Nonprofits find useful applications for Twitter

By Katy Snyder
JVA Consulting Communications/Resource Development Associate

The Rocky Mountain News used it to announce its February 27 closure. Barack Obama used it to get out the vote and solicit last-minute support on voting day to 254,484 of his supporters.

What are we talking about? Twitter. Described on the Twitter Web site as “a service for friends, family, and co–workers to communicate and stay connected through the exchantwitterge of quick, frequent answers to one simple question: What are you doing?” Twitter is the love child of blogging, texting and social networking. Messages are sent in the form of “tweets,” which are messages of 140 characters or less that can be sent to individuals or to broad networks by “pogues” or users, either by phone or by computer.

Nonprofits have already found a variety of ways to make Twitter work for them. According to an article in the Nonprofit Times, nonprofits are using Twitter to post online donation forms and volunteer opportunities. The Times also suggests posting about your activities as an executive director or nonprofit staff member, such as you are stuffing gift bags for a gala dinner or that you’re on your way to a board meeting. In addition, the article says by getting information out to your supporters, you may gain greater publicity in the process as supporters pass on your info to other people on Twitter and to other social networking sites.

A Chronicle of Philanthropy article talks about nonprofits that use Twitter, such as the Red Cross, which recently sent out the following Tweet after the recent plane crash in Buffalo, N.Y.: “Buffalo Plane Crash: Red Cross is on the scene supporting families and first responders. Family members can call 1-800-621-3263.” The tweet served the dual purpose of providing information and highlighting the necessary work that the Red Cross provides. Other nonprofits use Twitter to more explicitly ask donors for money.

And it’s not only nonprofits that are using Twitter in the sector. According to the Chronicle article, foundations are starting to get in on the action too, using Twitter to spread the word about the good work the nonprofits they fund are doing, and also to learn more about new organizations.

JVA Consulting has started to use Twitter to pass on information it thinks is of interest to the nonprofit sector, and JVA President Janine Vanderburg will be sending tweets that will be on JVA’s home page ( from next month’s Social Enterprise Summit in New Orleans.

To follow JVA on Twitter (if you don’t have an account, you can sign up at, go to When JVA’s page comes up, click Follow, which will be under JVA’s logo.

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3 Responses to Nonprofits find useful applications for Twitter

  1. Pingback: Tweeting For a Cause « Ashley Johnson's Blog

  2. Pingback: Top Nonprofit Street blog posts of 2009 « JVA's Nonprofit Street

  3. Pingback: Roundup for April 2009 « Nonprofit Blog Exchange

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