10 Threads & X Best Practices for Nonprofits

This is the ninth post in a blog and webinar series called 101 Digital Marketing & Fundraising Best Practices for Nonprofitswritten and presented by Heather Mansfield. To be alerted of updates to the series, please sign up for Nonprofit Tech for Good’s newsletter. Thank you!

Related Webinar: Social Media Strategy for Nonprofits
Related Certificate Program: Certificate in Social Media Marketing & Fundraising


Nonprofit Tech for Good launched in 2005 as a Myspace page. In the 19 years since we’ve been through multiple early adoption phases of new social media — first Facebook and Twitter and then LinkedIn, Instagram, Pinterest, and Tumblr. It’s during those early months, and sometimes years, when your nonprofit is most likely to experience the fastest organic growth rate of new followers.

That said, the early adoption phase of Threads is unlike any other. Due to the integration with Instagram that allows your nonprofit to mass follow those who your nonprofit already follows on Instagram (with one tap of the “Follow All” button during the process of creating your Threads account), many of your Instagram followers will follow you back when they create their account on Threads. The results are organic growth never seen before. Here are the number of days the following tech giants took to reach 10 million users:

  • 10 million Threads users: 7 hours
  • 10 million ChatGPT users: 40 days
  • 10 million Instagram users: 355 day
  • 10 million Twitter users: 780 days
  • 10 million Facebook users: 852 days
  • 10 million LinkedIn users: 1,710 days

The integration with Instagram also spares us the “Follow us on Threads!” routine that nonprofits have had to enlist when growing a new community on a new social media platform. Unless you are a large nonprofit with a well-known brand, starting a new community with zero followers is exhausting and time-consuming.

As of April 2024, Threads has 150 million monthly users. It’s too early to tell whether Threads will continue to grow, but for the early adopters, here are some basic practices for getting started on Threads.

1) Claim your username and upload a profile pic, add a bio and website, and post a first thread immediately.

First and foremost, know that your Instagram username becomes your Threads username, and to sign up for Threads, you must have an Instagram account. Threads is primarily meant to be used through the mobile app, but for your reference, your Threads username is displayed in desktop browsers as threads.net/@yourusername. For example, threads.net/@nonprofitorgs.

Next, know that when your nonprofit opts to mass follow your Instagram followers during the Threads account creation process—when those followers join Threads and see your pending “Follow Back” invite—make sure your Threads profile makes a strong first impression. Your nonprofit is more likely to get followed back if you have uploaded a profile pic, added a bio and website, and posted an introductory thread. A good example is the first thread by the Center on Budget & Policy Priorities.

2) Post 2-4 times weekly to your Threads Account.

There is no data to provide benchmarks for the optimal number of times to post to Threads on a weekly basis, but through experimentation, Nonprofit Tech for Good has settled on posting every other day. Start with posting 2-4 times a week, and based on engagement, adjust accordingly.

You can post from the mobile app, from your desktop, and very soon via third-party apps, such as Buffer and Hootsuite. Threads announced its API on June 18, 2024 which will transform how brands and people use Threads.

3) Know the basics about creating and posting threads.

  • Threads can be up to 500 characters.
  • You can upload up to 10 photos to a thread.
  • You can upload a video up to 5 minutes long.
  • You can add polls to post.
  • You can repost, like, and comment on threads.
  • Hashtags don’t work on Threads, but similar to hashtags, on Threads they are called tags.
  • You can “Pin to profile” and “Save” threads.
  • There are no ads on Threads (yet), but you can mark threads as “Paid Partnerships.”
  • You can “Share” your threads as Instagram Posts and Instagram Stories.
  • If your nonprofit is verified on Instagram, then you are also verified on Threads.
  • The maximum “Follow” count is unknown.
  • Meta Fundraising Tools are not available on Threads.
  • You can opt in to share your posts to the fediverse.
  • Threads is available in over 100 countries.
  • As we learn more about the functionality of Threads, we’ll add more to the list. Please check back for updates!

4) Resist the urge to do traditional social media marketing and fundraising (for now).

Traditional marketing and fundraising threads are not getting much traction. Asking your new followers to make a donation or sign up for your email newsletter — hold off for a while. The people using Threads are early adopters and they are looking for something different. Now is a good time to stretch your social media manager skills and try a new tone or content.

The Grand Canyon Conservancy is a good example to follow on Threads. They with experiment text-only posts and embrace emojis, memes, and humor.

5) Be generous with likes and comments.

During the early adoption phase of a new social media platform, liking and commenting helps your nonprofit get more followers. With fewer people actively using the platform (150 million on Threads compared to 3 billion on Facebook, for example), your “Likes” and comments are much more likely to stand out and get noticed by early adopters on Threads who are searching for people and brands to follow. Therefore, make it a habit to engage as your nonprofit for 10-30 minutes weekly to elevate your brand on Threads.

Our Certificate in Social Media Marketing & Fundraising program covers the fundamentals of social media marketing and fundraising for your nonprofit. Participants will learn how to create a social media strategy, how to craft a content marketing plan, and current best practices for using social media for community engagement and fundraising.

The program requires the completion of three webinars and costs a total of $100 USD. You can attend the webinars live or view the recordings. Learn more & register!


X (formally known as Twitter) has never been a must-use social media platform for every nonprofit. It requires a lot of time and content, but more importantly, a social media manager who enjoys being active on X and understands X’s extensive toolset. Even when X was still Twitter, many social media managers had no interest in being active on Twitter.

That’s even more true since Twitter was bought by Elon Musk and changed it to X. Musk is a divisive figure and the “X” rebrand has not been well received by the Twitter community. If your nonprofit has left X in response or never used it, you likely had a good reason. If your nonprofit is still active on X, it’s likely because the referral traffic and engagement still make X worth the effort. If you have never used X, it’s worth experimenting with, but have low expectations. It’s hard to grow a thriving community on any social media platform starting with zero followers, and on X, that’s even more the case.

All that said, the best practices below are based on Nonprofit Tech for Good’s experience using X almost daily since 2008.

1) Set up your nonprofit’s X Profile to maximize followers.

Your nonprofit has one chance to make a good first impression on X. Before you follow any account, ensure that your profile is complete with (1) a well-designed profile photo and header image; (2) a bio that communicates your organization’s mission; and (3) a link to your website. @MoveTheWorldUK captures all three complete with emojis and a campaign hashtag:

World Animal Protection on Twitter - a good example of profile photo and heading design

Next, to add credibility to your X profile, upgrade your account to an X Professional Profile and categorize your profile as a “Non-Governmental & Nonprofit Organization.” A good example is the Blue Marine Foundation @BlueMarineF.

Blue Marine Foundation on X featuring seals swimming in the header

It’s also recommended that your nonprofit sign up for X Premium for $8 (USD) a month. The service provides early access to new X tools, a variety of unique features, and increased exposure on X.

2) Post 1-5 times daily from early morning to late evening.

Posts (formerly known as tweets) have an average lifespan of 15 minutes, so if your nonprofit wants to engage your followers regularly on X, you’ll need to be very active on X.

1. Format your posts for easy reading.

Write posts in clear, concise language. Don’t use uncommon acronyms and abbreviations and always use proper punctuation and grammar. A reader needs to be able to quickly comprehend the message in your post. Embrace a writing style known as plain language which is becoming an increasingly important skill for social media managers.

Posts can be 280 characters, but studies have shown that posts between 71 and 100 characters perform better than longer posts. Shorter posts on average, receive more reposts, more impressions, and more link and profile clicks.

2. Schedule posts in advance.

Using a tool like Buffer or X’s native scheduling tool makes it easier for your nonprofit to be regularly active throughout the day and on the weekends.

Screenshot of X's scheduling tool

People use X at all hours, so schedule posts for early morning, the evenings, and on the weekends. Scheduling posts is a must for nonprofits that want to engage an international following.

3. Repost your own posts.

Since posts have a very short life span, it’s a good practice to repost your own posts. For example, if you send a post on Monday morning at 8 am, repost that same post the next day at 1 pm. You may discover that reposting your own posts results in higher engagement than posting the same post twice.

4. Don’t be a #hashtag #spammer. #DontDoIt 

Using more than two hashtags is not a good growth or engagement strategy on X. Posts overloaded with hashtags look messy, are hard to read, and make your nonprofit look desperate to gain followers. Use hashtags strategically to mention important causes, campaigns, and events, but hashtag spamming to try to increase your reach doesn’t work and has a negative effect on engagement.

3) Post content that inspires engagement.

It’s hard to get noticed on X without purchasing X Advertising even if you have a large following. Like all social media today, organic reach is very low. To get engagement on X, you need to post the right kind of content.

1. Positive news about your mission and programs.

X can be mean. There are rage posters, weirdos, and arrogant trolls that occasionally trend to the top. That’s one of the reasons why positive content performs so well on X. With so much stressful, depressing news in the world today, positive news stands out.

Nonprofits tend to mostly post content about the sad state of affairs – international, national, state, and local. There is a place for that on X, but framing your posts more on the positive side can definitely increase your engagement. From big victories to little wins, focusing on the positive angle of your work is beneficial to your social media content strategy overall.

For example, this @FeedingAmerica post communicates the billion-pound problem that is food waste, but closes the post with a positive spin about how they are working to solve the problem of food waste, and the post performed above average.

Feeding America post featuring a woman holding a box of vegetables talking about how they donated 693 million meals.

2. Breaking news relevant to your mission and programs.

People who are active on X tend to be plugged into current events and trending news. It’s a good practice to post content relevant to breaking news stories. For example, this post from @MorePerfectUS links to a breaking news story about wage discrimination based on gender and the post is highly engaged.

Woman in front of an Apple logo

3. Upload powerful photos and videos.

A good photo can perform very well on X – not stock photos, but an original photo that your nonprofit has the right to use online that speaks to your mission and programs.

The optimal photo size for X is 1600 x 1600 or 1600 x 900. A good example is this @UNESCO post and photo with embedded text, their logo, and a link to their disinformation resource.

Bright green graphic talking about 87% of people concerned with disinformation in the next election.

Also according to X, posts with video can generate up to 10 times more engagement. To prove that point, this video post from @WildlifeSOS that tells the good news story of a nail-biting rescue of a leopard in India received very high engagement compared to their other posts.

Screenshot of a leopard stuck in well that was rescued

4) Respond to and engage with followers.

Large, well-known nonprofits with a large following on X can post and receive significant engagement (comments, reposts, likes) without having to engage their followers.

Most nonprofits, however, will have to engage their followers for X to produce results – but X is tricky and not for everyone. To engage people in conversation on X is time-consuming and you’ll have to be prepared to engage with people who don’t agree with your mission and programs. If you have a person on staff who understands X and enjoys the one-on-one engagement – the good and the bad – then empower them to be active on X regularly. But if engaging in a public conversation on behalf of your organization on X is unsettling, there are other ways to engage:

1. Follow back those who support your nonprofit.

If someone replies in support of your nonprofit, or reposts you, follow them. It shows you are listening and supporters will appreciate the follow back. Too often nonprofits follow a small number of accounts on X to control the chaos in their “Home” feed, but that’s the purpose of lists. Be more generous and strategic in your follow-back strategy.

2. Like posts, mentions, and replies.

Positive mentions and replies on your posts shouldn’t be ignored. Liking mentions and replies, when appropriate, shows your audience that a real person is managing your X account. Likes on posts are private, but liking the posts of partners, sponsors, and supporters sends them the message that your nonprofit is listening and supportive.

3. Respond to authentic direct messages.

If you receive a DM on X that appears to be authentic i.e., not copied, pasted, and mass DM’d, then respond. Sometimes, your response can simply be an emoji “React.”

5) Curate good content through reposts.

In addition to reposting your own posts at least once, repost content tweeted by others that speak to your mission and programs. This is especially relevant to those nonprofits that do not create a lot of content – reposting relevant content on X empowers them to be active and interesting on X.

That said, a good example of a nonprofit embracing retweeting is @InterActionOrg which regularly retweets others, in this case, @RESCUEorg:

Graphic featuring the text - 120,000,000 million displaced - in the world

Reposting also helps your nonprofit build relationships with those that you repost. When you repost a post on X, that account is notified of your repost. So, be sure to regularly repost partners, chapters, staff, activists, donors, and sponsors. To make it easier to repost others, use the list function to organize the accounts that you want to repost. For example, @nonprofitorgs/lists.

Screenshot of Nonprofit Tech for Good's lists on X

Post Updated: June 19, 2024

Our Certificate in Social Media Marketing & Fundraising program covers the fundamentals of social media marketing and fundraising for your nonprofit. Participants will learn how to create a social media strategy, how to craft a content marketing plan, and current best practices for using social media for community engagement and fundraising.

The program requires the completion of three webinars and costs a total of $100 USD. You can attend the webinars live or view the recordings. Learn more & register!