What Nonprofit CEOs and Trustees Do the Best Job Leading on Social Media Channels? | Beth's Blog

What Nonprofit CEOs and Trustees Do the Best Job Leading on Social Media Channels?



For the past few years,  Social CEOs has recognized nonprofit leaders who are doing a good job on social media.   This year’s award nominations for CEOs and Trustees who inspire, encourage and provoke debate is now open and you can nominate a nonprofit leader here.

For the past few years, I’ve been teaching a workshop called “Leading on Social Channels” for nonprofits that want to leverage the personal brands of their leaders.  I also teach this workshop for emerging nonprofit leaders – since having an online personal brand as part of your leadership skills is now essential.    In October, I will be teaching a master class at the International Fundraising Congress.    So, I’m always delighted to see programs that encourage nonprofit leaders to embrace social media.

Leading on social media requires nonprofit CEOs and their staff, even Trustees, to master basic digital communications skills that allow them to engage directly with stakeholders as themselves, in their own voices.   No longer can they hide behind the organization’s faceless logo.  Nonprofit leaders need to cultivate and hone a personal brand that is human, yet professional.  To be effective, it should be closely aligned with the organization’s goals, objectives, and audiences.

Nonprofit leaders need to use social media to drive conversations online and offline, influence others, and shape perceptions. Adding social media leadership skills to the mix, they can become the more trusted voices who others turn to regarding their sector’s social change issues.   More and more, the organization’s logo alone is not enough to build trust. It requires a real face to humanize the brand. CEOs are seen as experts on your organization’s brand, social change issues, and programs, thus their opinions are extremely valuable and trusted by the people in their networks and beyond. Due to the more personal nature of online professional networks, brand messages are shared more when they are shared by employees than when shared by the brand itself.

In the UK, there has been a wave of negative press, from the closure of Kids Company to the ethics of fundraising and chief executive pay.   Public trust in charities is reported to be at its lowest for eight years. Nonprofits are being watched like never before according to this article by Zoe Amar in the Guardian.

There are many nonprofit leaders using social channels — take a glance at the list of lists of nonprofit CEO on social media.   However, after looking at profile after profile, many are not active or engaging authentically with stakeholders.     And many have not developed their own voice that aligns and supports organizational values and tone.      There are some, like the annual award winners, doing an exemplary job.

What are some ways that nonprofit leaders express themselves on social media channels that supports their organizations and inspires trust?  According to the Guardian article, leaders can use social media to:

The first step to make sure that the nonprofit leader has incorporated using social media into their work and makes it habit.  It doesn’t look good to have an inactive social media profile after all.    Whether they are just jumping in or jump starting an inactive account, they need to reflect on the value social media brings to work they are already doing.     Here are some reflection questions:

  • What do you spend time doing now that you could do better via social?
  • What other executive directors in your field that you respect, follow, and/or feel inspired by are using social creatively?
  • What are your strengths and preferences, and what is the best match in terms of social channels?
  • How will social improve things you already KNOW and value?
  • Name five nonprofit leaders in your area that you can follow on Twitter, Instagram, or other social media channel?

Does your nonprofit executive director use social channels as part of their leadership tool box?   How do they use social media to inspire trust for your organization?    And, don’t forget you can nominate them for the Top 30 CEOs Award.


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