Nonprofits and Social Media

Social Media Management for Non-Profit Organisations


Much of this blog is dedicated to exploring the importance of each factor that makes up contemporary media practice. Brand management and online marketing can be crucial to a company or organisation’s success. Every one of the techniques we have discussed on this blog, however, require money. Either direct payments (ie. fees for a domain) or money in the form of human-hours. What are the options for an organisation that has no money?

In terms of barriers and opportunities, the largest barrier is availability of human resources, specifically not enough staff or time.

— Rowena L. Briones et al. Keeping up with the digital age: How the American Red Cross uses social media to build relationships. 2011.

This post will explore the contemporary media possibilities for Non-Profits and NGOs. At the time of writing, I am undertaking Media and Marketing work with World Vision Cambodia and this experience will inform the discussion.


Like any brand, Non-Profit Organisations rely on strategic marketing. Whether it is to raise awareness, promote a public campaign or advocate for donations, ‘getting the word out’ is integral to an organisation’s success. NonProfits generally have an array of content, ie. stories about what the organisation supports, campaign messages, requests for donations etc.

So what approach should an NGO take? Where does a Non-Profit start?

One technique is to divide the content into two sections:

  • Core Content
    • Think of this as the organisation’s ‘product’. This is the main goal for a Non-Profit, ie. subscriptions, donations, memberships etc.
  • Filler Content
    • Everything in between, it may be a story (either original or re-shared) that speaks to the issue that the organisation’s donations contribute to, an article that speaks to an NGOs work or a video that is related to an advocacy group’s campaign. This provides value to your audience and encourages ‘sharing’, re-tweeting, advocacy and network-building.


World Vision Cambodia employ these techniques. Their Core Content is Community Sponsorship but the majority of social media content is Filler Content related to issues, education and advocacy surrounding the idea of community support. For example, a part of the campaign that I am working on is #TheMagicGlasses (World Vision Cambodia 2017):

— World Vision Cambodia. The Magic Glasses. 2017.

This video is Filler Content. Part of a longer series, this instalment tells the story of Little Vichea eager to buy a pair of glasses, that she believes will give her the power to read. She discovers, of course, that even with the glasses she can not read, it is education that she needs. The content is in no way directly asking for donations, yet the message is relevant to the Core Content of community support.


Handling this with a small team is still a challenge. Communications scholars Chao Guo and Gregory D. Saxton conducted a study on how Non-Profits and NGOs have effectively employed social media and their findings suggest that advocacy, providing information to communities and then calling those communities to action, has tended to garner the highest impact (2014, pp. 73 – 74). This presents a great opportunity to share the workload:

Moreover, such types of actions beg the question: Is there a “centrifugal pull” toward decentralized, “extraorganizational” advocacy work? For instance, a real movement sprang up around the #kony2012 hashtag—and there was not necessarily a single organization or group of organizations that were central to the movement’s success.

— Chao Guo and Gregory D. Saxton. Tweeting Social Change: How Social Media Are Changing Nonprofit Advocacy. 2014.

Works Cited

Briones, R. L., Kuch, B., Liu, B. F., & Jin, Y. (2011). Keeping up with the digital age: How the American Red Cross uses social media to build relationships. Public Relations Review, 37, 37 – 43.

Guo, C., & Saxton, G. D. (2014). Tweeting Social Change: How Social Media Are Changing Nonprofit Advocacy. Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly, 43(1), 57 – 79.

World Vision Cambodia (Director). (2017). The Magic Glasses [Motion Picture].


Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License

*Featured Image Credit:
Licensed by Adobe Stock.


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