How to Orchestrate Social Media for a Global Non-Profit

Duane Bates, Senior Director of Digital Communications at Habitat for Humanity, joins the Social Pros Podcast this week to discuss the engagement encouraged by visual images in social media, the importance of a solid web team, and the incredible power of social media volunteers on a global scale.

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Full Episode Details

Global Community = Global Social Media

Unlike many of the guests on Social Pros, Duane Bates is not only in charge of social media, but of web and mobile as well. As the Senior Director of Digital Communications at Habitat for Humanity, Duane oversees a small but mighty team that handles all things digital for the international house-building non-profit organization.

Habitat partners with families who are in need of housing. Together with the families and volunteers, they build homes. They require home ownership classes so that new homeowners are fully prepared when the houses are built.

Habitat also repairs houses and advocates for people in need of housing around the world, in addition to offering other programs that are lesser known. “Habitat’s program is really about including volunteers and home owner families in the home ownership process.”

Habitat InstagramHabitat is a large organization that is spread out all over the globe. Duane’s team oversees the U.S. social media and works with several affiliate groups and volunteers at the international and local level. Together, they communicate (often on social media) to share content that will resonate within so many different cultures and communities.

Duane’s small team accomplishes a lot for this large organization, and Habitat for Humanity has grown quickly in its less-than-40 years. They exist in 70 countries at about 1500 locations.

Duane’s team is broken down into three parts:

  1. Web Team: Web development and content publishing.
  2. Social Media Communities Manager: Content publishing and answering questions on all social media platforms.
  3. Digital Marketer: Carries out campaigns and oversees analytics.


The web team is the central core, taking content from across the organization and help to translate it for digital audiences.  They do everything from interactive design to SEO to working with digital publishers.

More Than the Ask

As a non-profit made possible through donations from individuals on up to corporations, you might expect Habitat’s social media messages to be filled with asks for money. You would be mistaken!

“We are really all about providing a good experience for our social followers. We want it to be inspiring; we want it to be fun; we want it to be interesting. We want to achieve all of those things. We are trying to keep people who follow us at the center of our strategy.

By providing relevant content through blog posts, videos, photos, and social media platforms across the board, Duane and his team strive to keep their audience engaged so that they will want to volunteer or donate. No direct ask needed.

Habitat’s social media strategy is also centered around answering each and every question posed on social media. They are often asked, “How does this work?” and “What’s expected of a volunteer?”

Because they have such a great volunteer following, questions are frequently answered by the community on social media. Duane’s team makes sure to reach out as well when questions are more complex (and sometimes just to say, “Thanks for your interest!”).

See you next week!