not for profit social media

Social Media Hurdles Faced by Not-For-Profits

The not-for-profit world is apt to benefit from social media, but there are certain hurdles that make it slow to adopt.

Not-for-profit social media channels are booming with content, but the speed at which the industry adopts new practices (and viable social advertising channels) is generally slower than average. There are a lot of factors that can contribute to this.

not for profit social media

Last week, t2 was a sponsor of the Miami event for the Association of Fundraising Professionals, and a lot of interesting conversations took place wherein certain key struggles of the industry became apparent.

Budgets Are Limited

One thing that is (quite obviously) required when running a campaign of this sort is a budget. Gone are the days of free growth and easily obtainable virality. Now, most networks force brands and organizations to rely on a pay-to-play model. In the world of not-for-profits, that’s a luxury most do not have.

What budgets exist have been assigned to traditional fundraising practices, like events and direct marketing. And this lack of discretionary resources hints at another major issue…

Knowledge of the Platform is Limited

While a fairly top-level understanding of new media and some of its more advanced concepts is a reality that many marketers face, there is a key differentiating factor when it comes to the world of not-for-profit social media. For not-for-profits, that lack of in-depth knowledge of these platforms means that the little budgets that do exist might be wasted on an area where marketing teams are unsure of how to use them.

Social advertising, though easily accessible by any Page manager, requires an understanding of optimization practices. Much can be done with a limited budget, but without a knowledge of practices like incremental bidding and ad dollar optimization, that limited budget disappears very quickly.

Sticking with Familiarity

Events have been the backbone of the fundraising world for a very long tie. Huge investments are made in events and the results are funds raised (naturally) as well as an increase in exposure and awareness. Those are wonderful benefits, but Avectra (now Abila) conducted a study that found some interesting information.

On average, not-for-profits are spending $1.33 to raise $1.00 when it comes to events. Of course, there are other significant benefits, and in the long run much more is raised, but in terms of finding a balance in order to prevent these immediate losses, social could be a great ally. It’s simply not understood in order to drive those results.

Ready to Pivot

One particular item of note is the excitement that a lot of these not-for-profit marketers expressed when discussing social. While virtually every not-for-profit present (and any NFP we’ve spoken to or worked with in the past) had a presence on social media, it has been used largely to share content. Now there are clear opportunities to drive fundraising efforts (with more than simply gimmicks) and not-for-profit marketers are ready to make that shift.


Expect the transition to this new way of fundraising to take some time, but not as much time as it might have taken some years ago. Over the last few years, we’ve seen a boom in audience activation campaigns for not-for-profits (think of crowdfunding and peer-ro-peer initiatives). With the trend we noticed in Miami, we can expect to see much more of this in the months and years ahead.