How Can You Build an Online Community For Your Nonprofit

Written by: Baidhurya Mani, founder of He regularly shares tips, tools, and strategies to help creators and entrepreneurs build a successful online course business.

Growing your nonprofit organization can be challenging. Regardless of the organization's size, building an online community is crucial for spreading its word and reaching your goals. If you are running a nonprofit organization, your online community is the main target of your marketing activities. Once successful, your community will become your lobbyist, and they will work on promoting the purpose of your nonprofit.

Here’s how you can build an online community for your nonprofit:

#1 - Define Your Nonprofit's Main Objective

To get a community interested in you, you need to communicate the reason for your existence. This will help your target audience understand you, but it will also help you find the intersection points with your community.

The key here is to understand your nonprofit's goals and what you are trying to achieve from your campaign. Then, set your online community's objectives, whether you need your community to help you promote volunteering activities, fundraising campaigns, awareness about a specific topic.

Once your online community goals are determined, you can build up strategies to reach those goals. Additionally, setting a mission statement will help your community develop a sense of shared purpose, and they will become more into the goals of your nonprofit.

#2 - Select a Suitable Platform

In the age of the rising influence of social media, it is easy to promote your campaign. 8 out of 10 people agree that social media is a great way to draw people’s attention to an event or a cause. Today especially with hashtags in Twitter and Facebook groups, you have more tools to find and build an online community. However, there are thousands of campaigns out there, and you need to distinguish yourself to rise above the rest.

A great example for this is the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge in 2013. In this challenge, people around the world splashed ice cold water on themselves, to raise awareness for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis disease. The online community of this campaign took over social media and it is one of the most successful campaigns ever with a nonprofit cause. Members of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge were challenging each other publicly to take roles in this popular challenge, and that increased the number of people reading articles about this disease. In some counties, the viewership of articles about ALS increased 59 times more.

ALS challenge

Another way to maintain your followers is using unconventional community platforms. Different online community platforms help you interact with your circle, discuss different topics, and set appointments and video calls to empower your organization.

#3 - Collaborate With Relevant Influencers

Influencers are people with an already established audience and followership base, and they can help draw greater attention to the cause of your nonprofitable organization.

You need to be selective in your influencer marketing by identifying the most suitable influencers for your purpose, and it may decide the success of your collaboration. You need to explore influencers who share the same values and have a high impact on their audience. These influencers provide valuable testimonials on your cause or product, and can help sway the general audience in your favor.

Eventually, the influencer's followers can become your followers, and if you are leading a small nonprofit, the influencer can help you gain recognition faster.

#4 - Encourage Engagement

After you build your online community, you need to maintain its growth. Your circle is based on people, and when your community grows, it will reflect directly on the mission of your NGO.

It is crucial to empower members of your online community, and you can help them raise their voices by considering the following guideline.

  • Work on your onboarding process.

  • Facilitate interaction between members.

  • Lead your community.

  • Set community heroes.

  • Ensure a safe environment.

Your community will grow eventually by encouraging new members to join and empowering them to participate. Make sure you involve every member in the loop and encourage them to speak up their opinion without being afraid to be judged. These types of communities are held together by people that are able to communicate effectively, and who possess valuable collaborative skills.

Moreover, make sure that your community is not a free-for-all but one governed by fair rules that promote healthy dialogue and interaction between members.

#5 - Measure Your Progress

The last step in building a solid online community is to track its success, which will help you accomplish your goals. Check the growth of your nonprofit organization by setting a benchmark for your nonprofit goals.

If you aim to increase voluntary work, check the growth in volunteers. If you intend to raise awareness, watch the reach of your campaign in different locations. Before your campaign drifts away from its path, you need to correct and adjust to continue moving towards your goal.

There are different ways to visualize your goals; your campaign may not see success in the short term. Therefore, you need to look further ahead, see the bigger picture, and if your community is growing toward achieving their goals, trust the process!

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Your online community helps you to achieve the goals of your nonprofit organization. However, there are some house rules that you need to set before you get started, which enable you to get on the right track before you move.

Identifying the reason for your campaign is the first and most crucial step, as it helps you determine your target audience and helps you build links with your community. After you build an online community, you need to set the medium for communication, promote healthy dialogue and involve everyone onboard.

Lastly, to ensure the success of your campaign, you need to consistently track the progress of your online community and adjust your campaign whenever required.

The online community is the backbone of enterprises, and it is crucial to build and maintain solid links with your community, make them believe in your goals, and create a shared vision. Only then will you reach the goals of your nonprofit organization.


Remember you are not alone! Join GivingWay’s community of nonprofit organizations to share your insights and questions with organizations similar to yours.


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