How to Build Out Your Nonprofit Social Media Calendar

Post by Julia Campbell

Does your organization have a social media calendar?

As a nonprofit marketer for a small organization, I am positive that you wear many hats.

Between answering emails, making phone calls to supporters, editing the annual appeal letter and coordinating fundraising events, who has time to maintain more than one social media account?

I’m here to tell you that you DO have the time. I promise.

The answer to managing it all lies in one word – scheduling!

Use a simple Social Media Calendar to plan a month or more worth of social media posts, and avoid that middle-of-the-day dread when you have yet to post to Facebook or send a tweet.

There are two main ways to create your nonprofit social media calendar.

Option 1: Creating a Social Media Calendar by Topic / Theme

If you are only posting once per day on one or two social networks, then a very simple Social Media Calendar organized by topic theme may work for your organization.

This calendar features a specific topic theme for each day of the week, as a way to help you get comfortable creating posts and sharing them daily.

For example, a local food bank could create content based on this Topic Theme Calendar:

  • Monday – Nutrition Monday – Share a nutrition tip or current news story about nutrition or nutrition myths.
  • Tuesday – #CharityTuesday – A post featuring a nonprofit or community partner.
  • Wednesday – #WednesdayWisdom – Post a graphic and an inspiring quote that motivates supporters, or relates in some way to the mission.
  • Thursday – #TRT or #ThrowbackThursday – Post an old photo of volunteers, staff, clients or an event and ask your fans and followers to guess the date and place.
  • Friday – TGIF! Highlight a local event going on that day or that weekend that will be of interest to supporters.

Option 2: Creating a Social Media Calendar by Platform

A more detailed Social Media Calendar may be required if you are posting across multiple networks several times per day, along with publishing blog posts, making videos, and scheduling email communications and newsletters.

Step 1. Start simple.

Use an Excel spreadsheet or a Word document. You can also get fancy and use cloud-based tools such as Airtable, Calendly, Coschedule, Slack… the possibilities are endless. Choose one and commit to using it for at least 3 months.

Make sure to upload it or save a copy to Dropbox, Google Docs or another cloud service so that all responsible social media managers, supervisors, volunteers can access it at home, on the go or in the office.

Step 2. Label your columns.

The first column will list the social media channels that you currently use (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Blog, Email, Pinterest, etc.) and the next seven columns will list the days of the week.

I recommend posting:

  • 5x per week for Facebook
  • 3x per day for Twitter
  • 3x per week for LinkedIn
  • 3x per week for Instagram
  • 3x per week for Pinterest

Of course, you do not have to use all of these channels – pick the ones that you already use or ones that you want to use and include them in your Social Media Calendar.

When deciding to use any social media tool, the frequency of posts and the number of channels are determined by your nonprofit’s strategic online communications plan.

Step 3. Configure the rows.

  • Each cell should include one post.
  • Add two Facebook rows if you post twice per day, three Twitter rows if you tweet 3x per day, etc.
  • Add a row for your Blog and one for Email Marketing so you can see where they fit in.

Step 4. Start adding content to your Social Media Calendar!

Look at your calendar for six months out.

Make sure you add all events, meetings, volunteer trainings, organization milestones, birthdays, anniversaries, upcoming announcements, networking meetings, etc.

This ensures that nothing falls through the cracks and that all events are promoted enough in advance.

Some quick but very important reminders when building your Social Media Calendar:

Always refer back to your Strategic Online Communications Plan

Ask yourself – Is this post/tweet/pin going to help me accomplish my goals for the organization?

It is ok, even encouraged, to go off topic on social media. This will help you engage your supporters, make them laugh, encourage them to share your content and therefore get in front of new people and increase your exposure.

Going off topic shows that you are human, that you are not robots, and that you have personality.

Do not just look internally for content!

In other words, don’t just post stuff you created yourself!

Social media is about being social after all. Create good karma by sharing others posts and tweets (making sure that it provides value and is of interest to your audience). In this way you will showcase your knowledge and become a resource to your followers.

So, always share content that resonates with your followers. Somehow, I am sure they have other interests than just your organization.

Be flexible!

Don’t become married to the calendar. If something happens in the news, if there is an exciting development in your field or if you just want to post about the Royal Baby being born (because everyone is talking about it), then do it!

Remember, this is not brain surgery – a couple of off-calendar posts are not going to kill anyone. Being flexible, timely and relevant matter much more than staying 100% on message.

Want to learn more about creating a plan for your organization’s digital marketing? Join me for my CharityHowTo webinar, How to Create a Strategic Online Nonprofit Communications Plan, and I’ll guide you, step-by-step!

About the Author

Julia Campbell is a digital marketing strategist and nonprofit technology evangelist, providing workshops, webinars and trainings to nonprofit professionals in organizations of all sizes. Using social media, email, blogging and online fundraising platforms, Julia has over a decade of history of helping nonprofits find success online. She founded J Campbell Social Marketing, a boutique digital marketing agency.

Check out all of Julia’s free and premium trainings at CharityHowTo here!