Ever feel lost in social media? New social media platforms and features can make things difficult when trying to establish goals and direction. So, how do you get what you need out of social media to help your non-profit?

8 Social Media Fundraising Tips

  1. Set Social Media Goals
  2. Create Engaging Content
  3. Go Where Your Target Audience Is
  4. Utilize Video
  5. Network with Influencers
  6. Network with Donors
  7. Listen to the Community
  8. Don’t Overly Rely on Any One Social Media Platform

1. Set Social Media Goals

Setting goals at any stage in your social media strategy can help build toward better outreach, engagement, and digital fundraising. You’ll want to determine where your audience is, how to communicate them, how to grow your audience, and how to funnel that traffic toward your website. Setting an overall goal based on those areas of focus should provide the direction you want to go in and drive the decision on any smaller goals.

The best place to begin if you’re just starting out or even if you’ve been in social media marketing for a while is taking stock of what’s out there. According to Randy Hawthorne, contributing writer for Nonprofithub.org, you’ll want to sign up for every username and “handle” that you can for the popular social media platforms for future use. If you’re already in the social media marketing game keep using what you have since your audience is already familiar with them. Determine which platforms your intended audience is on and how you plan to use those platforms to communicate updates, events, and so forth.

In order to get to where you want to be you’ll need to know and grow your audience. Hawthrone states, “Don’t put the cart ahead of the horse; start small and develop an audience. Often times, I see accounts with a small following do something like ask a question to their audience and they don’t get a single response. If they wait until they have a significant following, they can actually gain valuable engagement.” Once you have a larger audience you can analyze interests and what they do online through analytics that most social media platforms provide states Claire Shinn, a writer for Nonprofithub.com.

From this point any goals you have should be a “roadmap” to your overall goal. You can choose to focus on communication and engagement if that leads to your overall goal. Always remember that social media marketing is another route for traffic to your website or fundraiser. “Every bit of the content you curate for social media should act as a tentacle from your website. The arms increase your organization’s reach and should always be pulling people back to your website, as a tool for fundraising,” says Hawthorne.

2. Create Engaging Content

Remember when you first started working with social media? The first question you probably had was how to create a social media post to help your cause. The good news is that you’re not alone when it comes to that problem. This happens to new as well as veteran social media content creators.

Content creation across multiple platforms doesn’t have to be hard to do. Text and images can be crafted to spread your message in a number of ways based on what is allowed by each social network. Important items within your message can also be broken up into multiple tweets or posts that can be spread out across a couple of days or weeks depending on your strategy. Don’t worry about over-posting on a single message, as it’s likely most people haven’t seen your content due to other posts or a preference for one network over others.

3. Go Where Your Target Audience Is

If a majority of your target audience is on one specific network, it makes sense to focus more on that network than others. Focusing on one network allows you to be more engaging with donors. For instance, you can engage a donor easier with a social media post; however, you don’t want to do so to the point of being annoying. If your preferred network has a live video feature, you can use it to provide updates on your nonprofit fundraiser and answer any questions that you get via email or through comments. Your shares and retweets will also “travel” better through one network if it has a large user base and if your audience has a large following for its members. Live video also works well for expressing an appeal for your non-profit.

Sharing another individual’s or group’s content is a good way to show your interest in your cause across different groups and social circles. Showing your advocacy in a similar or related manner helps spread that person’s or group’s message and helps others find out about your nonprofit organization. Advocacy is part of the “three A’s” of social media messaging for nonprofits according to Steven Shattuck. The other two “A’s” include appreciation and appeals.

Focusing on your social media messaging doesn’t require a lot of over-thinking. A message can be crafted a number of ways to better reach your target audience on one or several social networks. Features of specific networks can help connect and inform your audience about your non-profit’s news and needs. Sharing good content from others not only does those people a favor but also spreads advocacy for your cause.

4. Utilize Video

This is where video marketing and storytelling comes into play. Producing video doesn’t require a big budget or expensive editing equipment. A smartphone may be all that you need to create quick videos that inform potential donors, show your non-profit’s activity, and promotes engagement with your cause.

Aside from the benefits, mentions briefly above there are other positive points to using video. David Hartstein, a writer for Wiredimpact.com outlines the major benefits as compelling and concise storytelling, unique and minimally-filtered perspectives, and personal appeal. “Video [storytelling] allows you to tell your story in a compelling way that photos and words on a page just can’t capture,” states Hartstein. Video helps capture the perspective of community members that a non-profit affects. Using video “puts you in the room” in terms of connecting with people at an emotional level.

Video usage can be used in several different manners. The use of storytelling assist with fundraising campaign efforts. “It’s a perfect opportunity to practice shooting video in an inexpensive way and test the engagement of those donors,” says Joe Boland of Nonprofitpro.com on the use of video in an online fundraising campaign. Live video can also help increase the engagement of your audience in crowdsourcing ideas that your non-profit has or even just making announcements. Video, live or recorded, is sharable beyond your intended audience online.

Video tools include:

  • Facebook Live
  • Periscope (live video for Twitter)
  • YouTube or Vimeo for video hosting
  • smartphone video recording and editing apps

Creating video isn’t as large of a production as it used to be. Sharing your non-profit story, events, announcements, and social fundraising doesn’t take a lot of time or budget. Video offers a richer view into what you do and who you’re helping on a personal level.

5. Network with Influencers

Every non-profit wants someone with some kind of “celebrity” status to help advocate for their fundraiser. Getting the word out about your fundraiser would be much easier if someone with influence would share it on social media or offline. The good news is that these people are within your reach and are probably in your audience already.

A study that was conducted by Twitter shows that tweets from brands increase purchase intent by 2.7 times. Influencers have their own “brand” within their online social circles that carries relevance and credibility. How does this relate to your cause? How do you find and engage with influencers?

What Are Social media Influencers?

Social media influencers are individuals, online or offline, who have audience reach and relevance in their area of interest. Influencers can help expand your audience, raise awareness to your cause, or help inspire action. Believe it or not even animals are influcencers in social media. A survey by Mars Petcare reveals that 30% of pet owners follow and engage with social media celebrity animals. This is one of the powerful influencer marketing statistics that indicates celebrity pets can be used effectively by pet care brands.

Where Are Social Media Influencers?

You may already have influencers within your audience. Your audience members who engage with your website and social media posts also have their own audience that may include others that have similar interests and resources.

Other influencers may be outside of your audience or offline. These individuals may be outside of the “community” of your cause and operate solely within their own circle. Influencers may just write about interesting non-profit fundraisers or are leaders within your cause’s “community” or even within the sphere of non-profit work. Using Google, influence measurement tools such as Klout, or even searching through popular social media lists or groups are a few ways of finding out-of-network influencers.

How Do I Ask for Help?

In order to ask influencers for their assistance you should have a relationship built with them. Doing a “cold ask” probably won’t get you a positive response. Engage with influencers by helping them share their message and providing information to them on areas within your cause that they may not know about. Once there is a feeling that there’s a solid standing with these influencers asking for assistance will work better. If the answer is no be sure to thank them for hearing you out.

Influencers, online and offline, can boost your cause’s message and fundraising event potential. Knowing who influencers are and their types can help you determine which will help your cause the most and, more importantly, be a good individual to build a positive relationship with.

6. Network With Donors

When raising awareness for your social media fundraising campasign, you’re always looking for that next person that can help you out. You probably have people in mind but there are roadblocks in terms of how to connect with those people. How do you network to the point where you can connect with the people that will help take your cause and that person’s interests to the next level?

Social media isn’t only for sharing content it can be used to network with specific members within your audience. Engaging with your audience helps you understand the people that follow you and it helps give you an accessible approach to networking with others. There are right ways to network on social media.

In-person networking rules such as being genuine and helpful come into play in social media networking. Engaging with your audience, as part of a hashtag or post, will help others get to know you better to connect with them later on, states Leslie Truex, a contributing writer for The Balance. “Always lead by offering something of value as opposed to asking for something for you,” says Truex. The person you’re networking with will want to know how connecting with you will benefit them. Knowing your strengths as a non-profit will help you understand what you can offer.

Networking may be as simple as posing questions to your existing audience. As your audience engages with your questions ask questions of your own to see how you can offer strengths to better connect with those audience members. Over time those connections could lead to being able to ask for an introduction to people within that person’s network. When messaging that next person “only send […] a message that demonstrates you are specifically targeting him or her […] the best way to do this is by saying something that makes it clear you know about the person” (The Rules of Networking on Social Media (Because Yes, People Still Break Them)).

Connecting and networking on social media follows many of the same rules as meeting in-person. People will connect with others who are genuine and have something positive to offer. Assisting audience members can help lead to a connection with others that can help your cause.

7. Listen to the Community

Ever wonder if you could monitor keywords used by your audience and advocates? Being aware of current trends is beneficial for understanding your audience and donors and crafting responses to what is trending. If keywords are trending for issues that your non-profit sees as important responding could help win more people to your cause or ease any concerns. This concept is referred to as social listening.

Social listening involves monitoring social platforms and websites for keywords used by your audience. Keywords can be anything that is relative to the issues that affect your non-profit including hashtags that are used. An example could be animal welfare or animal adoption for humane societies. Social listening can also help manage your non-profit’s reputation on websites and social media platforms.

To get started you’ll need to start monitoring for the name of your non-profit and any social media account you use along with keywords relating to any current events, issues, or your non-profit mission. Establishing keywords for your non-profit can be as simple as using key nouns or two word phrases from your mission statement and then adding a few more that are relative. After that pinpoint any current issues or trends that need to be monitored. Create a plan on how best to respond when you are notified about your keywords, hashtags, and social media mentions. For instance, negative remarks with a mention of your social media handle will need a quick response with appropriate customer service. Keywords on trending topics could be an idea for an online fundraising campaign.

Although some social media platforms offer some insight into trending keywords and hashtags you’ll want to use a service to help capture any keyword or hashtag usage. Free services include Google Alerts (monitors keywords used on the Internet) and Sumall (monitors social media platforms for keywords and hashtags). Paid services include Attentive.ly, Moz Fresh Alerts, and Mention. After signing up with one of these services you can start monitoring.

Social listening can help take your non-profit more successful by watching for keywords, hashtags, and social media mentions that matter to your non-profit. Conversation topics can lead to positively managing your non-profit’s brand and mission in addition to understanding more about your audience and trending topics. Keeping up with monitoring and sticking to and updating a plan can help you find opportunities for your non-profit to grow.

8. Don’t Overly Rely on Any One Social Media Platform

The one aspect of social media platforms are that they can change how they decide to work at any point. Facebook’s changes to how posts will appear in it’s social feed. This platform is a big piece of the pie in terms of where non-profits reach their audiences.

With all of the changes that Facebook plans to make how do you know that other platforms won’t make similar changes? How can you be sure that your cause isn’t affected by more changes?

Understand that you can still utilize Facebook

Facebook isn’t entirely unusable for your non-profit now. There are features and user-based functions of Facebook that you can still use to build your audience and reach new people. Also, if your audience is loyal to what you’re doing they will still seek out your Facebook page for updates. Facebook Live still exists for different types of communication. Groups will still be around to help find others with similar interests.

Keep Focusing on Content

Even though Facebook will be focused on posts from friends and family they can still share your posts. As mentioned previously, Facebook Live will likely grow in use and may be a primary focus for the company going forward. Lean on your brand ambassadors to help share updates on your digital fundraising efforts in the form of URLs to any online contests and blog posts from your website. Make sure your staff is sharing updates on what your non-profit is up to.

Funnel Traffic Toward Your Websites

Part of your social media strategy should be funneling traffic to your website. This can be your non-profit’s official website or your current social fundraising effort. This is one way to hedge your overall online strategy against social media changes. Your web presence should be your primary location for any news and information about your non-profit, your cause, and any current fundraisers. You can also leverage your website as a place where visitors can sign up for newsletters and other correspondence. If you don’t have an official website we can help!

One thing that will always remain the same about social media, or technology in general, is that it will always change. These platforms are businesses as well and have to change from time to time based on internal and external pressures. But these changes shouldn’t be anything that should derail your strategy. You just need to adapt your strategy to the changes and realize that with the Internet there’s more than one way to communicate to your audience and others you intend to reach.