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Social Media Fundraising: 6 Tips to Make It Work for You

Author: Sayana Izmailova
January 21, 2020
🕑 8 min read

This is a guest post from Andrew Berry, head of marketing and customer success for Donately

Social media fundraising presents a huge opportunity for nonprofits, but it’s hard to know what is worth focusing on first for your organization — especially when there are so many potential campaigns you can run and paths you can take.

Plus, ever-mysterious algorithms that change by the day and a cluttered market make these platforms difficult to wrangle, even for the most experienced marketing professionals.

Don’t let the challenge deter you from reaching new supporters on social networks, though.

Given the insane number of people using it — with 81% of the U.S. population on Facebook alone, for starters — it can be worth giving it a shot in order to broaden your audience and eventually donor base.

To help you get started with social media fundraising (or just to help you get some new ideas) we’ve pulled together 6 strategies you can try:

  1. Choose which platforms best serve your organization

  2. Make your online materials shareable

  3. Tailor your message to the platforms in use

  4. Activate your supporters to fundraise on your behalf

  5. Bring live events to the digital sphere

  6. Track benchmarks along the way

Browse Donately’s list of the best online fundraising campaigns for inspiration, or just explore our top tips to make social media fundraising below!

 E-book banner #2 (Event Fundraising)

1. Choose which platforms best serve your organization

Just as not every person has the same style or aesthetic, not every social media platform will be the best fit for your organization.

Here’s a quick glimpse at the various social media networks available:

  • Facebook: A widely-used platform across generations, Facebook is a great host for event updates, images, longer-form text, and easily shareable fundraising campaigns.

  • Twitter: This platform is limited to 280 characters per tweet, so it’s best used for quick and timely updates or to keep an eye on what the media is up to in your area.

  • Instagram: The land of the “influencer,” Instagram is perfect for impactful images, storytelling captions, and live-streamed video updates.

  • LinkedIn: A professional platform, LinkedIn is a helpful solution for discovering top talent for your nonprofit and connecting with high-impact corporate givers.

  • TikTok: A new, video-based platform that’s widely used by teens, in which users record 15-60 second video clips set to music. Their TikTok for Good page lists various challenges that users have contributed to and nonprofits have received donations from.

Take your donor demographics into consideration when choosing your social media networks as well. You’ll want to choose networks that the highest majority of your donors are using (or the donors you want to reach). For example, choose Instagram or experiment with TikTok for a younger audience, or Facebook for a more generation-spanning audience.

2. Make your online materials shareable

When creating your nonprofit website, especially your giving page, create an option for donors to share the news via their social media channels after giving.

Many people are proud of their donations, so why not make it easy for them to share their good deeds?

Plus, this helps you draw on some positive “peer pressure”. Donors you may not have reached otherwise will be encouraged to give by their friend’s/family member’s generosity.

And if you can associate your campaign with a hashtag (for example, the #CheckYourSelfie campaign), even better! All associated posts will be viewable from a central location and you’ll begin building familiarity with the campaign — and you can also share and reuse these posts to further promote it.

checkyourselfie social media fundraising

3. Tailor your message to the platform you’re using

Just as your giving page needs to include compelling content, it’s imperative to tell your story no matter the platform type. However, the best practices for doing so change across networks.

For example, Facebook lends itself to longer, text-based storytelling that goes more in detail on your fundraiser. Posts on the network are highly shareable, so crowdfunding campaigns tend to do well also. For inspiration, check out this World Bicycle Relief x Qhubeka Charity post, which features storytelling and an impactful image.

social media fundraising - facebook

However, Twitter’s character limit makes long-form storytelling less efficient. Instead, this is a great platform to share your fundraiser’s slogan and, if you’re using the method, text-to-give number and keyword. You can see this on The Jimmy Fund example, which is concise while including information about giving.

social media fundraising - twitter

On Instagram, tell your story through compelling images and videos. Consider bringing viewers to the scene of your impact, giving them a tour through your nonprofit’s headquarters or broadcasting the impact of donations in action through live video. Check out the FEED Foundation’s #FEEDSUPPER campaign, where they challenged donors to host a supper and post images or videos to the social network, for an example.

social media fundraising - instagram

Remember that the platform doesn’t allow links in the comments section, so you’ll need to choose one main webpage (such as your overall donation page) and post it in the “bio” section before directing supporters in that direction.

4. Activate your supporters to fundraise on your behalf

One of social media’s biggest uses in fundraising is that you can engage donors to work on your behalf.

These options amplify your campaign’s fundraising ability while also exposing you to potential supporters you may not have reached otherwise. Here are a few examples:

  • Viral Challenge Videos: Create a viral video challenge (such as the ALS “Ice Bucket Challenge”) and challenge supporters to participate and post evidence on social media. Like a phone tree, the participation moves from supporter to their greater networks — spreading your cause and raising funds.

  • Brand Ambassadors: Appoint ardent supporters, and maybe those with significant social network followings, as brand ambassadors. Incentivize them to spread the word about your organization on their own profiles with nonprofit merch and experiences. For example, Big Brothers Big Sisters of America’s YouTube channel and their Start Something web series.

  • Crowdfunding: Create a crowdfunding campaign and encourage supporters to share it on their personal social networks. Their friends and families donate directly to your campaign, watching the total donations rise. For example, check out Save the Children’s previous campaign.

Group fundraising ideas like these are so impactful because they bring a passionate group of individuals together to raise money for your cause. Social media was practically made to rise to the challenge!

5. Bring live events to the digital sphere

Some people criticize social media for causing the decline of in-person interactions, with instant messaging replacing spoken conversations and video sharing replacing live experiences.

However, it doesn’t have to be that way — instead, you can focus on using it to amplify in-person experiences rather than detracting from them.

Here’s how you can use social networks to boost the attendance at your live events in a few different ways:

  • Facebook Events Listing: Create an event-specific page that holds all of the important information surrounding your fundraising event. Then, interested attendees can RSVP accordingly and share the page with their friends and family through the network.

  • Pledge Campaigns: If your event holds some sort of challenge for attendees, such as a walk-a-thon or a 5K run, associate a pledge campaign with it. Attendees create personal pledge campaign pages in conjunction with your overall page and gather pledged donations (gifts promised for a later date) to be collected once they complete the event.

  • Live Video Sharing. Some may see this as a replacement for the live event — if you can stream it, why attend it? However, for events that are multi-day, this can be the excitement that convinces people to join. Further, if you stream an event across the county, you might inspire donors near and far to give. If you save the video stream, you can also upload it to your website after the fact to encourage attendees to come to your next event.

Read More: The Ultimate Guide to Live Video Streaming on Social Media for Nonprofits

You can incorporate a donate button on your organization’s Facebook or Instagram page, so supporters that discover it (perhaps through an event listing!) are able to give then and there.

6. Track benchmarks along the way

Social media provides a wealth of insights on what your donors like and dislike, based on how they interact with your nonprofit on the platforms. If you’re not tracking these insights, as well as key social media benchmarks, along the way — you might be missing out.

Track web traffic statistics, such as the number of donors reaching your website from social media links versus organic search traffic and direct traffic. Further, track follower demographics such as age, location, and gender. This can provide a ton of information on the success of your social media fundraising campaign, your supporters, and the intersection of the two.

This clear view of the audience your campaign is reaching allows you to perfect your social media fundraising strategies going forward.

Make sure you’re working with a nonprofit constituent relationship management system that integrates with the various software you’re interacting with. This includes your digital giving platform, your website, and maybe even the social networks hosting your campaign.

This integration allows all of the data collected through your various systems to flow seamlessly into one database. From there, you can investigate the numbers and gain valuable insights to inform your fundraising going forward.

Bonus: Don’t Forget The Final Step

After you’ve successfully incorporated these strategies into your social media fundraising, your job isn’t done.

One of the most important things you can do is to follow up with donors and participants in your campaign.

This could be thank-you posts showing impact, from overall donations raised to the work you’re doing with the help of those gifts, or even personal thank-you messages to supporters.

While social networks greatly amplify the reach of your fundraiser and expose your organization to a wider audience, this doesn’t mean you can get lazy with gratitude. A casual social media donor now could become a lifelong supporter down the line, and the difference-maker is your gratitude and stewardship post-share.

Incorporate these strategies in your social media fundraising and follow the practice up with a solid thank-you to see maximum effect on these platforms.

Have you tried out any of these strategies? Let me know in the comments which one you prefer!

andrew berry donately Andrew is the head of marketing and customer success for Donately. After getting involved with nonprofits at a young age, he discovered a passion for helping the organizations that are making the world a better place. Knowing how vital online fundraising has become, his goal is to help nonprofits raise more money online each year! In his spare time, you will find him cooking up dinner, playing with his dog or cheering on Boston sports teams.

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