Nonprofit organizations incorporating social media and document management software into their operations will see an improvement in both donor retention and acquisition. Social media helps broaden marketing strategies to reach a wider audience, and document management software provides charities with the ability to effectively store information and maintain meaningful relationships with constituents.

According to a report published by John Wiley & Sons, Inc. titled “The Essential Guide to Social Media for Nonprofits,” the authors promote social media as the best method for engaging donors presently unknown to a charity. A multi-channel approach to marketing is much more effective than a single-channel approach. In fact, donors that exist and engage across several platforms are four times as valuable to an organization as donors that only use one channel. The trick, however, is knowing what content to post to each platform and when.

Before dissecting the best practices to use toward a social media strategy, it’s crucial to note the breadth and reach networking sites have achieved today. Of the millennial generation, those people born between the early 1980s and the early 2000s, 75 to 90 percent are active on one or more social media websites. These are future major contributors. Even aging donors are becoming more active in these online circles. The report noted that 43 percent of Americans over the age of 65 have a profile on one or more social media accounts.

Engaging with this incredible expanse of potential contributors is a must for any organization looking to grow and meet goals. Plus, the peer-to-peer influence generated by these sites can help increase awareness of a cause with little to no extra effort on the part of the organization. When a nonprofit posts valuable content, followers redistribute it to their friends and family, reaching an even wider audience than initially anticipated.

Here’s what to know to create a successful social media presence:

Choose sites wisely

Do some research to find out where constituents are most active. According to data accumulated by Nonprofit Marketing Guide, 95 percent of organizations choose Facebook as one of the most important sites to their strategy. Twitter came in second, with 64 percent of survey participants citing it as a large factor in their social media efforts. However, every charity differs. Find the site that best meets the needs of constituents. Keep in mind that different age groups and demographics may be more involved in one network than another. For instance, though LinkedIn isn’t a huge source of communication for retirees, it may be the best place to find high-level, campaign-specific donors.

Don’t be afraid of experimenting on a new site that offers a different strategy. If Twitter is a nonprofit’s primary social media presence, try using Instagram also. It provides a new visual element to an established word-based method of communication.

Keep sharp focus

If your nonprofit is new to the realm of social media, avoid jumping in head-first to all available sites. Focus on one site at a time. Build that page up, offer meaningful content, engage with donors and gain a strong understanding of measuring metrics before moving on to the next platform. A neglected, unused social media site is almost more detrimental than a nonexistent one. An outdated profile could send the message to potential givers that the organization doesn’t have the time or energy to promote its goals.

Engaging posts

Beware the pitfalls of simply posting information without a call to action. While updates on fundraisers or announcements about new goals are important, be sure to actively engage followers with content. Ask for feedback, suggestions, or questions. Encourage sharing across channels and inviting additional friends and family to join in a cause.

Effective management of data

Document management software gives nonprofits the tools they need to track donor information and giving over time. It allows organizations to review and report on data, which is another driving factor towards growing a donor base. Being able to demonstrate real results increases contributor confidence in charities. For organizations that offer grants and scholarships, this type of management platform provides a resource for applicants to track their progress and becomes better informed about requirements.

Investing in social media and document management software can improve a nonprofit’s functionality and help it grow to new heights.