12 Apr 7 Ways to Leverage Social Media for Nonprofit Fundraising
As a nonprofit organization, knowing how to engage with your community on the web and, more specifically, on social media, is a must-have skill.
No nonprofit should be without a solid strategy for connecting with supporters and donors online — especially if fundraising is a critical goal.
More than half of people (55%) who engage with causes via social media have been inspired to take further action, according to a study done by Georgetown University. The most common next step was to donate money (68%), followed by donating personal items or food (52%), and volunteering (53%).
And more and more people feel comfortable donating through the web. While online donations made up only 7.6% of all fundraising in 2017, the growth of online giving is far outpacing overall giving, according to the well-respected Charitable Giving Report.
In 2017, overall giving grew approximately 4.1% in 2017 compared to 2016. But online giving saw three times that growth (12.1%) during the same period.
Table stakes for nonprofits looking to leverage the web for donations is a clean, modern website that tells a great story and makes giving by credit card very easy. Next, you’ll want to turn your attention to social media marketing as one of the most effective ways to raise awareness, inspire supporters, and, yes, draw donations.
Here are some best practices to follow as you seek to leverage social media for your nonprofit:
- Double Down on Your Social Networks
A common mistake that many nonprofits make is thinking that they have to be working every single social media channel. Unless you have a large staff devoted to social media marketing, which is unlikely, you can’t possibly keep your Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Snapchat, and Medium accounts all updated and fresh at the same time. Meanwhile, you still need to maintain your website and do your email marketing!
A smarter strategy is to pick one or two social media channels where you can really focus on growing and engaging your followers. This will be different for every nonprofit. For many organizations, Facebook would be the most likely contender, although Instagram and Pinterest have become must-have marketing channels for many. Obviously you should go where your audience tends to consume content.
- Tell Your Story
Nothing is more powerful than a story well told. You can throw a bunch of facts and figures at your potential donors, but a heartfelt human-interest story can quickly cut through the clutter and spark an emotional connection that’s a lot more effective at compelling action.
Learn how to tap into the power of storytelling to give your supporters a reason to care — and open their wallets. Facebook is an excellent place to post emotionally-driven stories because users are very open to sharing that kind of content with their friends and loved ones. Meanwhile, Instagram is equally ripe for visual storytelling.
- Create a Unique Hashtag
A memorable hashtag is a great way to tie together different elements of your fundraising campaign, even if you spread your messaging across several different social networks as well as offline and online channels. So when your donors see an appeal from you on Facebook and again on Instagram with the same hashtag, it clues them in that this is all part of a larger fundraising effort.
Ideally, the hashtag for your campaign is completely unique to your brand. Make sure to do a search with that hashtag on your chosen social networks to see what’s already been posted. You don’t want to be affiliated with a negative or risque hashtag.
Some excellent hashtag campaigns of recent years include the ALS Association’s #IceBucketChallenge, Livestrong’s #BeatCancer, Make-A-Wish’s #SFBatKid, and #LikeAGirl from Always.
- Make It Easy on Mobile
Since so much of social media is consumed on mobile, it only makes sense to enable your supporters to donate directly from their devices. In fact, more than 21% of online donations were made on a mobile device in 2017, according to the Charitable Giving Report.
At a minimum, this means that your website should be optimized for mobile viewing. Unfortunately, the majority of nonprofit websites aren’t made for mobile. Without a desktop website that is “responsive” to the mobile environment or a site specifically built as a mobile experience, you’re surely leaving money on the table.
Additionally, you should consider leveraging mobile-specific tools such as “text-to-give” functionality, QR codes that take viewers straight to a donation page, mobile-optimized donation forms, mobile payment platforms such as Apple Pay and Paypal, and nonprofit giving apps.
- Leverage Facebook’s Fundraising Tools
Most likely, your organization has a Facebook page. But are you taking full advantage of it? Far more than any other major social network, Facebook has catered to the nonprofit community by building a set of fundraising tools and making it easy to collect donations from followers.
Any qualified nonprofit can add a donate button to its Page header and ads directing fans to a website of its choice. Nonprofits can also add donate buttons to posts and live video to enable donations with only a few taps.
Better yet, Facebook announced in November 2017 that it was dropping its 5% processing fee for nonprofits (personal fundraisers must still pay a fee). The social network will also launch a $50 million matching fund for good causes.
- Tap Your Biggest Fans
Speaking of Facebook, it’s one of the best places online to encourage peer-to-peer fundraising. In P2P fundraising, you enable your most engaged followers to solicit donations from their network of friends and family, which can cast a much wider net than you can do alone. Facebook Fundraisers give your fans the ability to create a dedicated page to tell their own story and ask people to support your cause.
You might also consider creating an ambassador program that rewards your most dedicated fundraisers with prizes and special access to your programs. To make it easy for your ambassadors to spread the word about your cause, you can create a dedicated page for them to download related articles, images, infographics, logos, calls-to-action, and other campaign materials.
- Don’t Always Be Asking
Lastly, think about the 80/20 rule when it comes to fundraising. No more than 20% of your posts should make a direct appeal for donations. The other 80% of your posts should be interesting and/or emotionally-driven content that educates your followers about your organization, cause, or area of expertise. Plus, it gets downright boring if all you’re doing on social media is asking for money. No one wants to follow an account that’s boring.
Consider developing a strategy of thought leadership. Done well, thought leadership allows your organization to establish itself as an expert in your cause, whether it’s a local issue of homelessness or a global concern like the circular economy. This way, when you do come asking for donations, your nonprofit has a lot more credibility and your level of donations will benefit from that halo effect.