hashtagsIf used correctly, #hashtags can be very useful to nonprofits on Twitter. Hashtags allow your organization to participate and inspire conversations (and in the process get new followers) and organize the Twitterverse around campaigns (#climatechange) and events (#openwebawards). The problem is that there so many hashtags floating around on Twitter, that’s it tough to keep track of which hashtags work best and reach the most individuals.

Below I have posted 10 hashtags commonly used by nonprofits. A word of caution though… use them strategically. If you use hashtags too often, then you dilute their usefulnesses by fragmenting the conversation. If every one of your tweets has a hashtag, some people will question your intentions for using them. There is such a thing as hashtag spamming. In the case of hashtags, I am a firm believer in less is more.

Hashtags and their usefulness are definitely open to interpretation. Some love them, and some don’t use them at all and find them distracting. I am somewhere in the middle, and I don’t think that they are as useful or necessary as they used to be. When Twitter first launched it did not have a search function, so to be able to have conversations via Tweets beyond Replies, hashtags were necessary. That’s not the case anymore, and may not be the case at all in the future as Twitter evolves. That said:

1. #Nonprofit: Occasionally, you 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.

Example Tweet:
Nice use of Animoto by United Cerebral Palsy: http://bit.ly/leTYj || #nonprofit

2. #CharityTuesday: This hashtag is very popular on Twitter, but people use it in different ways. I use it to call people to action to benefit a nonprofit/charity:

Example Tweet:
:: Add a “Cause” Twibbon to your Twitter Avatar: http://twibbon.com/charity

3. #FollowFriday: This is probably the most popular, most commonly used hashtag on Twitter. You use it to send a shout out to your followers. It’s a great way to build partnerships and show appreciation.

Example Tweet:
|| Wildlife Conservation || @WildlifeTrust @WildlifeRescue @JaneGoodallInst @gorilladoctors @polarbearsintl @seaturtle

4. #fundraising: This hashtag is best used when tagged on to a Tweet that discusses fundraising trends.

Example Tweet:
Nonprofit Raises $8,550 With In-game Text Messaging Campaign: http://bit.ly/4hQfCX || #fundraising

5. #nptech: This hashtag stands for nonprofit technology and can be used in any Tweets relevant to how nonprofits are use technology and social media.

Example Tweet:
Nominate your favorite nonprofit for the “Best Non-Profit Use of Social Media” http://bit.ly/4mQJQF || #nptech

6. #mobiletech: This hashtag stands for mobile technology and can be used in any Tweets relevant to how nonprofits are using text messaging, mobile websites, and/or iPhone Apps.

Example Tweet:
Social Media is Going Mobile, and So Should Your Nonprofit: http://bit.ly/L4AIt || #mobiletech

7. #[event] and [campaign]

These are the most creative and useful hashtags being used by nonprofits on Twitter. If your organization is using Twitter to promote an event or campaign, make sure your decide on a #hashtag and consistently use it while your are promoting the event and/or campaign.

[Event] Example Tweet:
UNICEF is using RapidSMS in 23 countries, many more users who download the open source software. #mhealth09

[Campaign] Example Tweet:
WATCH: Flash mob takes off shirts, stops traffic in Hong Kong http://bit.ly/2VGdc1 || #350ppm

Important: If you do create a hashtag for an event, make sure you regularly Tweet out what the hashtag means. Don’t assume people will get it automatically. They are much more likely to adopt your hashtag if they have a clear understanding of what it stands for.

8. #philanthropy: This hashtag works best for anything related to grantmaking, foundations and donor trends and behavior.

Example Tweet:
130 Foundations That Tweet: http://bit.ly/UDJAd || #philanthropy

9. #[yourcity]: If your organizing an event, make sure to tag on your city hashtag to broadcast the event to folks in your area.

Example Tweet:
Hey fans! If you happen to be in SF tonight, drop by for a Plunge Kick-off party at Sports Basement. http://bit.ly/3BqCmw || #SanFrancisco

10. #volunteer[s]: This hashtags can be useful to send out a call for volunteers, to thank volunteers, or to promote the work of your volunteer community.

Example Tweet:
#Volunteers do not necessarily have the time; they just have the heart.” – Elizabeth Andrew

A final note. You can use hashtags in combination with one another:

Example Tweet:
Five Most Common Mistakes Made by #Nonprofit Admins on Facebook: http://bit.ly/1Fowuk || #nptech

How about your nonprofit? Any hashtag success stories?