Nonprofits:  Social Media for Sustainable Impact

How can nonprofits acquire a professional social media service in a cash-strapped environment?  It is well-known that NPOs lack the funding to acquire professional services.  A collaborative effort funded by the corporate sector can overcome the challenge.

Funding for NPOs

There are 248 902 registered nonprofits in South Africa (www.Trialogue). 

An analysis by Kenste Radebe and  Ncedissa Nkonyeni published in the Mail and Guardian on 5 March 2020 mentions that “NGOs with limited funding are forced to underinvest in critical organisational operations such as financial systems, human resources and fundraising.

Starving an organisation’s communication budget results in less awareness and less funding, negatively impacting service delivery.

The analysis also mentions that “data from Inyathelo, which focuses on resource mobilisation and capacity-building for NGOs, indicates that most newly formed NGOs are small and micro-organisations with annual incomes ranging between R50 000 and R500 000.

Social Media as a Communication Medium

Consider the role that the communication medium can fulfil.  

With 25,80 million South Africans using social media (  NPOs should develop a social media strategy.  It allows them to tailor their content to the platform and audience and regularly evaluate the impact of their efforts.  By using social media effectively, NPOs can enhance their messaging, engage with their audience, and reach their objectives in the digital age.  The medium places the messaging firmly in the control of the NPO. 

Here are seven essential functions that strategically managed social media platforms can sustainably impact achieving objectives. 

Increased visibility 
Social media platforms allow NPOs to reach a wider audience and increase their visibility.  By creating and sharing engaging content, NPOs can attract followers, raise awareness about their cause, and get potential donors, volunteers, and supporters who may not have otherwise been aware of their organisation.

Cost-effective marketing  Traditional marketing methods are expensive.  Social media platforms offer a cost-effective way to promote their mission and activities.  Creating and sharing content on social media is generally free, although investing in paid advertising can further enhance the reach and effectiveness of campaigns.

Engagement and community building
 Social media allows NPOs to engage with their audience more interactively and immediately.  They can respond to comments, messages, and inquiries, fostering a sense of community and building relationships with supporters.  NPOs can gain valuable insights, feedback, and ideas by engaging directly with their audience.

Fundraising opportunities 
Social media platforms provide NPOs with various fundraising opportunities.  They can use features like donation buttons, crowdfunding campaigns, and fundraising events to raise funds for their cause.  Social media also allows NPOs to showcase the impact of donations, creating a sense of transparency and accountability that can inspire more people to contribute.

NPOs often work towards creating awareness about social issues and advocating for change.  Social media offers a powerful platform for educating the public, sharing important information, and mobilising supporters around specific causes.  NPOs can use social media to highlight stories, statistics, and initiatives that drive their mission forward.

Real-time communication during emergenciesSocial media can serve as a vital communication tool for NPOs in times of crisis or emergencies.  They can quickly disseminate important information, updates, and calls to action to their audience.  Social media’s immediacy and widespread usage make it an effective platform for spreading urgent messages and coordinating relief efforts.

Storytelling, news and entertainment
Social media allows NPOs to share their stories that highlight the impact of their work.  By telling stories that resonate with audiences, NPOs can generate emotional connections, fostering a sense of empathy and motivating individuals to support their NPO.

Dedicated Social Media Manager 

Why should an NPO use a dedicated SSM? 

Social media enables NPOs to connect and collaborate with other organisations, influencers, and like-minded individuals.  By reaching out to potential partners, NPOs can expand their network, share resources, and work together to achieve common goals.  Collaboration increases the reach and impact of NPOs’ efforts, benefiting the communities they serve.

A dedicated SMM brings strategic communication expertise, consistency, engagement, analytics, adaptation, reputation management, and efficiency to an NPO’s social media efforts.

They can help maximise the organisation’s reach, engagement, and impact in the digital world, supporting its mission and goals.

Let’s break down their responsibilities:

Expertise and strategy  
A dedicated SMM has specialised knowledge and expertise in social media marketing.  They understand the various platforms, trends, and best practices and can develop a tailored strategy for the NPO’s social media presence.  They can create engaging content, implement effective campaigns, and optimise the organisation’s social media activities to achieve its goals.

Brand consistency 
Maintaining a consistent brand image and voice across social media platforms is crucial for NPOs.  A dedicated social media manager can ensure the organisation’s messaging, visuals, and tone align with its mission and values.  They can create a cohesive brand identity and develop a content calendar to ensure regular and timely posting, maximising the impact of the organisation’s social media presence.

Monitoring and engagement  
Social media is not just about broadcasting messages but also about engaging with the audience.  A dedicated social media manager can monitor comments, messages, and mentions related to the organisation, promptly respond to inquiries, and engage in conversations.  They can foster a sense of community, build relationships with followers, and leverage social media as a platform for two-way communication.

Management of Analytics  
Measuring the effectiveness of social media efforts is essential to understand what works and what doesn’t.  They analyse the performance of social media campaigns, track metrics such as reach, engagement, and conversions, and provide valuable insights.  This data-driven approach allows NPOs to make informed decisions, optimise their strategies, and demonstrate the impact of their social media activities on stakeholders.

Adaptation to trends and platform changes
Social media platforms evolve quickly, introducing new features, algorithms, and trends.  A dedicated social media manager stays current with these changes and adapts the NPO’s strategy accordingly.  They can identify emerging trends, explore new platform functionalities, and implement innovative approaches to keep the organisation’s social media presence fresh and relevant.

Crisis Management  
In times of crisis or negative publicity, a dedicated SMM is crucial in managing the organisation’s online reputation.  They can respond to and address issues promptly and professionally, minimising potential damage and preserving the NPO’s credibility.  A social media manager can proactively monitor online conversations to identify and address potential reputational risks.

Time and resource efficiency  
Managing social media can be time-consuming, especially when juggling other organisational tasks.  With a dedicated social media manager, NPOs can free up time for other core activities while ensuring their social media presence remains active and impactful.  Outsourcing this task to a knowledgeable professional allows other team members to focus on helping the vulnerable and ultimately increasing overall efficiency.

The Last Word

The solution lies in collaboration and consolidation of resources.  A professional SSM can manage more than one nonprofit’s social media because they know the industry. 

They are experienced and bring in best practices to the organisation.  They stay updated on their field’s latest research, technologies, and methodologies.  

Read more about the #TheNPOSocialMediaManager here: