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Social Media for Nonprofits: 3 Ways to Engage Do-Gooders

By Mike Query | Small Business

Social Media for Nonprofits: 3 Ways to Engage Do Gooders image volunteer social mediaSocial Media for Nonprofits: 3 Ways to Engage Do GoodersPeople enjoy doing good.

One of the reasons I believe the “Golden Rule” has survived the test of time is it’s hard not to feel like you’ve left a better legacy after doing something that betters the life of another. McCartney and company echoed this in their last recording when they sang “…and in the end, the love you make is equal to the love you take.”

So if it feels so great to give, why don’t we see more talk of it in the blogosphere? And even better still, is there anyone searching for these stories, looking to be inspired to do good?

I manage the web initiatives for several Bay Area community service programs, which means I’m responsible for generating content and building relationships with those around Bay Area who are interested in volunteering. Social media has provided me with plenty of tools to drum up support for all sorts of causes, and without it we would not be as strong as we are today.

Here are three ways you can use social media to engage volunteers or get involved yourself.

1. Utilize Nonprofit Apps

Our flagship program, E-Soccer, is an inclusive sports program that takes kids with special needs and puts them right alongside non-special needs kids for soccer games and exercises each week. We have 10 different locations around the Bay Area that all operate independently, primarily on the backs of volunteers.

This program has proved extremely popular among high school and college-aged volunteers, many of whom are interested in logging community service hours for their schools. We’ve found that providing them with opportunities to track and share those hours was a fun, valuable experience and encouraged them to come back for more.

Reward Volunteers is a great tool that provides incentives to volunteers with regular prizes and other giveaways, often based on those volunteers that provide the most hours of service. The app can also be utilized by nonprofits to keep track of and motivate their current volunteers.

YMCA Finder has also been helpful in mobilizing local youth for other initiatives — since we’re spread out across 5 counties in the Bay Area, youth centers are key to establishing our roots in the larger community. Volunteer Match is also a must-have, as it provides users with the ability to search for community service opportunities based on their location (and, in turn, the nonprofit coordinator the ability to create listings for their events).

2. Follow and Engage Student-run Organizations.

Different Bay Area universities have provided us with a significant portion of our volunteer base, most likely due to the fact that college tends to be when young people are most willing and excited about getting involved in their community. San Jose State University’s community service club called SpeakOut has adopted E-Soccer as their primary nonprofit organization. Cal Berkeley students provided us with the manpower we needed for our successful Toy Drive this past holiday season.

Most of these organizations are led by students, which means they more than likely already have an active social media presence. Find the universities in your area and reach out to the community game changers.

3. Show Your Volunteers Love!

Giving feels good, but the warm fuzzies can start to wear off when you feel unappreciated or overworked. Social media provides nonprofits with an excellent opportunity to give thanks, appreciation, and props to the volunteers who make our organizations possible.

Try doing any of the following to show love to your volunteer base:

  • Adding loyal supporters to an “Our Team” (or a similarly titled) Twitter list.
  • Set aside a time after each event to @mention specific volunteers who provided excellent service.
  • Post pictures and tag volunteers in action at your events with appreciative captions.

If you’re interested in getting involved, check out BACC Community for some ideas on how to volunteer. You can also sign up to be a coach at E-Soccer if you live in the Bay Area, or in Las Vegas where we recently expanded.

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