How Nonprofits Can Benefit from SMART Long-term Social Media Goals

December 6, 2021
5 minutes
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You’ve heard it before: social media and fundraising go together like bread and butter, like peanut butter and chocolate, like pizza and ranch dressing. But sometimes, it seems like a whole lot of work for very little return. A few likes here, a couple of followers there—it just doesn’t feel like it should be the result of all those hours you’ve sunk into those witty Twitter updates and meticulously edited Instagram photos.

Here’s where you take a step back.

So many nonprofit professionals go on autopilot when it comes to social media; it becomes just another item to check off that lengthy to-do list, so you don’t stop to consider if it’s actually meeting your organization's needs.

When it comes to social media success, you need meaningful social media goals that are aligned to your organization’s goals. The best way to do that? Get SMART, look to the future, and start planning.

Set SMART social media goals for your nonprofit

Why should I set long-term social media goals?

Like with most things in life, a quick fix might seem appealing; you’ll see much better results if you focus on a long-term solution, though. If you want to see big, lasting change—in this case, you want your social media to significantly impact your nonprofit’s fundraising efforts—then you need to get serious about committing to a set of deliberate, long-term social media goals.

It’s one thing to plan a series of 30 posts for your year-end campaign; it’s another to use social media to build trust, cultivate relationships, and ensure a steady stream of committed supporters over the months and years ahead. Sure, the latter takes more work, but it’s worth the investment because the payoff’s so much bigger.

What types of social media goals should I be setting?

Your goals will be specific to your nonprofit’s needs, so your social media goals should be based on your broader (long-term, big-picture) organizational goals and aligned with your mission.

Think about what you actually want to achieve as a nonprofit in the next 1–5 years, and then consider how social media can help you get there. Maybe you want to drive traffic to your website, connect with young donors, communicate more transparently, or position your nonprofit as an expert in your space. Identify the need, and then make it happen by setting SMART social media goals.

Um, what exactly are SMART goals?

SMART stands for specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time-based. Basically, SMART goals hold you accountable and keep you moving forward. Businesses love SMART goals because they really up the odds of success—and they work great for nonprofits, too.


It’s great that you want to “build donor loyalty,” but what does that actually look like? More specific goals help you assess your progress and make it more likely that you’ll actually follow through.


You have to be able to measure your success, so ensure every goal is attached to a metric of some sort. In the example above, your measurable goal might include a specific number of new monthly donors.


“Get a billion followers” sure sounds like an awesome goal, but it’s probably not happening. Keep your goals reasonable.


Your social media goals need to be tied to your organizational goals. For each goal you set, consider how it will help achieve your larger strategy and benefit your organization. You don't need that billion followers just to have them. How will that specific goal impact your work?


Set a timeframe for reaching each goal to hold yourself accountable. In fact, break down your bigger goals into small ones to keep them... SMAR!

I’ve set some goals! Now what?

Once you’ve drafted your SMART goals, it’s time to dive in. Your social media goals will be dependent on your current social media strategy. So, start by doing a social media audit to see how you’re faring across your various social media accounts. What’s working and what’s not? Where are your supporters most and least engaged? Once you have an idea of how you’re performing, you can forge ahead, knowing exactly where you are and where you should be going.

Can you give me a specific example of a long-term SMART social media goal?

Most definitely! Say one of your nonprofit’s long-term goals is to cultivate a stronger community. Well, a great way to do that is to interact with your community via social media—but that’s not very specific. So, let’s change that: while likes are nice, Facebook comments allow you to connect directly with your followers. So, an example goal would be “Increase comments on Facebook posts.”

Now, onto the “Measurable” and “Attainable” part: How do we define success without getting carried away? Let’s say, “Get an average of 10+ Facebook comments per post.” That’s specific, measurable, attainable, and relevant, so we just need to add a timeframe. “Achieve an average of 10+ Facebook comments per post within the next six months” sounds pretty good—it’s tied directly to your greater business goals, it’s doable, and you’ll know for sure whether you’ve succeeded.

By playing the long game and setting SMART goals, your social media presence can have a huge impact on your nonprofit. Before long, you’ll be moving towards a measurably better future.

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