes that we have been instituting recently is how we choose to present “breaking news”. Some days, breaking news would look like a relevant picture with the news update in the caption along with a link to an article. Other days it might be a blog written by one of our audience members that expounds upon the personal narrative in relation to said news. It’s really contingent on the overall emotional/mental climate of our audience, and it is my job to pay close attention to that.

(AS): What’s something you wished you learned sooner in terms of social media?

(TD): The trick to being successful on social media is knowing your audience and knowing what it is they respond both well and not so well to. So in response to this question, the sooner you know this information, the easier your job is as a social media manager. Working with Believe Out Loud, I’ll say it took about three months before I was confident about the responses to the content I was sharing. On the flip side, it also took that amount of time for the audience to adjust to a new manager, whether they explicitly knew the work was handed over to me or not. So being able to expedite this process as quickly as possible would be most helpful.

(AS): Tell us a bit about your Facebook Page (What’s the audience like, what kind of content do they enjoy, how often do you post?)

(TD): Our audience at Believe Out Loud ranges from LGBTQ folks of faith, to parents of LGBTQ children, to clergy, to straight allies, and even at times to non-affirming Christians. The content that we find does the best, with regard to cold numbers, are what we describe as “fluff” material. Fluff is the content that is usually the most easily digestible for our audience and affirms an aspect of our organization’s mission. For example, fluff for us would be a picture of two women getting married, or of two men caring for their child. Fluff is a helpful tool to use for balancing out posts.

For example, if we have rough breaking news to share in the morning, we would probably share some fluff in the afternoon to lighten people’s spirits. We usually post four times a day, our time slots being: 10am, 1pm, 4:30pm and 7pm. Across our platforms, Believe Out Loud reaches an average of 3–5 million people per month. Our Facebook community is the largest and most engaged part of our network.

(AS): What organizational goals do your Facebook efforts support?

(TD): Believe Out Loud was originally created as a response to the non-affirming messages being spread about the LGBTQ community and the Christian faith. The popular narrative one would often hear about with regard to these communities is that they cannot be one of the same—that being an LGBTQ-identified Christian is in some way an oxymoron. The paradigm BOL works within, is the belief that sharing stories and cultivating nuanced dialogue around such misrepresentations would help to incite action and change. Our Facebook efforts support this notion in that it gives us the opportunity to test out our theory. On Facebook we are able to ask questions, share experiences, and shape discussions in ways that deviate from this widely consumed narrative.

(AS): What kind of social calls to action do you use?

(TD): As of late, a lot of our work has been based around the Religious Freedom Restoration Acts (RFRA). Our goal is to rally supporters in particular target states to lend their voices to ending legal discrimination on the basis of religious freedom. The majority of our excitement to begin using ActionSprout is to see how your tool could help us in propelling this campaign and movement.

(AS): Tell us about a recent successful social campaign or series of posts.

(TD): The most recent series of posts I have been focusing on are all the content that involves RFRA. These posts mostly consist of news updates, and most recently blog posts.

(AS): What did you learn from this success more broadly? / Is there anything you do differently now?

(TD): The majority of the success from these posts comes from the relevancy of the information. RFRA is something that is currently affecting and has the potential to affect the lives of all LGBTQ folks across this nation. Getting people to engage with content such as this isn’t difficult. What I spend most of my work focusing on is tailoring the conversation. What we are interested in seeing is our audience thinking critically about this issue instead of the reactionary “this is horrible”—and that is it. So what I make sure to be cognizant of, from post to post, is how a particular caption on a news story framed the conversation that followed it. By paying close attention to this, I can toggle back and forth between the sort of dialogue I am trying to inspire.

(AS): What did you learn about your audience from this success?

(TD): For the most part, I just learned that our audience is far more informed about this issue than we originally anticipated.

(AS): How did you measure this success? What metrics do you focus on?

(TD): Personally, as the one primarily responsible for the cultivation of dialogue on our Page, I measure success in the richness of audience responses. If we can get audience members to write more than just an “Amen” or a “that’s horrible” on a piece of our content, then we are successful. Aside from that, regarding metrics, we focus less on how many “likes” a piece acquired and more so on the post’s reach. This number is what best helps us gauge how far a piece has spread.

(AS): Do you have any advice for other nonprofits based on your success?

(TD): I think some of the best advice I could give a nonprofit is to stay consistent. As I said before, consistency is how you remain reliable in the eyes of your audience. Also, a big key to success is knowing your audience—who they are, what they want, what they need—and then later finding out how to accommodate all of these things while also challenging your audience to think critically. Focusing on these few things would be the foundation to building success.

Key Takeaways for Social Media:

Build reliability and trust with your audience. Posting consistently and regularly will go a long way to building this. Also be sure to address comments on your Page, whether positive or negative, and monitor the Page in some way. You don’t want spamming or threatening content to remain on your Page for too long and drive away your core audience.

Current events and issues boost engagement. We see this time and again. No matter the format, content that relates to current events or breaking news tends to engage and reach more people. Keep your eyes open for opportunities that relate to your own cause. This is also a great way to build trust with our audience as an expert on the issue.

Get to know your audience. Who are they? What are they interested in? What do they feel strongly about? Knowing the answers to these questions will make your job a lot easier and your Page a lot better. Figuring out this stuff takes time. Like Timothy said, it took him three months to get to know his audience when he took over the BOL page. The most important thing is to pay attention to your audience and do a ton of listening. Over time, your audience will let you know what they want.

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