How to Leverage User-Generated Content to Promote a Non-profit 

As a non-profit, one of the most critical parts of your job is building a relationship with the donors, audience, and community.  We’d say more so than any other type of business.   In fact, your non-profit marketing strategy should revolve mainly around engaging with the community and building trusting relationships.   It’s not an easy task,…

8 minutes read
How to Leverage User-Generated Content to Promote a Non-profit 

As a non-profit, one of the most critical parts of your job is building a relationship with the donors, audience, and community.  We’d say more so than any other type of business.  

In fact, your non-profit marketing strategy should revolve mainly around engaging with the community and building trusting relationships.  

It’s not an easy task, especially since you’ll have to drive relevant traffic to your site, engage with them and make them trust you enough to become loyal donors. 

For this to become a reality, you will need to master your SEO and produce website content that is enticing and will capture people’s interests.  

One of the best ways to promote your non-profit is through User Generated Content (UGC) to engage with your online audience, and increase the number of donations that you receive.  

Non-profits rely on organic marketing methods, such as word-of-mouth, as that’s the most reliable type of promotion. This makes UGC the most potent force for non-profits. Not to mention, the users will be creating the content and not your volunteers.

Here is everything you need to know about User Generated Content, and how you can use it to promote your non-profit organization. Let’s dive in.  

What is User Generated Content? 

UGC is quite literally what the name suggests; content that is generated by the user. This differs from traditional forms of marketing where businesses will create adverts or content to attract new customers.  

As with a lot of marketing techniques, UGC can sometimes feel like the next buzzword to take the world by storm. However, UGC isn’t a trend at all; it’s an authentic method of marketing that has been used for decades.  

It’s basically the content that’s related to your brand gets published, but it’s not generated by an official representative of your non-profit.   

This could be a video, a review, a podcast, or some kind of update. Whatever it is, if it promotes your organization and brings people to your site, it’s UGC.  

However, UGC isn’t always the easiest thing to gather. You’ll need to initiate some kind of reason why users should generate content.  

One of the best examples of UGC would be Coca Cola’s personalized bottles with names on it, named “Share a Coke.” This created a wave of people posting their bottles on social media, and actively searching for their names.  This was one of the most successful marketing campaigns in the last decade and was focused on the user.“ — James Daily, head of the content department at

Nonprofit User Generated Content 1

By Mike Mozart – Share a Coke Name Promotional Coca Cola Bottles. Pics by Mike Mozart of TheToyChannel and JeepersMedia on YouTube. #ShareACoke #CocaCola #CocaColaNames #CocaColaPromotion, CC BY 2.0,  

The power of UGC  

Share a Coke is one of the many fantastic success stories brought by User Generated Content. Brands everywhere, no matter how big or small, have decided to join the world of UGC marketing.  

Back in 2009, Burberry’s Art of the Trench campaign was one of the most successful campaigns at the time. Burberry asked their fans to upload pictures of themselves in their trench coat, which they then showcased on their Facebook page.  

The user and the brand benefited greatly from this. Not only did it advertise the trench coat worn by a range of different people, but users also felt like they were getting publicity and noticed — a win-win situation.  

User-Generated Content is so compelling, and you don’t need Burberry to prove it. Take into consideration that 68% of social media users between the ages of 18-24 take into account information shared on social media, you’ll be able to recognize just how powerful it is as a marketing tool.  

You see, UGC puts customers at the center — which is something that users absolutely love to see. In a world that is so digital, it’s absolutely crucial that brands are putting their customers at the forefront.” — Marcus McCoy, content marketing manager at Resumes Expert.  

If they don’t, there customers/loyal donors will look elsewhere and merely find somewhere else to give their money. It’s that easy.  

You’re probably wondering just how you can dive into the world of UGC, and chances are you might have already done so. Below are the top ways that you can practice UGC for your own non-profit.  

1. Campaigns

Campaigns are a super way to get users involved with your brand. Not only do they make sure that your customers are super involved with your non-profit, but they also give your users a reason to generate content.  

Obviously, in a social media world, campaigns generally end up on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram. However, social media isn’t always necessary. Take the McDonalds Monopoly campaign for example. That’s basically just an excuse for customers to keep coming back, and buying more.  

Non-profit campaigns are little more difficult, as they can’t be outright about sales like businesses are. The best way to do this is by making the campaign meaningful.  

Take as an example; the Movember campaign for men’s health issues like prostate cancer, mental health, and testicular cancer. Obviously, we can’t forget the ALS ice bucket challenge either, which raised more than $115 million for the ALS Association.  

Campaigns might not always catch on, but most of the popular ones were crafted by ordinary people in their homes — so never give up.  

A great way to bring attention to a campaign is by using hashtags. This is especially true if your non-profit already has a strong following on social channels.  

Basically, encourage your audience to use a specific hashtag, and push your organization into the trending topic. This way, you’ll grab the attention of other people, and maybe even some influencers.  

Take the #nomakeupselfie as an example, which raised awareness for cancer. It was started by Fiona Cunnigham, who saw how the selfies could raise money and awareness for a profitable cause. Within 24 hours, £1 million was raised for Cancer Research UK.  

Nonprofit user generated content
Cancer Research UK / Twitter

The power of people is really incredible, especially when it is for a worthy cause.  

2. Be on social media 

This might seem like a super obvious point to make, but to reap the benefits of UGC, you will need to be on social media. This way, you can engage with your followers, post content that is shareable, and keep an eye out for trends that you can benefit from.  

Hashtag campaigns only work when you have social media, and they’re a fantastic way to get people involved with your non-profit.  

You should be taking advantage of the content that your community posts, and tags you in. For example, if somebody posts about donating to you, make sure to reshare it with a thank you message. This will encourage more to give.  

Social media also provides you with a great platform to just ask. Yes, asking your followers to donate or get involved with various campaigns could be super beneficial.  

Also, a great point to make is that it should be easy for your followers to find you and tag you. Make your name relevant to your brand, and if you can, make yourself verified. 

3. Contests  

This might seem a little strange, considering you’re a non-profit, but there are ways around it. As you’ll probably know, a contest is when people apply/take part in an attempt to win something.  

As a non-profit, you might already get donations, which could be part of the prize for your UGC marketing. Otherwise, your marketing budget could be used towards buying/giving the lucky winner something. The returns will be worth it.  

A contest almost forces users to publish their own content, and promote your brand. Just make the rules on social media “must be following, must tag four friends, and must use this hashtag.” You’ll watch as users voluntarily post promotional videos, images, and blogs about your non-profit.  

As an example, let’s imagine that there’s an eco-friendly non-profit that makes glass bottles to help stop plastic waste. This hypothetical non-profit could post on Instagram “we’re giving away one of our glass bottles, you must be following, must reshare our post, and must comment five friend’s names that would also like a glass bottle.” 

What this will ultimately do, is bringing attention to the organization, market the glass bottle, and bring more and more followers and likes to your page.  

One thing you do need to look out for is; make sure that you pay attention to the specific guidelines yourself. Clarify that all content submitted for the contest can be used for your organization, too. This gives you a backlog of great posts that you can keep on making.” — Veronica Wright, a CEO at Resumes Centre and Canada-Writers.   

Some non-profits have failed to do this in the past, and have missed out on great opportunities to re-post UGC on their pages. Don’t make this mistake.  

4. Reviews 

This is what your mind more than likely jumps to when you think about UGC. This is actually one of the first and easiest UGC marketing techniques that you can make.  

Just making your customers/donors leave reviews is a really excellent way to bring attention to your organization, and make sure new potential donors trust you and your organization.  

The first step to doing this is to set up a Google My Business account. No matter what your non-profit does, you should have one. It only takes a few minutes to set up, and once you verify your listing, your organization will look super professional.  

Screenshot of the Google My Business website

This just means that when people Google you, you will show up at the side of Google — with the location, contact details, and reviews.   

Google is the most widely used search engine, and so ranking well in Google is crucial for your non-profit’s success. With great reviews, you will appear much higher up on the search results. Ultimately, you’ll gain more customers/donors this way.  

You can also ask your lovely social media followers to post reviews for you. Your fans could leave reviews on Facebook, which will ultimately help you to gain more fans and be seen as a trustworthy non-profit. These reviews will also help you to rank on Facebook’s algorithm.  

5. Blogging  

Blogging is a tiny bit of a grey area when it comes to UGC. Of course, content marketing is necessary for any business, brand or non-profit to elevate, and blogging is a great way to improve your content marketing game.  

Well, with UGC, you can create blog posts that directly incorporate your users, and uniquely relates to them.  

For instance, you can ask your users to give advice or share stories, round them all up and post them as one big blog. In the post, make sure to mention them and tag them — this way the users will share the post, and it’s a cycle of engagement.  

Another idea is to round up the best from your campaign. For example, if you started a social media campaign to post the craziest face paint looks, you can round them all up in one big blog post. It’s really quite ingenious.  

Make sure to post blogs about specific topics and niches that you can see your community wants. This way, you can be confident that they will reshare it, and repost it.  

We debated on whether or not to mention blog posts, but integrating them with UGC can be a wonderful way to relate to your donors and potential fans.  

Whatever you do — edit the content

Having a tight community that is engaged and motivated enough to provide your brand with content is most definitely an amazing asset. However, your work doesn’t stop here. Don’t expect to simply copy and paste the content you receive. It’s on you to properly proofread it and edit it.

Often this task can be approached from various angles. You can use tools that can help you bring your texts to a higher standard, like the Hemingway App or Grammarly. Another option is delegating such tasks to professionals that can also spot stylistic errors that machines can’t. There are now many high-class services on the web that can do that for you, like Onlinewritersrating, where you can choose writers with a suitable background, or services like Writeload, where your tasks are assigned to the most suitable writer.


We hope this helped you to understand the power of UGC, and how it can completely elevate your non-profit. If you haven’t dipped into the world of user-generated content, you’re missing a powerful piece of marketing that could make all the difference.  

If you need any more advice on how to keep donor engagement, make sure to check out our blog post that touches on the absolutely crucial ways to keep a commitment with your loyal donors.  

The technology-driven world has an abundance of opportunities for you to embrace. Yes, it might be scary and extensive, but once you start to see the difference it can make, you’ll completely understand why so many brands and businesses focus their marketing on UGC.  

Make sure that you research into your audience; this way you can prevent starting a campaign or contest that none of them will feel compelled to partake in. Have fun. 

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