NONPROF 958: Seminar in Nonprofit Administration – Social Media for Social Causes

  • Instructor: Bryce Lord
  • Email:
  • Schedule an appt: Book time with Bryce Lord
  • Office Phone: 414.251.8790
  • Office: UWM Zilber School of Public Health, Rm. 368/ Microsoft Teams
  • Office Hours: Monday & Thursday, 2:00 pm – 4:00 pm or by appointment


Course Overview

This course aims to examine the role of social media in the social sector and how to utilize social media for various purposes. It will identify social media and its utilization for marketing, communications, and advocacy within nonprofit organizations and how social media promotes civic engagement. Students will learn about participatory culture and new media literacies by discovering social media platforms and applying this knowledge.

This course introduces learners to social media in communicating, marketing, public relations, and fundraising for nonprofits. It explores the major social media platforms (Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube, etc.) as vehicles for nonprofits to reach their members, volunteers, and donors. This course employs assignments allowing you to apply public relations principles in real-world social media strategy and development in the spirit of service-learning ethos.

There are four learning modules:

  • Module 1: What is Social Media?
  • Module 2: Social Media Marketing, Communications, & Identity in the Social Sector
  • Module 3: Advocacy and Digital Activism
  • Module 4: Developing an Integrated Strategy

Students will extensively use UWM’s eLearning platform, Canvas, and its asynchronous online discussion forum function throughout the semester. The course’s final project enables students to employ social media to creatively design, organize, and evaluate an integrated strategy that promotes an organization or critical issue or assists with marketing and communications.

Course Objectives

At the end of this course, you should be able to:

  1. Discuss the importance of social media to nonprofits for communicating, marketing, public relations, and fundraising.
  2. Examine the role of social media in a nonprofit’s communication strategy.
  3. Explain how to use social media to engage a nonprofit’s audience better.
  4. Outline the key questions nonprofits should consider as they become involved in social media.
  5. Discuss the strengths and weaknesses of Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest, and other social media platforms.
  6. Discuss the costs involved in social media.
  7. Explain the importance of establishing social media policies for your nonprofit.
  8. Discuss the measurement of social media effectiveness in communicating messages and in fundraising.
  9. Conduct a social media audit.
  10. Develop a nonprofit social media strategy.
  11. Examine a nonprofit’s social media as part of an overall communications strategy.
  12. Outline tools and techniques for successful social media use by a nonprofit.

Course Requirements:

“Social Media for Social Causes” is an experiential learning course. You must be available to interact with a nonprofit organization of your choice. If you have difficulties connecting with an organization, the instructor may be able to assist in finding a partner organization.

Major Assignments

  1. Ten postings and responses to online Discussion topics. (2% each – 20% total)
  2. 3 Written Assignments
    1. Written Assignment #1: A 1-page Thought Paper on your nonprofit service-learning partner organization’s interactions, discussing initial thoughts on potential challenges and possibilities in developing a social media strategy. (5%)
    2. Written Assignment #2: A 3 to 4-page paper discussing the various forms of Digital Identity. (10 percent)
    3. Written Assignment #3: Examine an issue or barrier that impacts a vulnerable or oppressed population and develop a plan for advocating or increasing awareness. Page Limit: 8-10 (20 percent)
  3. Social Media Audit & Report: You will conduct a complete analysis of your nonprofit’s social media and construct a report that outlines your findings. You will then present this report to your nonprofit client. (20 percent)
  4. Social Media Strategies & Recommendations: You will create a social media strategy for your organization’s nonprofit, and concrete suggestions can realistically be made. Include a sample social media calendar. You will need a formal, written strategy report to present to the client. (25 percent)


  • Jenkins, Henry, et al. Participatory Culture in a Networked Era: A Conversation on Youth, Learning. John Wiley & Sons, 2015.
  • Mansfield, Heather. Social Media for Social Good: A How-to Guide for Nonprofits. McGraw-Hill, 2012.
  • McNutt, John G. Technology, Activism, and Social Justice in a Digital Age. Oxford University Press Inc, 2018.
  • Rheingold, Howard, and Anthony Weeks. Net Smart: How to Thrive Online. MIT Press, 2014.

Additional Readings

The instructor will provide additional materials throughout the semester utilizing UWM’s Canvas eLearning platform.

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