Twitter for Nonprofits

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Twitter is a growing method for people to gather information that matters to them. Through Twitter, they can subscribe to follow people or organizations that they care about, including nonprofits they support. For nonprofit organizations, a Twitter account can complement their other communications efforts and reach audiences in the method in which they are looking for information.

How to Join Twitter

To join Twitter, visit and click “Get Started Now”. Typically, most nonprofits use their organization’s name, or a modification of the name, as the username. The name is often either the organization’s name or the person who will be tweeting from the account.

A common way to share information on Twitter is to retweet, which will include the content creator’s username in the tweet. It is easier for others to retweet messages when the content creator’s username is short. Keep this in mind when creating an account, even though there is no limit on characters that can be used for a username.

To use Twitter, log into the account and enter up to 140 characters, including links to other websites, in the text box. Twitter’s Help Center is a good resource for basic information.

To follow another Twitter user, visit their Twitter website and click “Follow”. The MCN maintains a list of nonprofits on Twitter and may be a good place for other nonprofits to start following users with similar goals and messages.

Managing Your Twitter Account

Twitter users can post content directly from or use a third party site that can help your organization manage its Twitter page. Many of these third party sites allow for multiple users with varying levels of access, statistics tracking and URL shortners such as and Some examples of third party social media managing sites include:

Twitter Glossary

For a new Twitter user, the language used came sometimes seem foreign. There are shortened phrases, symbols and lingo that may be new to you. Below is a glossary of terms and how you can use these tools effectively on Twitter.

@ reply: This type of tweet is directed to a specific twitter user, but is publicly posted. For example, @SmartNonprofits Please add me to the list of nonprofits on Twitter!

Direct message (or DM): This type of tweet is a private message for a specific Twitter user that they can only see. These messages can only be sent to Twitter account followers. For example, d SmartNonprofits Thanks for hosting the nonprofit networking lunch. Please email me about upcoming events.

Retweet: Similar to the forward email function, this type of tweet is used to resend a message posted by another Twitter user so your followers can see it. For example, RT @SmartNonprofits: Thank you to everyone who attended the Tech Conference! We’ll post photos soon.

Hashtag: A hashtag is a word or abbreviation in a tweet with a # prefix. It allows Twitter followers to search for tweets with a common theme. Several common nonprofit-related hashtags include:

  • #Nonprofit: Twitter users can replace the word “nonprofit” with “#nonprofit” in a tweet, or tag it on to the end of tweet that mentions a nonprofit or nonprofit trend.
  • #Philanthropy: This hashtag works best for anything related to grantmaking, foundations and donor behavior.
  • #Fundraising: This hashtag can be added to a tweet that discusses fundraising trends.
  • #Volunteer: This hashtags is useful when asking for volunteers, to thank volunteers, or to promote the work of the volunteer community.
  • #NPTech: This hashtag stands for nonprofit technology and can be used in any tweets relevant to how nonprofits are using technology and social media.
  • #CharityTuesday: Many people include information about a cause on Tuesday and tag it with this hashtag.
  • #FollowFriday: You use it to send a shout out to your followers. It’s a great way to build partnerships and show appreciation.
  • Event related hashtags, such as #MNnptech: Nonprofit Technology and Communications Conference, #NPLead: Nonprofit Leadership Conference

Insert Your Twitter Feed on a Website or Blog

Once your Twitter account is up and running, you have the option of inserting a Twitter feed into your organization’s website for a dynamic and updated page. Twitter offers several options for a customized widget. The Profile Widget shows viewers tweets by one Twitter account. The Faves Widget displays all tweets marked as “favorites” by a Twitter administrator, while the List Widget will display tweets from a specified list created in Twitter. The Search Term Widget will show all tweets that include a particular term or hashtag, such as #MNnptech.

To insert a Twitter feed into a Web site, visit Twitter Publish, select the desired widget and follow the simple instructions to customize the widget. Then simply cut and paste the code provided by the widget into your web page’s html source code.