How to Develop a Social Media Policy for Your Nonprofit - dummies

How to Develop a Social Media Policy for Your Nonprofit

By Stan Hutton, Frances Phillips

If you have staff and volunteers posting on your nonprofit organization’s social media platforms, you’re wise to establish guidelines for what is and isn’t appropriate to reveal to the public and to use a tone that builds a positive image for your nonprofit.

In your social media policy, include the following points:

  • Be professional. Blog posts, status updates, and tweets determine your organization’s online face. Review your posts before posting. Spellchecker is your friend.

    Keep your personal social media play separate from your organization activities.

  • Post regularly. Update regularly to keep your content fresh. Consider creating a calendar and assigning responsibility for updates so your information is routinely refreshed.

  • Know what’s appropriate to post. Announcements, awards, milestones, and general news about the day-to-day activities of your organization are all worthy of posting. Rumors, gossip, bad news, and the like should never be circulated through social media. Here are some other tips about posting:

    • Ask questions. Engage your audience in conversation.

    • Respond to comments as soon as you can. Don’t be defensive about negative comments.

    • Photos and videos typically draw more comments and “likes” than text postings. You can add images to your website, or, if you have more images than your website can hold, open a Flickr account for still photos and upload videos to YouTube or Vimeo. Let people know when you’ve added new material by posting links on your social media pages.

    • Get permission to post photos and names of people who work at your organization or clients who receive services.

  • Respect copyrighted material. Ask permission to repost (if you can’t just post a link) and give proper credit.

  • Use good judgment. Don’t post anything you wouldn’t want your mother to see or you wouldn’t want to read on the front page of your local newspaper.

In addition to questions of taste and tone, you want to be sure that employees and volunteers understand that any 501(c)(3) organization must be cautious about taking stands on political campaigns, especially campaigns for political office.

And although you can’t ban your staff and volunteers from using their own social media accounts for personal activities, remind them that their friends probably know where they work and that a tasteless or vulgar post can reflect badly on the organization.