What was previously known as the pound symbol (#) is now widely referred to as the hash tag due to it’s use in social media. The hashtag provides search engine optimization (SEO). Margaret Rouse (2011) defines SEO as, “the practice of manipulating aspects of a Web site to improve its ranking in search engines.” (Rouse, 2011). This means that if your nonprofit uses hash tags that include relevant keywords in its posts, the higher up your organization will appear in the search engine when someone searches one of those keywords. However, it is very important not to over do it with the hashtags. I’m sure we all know that one person that every time they post something (especially on Instagram) they use about 15 hashtags, most of which are clearly not that relevant to the picture. Using just a few each time you post on any social media platform works perfectly and prevents your stakeholders from getting annoyed.

Jill Havlat (2012) informs us that the top hash tags that nonprofit organizations should use are:

#activism: This hash tag could be used a lot, so be sure just to use it when you want to actively promote activism and not whenever it’s somewhat related to what you are posting. This actually goes for all hash tags, too.

#CharityTuesday/GivingTuesday: This hash tag was created in 2012 by New York’s 92nd Street Y and the United Nations Foundation as a response to the spirit of Thanksgiving and the materialism of Cyber Monday. It was supposed to be a new national day but ended up going viral and creating a whole new movement. Feel free to use this every Tuesday!  (“50 Hashtags to Spark Social Change”, 2014)


#causes: This is another pretty broad hash tag. Havlat (2012) suggests using it when you have a call to action for your stakeholders, when you want to share a beneficiaries story, or just have a general announcement.

#fundraising/donate: Use this when you have an upcoming fundraising event or want to thank donors.

This is a screenshot of a tweet by The Solider's Charity from my phone.

This is a screenshot of a tweet by The Solider’s Charity from my phone.

#grants: Let others know about how your grant writing is going. It’s always good to keep your followers informed because they probably want you to get the grant just as much as you do!

#CSR: It’s good to have friends with money. After you have established a relationship with a partnering corporation, let them know you care by giving them a shout out with the corporate social responsibility hash tag.  (Havlat, 2012).

Also be sure to check out the Public Interest Registry’s web page full of many more excellent hash tags to use!

For all of these hash tags, it is important to remember that your organization is not the only one using them. Your followers probably are using these hash tags, too, so you should look through these tags and see what your stakeholders think are important causes, fundraising events, activism, etc.

Screenshot from water.org's Instagram account on my phone.

Screenshot from water.org’s Instagram account on my phone.


Havlat, J. (2012, May). Top 10 Nonprofit Hashtags to Spark Social Good. Retrieved from: http://www.nonprofithub.org/social-media/top-10-nonprofit-hashtags-to-spark-social-good/

Rouse, M. (2011, November). Search Engine Optimization. Retrieved from: http://whatis.techtarget.com/definition/search-engine-optimization-SEO

50 Hashtags to Spark Social Change. (2014, January 27). Retrieved from: http://pir.org/50-hashtags-to-spark-social-change/

-Ali Robert



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