Working in the world of nonprofits often means getting creative with a tight budget. This means that there aren’t many nonprofits (especially small, local ones) that have money to spare for a full-time nonprofit social media person on staff. While working with an outside public relations agency to fill this need can be extremely beneficial, it’s often hard for someone outside the office to really capture what goes on day-to-day at the nonprofit. Nonprofits often end up delegating social media duties to interns and volunteers for economical and logistical reasons.

Though the work volunteers provide nonprofits is free to the organization, it is vital that proper policies and protocols for social media use still be in place. Nonprofits can mimic the social media guidelines of corporations, even when they don’t have a social media expert on staff. Having an official policy in place will help set the organization up for success in the event of a crisis, and help them get the most out of social media platforms. These guidelines don’t have to be confusing, or even very in-depth; they just need to ensure quality nonprofit social media usage is happening.

Guidelines for Volunteers Posting to Social Media

  • When at all possible, volunteers should only be given “editor” access to the social platform as opposed to “admin.”
  • A staff member should keep an eye on the social channels, to ensure the volunteer is presenting the correct image.
  • Any policies for how the organization is portrayed in marketing materials should carry over to social media, including color codes and style guidelines.
  • Ensure that all social media volunteers have signed applicable confidentiality agreements
  • When a volunteer leaves the company, all passwords to nonprofit social media accounts should be changed.

 nonprofit social mediaGuidelines for Post Content

  • All posts should be triple checked for spelling and grammar before submitting. An editorial calendar of content is useful in this regard – if the volunteer can plan out posts a month or so in advance, posts can be vetted by an extra set of eyes before posting.
  • Although Twitter is the only platform with a character count limit, the 140-character guideline is a good rule of thumb for any social media platform.
  • Visual content rules on social media – always include appropriate visuals when possible with posts.
  • Don’t delete negative comments unless they are overtly vulgar or abusive. The volunteer should escalate the comment to the appropriate staff member, who should respond via social.
  • Highlight the people who benefit from your nonprofit in social media posts. Be sure to stay within HIPPA guidelines and get release forms from those you want to feature.

Guidelines for Personal Social Media Use

  • Encourage all volunteers and staff to like and share the organization’s social pages.
  • Volunteers and staff can associate themselves with the nonprofit on their personal pages, but only with the understanding that this means those pages are now an official representation of the organization. Encourage inclusion of a disclaimer like “thoughts are my own.”
  • Include information on the organization’s stance on personal social media use in the workplace.