Three Charities Winning At Twitter

Kirsty Marrins
Digital communications specialist
30 Aug 2017

Twitter is a great way to reach more people, share what your cause is all about and even raise money (yes, really!). With only 140 characters to get your message across, tweeting is a skill. In fact, it’s really an art. Here are three charities we feel have mastered this art form.

National Trust

For a charity that’s 120 years old, you might be forgiven for thinking that the National Trust’s social media presence might be a bit, well… old fashioned. I bet your grandparents (and parents) are members, right? But you couldn’t be farther from the truth. This tweet actually made me laugh out loud.

They have a great mix of content – from beautiful images that showcase their properties to podcasts exploring their LGBT heritage and videos of 50 things to do before you’re 11¾.

They also go beyond marketing their properties to sharing content that they know their audience will love. This is what we call providing ‘added value’. That’s what this recipe tweet is all about. Yes, there are some recipes from chefs at National Trust property restaurants (c’mon, there has to be some marketing!) but most of the recipes are not related.

Ben Harwood, Digital Marketing Manager at the National Trust offers this advice, “Respect your community. We put engagement and customer service at the heart of our approach, not only because people are at the centre of our charity, but because they should be central to your work on social. Your social advocates get your content out there, but they’ll only be your advocates if they’re engaged with what you do.”


Cancer is a serious topic yet Macmillan manages to balance their serious, informative tweets with light hearted ones. They have a warm, friendly and supportive tone of voice and they don’t just broadcast. They have genuine conversations, which is what Twitter is all about. Take this tweet from their Cancer Info team for Ed Balls Day. Totally serious subject matter but they have very cleverly newsjacked the trending hashtag and made this humourous. And of course it stood out in a whole sea of #EdBallsDay tweets because… balls.

One of the best things about these kinds of tweets are the replies that they naturally generate. It gets people talking, which means getting your cause in front of more people. And isn’t this reply just the best?

A top tip from MacMillan’s Senior Social Media Officer, Bernard Muscat, is,”Invest in building personal relationships: social media allows organisations to build a personal connection with their followers in ways that other forms of communication do not. At Macmillan we enjoy interacting with our social audience in a personal manner, especially when it comes to celebrating their incredible fundraising efforts. This could take the form of replying to as many tweets as we can, but also to occasionally create personal content for followers who wow us with their dedication and effort.”


Let’s face it, some causes are polarizing. Apart from trolls, there are very few people who will goade a hospice or animal charity but there are some people who are against refugees and very little you can do will change their mind. MSF Sea faces constant antagonism on Twitter and the way they handle it is brilliant.

They are unapologetic about their cause, which is to assist migrants and refugees in Europe and on the Mediterranean Sea. It is easy to see their absolute dedication to their work and they will fight their corner with passion and conviction. They bring the plight of refugees and migrants to our attention by sharing very human moments with their followers. This tweet below could very easily have just been self-congratulatory. Instead, they remind us that this will be the first time in months that these people have felt safe. That’s pretty powerful. And it reminds us that they are in good hands now, all thanks to MSF Sea.

Caitlin Ryan, Communications Advisor at Médecins Sans Frontières/ Doctors Without Borders offers the following tips, “My top tip is to use humour! Humour disarms those who seek to criticise you and gives a wry smile to those who support you. I’d also say to have some compassion for those who troll you. It’s worth remembering that perhaps they’re having a bad day or going through a difficult time for example, as this helps maintain the inner rage and keeps your replies civil. Also, don’t feel bad about blocking those whose feeds are full of nothing but vile. They may get a slight thrill of seeing that you pressed the block button but the sweet silence will be worth it.” ‍

So, how can you improve your tweets?

Remember that Twitter isn’t just a place for you to blast out your messages. It’s a place to connect and have meaningful conversations. Think about what your audience wants to know, not what you want them to know. Visuals stand out so always use them if you can. It’s ok to show some humour, even if your cause is a serious one. Be authentic and stay true to your cause. After all, that’s why people support you in the first place. Have the courage of your convictions and don’t be afraid to stand up for your cause if needed.

Kirsty Marrins

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