Growing your nonprofit…

It’s like being on a fun, frustrating, exhilarating, challenging, scary, exciting, loop-de-looping rollercoaster you (for some crazy reason) choose to stay on.

Sure, you could hop off at anytime, but you’re committed to the mission—and that’s what makes you so awesome!

For many nonprofits, social media is a big part of their growth strategy. But an additional, oft-overlooked aspect of growth is time management.

After all: You can grow the biggest social following in the world, but if you’re spending all your time on social media, how are you going to make time to do the world-changing work your followers are invested in seeing you do?

Social media scheduling apps to the rescue.

What is a social media scheduler?

Social media schedulers allow you to create lots of social content at once, assign times and dates to that content, and have the content posted to your social media accounts automatically at those times.

The idea is that, instead of spending time updating your social media accounts multiple times per week, you’ll save time by spending just 1 or 2 days a month writing all those posts out at once, after which you can spend the rest of the month doing the millions of other important things your nonprofit needs to do.

If you decide to try a scheduling platform, you and your team will find a content creation cadence that works best for you, whether that’s creating content once per week, once a month, or even quarterly.

Do I really need to fuss with social media in order to grow my nonprofit?

The short answer: Yes. Generally speaking, there’s a lot of value in leveraging social media for growth, as more and more people turn to social media to keep up with their favorite nonprofits’ events, activities, and fundraisers than ever before.

In the end, there’s no one Most Correct™ way to grow. Behind every nonprofit, big or small, there’s a different (inspiring!) story surrounding how they acquired their donor base.

4 Free Social Media Platforms We Love (And How to Use Them)

There are so many scheduling platforms out there. Some with tons of bells and whistles (and a big price tag.)

But we’re going to keep it simple and just stick 4 that have the option for free accounts. (Our platform is free—shouldn’t these be?)

  • Zoho Social (our favorite)
  • Hootsuite
  • Later
  • Buffer

Also, we’ve posted links to tutorials below each list of pros and cons. That way, if you’re at all worried about losing time fumbling around on these things due to a learning curve—well, don’t!

Zoho Social (our favorite!)

Why we like it:

  • Unlike Hootsuite, you don’t need add-ons or extras to use some of the more popular social networks
  • Built-in URL shortener (no need to navigate away to Bit.ly or Google’s URL shortener)
  • Live previews of your content (so you’ll know what they look like before you post)

What we’re iffy about:

  • Can be tricky to learn
  • Can’t upload posts in bulk (must be done one at a time)
  • If you want more than 3 people working together on the platform, it can get pretty pricey.

Tutorials: Note that these tutorials cover most of the features of Zoho Social, including some that aren’t in the free version, so look out for that. In any case, there are two we think you’ll want:

For the first one, New to Zoho Social, the “New to Zoho Social” section will probably be the most relevant. To see how to schedule and publish posts, you’ll want the publishing and scheduling overview.

Hootsuite

Why we like it:

  • Free version lets you manage a max of 3 accounts, but you aren’t limited to just Twitter and Facebook! LinkedIn, WordPress, and others are there too
  • Pro version is only $10 a month
  • Easy to see how your posts are performing and collect analytics data

What we’re iffy about:

  • The pro version can get really tricky, according to some users (But “complicated” really just means “robust” and “flexible!”)
  • Can’t respond to post comments via the platform or interact with followers—you’ll have to log into your social platforms individually to do that
  • Posting to some social networks (like Pinterest) require “add-ons” or can even cost an additional fee

Tutorial: Hootsuite Beginner Tutorial – How To Manage Your Social Media Accounts

Later

Why we like it:

  • Popular among Instagrammers (though Twitter and Facebook are also there) it can help you curate a pretty Instagram feed!
  • Provides a clear, birds-eye view of your posting calendar
  • You can either post automatically or request a notification prior to a post going live, so you can “okay” it

What we’re iffy about:

  • Not very intuitive (a tutorial is a must) and limited to Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter
  • If you post to more than one social account (ie., you have two Twitter accounts) you have to log in again to post to the other one
  • Free version only lets you schedule about 2 weeks of posts

Tutorial: Full Demo of Later – Again, very Instagram heavy. But they get into Twitter and Facebook about 4 minutes and 30 seconds in.

Buffer

Why we like it:

  • Free for up to 3 social media accounts, including most social accounts (like Pinterest)
  • Easy to see how your posts are performing, and easy for other team members to come in and add posts
  • Clean interface

What we’re iffy about:

  • Can’t post to Instagram automatically (you have to “okay” it first)
  • In spite of the clean, pleasing interface, some users report trouble figuring out how to use it without some help
  • Team members can add posts, but you can’t discuss them or comment on them within the platform
  • Upgraded version can be expensive for some teams at $99/month

Tutorials: Here’s a great walk-through straight from Buffer’s website. Additionally, this tutorial on Udemy is free (and great), but requires you to sign up.

When should you schedule your posts?

According to research:

  • Facebook use increases on the weekends.
  • For Instagram, Wednesdays around lunch and dinner time are highest.
  • Weekends are actually the worst time to post on Twitter.

Our advice, though?

Prioritize engagement, and grow your donor base by creating content that people want to share, comment on, and react to.

For that, here’s some research-based advice:

  • People are most inclined to share content from other people, brands, and organizations whom they feel a connection with. So craft your brand and your content as if you were an individual trying to make friends with a certain type of person.
  • Take heart: You’re at an advantage. 84% of people say they share content as a way to support causes that mean something to them. So publish compelling stories about the work you’re doing, your needs, your progress, and your vision.

Don’t forget to take a few minutes here and there to reply to comments, engage in conversations with your followers, and share others’ content too.   

How to promote your Giving Assistant fundraising page fast using your social media scheduler   

Once you’re all set up with a social media scheduler you like, turn to your Giving Assistant dashboard. There, you’ll find lots of time-saving content  you can easily copy and paste into your scheduled posts.

  1. Click Fundraising Tools, then Messaging on the left-hand side of your dashboard.
  2. Click Facebook (also great for Instagram captions) or Twitter, and cycle through the different messages available to you. Click “refresh” to see other caption options.
  3. Copy the messaging you want, then paste it into your social posts with your favorite images. You can also use a free web-based app like Canva to easily and quickly create graphics to attach to your posts!

Tip: Consider writing at least one original caption or Tweet promoting your Giving Assistant page—but this time, tell your followers how their cash back microdonations can add up to help you in big ways over time. Tell them what small donations of $2, $5, or $10 can do for you and the community or cause you serve.

Additionally, raise more by looking out for Giving Assistant deals (like these), coupons, or Double Cash Back events they might be interested in, and schedule those into your social media calendar as well.

Share the love (automatically)!

Social media schedulers make it even easier to raise more cash back donations by sharing your Giving Assistant fundraising page more often, and will ensure all your followers feel included, valued, and capable of getting involved on a regular basis—no matter how much time or money they might have.