[Social Media] Complainers Gonna Complain, and Why That Can Be Good for Your Nonprofit

Try as you may, it’s impossible to please everyone—there will always be people who issue a complaint about your cause or organization. Thanks to social media, it’s not only you and your nonprofit that gets an earful, but the rest of the online world as well. But this doesn’t have to be a bad thing. Here’s the upside to having online critics.

  • They highlight opportunities to grow. Look past the criticism and honestly ask yourself, “Do they have a point?” Even if they seem unreasonable, there may be a little truth embedded in their complaints. No organization is perfect. Addressing a legitimate flaw makes you better.
  • They bring out your supporters. If you’ve spent the past few years building relationships with your supporters and constituents through social media, you’ve acquired some loyal followers. When someone complains about your organization, your supporters will rise to your defense. Observers may see the complaints, but they’ll see the rebuttals too.
  • They keep people buzzing about your brand. Maybe not all publicity is good publicity. But if you find a way to take control of the conversation, you’ll wind up with positive PR in the end. Just stay true to your brand and be authentic with your supporters.

The key to turning a negative into a potential positive is to handle critical feedback well. Here are six tips for doing that.

Respond Promptly

Don’t let negative comments linger. The more time you let them go unanswered, the more time others have to see that someone has complained and you haven’t responded. Responding quickly, even with a message that simply acknowledges the comment, is a show of loyalty and care.

Reply Publicly for Public Complaints

If someone complains publicly, react publicly—then then take it private if necessary. By addressing the issue in a public forum, in a calm and constructive manner, you build trust—it shows that you’re not afraid to be transparent. If someone is being particularly difficult, however, it’s best to move your communication to a private channel.


Listening to your critics isn’t fun, but it could be useful. Instead of shying away, engage in conversation. Find out what their complaint is truly about. You may discover the issue is due to a misunderstanding or miscommunication, an unfortunate experience with just one person at your organization, or it may point out a flaw that you can easily address and correct.

Check out three more tips and read the full article on Firespring.org>>

handle social complaints

Lisa Thompson

May 6, 2016

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