The Top 4 Nonprofit Social Media Campaigns of 2013 (And What You Can Learn)

NPOs never stood a chance on social media. People aren’t there for us, they’re there to interact with their friends.

Don’t act like those thoughts never crossed your mind. Sometimes social media can be discouraging. “How do we get more interaction?” “How do we make them care?”

It’s easy to think that way. But it’s easy to dismiss those concerns after seeing these social media campaigns that, quite frankly, kicked butt in 2013. These examples are going to get those thought wheels turning and hopefully spark your next idea.

Oh, the possibilities! There are so many people on social media to reach with your message (if you take the initiative, that is). Behold—the top nonprofit social media campaigns that caught our eye in 2013.

1. The Organization: Water is Life

The Campaign: They say you can’t predict when something will go viral. It’s true… you can’t. But a great idea like this was bound to get the attention it deserved. Water is Life took something that they thought was disturbing and turned it into something good. They hijacked the hashtag #FirstWorldProblems. Check out the incredibly powerful video that went viral:

So what did they have to say about the power of social media?

“We were able to change the conversation through social media. Instead of complaining about #FirstWorldProblems, people began using the hashtag as a vehicle to spread Water is Life’s message and to encourage donations,” a Water is Life spokesperson said.

The outcome was providing over a million days worth of clean water to those in need as a result of the video.

People had their own names for the strategy that Water is Life used. But in the end, Water is Life gave it their own name—a name that other nonprofits can learn from.

“We call it hashtag killer. Not just an attempt to end a hashtag, but to use social media to affect a real change in our world.”

The Takeaway: They say to accept the things you can’t change. But this campaign suggests the opposite. Instead of sitting around being angry at the hashtag #FirstWorldProblems, Water is Life actually did something about it. If there’s something bad that you’d like to change for the better, do it. Start a movement.

2. The Organization: UNICEF

The Campaign: The photo speaks for itself.

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The Takeaway: Don’t be afraid to be bold. In a world full of people begging for ‘Likes,’ UNICEF dared to be different. It’s bold. It catches your attention. They directly called out their followers. “Hey, a ‘like’ does nothing. So donate.” I don’t know about you, but the campaign certainly made me want to act.

3. The Organization: charity: water

The Campaign: 10k on 10:1 Social Mediathon

We know, another clean water organization. What can we say? They rocked it this year. And charity: water allows individual donors to get involved in different ways to raise money. From running a proposed number of miles to matching every dollar, charity: water participants have come up with some cool ideas. And one of those ideas came from somebody who used their connections for a 24-hour social media campaign.

In one day, they hosted Google Hangouts with different thought leaders. People could purchase a seat in the hangout (a very limited number) to ask whatever questions they wanted.

And guess what? They reached their goal. $10,000 on 10/1.

The Takeaway: Social media campaigns don’t have to be long. They just have to be carefully planned and executed. So don’t stray from campaigns thinking that they need to be a month-long endeavor. But also note, this campaign took time to plan and create the amazing campaign website.

4. The Organization: Red Cross

The Campaign: They took part in National Preparedness Month, jumping in on the hashtag #NPM13. Because of the nature of the Red Cross’s work, it made sense. They help with disaster relief and emergencies. NPM is designed to help prepare people for emergencies. By jumping in on that hashtag, they’re exposing more people to the cause. Especially people who are passionate about NPM and might not be passionate about the Red Cross… yet.

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The Takeaway: Jump in on trends that make sense. If there’s a month that relates directly to your organization, take advantage. Even if it’s only a day, you can help increase awareness through education.

Will you make our list for 2014, or do you feel like your campaign stands out for 2013? We want to hear about it. Share it with us in the comments below.