Career in Development Sector
Let's Learn ...

Leveraging Social Media for Development

When it comes to non-profit organizations, there are a lot of challenges with public relations. These organizations do meaningful work, but no one seems to notice. The main reason behind this is that large public relation campaigns are expensive. They require investment in money and time, luxuries only some can afford.Relationship building is the core of any development campaign. There has to be an easy way of outreach in this sector. That’s when social media comes in. Many non-profits use letters, emails and telephone fundraisers while overlooking the opportunity in social media.

Social media can actually complement your other outreach strategies and bring a boost to your campaigns. You won’t believe what this medium can achieve. Perhaps the strongest example of this in these few years is of the charity called ‘Water’.

Case Study: Water
Charity: Water is one of the best brands on social media in the development sector. You can learn quite a lot from their strategies. 60% of their donations are collected online, in a time when most non-profits are still struggling to fundraise online.
Charity: Water is also different in the way they collect donations. Rather than collecting big money from a few strong donors, they encourage all sizes of donations for thousands of individual donors.
The organization spends ‘zero’ dollars on marketing. It is social media which fuels their growth. They have a large follower base on Twitter, they were one of the first 20 brands to use Instagram, they also made use of Vine when nobody was thinking about a Vine strategy and their Facebook page has 358,644 followers and counting.

Our focus at charity: water. is on building a grassroots movement of inspired people actively giving, fundraising and influencing their peers. We have amazing major donors, but the real power of the movement is delivered by thousands of normal people running their own word-of-mouth marketing campaigns for the water cause. 

-Paull Young, Director of Digital, Charity: Water

Let’s look at some ways to leverage the power of social media for the development sector.

Visual stories
People will have more interest in your cause if you tell them why you started it in the first place. Scott Harrison of

Charity: Water shared his inspiring story which garnered massive attention and respect from peers and industry leaders. After spending a decade in New York City as a nightclub promoter, Scott had a crisis of conscience. He began to rediscover faith and travelled to Africa to serve others for one year. He saw extreme poverty for the first time. He realized that the life he was chasing was just a result of his own lust.

He began learning about the struggle of 800 million people in the world who don’t have access to clean water. After returning to New York, Scott set up the charity Water. According to Forbes,.  In seven years, with the help of more than 400,000 donors worldwide, charity: water has raised over $100 million and funded over 8,000 water projects in 20 countries. 

Calls to Action
Include Calls to Action wherever possible. Suppose you have amazing graphics and a great copy to attract people’s attention towards a cause, but social media users just like or share it and often forget to act. Call to Action is a great way of making people take a step right there. You have gained a user’s attention for a while; now make them perform a certain task. Do you want them to donate? Do you want them to sign up? You can even ask them to tag a few friends in the post. Tweets which include a Call to Action get 12X higher retweet rates than those that don’t.

Multi-channel strategy
Just like Charity: Water, you can also build a multi-channel social media strategy. This way, you can share your cause with more people on every platform. Some people prefer using Twitter, while some are found on Facebook. When you customize your content for both platforms, the message will be the same and you will have more people interested in your cause.

On the technical side, Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Pinterest and Instagram have their own set of rules and restrictions. Some allow specific character limit, some have a dislike for links in caption. Be as creative as you can and tailor content for each platform.

Link with like-minded organizations
You will be known and accepted as a thought leader in your sector when you encourage mutual harmony with other like-minded charities. Twitter is a great platform to show your support for other causes.

On Twitter, you can follow, retweet and like another non-profit’s tweets to show your support. You can also join in the conversation and give valuable feedback. When you use these channels to create and share expert content, people will have more respect for your cause. It can also lead to higher regard from players of other industries and more collaboration options in the future. Since Twitter is a fast platform, you can share tweets and links to your website. or blog multiple times a day so it doesn’t get lost. The ‘promote’ feature can also be found on each of these platforms, where you pay a specific amount of money to reach a specific number of people. Since this amount is not as much as a PR campaign can cost, you can promote your posts and tweets for special causes.

Link your print and social content:
To cater to a broad audience, you can adopt this strategy. Some of your audience may be inclined towards social media, while some rely on print. It’s up to your users, so you can prepare in advance and launch content on both mediums.

This content should follow one theme to reflect the core of your campaigns. Social media is not there to replace traditional fundraising methods, it’s there to help you enjoy more exposure in your efforts to change the world. Make sure you provide the details of your social media profiles. on the brochures you print. Publish the same content from brochures on your blog/social profiles as well.

One creative way to get more people to follow you online is by printing a QR code on your print brochures. It can link to your Facebook page. Some charities come up with beautiful postcards and bookmarks with brochures and fundraising letters that contain social media profile details as well.

Key takeaways
Social media can work with you to promote your cause, if you know how to create and launch appealing content. This article highlighted some points which you shouldn’t overlook in your next campaign. If you don’t have a social media profile, build one today and join the conversation. The key to gain more exposure on social media websites lies in relationship-building. That’s how you can encourage other people to start changing the world with you.

About The Author


Erica Silva

Erica Silva is a blogger by choice. She loves to discover the world around her. She likes to share her discoveries, experiences and express herself through her blogs. Currently, she is associated with Airg Team for development work. Check out her firm’s performance reviews.

Valid XHTML 1.0!