One of the things I love most about Nashville is the way people give back and help others, especially during the holidays. Whether it’s a local toy drive hosted by local businesses or a year-end giving campaign promoted by international nonprofit, there are dozens of worthy causes. You don’t have to look very far to find a way to give back.

Social media can be an incredible tool to encourage others to give back and drive donations if you know how to use it. Here are three keys to effectively using social media to help others give back this holiday season:

1. Target groups with your messaging. How do you make your cause or charity stand out when there are so many good options for people to give back this holiday? The best way is to target specific groups with your messaging. Make it personal to them. A great example is Downtown Dental Nashville, which is running a campaign to collect food for Second Harvest Food Bank. Instead of taking a shotgun approach to spread the word about their campaign, Downtown Dental has created specific messaging to target patients, downtown residents and downtown professionals.

Targeting different groups with specific messaging not only helps you capture their attention, it also allows you to provide specific calls-to-action for each group.

2. Put a face on your campaign. Donors want to see impact. If your organization is not sharing the stories of the lives that are being changed because of the work that you’re doing, you’re missing a huge opportunity. Social media lends itself to telling and sharing stories. Provide a compelling story, images, video and progress reports with actual data on how donations are being used for specific projects.

3. Make spreading the word easy. The best way to reach the masses is to make it easy for those that support your cause to tell others about it. It can be something as simple as a promoting a hashtag when people drop off a donation. If you collect donations online, include social sharing buttons that people can use to tweet or share about your cause. Your biggest advocates are the people who decide to support your cause. Make it easy for them to spread the word to their friends and followers.

People are looking to give back this holiday season. Whether you’re a brand, business or cause, these three ideas are crucial for successfully leveraging social media.

What are some of your favorite ways to give back this holiday season?