#NPSocialSummit Recap: Part Two

Tim Sarrantonio

The first-ever Nonprofit Social Media Summit was held at Babson College recently and it was an extremely inspiring gathering of folks looking to take their social media engagement to the next level. Neon One was a presenting sponsor of this event and I wanted to share some of the insights that were presented to an engaged room of 80 folks. 

Julia Campbell brought together an amazing lineup of experts in all things social. Together. they answered some of the biggest questions organizations have when it comes to properly social media. Since the conference packed so much into one short day, we’ll be breaking up our recap into two parts.

Part One

  1. The Nonprofit Social Media Landscape
  2. Livestreaming Content
  3. LinkedIn
  4. Personalized Donor Videos

Part Two

  1. Top Social Media Tools
  2. Facebook Ads
  3. Mobilizing Social Fundraisers
  4. Streamlining Your Marketing and Communications

The Best Social Media Tools for Nonprofits 

After lunch, Joshua Hirsch of Susan G. Komen Florida gave an engaging presentation on social media tools for nonprofits. During his session, he shared the top ten tools nonprofits should use to take their social presence to the next level. Here are our top three favorites:


This interactive tool crowdsources feedback to create an interactive experience. Josh used it during his presentation to ask the crowd ” “what is the worst thing about social media?”. The tool then generated a word cloud formed from real-time responses. We were able to see it update live, giving the audience a look at how the group processed the question. If you ever need to do a presentation for your organization, this is an easy way to get people to feel part of it.


This project management tool is a must for managing your social media calendar. Part spreadsheet, part database – Airtable will help give your organization structure and clarity on what you’re supposed to be working on next. We’re big fans of it ourselves at Neon One.


One of the hardest parts of sharing content is finding engaging photos. While it’s ideal is to take photographs of your own staff and constituents, sometimes things don’t go as planned. Instead of turning toward an expensive, bland stock photo service, check out Unsplash. With an ever-expanding database of well-tagged images, you’ll always find just what you’re looking for. Just remember to attribute properly!

Here are all the other great tools Josh spotlighted:

Follow Josh on social media for more practical nonprofit social media advice. He’s the definition of an early adopter, so you’ll always get a first look at what tools are making an impact

Unpacking Facebook Ads

Facebook has a lot of potential for audience engagement, but it can also be tricky to understand and use. Marketing expert Susu Wong of Tomo360 gave a deep dive on the Facebook Ads platform, from strategic planning to implementation. Here are some of the key points she covered: 

  • Have a goal in mind. Treat your Facebook ad like a mini-campaign. Set a goal, and track its progress so you can create a baseline for improvement.
  • Know who you’re trying to reach. The majority of online users are looking for personalized experiences. Make sure you decide on your target audience before you create your ad.
  • Make it enticing. Focus on what makes your organization unique. Tell your nonprofit’s story as authentically as possible by incorporating your own branding and imagery.
  • Create an “anti-ad”. Don’t try to market your nonprofit like a for-profit organization. Instead, focus on inspiring people with the great work that you do.
  • Make sure your pixel is installed. And we’re not talking about the phone. A conversion pixel can be installed on your website to accurately track the success of your ad.
  • A/B test it. If you’re going to experiment, stay on top of the results by monitoring your A/B test. This will help you gauge what’s working and what isn’t.

Social Fundraising Is Getting Big

One of the most “contentious” sessions (more on that later) but also powerful sessions was from Sue Citro of the Best Friends Animal Society, a no-kill animal shelter network headquartered in Kenab, Utah. 

Similar to the session that I presented with Homes For Our Troops, this was a deep dive into the power of networks that can be amplified when the right foundation is put in place. Sue stresses the importance of providing the right tools to your social media network to feel comfortable and empowered to raise money on your behalf. 

During this presentation. Sue shared tips on how nonprofits can utilize the power of individual donor networks. Throughout her presentation, Sue Sue stressed the importance of providing the right tools to your social media network to feel comfortable and empowered to raise money on your behalf. 

Facebook Fundraisers

With 62% of donors citing Facebook as the most inspiring network when it comes to social media channels and nonprofit campaigns, it becomes pretty obvious why there’s been a lot of attention being paid to Facebook Fundraisers lately. Personal fundraising pages being hosted on Facebook have grown considerably in the past few years and the vast majority are being leveraged around a person’s birthday. 

There are pros and cons to these fundraisers, but increasingly there are tools to help capture a bit more data and connect these fundraisers to your more traditional peer to peer campaigns. In general, your organization should try to put structures and resources in place to empower people to be successful through Facebook Fundraisers but not expect much retention or data on these donors themselves. Focus on the people doing the fundraising!


It is important to learn the facts about how GivingTuesday works and create dedicated strategies to help your donors feel part of the cause. With any of these campaigns initiated to bring fundraisers into your network and make them feel energized, it is about laying the right foundation and create workflows that celebrate their accomplishments. GivingTuesday has the potential to be big for your organization, but it shouldn’t be the only thing that is focused on.

Livestream Fundraising

One of the most fascinating examples of how giving is changing is livestream fundraising. Sue spotlighted a few streaming campaigns that have brought in millions of dollars for organizations around the world. This type of fundraising combines an emerging form of social communication on platforms like Twitch with traditional elements of supporting charities. 

The premise is simple – someone can stream themselves live performing a task, typically playing video games. Then people interact with the “stream” and can comment, support, make requests, jokes, etc. Platforms like Twitch and Mixer have over 150 million users per month. 

The growth has been huge, with 40,000+ streamers registered on Tiltify’s platform raising tens of millions of dollars for charities like St. Jude’s Foundation and Make-A-Wish. Celebrities like Stephen Colbert and Emilia Clarke are also starting to leverage these platforms, bringing in thousands of new donors to organizations that they love and support.

And why was this session was contentious? Sue put forward that dogs raise more money than cats when utilized in social media campaigns. It caused quite the debate! 

Donor Love From The Master

A fitting end to the first Nonprofit Social Media Summit was a presentation from one of the most influential nonprofit marketing and social media experts in the industry, John Haydon. He started his presentation with a story — his story, in fact. 

A few months ago, John was prescribed a new daily pill called Tagrisso that would his treatment but cost $16,000 a month. His insurance company refused to help pay for the treatment and so John turned to his network to appeal directly to the drug company that manufactures it. His campaign was successful but also helped him focus on what was important in life — relationships. 

John had been working with nonprofits for a long time when he was diagnosed with an extremely rare form of cancer called follicular dendritic cell sarcoma. 

John’s session focused on donor C.A.R.E, which he explained stands for Connect, Appreciate, Reply, Encourage.

Connection is important because good fundraising is always about the donor. When utilizing social media, it is important to move people from the crowd inward toward feeling part of a network and then finally part of a community.

Appreciation is vital because when you thank a donor, it creates a stronger bond for that person to come back and give again. Authentic and meaningful communication is vital at every stage of the donor’s journey and social media is a powerful tool to ensure you show your gratitude for their support.

Replying to donors shows that you are listening. Putting the work in to show that you care about the donor’s opinion is going to have a big impact. We outlined the importance of feedback in our recent webinar on the donor experience with Mary Cahalane (here’s the section about donor feedback) and when you show that you hear what a donor wants, they will continue to support you for years to come.

Encouragement is key in showing the donor the path forward. Using social media, you can create a story that opens up a world of possibilities with their support. Give them options to join in that journey, such a monthly giving programs or volunteer opportunities. No matter what, just ask in a meaningful and thoughtful way.


It was an exciting and inspiring event that we were thrilled to support. Social media will continue to change but if we remember that at the center of any sort of channel is engagement and relationship building, then your organization will find success with any of the tools outlined in our recap.

Leave a Comment