Fundraising on Social Media: Create a Plan That Works

Fundraising on social media

I’m guessing you’ve rolled your eyes and kept scrolling past other nonprofits’ posts on social media. Without the space that your website and email allow, it can be tough to re-lay the whole picture, and a regular posting schedule is easy to fall off of. Which means many organizations can come across as money grabbers that only pop up when they need something from you. Don’t join the masses! There’s a better way for fundraising on social media.

Per usual, the better way takes more time and thought. It’s time and thought well spent. I don’t need to tell you that the vast majority of Americans (most likely yourself included) use social media on a regular basis. But maybe you haven’t heard that they’re open to creative fundraising requests while they scroll.

In 2018, a survey of online donors named social media as the medium that inspired the most donations. 29% of online donors say social media—compared with other communications like email (27%), websites (18%) and print (12%)—most inspires them to give.

You won’t accomplish those results without a plan that you can follow through with that also follows best practices. So, let’s get to it.

Create a Plan for Fundraising on Social Media

If you already have a more general strategy for your marketing or social media efforts, use that as your starting point. And if not, be sure to consider other goals you might have for social media — like building community or spreading awareness for your cause — as you’re working through this strategy piece.

Choose Your Social Media Channels

Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter are the three largest social networks out there and are optimized for fundraising, so if you are starting out, these three are the ones to focus on.

Strategize for Each Channel

Each channel should have its own mini strategy. Your audience may overlap various social channels, and each channel has its own best practices.

  • Set goals: Set fundraising goals for your nonprofit, tied to engagement on the social media channel and the number of campaigns you’re planning to run. Be ambitious, but don’t get unreasonable.
  • Develop the donation process: Will they give through the social media platform, as with Facebook Fundraisers, or through a link to the Donate page on your website?
  • Determine a posting schedule: Come up with a plan and try to stick with it. You might consider starting by relating 20% of your posts to fundraising and adjusting from there.
  • Note a point person: While different members of your team might pitch in, one person should be responsible for following the posting schedule and engaging with supporters to limit the engagement opportunities that slip through the cracks.
  • Get your messaging down: Think through the types of posts you’ll share and how to capture your brand voice. Your tone can lean more casual on most social media platforms.
  • Run campaigns: Specific campaigns like an annual appeal, awareness month or big event with a set timeline and ask can be a huge revenue driver on social media, especially when coupled with a peer-to-peer fundraising campaign.
  • Include a focus on building relationships: Post on topics that you know will interest your audience, encourage comments and always respond when supporters engage with you.
  • Interact with influencers: They hold the power to spread the reach of your posts to more people who will care. Find out who is big in your field and begin building relationships through social media to expand your audience and foster healthy discussion about the topics you care about.
  • Consider paid advertisements: If they make sense for your budget, cause and audience, social media ads can be an awesome resource to expand and engage with your audience.
  • Measure your progress: Review social media data on a regular basis and find ways to improve your strategy based on real results.

Social Media Best Practices

In case you need a quick refresher, social media best practices revolve around creating a positive experience for your supporters. You know those folks best. But in general, you’ll want to follow these four simple guidelines:

  • Be consistent: Don’t ghost your followers for weeks and post three times back to back. Follow the schedule you set for yourself through your strategy, peppering in some spontaneity.
  • Post on a variety of topics: Not every post can be an ask. Include posts about your impact, team, big news or milestones, client stories, programs, events, viral topics that relate to your mission and other nonprofit social media posts.
  • Incorporate images and video: They don’t all need to be professional quality. Data shows that visual elements can substantially boost your posts on Facebook and Twitter, and are essential for Instagram posts.
  • Engage with supporters: Give shout-outs to super supporters and volunteers, post thank yous, always respond to comments, post photos from events and programs, and continuously look for opportunities to engage.

Harness the power of storytelling

Your nonprofit has a story to tell. And there’s so much potential for storytelling on social media to make a fundraising campaign stand out from all of the other noise. The secret lies in choosing a story with the power to demonstrate your organization’s impact, and backing it up with visual elements like photos, videos and graphics. Try experimenting with the Instagram Donate Sticker if it fits into your strategy.

Give people a compelling reason to support you in this moment and to then champion your cause to their followers once they’ve done that.

Get Supporters Involved

If you’re comfortable fundraising on social media, consider adding your supporters into the mix to up-level your plan. You can do this in a few different ways, but you’ll want to make sure that, however you approach it, you provide these supporters with the resources they need to be successful.

Social media ambassador program

Does your nonprofit make use of ongoing volunteers? A social media ambassador program can work to get more people involved with your nonprofit on a regular basis by agreeing to donate their voice. Give them a message and support; and they share it, along with their personal connection to your cause. Get tips on how to add social media ambassadors to your strategy and see 15 ways to strengthen your program.

Run Facebook Fundraisers with supporters

Facebook’s Fundraisers tool allows you to recruit your supporters to set up a dedicated fundraising page for your nonprofit and share it with their friends. Before you move forward with this, create a kit to provide your new fundraisers with the resources they’ll need to run a campaign on Facebook. And be sure to thank your fundraisers once the campaign is complete!

Ask supporters to share campaign posts

If you’re not ready to train supporters to directly help with the fundraising lift on social media, all is not lost. Consider asking supporters to share posts relating to your campaign with their friends and followers on the platforms they’re active on, expanding the audience that sees it.

A focus on engaging your social media audience through your fundraising efforts may just be the revenue boost that your organization needs. More and more people are active on social media on a daily basis, and building an engaged online community on these social platforms can open up new fundraising opportunities for your nonprofit. According to research by Nonprofits Source, 55% of people who engage with nonprofits on social media end up taking some sort of action, be that donating, volunteering, advocating or taking another key action for your organization.

How do you approach fundraising on social media? Have you worked these elements into your social media strategy? Did it work to increase donations? Meet me in the comments to chat.