Mission critical: How to find the right social media management tools for nonprofits


Social media is an integral part of nonprofit operations. It’s how donors and volunteers find causes they care about, and how organizations raise awareness at a local and global level. And with the right social media strategy and tools, nonprofits can amplify their mission, transform how they connect with audiences and meet fundraising goals.

A screenshot of a Tweet by the Trevor Project that reads: For LGBTQ young people, having an affirming community makes all the difference. That's why today, we are excited to launch our Pride 2023 fundraising campaign on @Tiltify. Your support ensures LGBTQ youth always have a place to turn. That’s the power of us. Register now. The attached image depicts two people hugging and text that reads: stories of Pride, the power of us.

But planning and executing a nonprofit social media strategy isn’t without a unique set of challenges. Understaffing. Limited bandwidth. Highly-scrutinized, tight budgets. Trying to understand and reach new generations of donors and volunteers.

By choosing the right social media management tools for nonprofits, you can proactively engage donors, volunteers and staff members, while saving your team valuable time and resources. Use the questions in this article to help you evaluate nonprofit social media management tools, and, ultimately, deliver a social performance that fuels your mission.

Why nonprofits need a comprehensive social media management tool

At their core, social media management tools allow you to manage your nonprofit’s social media presence in one centralized place rather than switching between native networks—which is key for boosting efficiency and reducing manual labor. As social has evolved, these tools have matured into sophisticated platforms that clarify the donor journey and enable you to lead your organization with a data-driven vision.

With a comprehensive social media management tool, your team can:

  • Address workforce shortages and under-resourced teams by automating manual tasks, allowing your staff to prioritize their most important work and make time for innovation, while reducing burnout and turnover.
  • Balance global and local strategies, while ensuring all content aligns with your overarching brand and mission.
  • Tie your digital marketing efforts to key performance metrics like conversions and donor engagement/retention.
  • Effectively reach new donors and volunteers from younger generations who want to engage and donate digitally.

But not all social media management platforms are created equal. The right tools should be powerful enough to handle your unique use cases and intuitive enough for your team to adopt and uncover insights.

For example, watch how Donors Choose uses Sprout Social to efficiently manage their complete social media presence—from publishing and engagement to analytics and reporting.

4 questions to ask when evaluating social media management tools for nonprofits

The right social media management tools streamline your workflows, make it easy to engage your community and provide access to key insights that your entire organization can use. Your platform of choice should prioritize innovation and adaptability—empowering you to maximize your mission. Here are the questions you need to ask before making an investment:

1. How will these tools alleviate my team’s workload so they can focus on mission-critical initiatives?

If your organization’s brand accounts and local affiliates are managed by one central team or even one person, this creates a massive administrative and operational burden when it comes to coordinating content across profiles. The right tools will ensure all posts are on-brand and major campaigns are cohesive, even if content comes from various staff members, locations and volunteers. Check out the Goodwill Industries International Twitter account and the Goodwill of Central and Northern Arizona account for an example of how to maintain brand identity across nonprofit profiles.

A screenshot of Goodwill Industries International's Twitter profile. The bio reads: Nonprofit. Official twitter for Goodwill Industries International, Inc. Helping individuals and communities build brighter futures through the power of work.

Screenshot of GoodwillAZ's Twitter account. The bio reads: Official Twitter of Goodwill of Central and Northern AZ. Your goodwill helps us provide no-cost career services.

By using a centralized platform like Sprout Social, you can manage all social media publishing, approving and scheduling in one place—keeping you organized so your team can focus more time on engaging donors and volunteers.

According to Navaris Hood, Senior Manager of Social Media at Goodwill of Central and Northern Arizona, “Sprout is an invaluable tool for managing multi-platform social media efforts. It makes the process of scheduling content, engaging followers and creating customized reports simple and more efficient.”

A recently commissioned Total Economic Impact™ study conducted by Forrester Consulting on behalf of Sprout Social found that Sprout’s tools helped a composite organization representative of interviewed customers drive $973,000 in social media team productivity and efficiency savings over three years, and a 55% productivity increase in year three.

Here are a few Sprout highlights that help nonprofits collaborate more effectively:

  • Shared calendar: Plan your strategy and maintain oversight from a central hub rather than disparate apps or spreadsheets. Organize posts across profiles, networks and campaigns using a visualized calendar to support your overall mission. For example, you can map out your posts for the upcoming week and month to assure your content lines up with seasonal holidays and online events, like #GivingTuesday.
  • Publishing and scheduling: Boost collaboration between staff and increase productivity with campaign planning tools, automated workflows, and scheduling and monitoring tools. Automatically publish your content at the times most likely to reach donors and volunteers and receive real-time engagement updates.
  • Asset manager: Simplify collaborative publishing and asset management by creating, organizing, editing and publishing assets from Sprout’s central Asset Library, delivering engaging posts while staying on-brand.
  • Message approval workflows: With internal and external approver features, ensure content is always approved and compliant with your brand guidelines—all within the Sprout platform.
A screenshot of Sprout Social's Publishing Calendar displaying the week view. There is also a window open for composing a new post, and the approval workflows button is selected. A text box reads: Click to require approval on this message.

2. Will this tool help us maximize our mission and reach among key audiences?

Increasing awareness of your mission, fundraisers and initiatives is of the utmost importance at your organization. But with limited funds for paid efforts, you need creative, scalable ways to maximize your organic reach to get in front of new volunteers, donors and staff members.

Enter: turning your current staff members and volunteers into your greatest advocates.

With a solution like Employee Advocacy by Sprout Social, you can put all your shareable content in one place so your staff and volunteers can quickly and easily post approved content to their social networks—extending your reach far beyond your bandwidth and budget. According to the Forrester Total Economic Impact™ study, the composite organization representative of interviewed customers saved $233,000 in paid advertising costs over three years with the Advocacy platform.

Use Sprout’s ROI calculator to find out how much the Advocacy platform could impact awareness of your nonprofit’s mission.

A screenshot of Sprout's Employee Advocacy platform that demonstrates how users can curate a new story for their internal team to share.

Sprout’s Analytics tools can also help you better understand what content resonates with your audience so you can maximize your engagement. According to Kinzi Sparks, Director of Marketing at the Trevor Project, “Our engagement post to post and platform to platform fluctuates greatly depending on the wide variety of content that we put out. However, using Sprout’s reporting tools has helped us identify key content that performs best and alter our strategy accordingly.”

These Sprout tools are designed to help you fine-tune your content strategy:

  • Tag Reports: Access an overview of your inbound and outbound tagged messages to easily analyze campaign effectiveness, volume and performance patterns.
  • Post Performance Reports: Analyze cross-channel performance at the post level to understand what messaging and formats resonate with your community and why.
  • Profile Performance Reports: Access a high-level overview of performance across all connected profiles to quickly evaluate social growth, and how that growth correlates with key initiatives.
A screenshot of the Sprout Social Profile Performance Report, which displays impressions, engagements, post link clicks and changes in audience growth.

3. How will this tool help us grow and engage our community more meaningfully?

You want to foster relationships on social media that turn followers into donors, volunteers and advocates. To do so, you need to understand your audience’s journey and be responsive and authentic when they reach out to you. Strengthen your community engagement by using social media tools that provide your team with valuable intelligence about your audience, and empower swift, proactive communication.

The Sprout platform empowers you engage your community on social media better by exceeding your audience’s communication expectations and tracking your donors’ journeys from beginning to end. Here’s how:

  • Smart Inbox: Unify your social channels into a single view so you can quickly monitor incoming messages, cultivate conversations and respond to your audience. Tagging and filtering capabilities let you prioritize what’s most important and discover unique engagement opportunities.
A screenshot of Sprout Social's Smart Inbox tool displaying messages from multiple social platforms in one feed.
  • Salesforce integration: Gain a full 360-degree view of your donors—from their first interaction with your nonprofit to their latest donation. Sprout enriches your Salesforce CRM records with social data to provide a comprehensive view, allowing your team to understand your target audience better. Sprout’s Tableau Business Intelligence (BI) Connector takes it a step further by combining social data with other BI sources, giving you a complete perspective of your digital marketing efforts, without requiring time-consuming work.
A screenshot of social data from Sprout integrated in the Salesforce platform, which demonstrates how incoming social messages can be linked to existing contacts and cases.

4. Does it surface the insights we need to adjust our strategy and act on timely issues?

Agile social media analytics tools for nonprofits ensure you can make quick adjustments to your strategy and easily demonstrate social’s value for your organization. This is something many teams struggle with. According to the Salesforce Nonprofit Trends report, less than half of nonprofit professionals are satisfied with their tech stack. In fact, 40% are disappointed with their inability to access data quickly, while 34% wish data sources and systems could be more integrated.

While social data can reveal a lot about your performance, it can also mine audience insights around emerging issues like world events or proposed legislation that can help you craft an informed response. It can even help you get ahead of a crisis. As Sparks says, “One of our big focuses this year is improving how we approach community management and social listening, which Sprout has played a big part in. My team is able to quickly look across platforms and determine trending topics our brand is a part of and act accordingly.”

Using a social media management platform makes it easy to create clear reports that demonstrate how your social strategy translates to your mission, stay on the pulse of social media topics trending with your community and monitor brand health vitals. With Sprout’s tools, you can eliminate the time-consuming manual data collection processes in favor of automated, presentation-ready reports. The Total Economic Impact™ study found that Sprout eliminated manual data aggregation to prepare monthly reports by 75%, resulting in $39,000 in savings over three years.

  • Analytics: Maintain complete oversight of all connected social profiles from one location. Save time with a suite of user-friendly, customizable reporting options that scale with your business. For example, create and share custom tag reports mentioned in a previous section to share your best performing content with leadership.
  • Social listening: Sprout’s artificial intelligence (AI)-driven technology can help you gain critical intel about emerging areas of need and topics your community cares about. The platform sifts through millions of social media data points in seconds, helping you access and share actionable findings with leadership. The tools gather honest feedback about your performance on social and beyond. Learn what motivates someone to donate or volunteer with your nonprofit. With these insights, you will be empowered to produce more meaningful content and ladder-up your learnings to decision makers.
A screenshot of a Listening Performance Topic Summary in Sprout's platform. In the image, you can see total volume, engagements, impressions and sentiment analysis.
  • Message Spike Alerts: If your message volume spikes, that could be indicative of a looming crisis. These alerts automatically send email or mobile push notifications when incoming messages exceed your hourly average, so your team doesn’t have to manually monitor your inbox 24/7.

Find the right social media tools to connect with people who care about your cause

Compelling social content inspires people to take action, and connects you with the right audience. By using a sophisticated social media management platform like Sprout Social, you can harness social media to drive donations, capture and deepen donor loyalty, and amplify your mission—all while boosting your team’s efficiency.

For a more comprehensive look at the potential value Sprout Social provides, download The Total Economic Impact™ of Sprout Social study, and learn how Sprout delivered a 233% return on investment over three years.

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