Why we Changed our Nonprofit’s Facebook Strategy

Our Social Tools and Platforms class at CUNY Graduate School of Journalism has been managing the Facebook pages for four different nonprofits for the past month. It’s been a valuable hands-on experience that is teaching us the importance of developing a solid strategy that will help us achieve our nonprofit’s goals.

Our Nonprofit’s Goals

  1. Double Facebook likes
  2. Drive clicks to specific website project (where they ask for donations) & get more newsletter subscribers

Since Facebook only shows stories with engagement, our first step has been to build audience engagement. We’ve been creating content and managing our nonprofit’s Facebook page for just over a month (starting in February). Here’s some history of our organization’s Facebook posts that shows a significant increase in the number of posts:

November, 2015 — 7 posts

December, 2015–10 posts

January, 2015–2 posts

February, 2015 (our team) — 18 posts

Our goal has been to post at least once a day, and we’ve been creating enough content for 2–3 per day (although some has been rejected by our nonprofit). As you can see in the chart below, we’re seeing a steady increase in likes over time since we started — probably due to the increase in the volume of posts, since we feel that the content has been consistent with the past. We have also experimented with timing, which could have contributed to better reach and engagement.

Net likes over the past few months have shown some spikes in engagement. Our nonprofit had been “boosting” some posts before we arrived, which appears to account for the engagement we see on the following graph.

There’s been a history of “unlikes” with our nonprofit as well, which may be an indication of people hiding posts. We suspect that this could be occuring when they feel there’s a “call to action” asking them to donate.

I went back to see what posts were hidden intentionally and found that the majority of them had a call to action. Still it may be important to consider that nonprofit did boost some of these posts, and they had a lot of engagement, so maybe having a small number of people hiding them is not that significant when put in perspective.

We want our nonprofit’s audience to empathize with their mission and we want them to feel comfortable sharing content. Sometimes that may mean putting something out there that elicites a negative emotion of anger or sadness that makes someone want to respond. One post with a picture of a little girl was pulled because it was “too sad.” Are we missing an opportunity to move people if we only post “feel good” content? What if we tried one post like this to see how the audience responds.

The second goal of our nonprofit is to drive traffic to a link to one of their projects that asks for financial support. Facebook is generally not drive donations, so I think we have to be cautious about how often we post a link to their website. Social media marketing experts have made the case that using email and contacting donors and subscribers directly is a much better approach for soliciting donations, and our nonprofit is using email for their major fundraising campaigns. Infrequent campaigns on Facebook are probably fine, but links that lead to donation pages should be rare.

Even though we’ve experienced many restrictions limiting our ability to experiment with different types of content, we’ve seen a slow, steady growth — likely due to having more frequent posts since they were already producing quality content before we started. In order to help our nonprofit reach their goals, our team feels that it’s essential to change our strategy, so here are the things we would like to do.

10 NEW Content Strategies Designed to Reach Goals

Our team wants our content to be sharable, so we think it’s good to ask ourselves if we would want to share the content we’ve created with our own friends. To make things more interesting and sharable, we’d like to do the following:

  1. Create infographics with powerful quotes on their photos because it helps to communicate complex ideas and data. We should keep in mind that 73% of their audience are women, and quotes that recognize and empower women may create more engagement. We’ve seen this work very well for many organizations.

Examples of successful infographics that draw greater attention to a post:

2. Create short videos with captions so the video can be viewed without audio. This is important today since many people check Facebook without having the sound for their device turned on. According to Facebook, videos are 7 times more engaging than other types of posts, and the first 3–5 seconds need to be very engaging because they go into the newsfeed and will automatically play. Our nonprofit has video footage, but unfortunately it’s in a format that requires special equipment that we know nothing about, so unless we can find a way to work with this, we may have to exclude this from our strategy.

3. Create a video or Facebook slideshow with photos — we can do this through Facebook with up to six photos. We believe this is a good way to break things up and create more engagement. We could also add text to the photos so they can be viewed without audio.

4. Create more posts with “behind the scenes” photos/video that include staff and/or volunteers interacting with projects. Authenticity and transparency about what goes on behind the scenes will build a stronger relationship with the audience. Seeing the team at work humanizes what the organization does, as does sharing challenges. It would be amazing if their team would do a Facebook live video from the field during their upcoming trip overseas!

5. Include some gifs to add an element of fun — we want their audience to feel they’re getting a “break” in the day, and making them smile is part of that strategy. It’s also a fun way to bring attention to an event — our nonprofit used a gif this past week to share that they were featured on Amy Poehler’s Facebook page —needless to say, it performed very well — it’s hard to ignore a gif.


6. Consider surveying donors/subscribers via email to ask what them what they love about what you do and what they’d like to see improved. Who knows better than the audience what they want, so why not ask?

7. Send an email to donors/subscribers with a copy of a post on Facebook that performed well & ask them to share it with their friends.

Facebook Tips

8. Consider creating an interactive “quiz” for Facebook engagement with the audience. Quizzes have been shown to significantly boost audience engagement and participation rates are generally high. We’ve been hearing this from other organizations such as Harvard Business Review — these tend to be their best performing posts because people like to place themselves on a spectrum to see where they fall.


9. Create compelling stories about individuals and share. We have some transcripts, but we don’t have pictures to go with most of them. We need to learn more about individuals who have a compelling story to tell so that we can feature them on Facebook.

10. Share outside/guest content on our Facebook page — currently we are discouraged from doing this but it’s a great way to boost engagement, especially when the posts are doing well and they are relevant to our nonprofit’s mission. Adding this type of content will make things more interesting and will create more audience interaction. We can also create engaging content around outside events — for example, here is what the United Nations posted that was not directly related to their organization, but highlighted an issue they care about:

Here is an example of using an outside video that would be fun and may help people to connect even more with Africa.

Facebook Tips for Nonprofits (from Facebook)

Page Verification

Facebook has some great tips to offer nonprofit organizations using their site, so I thought I’d mention one that may be particularly relevant for our nonprofit. Page verification has been shown to attract more visitors. Our nonprofit does not have their Facebook page verified, so I recommend that they consider this. According to Facebook, page verification will give them better search results — see below:

Our assignment was to create a new strategy that is much more robust than our previous one. We’re hoping that our nonprofit will give us the freedom to experiment with some of these ideas so that we can help them achieve greater success in reaching their goal of increasing audience engagement. Our new strategy will be a stretch for our nonprofit, but we’re hopeful that by creating more engaging kinds of content that we’ll grow their audience and create a lot more conversation around their important mission.