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From TWTRCON ’09: 9 Twitter tips for nonprofits

Scott Harrison of charity: water has a simple mission. He wants everyone to have clean water. The trouble is that the problems created by dirty water can be a little abstract: disease, poverty and lost productivity in far-away lands. Harrison uses a combination of photos and social media to create an emotional connection between his organization and its supporters. So far, charity: water’s Twitter efforts netted them over a million followers and even scored a $50,000 donation from actor Hugh Jackman. Last week at TWTRCON, Harrison shared his top dos and don’ts for nonprofits looking to get more out of Twitter.


  • Be unique. Charity: water posts photos on Twitter everyday that illustrate how their work is changing lives. That unique content gives people a reason to follow them.
  • Make every staffer start their own account. Create a main account that re-tweets individual staffers, instead of making all your employees share a common identity
  • Ask donors for their opinions. It creates a connection and a sense of ownership in the work you’re doing
  • Follow everyone who follows you. It allows them to direct message you and creates a sense of community.
  • Be a cheerleader for other nonprofits. Share the love with other charities and it will come back to you.


  • Ask for money on Twitter. Twitter should be just about building connections. Save the fundraising for off-line events.
  • Tweet opinions or generalizations. Your tweets should be factual and specific to build maximum credibility.
  • Be cheesy. “If you’re cheesy, find someone in your office who isn’t,” he suggests.
  • Self promote. Use “we” instead of “I” when you’re talking about the group’s mission. Don’t let ego get in the way of building support for the organization.

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