Importance of social media presence for an NGO

NGO Social Accounts

First it was the internet, and now it’s social media that has altered our lives to an extent none of us might have ever imagined. We have attached such a kind of reputation to social media that your absence from it labels you as being an unsocial, outdated, or old generation.

Until a decade ago, social media was mainly used as a means of communication. But now, it is a platform to introduce and market businesses. For instance, when Facebook was first launched, we all used it to connect with friends and families. But, now Facebook is used more to market businesses and engage clients. If you visit the official website of any brand or business you will find Facebook as one of the ‘connect with us’ options, and the same is true for other social media platforms as well such as Twitter, Instagram, YouTube etc. The need for social media presence is not only felt by the business sector but by the not-for-profit organisations too.

Since, not-for-profit organisations or NGOs need the support of the civil society, it becomes a prerequisite to reach out to the mass. Here, social media plays a very significant role. If tapped well, social media can generate tremendous support for NGOs by spreading the cause in a limitless manner. Most NGOs – national and international, have realised the power of social media, and hence uses it strategically and creatively to garner support from the mass. One such NGO in India is The Akshaya Patra Foundation. It is a mid-day meal NGO headquartered in Bengaluru with operational units in 36 locations across 12 states. Currently, the Foundation is providing mid-day meals to more than 1.7 million children on each school day.

Akshaya Patra stepped into the social media arena around 2012. Currently, it is present on several social media platforms – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and Google Plus.

With over – 10,000 followers in Twitter

1,700,275 followers in Facebook

More than 15,000 followers in Instagram

2,790 subscribers in YouTube

The Foundation uses these platforms to share NGO news and events, share videos and photo albums, run campaigns, update supporters of recent developments and the like. The Foundation also uses blogging as a means to involve supporters with its cause. The NGO blog includes various organisation -specific topics such as events, interviews, organisational highlights etc.; child-centric topics such as food, education, health, skill development; along with global topics such as environment, child labour and the like. By far, social media presence of Akshaya Patra has helped the organisation to get identified easily, interact with supporters present across the globe, run campaigns successfully, and garner tremendous support.

In conclusion, social media has opened up numerous channels for NGOs to reach out to people. If NGOs approach the social media avenue in a planned and strategic way, it has the potential to expand its cause manifold.

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How do NGOs leverage social media to promote their causes?

NGO social media Banner

Techreport surveyed more than 4,000 NGOs last year across 153 countries about how they were using social media. Turns out, 92% of global non-profit organisations had a website and a Facebook page, 78% of these were mobile-compatible, while 72% used Twitter.

This report alone is proof that NGOs are targeting millennials and Gen-X that are more open to online donations or online fundraising campaigns. Donors now have a wide variety of choices to select a cause they feel most strongly for.

This blog lists some ways that are actively being used by global NGOs as they leverage social media and online channels for charity purposes, online fundraising and other such activities. We have taken the example of a global NGO in India called Akshaya Patra that’s on a mission to feed school-going children with a wholesome lunch every day.

Make success stories sharable

NGOs around the world now understand the impact of stories on social media. And since they are often involved in causes related to human rights, they often have great stories to tell. Akshaya Patra loves sharing Hope Stories that are easily sharable on social media. This encourages visitors to check their website for details such as online fundraising, sponsoring a child or sponsoring a school.

Write linkable tweets on other platforms

NGOs have learnt to leverage attention beyond their own websites and social media pages. They make themselves heard on other prominent platforms such as Forbes, The Huffington Post and others. Akshaya Patra has a small microblog on the online edition of Forbes with the Twitter icon, so that it can be easily shared. Such initiatives have helped people around the world associate mid-day meals with Akshaya Patra.

Sharing history to add credibility

NGOs are quite forthcoming these days about sharing their history and background. They choose compelling storytelling methods to talk about their history to encourage donors for donating to charity and building trust. Akshaya Patra has an interesting history that’s not only presented beautifully on their website but is often shared on various social media platforms in digestible chunks of content.

Use Youtube for visual recall

Youtube is a social channel that’s quite democratic when it comes to widespread reach. Akshaya Patra often shares video stories about important launches, events, its state-of-the-art kitchens and other aspects of its school lunch programme. Recently, noted author Rashmi Bansal’s book launch event had received considerable attention on Youtube. Her book –God’s Own Kitchen – is traces the Foundation’s journey.

Partner with others

A non-profit organisation cannot work alone. It needs like-minded partners. Akhaya Patra partners with startups and enterprises to scale up at various levels. In one such initiative, it partnered with Innovative Alchemy, which helped the organisation to develop an innovative kitchen design that helped scale up its kitchens. Partners like these often share this kind of content on their own social media platforms that further expands the reach of NGOs like Akshaya Patra.

NGOs today are more aware and tech-savvy and are clear about their target audience. This clarity often helps them increase the scope of their causes and source necessary means to implement schemes.