Non-profits and Social Media

In the world of non-profit organizations, social media has been labelled as both a blessing and a curse. Although the likes of Facebook have revolutionized the media landscape, allowing brands to reach their consumers in thousands of ways, social media has also muddied it, making it even more of a challenge to stand out and create a meaningful connection – something which non-profits are heavily reliant on. As such, many non-profits still prefer using email and more direct means of communication.

Writing off social media, however, is a mistake. It’s often said that non-profits struggle with social media as it can be difficult to gain traction or inspire immediate action online, in the way of donations, particularly in the early stages. This is short-sighted.

Both the “it would take too much time to build an audience” and the “likes don’t make us money” arguments fail to take any of the long-term benefits for reputation into account. Namely, the people passively supporting a cause with just a “like” could later be the ones who become aggressive advocates.

Luckily, this mentality is slowly changing.

Even with the over-saturation of messages, non-profits have been relying on social media more and more. In the past few years, the non-profit sector has seen more social effort and engagement than ever, reflecting a world of newfound potential for rallying internet users. This is both due to social media’s vast number of communication benefits and it simply being where people are looking.

Research from MDG Advertising has highlighted these benefits, showing that non-profits can increase the amount of money fundraised by almost ten times if social media is incorporated into their communications strategies.

In addition to its growth, social media in the non-profit sector has also seen some of the most innovative social campaigns ever. Why? To inspire immediate action or change perception, they need to effectively cut through the clutter, and clutter-cutting takes creativity.


There have been many creative and hard-hitting non-profit social media campaigns, but one has become something of a gold standard:

In 2013, Water Is Life, an organization dedicated to water sanitization, utilized its understanding of internet culture and released its hashtag killer campaign, the first ever campaign to try and eliminate a hashtag.

The YouTube video, entitled ‘First World Problems Anthem,’ hijacked and exploited the popular #FirstWorldProblems meme, taking twitter by storm.

By turning an existing trend on its head, using #FirstWorldProblems as vehicle to spread its message and changing the social media conversation, Water Is Life was able to encourage enough donations to provide over a million days of clean water to those in need.

After all, provided you have done your research, it’s far easier to start a movement online than it is offline.