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How startup nonprofits can stand out on social media on a budget

The most popular nonprofits on social media that you admire so much got where they are today because they know how to make people stop and listen. 

We all start small but those who keep getting better than you are applying some strategies you’re not. Today, we’re diving into 9 effective strategies that can help your startup nonprofit shine on social media at zero cost.

1. Educate your audience

Don’t just talk about yourself. We already know what you do from your website. The better thing to do would be to educate your audience on why it’s important for you to solve the problem you’re solving and the outcomes of solving that problem. A great example is World Bicycle Relief. Take a look at how they framed their caption. They are not just talking about giving bicycles but the importance and impact created.

The message tells you that they give bicycles to health workers to save lives and reach patients in time. The caption gives you a measured insight on impact created. 

2. Powerful storytelling through quality photos and videos

Improved technology has made it easier for you to shine on social media. You do not need to break a leg investing in the latest Nikon or Canon DSLR Camera to take a good photo or video. We advise that you get an iPhone because they have really good cameras. If you don’t have the budget for that yet, get a good smartphone with a minimum of 16 MegaPixels on the rear camera. 

Here are some tips on how to nail social media worthy photos.

  • Single person focus e.g. portrait of a child that brings out the emotion
  • Photos with context e.g. a child being fed, a woman on a sewing machine to help donors understand the backstory
  • Images of project locations to help donors see what their money is used for.
  • Positive, smiling faces to show the good you’re doing
  • Images of special campaigns e.g. supplies to vulnerable communities, to show quick response to crises. 
  • Group images/ 10 second clips that show people in action e.g children playing with clean water, caretaker playing with happy babies etc

Take a look at this video by UNICEF for #MandelaDay. It’s not just the Executive Director speaking but powerful motion videos of children are used in between her speech to give context and flavour to what she’s saying. 

Charity Water uses striking images a lot to tell powerful stories on Instagram.

3. Cultivate influencers out of your volunteers and staff

No money for big wig influencers? No worries. Infact, it saves you inconsistent communication about your brand. Your staff and volunteers know your organisation in and out better than influencers. Ask them to share content on their individual social media platforms to increase traction and chances of being noticed.  

4. Know your audience platform 

Where is your audience? Facebook, Twitter, Youtube? Know where they are and understand who they listen to. 

UNICEF is a great example that knows how to use people that their audience will listen to. They use a 15 year old actress to advocate for children’s rights which is a good move because she fits the image of the brand. 

If you run an organisation that helps teen moms, pick a teen mom as a brand ambassador to advocate for help. They are more likely going to listen to her than the PRO of the organisation. 

5. Curate content from your audience

I’ve realised that many nonprofits do not use the people around them to curate content. They say they want to keep their donors and partners up to date with news about the organisation but don’t know where to start. 

Start with your beneficiaries, community partners. It could be the LC1 Chairman, the engineers that drill clean water, the teachers or caretakers, the driver who helps staff get around. The list is endless. Make human stories out of them. Show, don’t tell. You want it to feel real. 


Go watch this video by Charity Water on Instagram to get a clearer idea of how to frame stories from the people you work with.

6. Post messages of hope

Don’t sit around waiting for activities to get content. If you’re experiencing dry days which you will, even daily newspapers encounter it, create a simple poster in Canva with a message of hope to keep your organisation alive online. Messages like “To any pregnant teen out there seeking safe medical help, we have your back.”

7. Find out what works for different social platforms 


If you didn’t pass summary writing in school, you might run away from Twitter’s 280 character limit on a tweet. Alternatively, if you have a lot to say, you can opt for a thread but it must be interesting enough to follow. 

Twitter is a conversational platform that many nonprofits leverage to talk about their mission using UN International Days  like #WorldYouthDay. It’s the best way to cut through the noise and get your nonprofit noticed. 


Make use of IG Story Feature to avoid overloading your account with content. It’s the trend right now and lots of people are into it. They are useful for consistent story-telling about a special day’s event. Don’t forget to pin it to your profile so it’s the first thing people see when they visit your account. 


People won’t head to your website unless you advertise it on social media. Find different ways to distribute that same content across platforms. 


Avoid long posts because of limited attention span. Use short captions with links and videos to increase engagements with posts and in turn increase ranking in people’s feed. 

https://www.facebook.com/unicef includes a Call To Action. 


Great for storytelling. It’s always better when you launch a series of a particular project and document it from start to finish, then break it down in say,10 parts. 

The importance of doing series on YouTube is that it keeps your channel organised and easy to navigate for your subscribers. 

8. Have a monthly content calendar 

You shouldn’t wake up on random days and pick what content to post. It kills your consistency and quality. Create a content calendar with an overall strategy in mind showing which days to post and what exactly you’ll be posting so that way, you prepare well and make your audience get used to a pattern. 

9. Partner with organisations 

Collaborate with organisations that have a huge following and with whom you share similar missions. They can help you reach thousands of people you could never have otherwise reached. You can either partner with them on a joint fundraising campaign to create a buzz for you too or within programs that the both of you can benefit from. 

Want personalised strategy on creating content that stands out? We help brands stand out in the digital space by helping them craft messages that relate with their audience.  Learn more about it here

Tess Hazel

Tess Hazel is the copywriter at era92 Creative. She loves to read novels and runs a personal blog about poetry and creative nonfiction short stories.

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USA Office

9385 12th Ave Sw seattle, wa 98106
+1(213) 674-9869

UK Office

12 Mill Square Portstewart BT55 7TB Northern Ireland
+44 7956 989809‬

Uganda Office

Lungujja, Kampala along Kalema Road
+256 784 239 786‬


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