Through an arrangement with TechSoup, PND is pleased to offer a series of articles about the effective use of technology by nonprofits.
We live in an increasingly interconnected world where nearly seven in ten Americans use a social network, making social media an increasingly important channel for nonprofits looking to boost their outreach and fundraising results. Indeed, in 2017 the average nonprofit saw its Facebook audience increase 13 percent, its Twitter audience increase 15 percent, and its Instagram audience increase 44 percent.
When done well, social media can be a powerful tool for building relationships with supporters and influencers. To help your nonprofit get the most out of it, we've compiled a list of tips you can use to create and launch an effective fundraising campaign that includes social media.
1. Create a campaign plan. Before you launch your fundraising campaign, it's important to create a plan with your team that helps you keep all the moving parts in sync. For example, charity: water had lots of success in 2015 with its September Campaign, which asked people born in the month of September to use social media to invite their friends and family to make a donation to the organization in lieu of sending a birthday card or gift. The folks at charity: water developed a clear plan and timeline for the campaign ahead of time, which ultimately raised $1.8 million for the organization. Cool, right? Here are a few ideas to help you get started:
- Create a title for your campaign.
- Create a hashtag for the campaign that can be used across different social platforms.
- Decide how long the campaign will run.
- Draft a content plan and schedule.
- Design a unique landing page for the campaign.
- Set up a plan to track benchmarks along the way.
- Decide which team member will be responsible for each aspect of the campaign.
- Consider using a social media management tool like HubSpot or Hootsuite to schedule posts in advance.
2. Decide which platforms are the most relevant. Before launching a campaign, be sure to evaluate how each of your social media platforms is performing. Use the analytic tools provided by each platform to see how your content is performing with different demographics, identify which ones are the most relevant for reaching your target audience, and focus your efforts there.
For example, if you're trying to reach a younger audience (ages 18–24), you should know that 78 percent of this age group uses Snapchat and 71 percent uses Instagram. In contrast, Facebook and YouTube are more universally popular across all age groups. If you're not sure where to start, check out TechSoup's social media starter kit.
3. Reach out to influencers. Sometimes, especially for smaller organizations, it can be difficult to get the word out. This is where social media influencers can help. Influencers are people who have a large social media following and are respected within their field or industry. Use your analytics from email marketing or social media to identify the people within your networks who have a large following. Then reach out to them to see if they would be willing to promote your campaign.
In 2010, Leigh Durst organized a fundraiser at South by Southwest for victims of the earthquake and tsunami in Japan and made sure to strategically engage social media influencers. Her efforts resulted in tons of engagement and led to more than $125,000 in donations over the course of a few days. Influencers can be particularly helpful in reaching audiences who might not otherwise know about your organization, including younger individuals and people with little or no connection to the nonprofit sector.
4. Select appropriate fundraising tools. Before you can launch your campaign, you'll need to get yourself set up with an appropriate suite of fundraising tools. Luckily, there are lots of low-cost or free options available to nonprofits. To help you get started, TechSoup offers discounts on nonprofit fundraising platforms like CauseVox, Connect2give, and Fundly.
In addition, many social media platforms offer their own fundraising tools. For example, Facebook has a nice suite of fundraising tools for nonprofits that makes it easy to fundraise online.
5. Tailor your messages for each platform. It's important not to use a "cut-and-paste" approach with your social media content. Each social media platform is tailored for different types of content, so make sure you use your analytics to identify which types of content garner the most engagement on which channels. Click here for additional tips on how to leverage different types of content on Instagram and LinkedIn.
6. Show your supporters how their donation will make a difference. The power of social media lies in its storytelling potential, and this is where you can make your fundraising campaign stand out. Use photos and videos that show your nonprofit in action and make it clear to members of your target audience how their donations can help your organization advance its mission. And if you didn't already know, videos are a particularly powerful way to communicate a message. In fact, on average, videos on Facebook have 135 percent more organic reach than photos on Facebook.
7. Celebrate milestones and be sure to thank your donors. It's important to celebrate your successes along the way! When you're making your campaign plan, establish some fundraising benchmarks and be sure to post to your social media channels each time you meet one. You should also engage with your donors on social media and thank them for their donations. Don't overthink it, though — it can be as simple as retweeting their tweet or leaving a comment on a Facebook post.
In addition to visual content, consider using statistics or infographics to give people a concrete idea of how their donations will be put to use (e.g., "For every $20 donated, we can provide 10 new books to students in underprivileged schools"). Remember: If your audience finds a reason to connect with your mission and story, they'll be more inclined to make a donation.
Want to learn more? Check out these great resources.
- TechSoup has launched a series of online courses on social media marketing for nonprofits.
- Learn more from the top 10 nonprofit Instagram accounts.
- Explore how your nonprofit can use Facebook Analytics and Insights.
Hanna Harrison is a fourth-year student at McGill University, where she is pursuing a bachelor of arts in political science, with two minor concentrations in communication studies and social entrepreneurship.