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How to Create and Deploy an Effective Social Media Strategy

Filed in Core Communications — June 9, 2022

In our blog we’ve pulled back the veil on our approach and methodologies through a largely ‘plug and play’ resources and Masterclasses so you can skillfully engage the funding partners your mission deserves.

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Recognizing that less-resourced NGOs can’t afford to engage our fundraising services, one of the ways Black Fox Philanthropy serves the social sector is to be open-source on much of the content we’ve developed.  We regularly release this content via our blog, and today is another one of those days!

Ironically, Black Fox Philanthropy does not engage in Social Media to speak of in large part due to our clients coming to us via referrals, or alliances with sector partners, but we have supported clients with social media initiatives that help drive funding to their missions.  We are thrilled to be sharing some of these insights with our beloved sector.

Engage and Deepen Support via Social Media & E-Communications Strategy

In a technology-dependent world, a compelling and consistent digital footprint has become a vital instrument of success. Non-profit organizations have discovered that leveraging online initiatives — from Giving Tuesday to longer term fundraising drives — enables frictionless engagement with worldwide contributors and enormous potential for connecting with and growing their base of supporters.

Today, a triumphant year-end campaign requires not only a carefully drafted appeal letter, but also a thoughtful approach to all electronic communications, including (perhaps especially) through social media.

This memo will guide you through social media and e-comm plans that focus upon authentic and engaging social media content.  By using the best approaches to specific social media platforms and newsletter strategies, this guide can help you build and deploy an effective engagement plan that focuses upon raising funds for your mission.


Section I: Overview

First things are first: It is crucial to understand social media etiquette to create successful content. The principles below will help you avoid serious missteps and apply equally across all social media platforms.

Social Media Begins with “Social”

  • Social media is all about building a virtual community. Your goal is to build a community around your organization and mission. You want your followers to feel themselves bonded to your organization and to one another. These relationships will be the key to your success. Understand also that interacting with you will be part of how users curate their own online image, so your goal is to be the organization that they feel good publicly aligning themselves with.

 Set Clear Goals and Expectations

  • Without clear goals and expectations, your social media communications will be confused and murky. Users will tune out. Any number of goals can be set: Do you wish to build brand awareness? Escalate website traffic? Improve donations? Answering these and similar questions can help you determine not only which platform would be best to use, but what kind of content you should be generating. For instance, an infographic on your organization is a fantastic way to explain your mission, but will not likely drive donations. Likewise, a donation-based campaign might be effective in the short run, but won’t necessarily help establish a consistent core of followers. Therefore, it is essential to set clear goals and choose content focused on achieving them.

Quality Trumps Quantity

  • While one might be tempted to share tons of valuable content, this can tire users and research shows that platforms such as Instagram penalize excessive posting and use of hashtags. Instead of maxing out your daily post number, begin by asking if your post is adding value to your company’s mission or current social media goal. When platforms are “spammed” with an overbearing amount of information, unique, thorough and genuine content is a much more reliable way of building your image and growing the trust of your supporters.

Give Value

  • Social media makes self promotion easy and tempting. However, it should be done in tandem with, not instead of, offering valuable content. The 80/20 rule recommends that 80% of your posts should be useful to your audience (by means of education, entertainment, or problem-solving), and only 20% should explicitly promote your business. Ultimately, your posts will serve to boost both awareness of and donations to your organization, but they should do so by building a relationship with users by giving them value before simply asking for contributions.

Positive Tone

  • Inspiring a sense of urgency around a pertinent issue guarantees rapid involvement, but constantly conjuring negative emotions and guilt should not be your predominant strategy. Amusing, interesting, surprising or exciting content will both be more beneficial on a long-term basis and likely incite positive associations with your organization among social media followers. Highlighting fascinating statistics or stories of success and ways to get involved will encourage prolonged and candid engagement.

Diverse Visuals

  • Photos of the impact your organization has made are incredible ways to showcase tangible positive change, but can become repetitive and mundane. It is important to vary your posting template so you do not fatigue users. Consider employing a range of visuals, such as GIFs, photos, videos, infographics, quotes, spotlights and even collaborative cross posts with other organizations. Polls are particularly engaging because they are interactive. Offering numerous post formats will keep your content fresh and stimulating, providing new opportunities to propel engagement.

Start Conversations

  • A guaranteed way of gaining exposure is giving people a reason to talk about your organization. Social media platforms all prefer posts that generate this kind of engagement, and it is good for your organization as well. You can achieve this by reaching out to individuals or groups with a similar mission. Commenting on relevant posts, following certain accounts, reposting inspiring articles, offering valuable resources or asking your audience questions improves the visibility of your company and extends your impact over the bounds of your page. In addition to generating meaningful content, make sure you are constantly looking for ways to continue a discussion on topics relevant to your cause.

Keep on Trend

  • Experimenting with new trends is a fantastic way to diversify your content and become relevant to new audience groups. For each social media platform, keep an eye on  the “Trending” page, seeking out particular news, hashtags, or initiatives which seem to attract a large audience. Moreover, taking a stance on an important trending issue and expressing solidarity can showcase your organization’s value to your followers.

Know Your Audience

  • Your followers represent a cross-section of social media users who truly care about your cause. Who are they? Get to know them and vary your content to match their needs. Are they particularly young? Perhaps your content needs to be more trendy. Are they older? Perhaps they prefer more communication by email. Figuring this out can help you serve them better, and increase your impact.


Section II: LinkedIn and Facebook

Great for longer and more informative posts, Facebook and LinkedIn are good platforms for broadcasting your organization’s website and/or blog posts. The most professional of the platforms, success on LinkedIn and Facebook depend on a well-defined profile which explicitly conveys your mission and industry. Having effective LinkedIn and Facebook pages for your company will introduce you to a multitude of new connections and potentially even present opportunities for sponsorships, collaborations and expansions.

Curated Profile

  • An appealing and relevant header, short but informative bio and a link to your organization’s website are all key aspects of an effective profile. If someone sees a post of yours in their feed and clicks on your page, they should immediately be able to understand why that particular content is relevant to your organization. Facebook and LinkedIn allow you more space to showcase projects, contributors, attitudes and groups you may be a part of, which can make it possible for individuals with common interests to find you.


  • Both Facebook and LinkedIn encourage the formation of groups, subsets of users with shared interests. Being a member of or even starting groups that are relevant to your organization’s cause, industry or project creates an immediate community, making individuals more engaged with each other and willing to contribute. Not only do groups encourage conversations and networking, they also serve as a space to promote your organization’s projects to a selection of individuals guaranteed to care.

Professional Content

  • Facebook and LinkedIn are great tools for highlighting your projects, and even provide specific tabs for various executive functions.Therefore, if your organization has completed an exciting project, written an informative article, is planning an event, or is looking for new people to join the team, Facebook and LinkedIn are ideal places to showcase these things.

Encourage Fundraising/Donations

  • Facebook’s fundraising feature, unique to that platform, makes soliciting donations almost seamless. We recommend you begin experimenting with smaller amounts, such as $10, and observing if your ask resonates with followers. This feature can be used in conjunction with a fundraising campaign and, potentially, a donor matching opportunity. It has the additional advantage of making the outcome of your social media campaign easily measurable.

Study Insights

  • Both Facebook and LinkedIn offer detailed information about user behavior (called “insights”). From revealing how many individuals viewed your page to the times and posts which yielded the highest level of engagement, these tools can help your organization determine both when to post and who to curate the content to. Insights can help you determine which social media strategies are succeeding, and where you need to make adjustments.


Section III: Twitter

No social media platform moves faster than Twitter. Generating nearly immediate responses, Twitter harnesses relevant news, trends, discussions and ideas, igniting conversations among its over 330 million users. Staying vigilant and active in the Twitter conversation scene can help your organization feel current and relevant and allow it to establish a distinct social voice without the need to constantly curate complex content.


  • A tweet is limited to 280 characters, giving constrained space for expression. On the platform, audiences are drawn to beguiling but brief headlines and ideas as opposed to lengthy statements. While Twitter can definitely be used to promote blog posts, events, or articles, your organization’s Twitter page should do so in a way which preludes longer content with an enthralling caption.


  • Trending topics on Twitter usually remain on the shelf for roughly 11 minutes before being replaced by a novel source of conversation. With such a quick turnaround for relevant topics, your organization should be on a constant lookout for discussions that would be sensible to engage with. Given the influx of information, we recommend establishing a radar for a narrow range of topics most applicable to your organization’s cause.


  • Twitter is a platform which values sharing others’ thoughts. By following accounts involved in your organization’s areas of expertise, your own Twitter feed will populate with interesting, relevant insights. Selectively retweeting such content can help you further engage with invested audiences and make your account a space for showcasing ideas your organization agrees with and outside projects it supports.


  • A significant amount of Twitter engagement takes place in the subtweet, or comment section of a post. Oftentimes, it is such threads of conversation that gain the most traction. If your goal is to spread awareness about your organization, participating in ongoing discussions or interacting with threads can help the relevance of your organization’s account. However, we recommend keeping your organization’s mission in mind throughout any potential public conversations.


Section IV: Instagram

Instagram, as a platform, occupies a middle ground between the seriousness of LinkedIn and Facebook and the quippy concision of Twitter. Aesthetic visuals are the key on this platform. Multiple video functions, such as reels and stories, invite different marketing opportunities.


  • Not unique to Instagram, stories are a feature that allow one to post and promote content for a 24 hour period. Usually consisting of reposts from other accounts, brief updates, reminders, basic infographics, daily snippets or short-term promotions, stories are a quick way for your organization to remain active on social media without flooding followers’ feeds. In addition to allowing photo and video posts, the feature offers the possibility to create polls, countdowns and links that can be leveraged to improve engagement. In order to make your story appear at the top of your supporters’ feeds, we recommend adhering to at least one daily post which can (but doesn’t have to) have any of the items listed above.


  • Because of Instagram’s visual focus, captions are rarely read by followers. That being said, your organization’s account should utilize the space for a limited number of relevant hashtags (which can help users find you) and keep other text brief. We recommend making your captions an invitation for action or thought, meaning they should ideally invite your audience to click a link, donate, answer a question, tag a friend, or even share the post itself. It might be helpful to consider the Instagram caption as an extension of a Tweet: it should have few characters, a dense amount of information, and explicit relevance to your organization’s goals.

Multiple Photos

  • Presently, Instagram allows users to compile a set of images and videos into a slideshow which appears as a single post. Interchanging quotes with videos from which they were extracted or making a small series of consecutive infographics might encourage your followers to spend more time analyzing your post. When grouped together like this, your content should have a clear visual homogeneity and we recommend keeping the number of slides to a maximum of 5, so as to not overstimulate or bore quickly-scrolling audiences.

Instagram Reels

  • Similar to TikTok, Instagram Reels is a feed mode that strictly shows users video content. Since reels are shown to an individual based on their perceived areas of interest, reels present a wonderful opportunity to reach audiences that do not currently follow your organization’s account. Informative videos, animations, or even video trends make perfect reel content. However, we urge you to keep videos intended for reels on the shorter side (less than 60 seconds). Longer videos can be posted to Instagram in a section called IGTV (see below).

IGTV Series

  • Designated for longer and perhaps more serious content, IGTV is the label attributed to videos published on Instagram that are longer than 60 seconds. Through this platform, your organization can share interviews, longer project descriptions, vlogs and other mission breakdowns. While IGTV videos might not be as popular as reels due to their length, we suggest creating specific series which will eventually become familiar  to your followers, encouraging them to return for scheduled content.


Section V: Advertising

All social media platforms have ample opportunities for paid advertisements and partnerships. This means that if your organization is seeking account traction, you might find it useful to pay for content to be promoted or advertised in the feeds of potential followers.


  • Social media advertisements act as digital billboards, pushing your organization’s posts to target audiences’ feeds, usually for somewhere between $0.20 to $6.70 per ad. Using algorithmic data collection, social media platforms will automatically advertise your promoted content to those they believe will have the highest probability of interacting with the post. If you are having trouble gaining a significant following or generating support for a particular campaign, short-term advertising might be a beneficial social media strategy.


  • Social media platforms are a great place to seamlessly network and partner with other organizations supporting your cause. Reaching out to well-known companies for collaboration opportunities or establishing common projects with other groups at your organization’s level is a great way to promote your profile and campaigns to a larger audience. While associations can be organic, it is also possible to enter into paid partnerships if you are seeking to reach a specific target audience or convey an explicit message. Before delving into such alliances, we recommend determining specific cooperation outcomes and only working with companies and individuals who truly acknowledge or advocate for your organization’s cause.


  • If your organization has specific merchandise or the ability to invite individuals to participate in ongoing projects, you may be able to take advantage of influencer marketing. Seeing a popular social media figure pose in a t-shirt with your logo, post a picture from a trip hosted by your organization, or even talk about a recent project or product of yours will likely encourage a portion of their fans to view or even follow your organization’s profile. Increasingly meaningful relationships between influencers and your organization can inspire fan support and donations.


Section VI: Electronic Communications

Regular email newsletters are a great supplement or  alternative to social media posts. Emails offer you  space to publish articles, interviews, studies or blogs relevant to your mission. While these should be guided internally, we recommend advertising any publications externally through any of the methods described above. A bi-weekly, monthly or annual newsletter will also prompt your organization to curate interesting relevant writings, and simultaneously create content which can go hand-in-hand with social media campaigns.

Likewise, adding links to blog or article posts into Facebook and LinkedIn pages, Twitter captions, or Instagram story hyperlinks can extend your ecomm reach beyond email inboxes and encourage traffic to your website.


Section VII: Content Calendar

In order to harness the benefits of these discussed social media and ecomm strategies, Black Fox Philanthropy recommends creating a content calendar. Setting and sticking to a consistent electronic presence and focusing on specific goals are both necessary factors of digital marketing, and we believe that they are best achieved through a schematic approach. Below are several elements to keep in mind when creating your campaign calendar, which you can begin to implement by following Black Fox Philanthropy’s calendar template.


  • Especially if you have a smaller following, posting too frequently can feel “spammy” and result in 50% fewer clicks per post. While you might be getting a higher number of likes, an overwhelming number of posts will decrease overall follower engagement. Conversely, posting more moderately, perhaps 1–5 times a month, can double overall supporter interaction. It should be noted that the ideal posting frequency will vary depending on your social media goals. For example, if your organization has decided to dramatically improve awareness and exposure, posting recurrent digestible content has been found to correlate with visibility. Fundraising initiatives, on the other hand, have shown to be more compatible with slower, consequential posting.


  • Holidays — times when families and friends come together in celebration — often make people feel generous. As holidays approach, consider altering your content accordingly, either by giving your posts a festive look or playing to  themes from the specific holiday: thankfulness and giving for Thanksgiving, family values and joy for Christmas, meaningful resolutions for New Years, etc.. Matching your content to the spirit of the season will help your organization mobilize holiday energy toward your cause.

Giving Tuesday

  • Unlike other holidays when social media content might benefit from more subtle or implicit fundraising strategies, Giving Tuesday — the first Tuesday after Thanksgiving, a day set aside for supporting charities — is a great day to explicitly ask for donations. In this instance, putting the holiday on your supporters’ radar ahead of time will dramatically work in your favor. Starting approximately two weeks prior to generate a sense of urgency among followers. Establishing a definite ask for a specific Giving Tuesday goal helps your audience to become comfortable with your project and budget, and eventually take initiative. Frequent reminders and calls to action are extremely helpful social media strategies during this time when they feel less intrusive and more expected.

We wish you well as you craft and deploy your strategy to engage new supporters and deepen your relationships!


Created with the additional contribution of Kate Lessman, Think Big Media PR, and Varia Voloshin, Black Fox Philanthropy Intern, Wesleyan University.