Posted by Jay Wilkinson

With Twitter, you have just 140 characters—each tweet is a short message. But you can accomplish a lot with just a few words, and if you’re not yet using Twitter, I’d encourage you to begin. This can be a very effective tool for your nonprofit, to spread your word and connect with your supporters.

It’s easy to get started. First, you simply sign up. Go to and get a username. Mine is @jaywilk. Next, fill out your profile—80% of Twitter users don’t, but it makes it easier for people to find you and connect with your organization.

Once you’re set up on Twitter, start posting and updating. Follow people and other organizations you know. And be sure to monitor conversations about your organization. This is important—if you’re listening, you’ll be able to respond quickly to questions and comments from your followers. Social networking is a two-way street. It’s a conversation, and a big part of that involves listening.

To make the most of your efforts with Twitter, here are three power tips:

1.  Choose a short username.
Tweets are only 140 characters, so when people reply to you and you have a long name, you leave them less room for message content. Twitter limits your username to 15 characters, but I’d say, the shorter the better. That’s why I’m @jaywilk, not @jaywilkinson.

2.  Use a third-party tool to tweet.
I’d recommend HootSuite or TweetDeck. These tools allow you to do some cool things, like schedule your tweets and monitor conversations about your organization. These tools, as well as some others out there, will help you get the most out of your Twitter efforts and streamline the process.

3.  Consider using Twitter as a fundraising tool.
This is a growing trend, and two examples of this are Tweetsgiving and Twestival. Both of these are organizations that have assembled people to help do some really interesting things, and I would encourage you to look into using Twitter as both a means of connecting with your audience and encouraging donations.

One last thing to mention—Twitter is especially useful at events like conferences, where several people come together for a common event, but they’re all going to breakout sessions and listening to different speakers. People will tweet about things they’re learning or speakers they’ve heard, and you can connect with them later and learn from each other. It’s an excellent tool for conversing with your colleagues and others in the nonprofit world as well.

It’s amazing how much this microblogging tool has accomplished for so many organizations—if you’re not using it yet, it’s time to start.

(this post originally appeared on