By: Holly Gonzalez, Assistant Account Executive

June 30th is World Social Media Day. 45% of the population use social media daily. The average user spends 3 hours a day on social networks and messaging. Now more than ever, social media channels are used daily to connect with friends and family, access news, be entertained, and even engage with nonprofit causes.

Social media can play an essential role in the marketing plan of nonprofits. While nonprofits do not often have a product to sell, they have worthy content to share with the world. The key to developing a robust social marketing strategy is having a diverse content strategy that will appeal to different types of followers on each channel.

When choosing what channels to join, nonprofit expert Julia Campbell suggests that you consider which channels your supporters are already using and the demographics for each channel. This can be learned through an online survey paired with data from Sprout Social’s report on social media demographics.

There are many strategies for social sharing out there. The 5-3-2 rule that says that 50% of posts should be curated 3rd party content, 30% should be original content relevant to your audience, and 20% of content should be fun, personal content that humanizes your brand. The 80/20 rule states that 80% of your content should inform, educate, and entertain, while just 20% of content should promote your business. The 60/40 ratio is another strategy where 60% of your content is 3rd party content, and 40% is brand-specific content.

We prefer the rule of thirds. One-third of content should promote your nonprofit, one third is 3rd party curated content, and one third is personal stories to build your brand.

In this blog, we will outline content categories using the rules of thirds that nonprofits can share with their followers. Content that promotes your nonprofit includes brand-specific initiatives, PR mentions, fundraising, event promotion, lead generation, and impact and milestone achievements.

Third-party content includes relevant industry news stories, blogs, videos, and thought leadership and influencer content. Personal stories to build your brand include original content such as gratitude posts, partner engagement, factoids, testimonials and quotes, cross-generational marketing, and brand relevant holidays.

Brand-Specific Initiatives and PR Mentions

Your nonprofit has many different moving parts and initiatives. Take time to spotlight each one of them. Our client, MRC expanded its Bye Bye Mattress Program in California and now accepts futons for recycling. To help spread awareness of this news, we rolled out a series of social media posts like this one.

Make sure to use social to promote your public relations and media initiatives. It gives you the chance to tag to organizations you spoke with and keep a relationship with their outlet.

While COVID-19 has changed the tonality and frequency of nonprofit social posts, social media is more important than ever to help people feel like they are a part of a community of people doing something positive.


This is probably the most common use of social media for nonprofits and the most important. Make sure that you are being creative with your “asks”. Avoid stock photography, use real people, and personalize the request.

Many people have taken to Facebook to fundraise for their favorite causes on their birthday. This could be a feature that you encourage followers to participate in.

Event Promotion

Facebook makes it easy to promote events and share updates to inform attendees on event logistics and users can share the event with their friends. Events can be promoted using Facebook advertising to reach specific demographics in zip codes near your event. When making your event you can also include tags to your event to further reach your intended audience. Engage loyal supporters of your nonprofit to be your social media ambassadors who will like, comment and share your Facebook events and posts. Social media events are even more popular now that many events have gone virtual, so it is an even better time to be utilizing this form of content.

Lead Generation

Sometimes, you just want to drive traffic to your website – whether that is to encourage new people to learn more about a specific topic or simply have them engage with your site. To do this, you can even use humor. Check out how we got really creative on driving traffic to the Bye Bye Mattress Recycling Locator by using a humorous animated gif.

We promoted the use of another online tool called the Municipal Pickup Directory by creating an illustrated graphic with a call to action to use the directory to learn more about bulky item pick up.

Demonstrate Impact & Milestones

Share statistics and visual representations of the impact of your work. Especially, don’t forget to share annual report stats with your followers so they are motivated to get involved and know that they are part of a larger movement.

A huge milestone for the Mattress Recycling Council was recycling 6 million mattresses. We illustrated this achievement with a creative social graphic.


Everyone likes to be thanked. Regular gratitude for donors and supporters is important. If you can share impact numbers in these posts, even better. Impact numbers could include the amount of funds raised, attendees at an event or actions taken. People like to know what happened with their donation and how they were able to help make a change. Click here for more ideas on how to thank donors.

Partner Engagement

Nonprofits know how important their community partners are in making their mission a reality. For our client, the Mattress Recycling Council, this means regularly spotlighting the recyclers they work with. Make sure to tag your partners’ accounts to get more engagements and impressions. If you have a post that receives high engagements, Facebook allows you to see you engaged with it and you can invite those people to like your page if they are not already.


Post something people would like to share. Our client operates mattress recycling programs. The mattresses are taken apart and those materials are used for new things. People might not normally know that their old mattress could turn into mulch. This fact is interesting and catches people’s attention.


Let your clients and donors do the talking and ask them questions like why do they participate in your program or what your organization means to them. Pair those quotes with real pictures or graphically display their kind words and give the mic to the people that make your mission possible. Their words can be powerful in sharing your message in new and honest ways. This also gives your clients or donors a unique opportunity to share posts they have been featured in and gather more engagement for your posts.

Cross-Generational Marketing

Many nonprofits have demographic target audiences that span multiple generations. Knowing that parents may attend an event with their kids is an opportunity to create cross-generational messaging. This maze game was used at a physical event and repurposed for virtual earth day celebrations on social media.

Relevant Holidays

Celebrating holidays is another popular social media hook when it is related back to your cause. Remember to celebrate more unique holidays that you can easily tie back to your brand. For example, MRC promotes holidays related to sleep or the environment that are relevant for the Bye Bye Mattress program.

3rd Party Content

Engage with the larger community involved with your cause. Make your feed known for interacting with and sharing happenings in your industry. Sometimes these news articles can be in unusual places. Take this fashion show for example that featured pieces of a mattress used for clothing. Bye Bye Mattress often shares articles that talk about upcycling, recycling, and sustainability.

Your nonprofit social media feed is so much more than just asking for donations.

Organize your content by using our free downloadable content calendar.

You can prioritize your content based on the categories we shared here and add your own.

Williams Whittle is ready to help you with any of your social media needs. Whether you are just starting out and want to build a social brand from the ground up, or you need to define your content categories and build a meaningful social content calendar, please feel free to contact us.