The Intersection of Social Media and Fundraising

Sure, your nonprofit organization has 5,489 “Likes” on Facebook and 1,710 followers on Twitter. Do these supporters give financially? How can you better engage them in giving?

I was fortunate to sit down with the NC Triangle Project LIFT community yesterday to hear a presentation by fabulous social media and marketing consultant Dawn Crawford of BC DC Ideas about this confounding topic. I’m grateful to Dawn for sharing her expertise with us for the #npintersect workshop.

Dawn Crawford of BC DC Ideas

The gist of the conversation was that most nonprofit organizations are still experimenting with social media and should continue to do so, closely analyzing the data and responses in order to build a customized strategy. No one-size-fits-all strategy exists, as various nonprofit supporter groups interact differently with social media, just as no one-size-fits-all development plan exists.

Dawn shared an instance in which a client built an engaged supporter base on Facebook, enabling the client to post multiple fundraising appeals a week to their Facebook page, a practice she doesn’t usually recommend.

Below, I’ve captured some of Dawn’s best practices:

Tools and Tips

Strategy through data analysis: Familiarize yourself with Hootsuite Pro ($5 per month) and Google Analytics (free) to track and analyze your data — number of click-thrus, donations resulted, loss of “likes”, etc.– in order to begin identifying where your social media “sweet spots” are and how your supporter base responds to various appeals and applications.

[Extra juicy tip:] Dawn strongly suggests utilizing peer-to-peer fundraising platform CauseVox — engage your supporters to ask their networks for donations on your behalf!

Converse; provide value: Don’t be afraid to ask for money from your supporter base via social media once you have dedicated time and resources to providing valuable information and conversation about a cause you both believe in.

Engage often: Find ways to further engage your most active users. Publicly acknowledge them, send them updates or exclusive information before it is released, or simply ask for a retweet or a repost. Consider transitioning to a face-to-face connection: invite them to coffee or a brown bag lunch to talk about their interests and involvement.

[Extra juicy tip:] Ask supporters and bloggers to write a blog post about your cause or next event to build momentum and drive visits to your site.

Diversify: Consider looking beyond Facebook and Twitter. Dawn shared that some organizations have seen a 20% increase in giving upon supplementing the existing appeal with video media. Youtube may be the next frontier in online fundraising. Additional applications to check out: Foursquare, blogging, Philanthroper.

Build a Campaign

Set your plan: Use your data analysis to build a time-limited (30 days maximum) campaign plan utilizing your social media avenues that is integrated with your existing communications. Start small and replicate successful aspects of your campaign.

General content: Consider the frequency of your posts. Dawn shared that a general practice is posting several Twitter updates per day and posting one Facebook update per day, though again, this varies. Use a cohesive creative theme to integrate various media into your content. For Facebook: personal, less-formal, visual-oriented material (photos, videos); for Twitter: information-sharing content about your cause.

Fundraising content: Include a clear call to action. Consider the ratio of fundraising appeals to other content posted on your social media . One best practice is a 20-to-1 ratio of regular content to fundraising content. Use your “laundry list” of donation returns to show impact (i.e. a Facebook post that reads: $20 buys three meals for homeless folks in our city. Donate here). Also, don’t ask for $500 on Facebook! Social media donation amounts tend be be in the range of $5 to $50.

[Extra juicy tip:] During the course of your social media fundraising campaign, you will see a spike at the beginning, a lull in the middle and another spike toward the end. Consider ways to generate interest and response toward the middle. Dawn shared an example of offering a contest during the mid-campaign lull in which every supporter who retweets or re-posts a portion of the appeal wins a free T-shirt.


See Dawn’s collection of case studies and follow the BC DC Ideas blog for tips. If you’re lucky, catch another of Dawn’s presentations!

See Beth Kanter’s social media best practices for nonprofits and case studies

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