Fundraising With Social Media How to harness the power of your followers

With Social Media
How to harness the power of your followers
Authored By:
Molly McBride
David Howell
INTERACTIVE MEDIA | Elon, NC | © Elon University 2014
Fundraising With Social Media
As an organization that relies on donations, you understand that there are many methods and
options for fundraising. In this paper we will explore how to use social media for fundraising, why
your organization should be using it, and how to see the impact of your fundraising efforts.
Social media can be a gold mine for your organization. Harness the power of your followers.
The Changing World of Social Media
Today, most of the world knows what social media is. Pre-teens, young professionals, adults,
and even grandparents are on social networking sites, and the trend doesn’t look like it’s going
anywhere. But, just ten years ago, social networking was not such a common practice.
One of the first social media sites, Friendster, began in 2002. By 2004 Facebook, LinkedIn, MySpace, Digg, and Flickr were added to the social media market and were gaining large followings.¹
By 2013, over 1 billion people were on Facebook. These statistics are staggering and show just
how important social media is to the world today.
Why social media?
The rise of social media has changed the way organizations interact with their audience. Now, a
company can reach more people in less time, for less money. Social media has allowed organizations to promote their brand, their products, and their causes, with little to no financial investment, which is especially important when creating a fundraising campaign.
The biggest benefit of social media is that it allows you to connect with your users on a less
formal, more personal level. Using social media effectively creates a new level of engagement
and understanding for your audience, which, in turn, makes them more comfortable with your
organization and more likely to donate money.
Social media also allows you to connect with thousands more people than email campaigns
alone. It is hard to find an easier way to share your message with such a large audience.
Fundraising With Social Media
What Types of Social Media Should You Use?
There are many social media platforms available, but we recommend narrowing your fundraising
efforts to just five accounts: Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, and YouTube. In this section
we offer a brief explanation of each social networking platform. You will find how to use each of
these platforms for your fundraising campaign in the next section.
How Do They Stack Up?
The total number of users per social media platform
= 20 million
Billion 1+
500+ 500+
Million Million
Source data: Digital Insights
Fundraising With Social Media
Facebook is the largest social network, which makes it a must have for organizations. When fundraising, you want to reach as many people as possible,
and typically within a number of different demographics. As mentioned previously, Facebook is used by people from all different age groups, and many of
these groups interact with each other, meaning your message is likely to be
shared with different demographics, even without your push.
With more than 645 million users and an average of 58 million tweets sent
each day, Twitter reaches a lot of people.² Possibly even more important to
your fundraiser is the type of people that are on Twitter. Company executives, professional athletes, actors, musicians, thought leaders, and more are
on Twitter, and most have an open account, meaning they can be followed by
anyone, including you. Following important individuals not only allows you to
see what they are talking about, but also inreases the likelihood that they will
follow your organization, which can increase your reach and number of
Other than following influential people, Twitter is a great way to share short
messages and links. The 140-word limit makes it easy to send updates, quick
pictures, or a thank you out to your audience.
Google+ does not have as big of a following as Facebook or Twitter, but that
does not mean you should ignore this social media platform. Google+ is
similar to Facebook and Twitter in that it lets you create a list of fans or
followers; however, in Google+ you get to segment those followers into
groups called “circles.” Your circles can focus on different things such as,
“fundraiser donors,” “influential leaders,” “board members,” and more.
Google+ is also unique in that it supports video chats through a feature
called ‘Google Hangouts.’ Google Hangouts enable you to set up a quick and
easy video conversation through your webcam. These hangouts can include
multiple people from locations throughout the world, and allow you to speak
to each other in real time.
Pinterest is an online visual pin board. The page is made up of millions of
videos and images, often created or posted by organizations. “Pinners”
review the images and videos and “pin” the ones they like. Oftentimes,
pinners have a number of different boards on their page, ranging from recipes, to sewing tips, to campaigns they support.
Fundraising With Social Media
YouTube currently has more than 1 billion users and more than 6 billion
hours of video are watched each month.³ Businesses, small non-profit organizations, aspiring musicians, teachers, and almost any other demographic
posts on YouTube. Many organizations use YouTube as a platform to educate their audience about their brand or a specific cause. Once viewed,
videos can be liked and the link shared on other social media platforms such
as Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and Pinterest.
In addition to these social media platforms, we also recommend using a social media dashboard
to assist with your campaign. A number of social media dashboards are available to make managing your social media accounts an easier process. Several dashboards, like Hootsuite and
TweetDeck, manage multiple social media accounts and allow you to write your posts in advance
and schedule them to post throughout the day.
In addition to managing your posting schedule, these platforms also offer analytics of your social
media sites. Analytics will be discussed further in another section of this paper.
How should you use social media for fundraising?
Before you set up your social media accounts spend some time thinking about your strategy and
campaign. Set realistic goals for your campaign, such as how many people you hope to reach, or
how much money you would like to raise through social media. Once you establish these goals,
evaluate your audience and how you would like to reach them. You may want to create specific
messages for targeted groups and only focus on one social media network to reach that audience.
As we mentioned before, you only need to manage a few social media accounts to establish a
solid online presence. The following section outlines each social media account and how you
should use each one to increase your fundraising.
· Talk about your fundraiser in an interesting way. Don’t just ask people to donate money.
Instead, tell them about your organization, the fundraiser, and the ways they can help your campaign. Use photos and videos when possible, as posts with either get viewed and shared more
Fundraising With Social Media
· Promote your posts. For a relatively small fee, you can pay to promote your posts. Promoting
your post allows you to select the location, demographics, and interests of the audience you are
trying to reach. The post will appear in those selected individual’s news feed, which will increase
the chances of them seeing it.
· Connect with similar organizations, or those that would support your fundraising effort. If
another organization with 5,000 followers shares your image you are reaching that many more
people. Return the favor when they have a similar fundraiser, event, or appeal.
· Create fun, ways for your audience to engage with you. For instance, offer a weekly give away or
contest. Your prize could be something as simple as a sticker featuring your organization name,
or something larger like a gift card.
· Tweet about your fundraiser at least 3 times a week. You can engage your audience by differentiating your tweets. For instance, one tweet might link back to the donation page on your website, one tweet might thank those who have already donated, and one could remind your followers of the impact your fundraiser is going to have for a particular group. When your tweets are
favorited or retweet, be sure to thank the user.
· Create hashtags that are specific to your fundraiser, but also use common hashtags like #fundraiser or #showyoursupport to reach thousands of additional Twitter users. Research which
hashtags are trending and add to your tweet, if appropriate.
· Take the time to follow other organizations and people with influence. Look for similar organizations and follow who they follow. It is likely that these individuals will also follow you and this will
increase your likelihood of getting your tweet retweeted, and your fundraiser reaching a larger
· Google+ is all about your circles. The more people in your circle, the more people you reach.
Take some time to add more people to your circles. Look for thought leaders, other organizations
that fundraise, community members, and even competitors. The more people in your circles, the
more people you will reach.
Fundraising With Social Media
· Conduct a Google Hangout. Once you’ve established solid circles, offer to do a Google Hangout
to get to know your audience and tell them about your organization and fundraiser. If you already
have a good list of donors, consider asking one of your donors to participate in the Hangout and
tell your audience why they chose to donate. If your fundraiser applies to a specific group or
cause, such as creating a park for local children, request that a child or parent of a child that will
be impacted by the fundraiser join your Hangout and speak with potential donors about how the
park will benefit them.
· It’s likely that you already have visuals and marketing materials developed for your fundraiser.
Use those preexisting pieces and create a Pinterest board for your fundraiser. Once you’ve
added some images, promote your board on your website and other social media sites.
· Follow other local organizations. Increasing the number of people you follow is likely to increase
the number of people who pin your fundraising board.
· People love videos, and the shorter the better. Create a video about your fundraiser that leaves
your viewer with an understanding of your organization and your fundraiser.
· Make sure you have a call to action. You’ve already accomplished the hard part, getting your
audience to watch the video, now what do you want them to do about it? Without a clear call to
action your viewer is likely to go to another webpage after the video ends. Make sure you tell the
audience what you want them to do at the end of the video. Is it donate money? Share the link
with their friends? Both? Clearly state the call to action and your audience is more likely to
donate or share.
Many organizations also use Kickstarter or Indiegogo for fundraising. Kickstarter is a crowdfunding platform that enables individuals or businesses to raise money for a specific project they are
working on. Indiegogo is a similar platform, but allows people to fundraise for anything, not just
creative projects. Both platforms allow an individual or an organization to tell the public about
their project (usually through video) and why they should help fund it. In the event that a fundraiser gets full backing, the organization or individual receives the money and the product is
created. This is a great way to educated additional people of your fundraiser, offer an easy way
to donate, and show your audience that other people are donating as well.
Fundraising With Social Media
Whichever social media network you choose to use, make sure you’re speaking to that audience,
and not in general or formal terms. If most of your Pinterest demographic is females in their
mid-twenties, don’t post pictures that would appeal to a middle aged male executive. If your
YouTube video is specific to your fundraising campaign, don’t add a bunch of information on your
organization’s mission or leadership chart. Focus on what your audience needs to know and
present it in a way that will appeal to them.
How Do You Measure Social Media?
You’ve created a solid campaign strategy, developed an informative and engaging campaign, and
started sharing your efforts with your audience. All of that is vital to a good fundraising campaign, but one of the most important steps of social media is tracking your engagement with your
audience AFTER you’ve actually produced the campaign. Luckily, there are a number of options
for tracking and analyzing your fundraising campaign and many are free or already a part of your
social media site.
Each of the social media platforms we mentioned offers analytics. The analytic offerings are
slightly different for each platform, but in general, they offer the same few features:
Post Analysis:
Measure how well received your post or tweet was and which audience it reached. Facebook
Insights will show you how many people liked, clicked on, shared, and commented on a post.
Google+ offers a similar feature and looks at how well a post was received by your audience.
YouTube also offers detailed analytics for each video, which includes how many people like and
comment on your video, how long they watched it, and if they shared it.
Website Tracking:
Once you connect your Pinterest page with your website you can see how many pinners are
pinning things from your website, as well as how many people are clicking on your pins.
Fundraising With Social Media
You may find that one or two of your platforms are really not being explored by your audience.
That’s ok. First, look back and see if you properly publicized those platforms. If you did do
proper publicity but still aren’t seeing the results take some time to review the posts, pins, or
videos your organization put out. Are they intended for the target audience of that platform? If
not, this is an easy fix. If they are appropriate and you’re still getting a low level of engagement
considering removing yourself from that social media platform all together. It will save time and
energy in the long run to stop using a social media platform, instead of constantly trying to
change your strategy to increase engagement.
Key Takeaways
This paper covered a lot of information on social media. Here are a few key points we recommend you keep in mind when creating your social media fundraising campaign:
Start with a solid strategy and always keep your audience in mind. Social media is just that,
social, so you need to present your campaign in a way that your audience will understand and
respond to, and you must engage with your audience even after you post your messages. Have a
conversation with your audience by replying to comments, tweets, and retweets. If a donor posts
something to your Facebook page, make sure to thank them for their donation. This will make
them feel better about donating and will show your other Facebook followers that your organization is appreciative of the contributions followers have made.
Pick the platforms that work best for your audience. We recommend Facebook, Twitter,
YouTube, Pinterest, and Google+, but you may only need one or two of these social media sites.
Once you’ve established who your audience is you can easily decide which platforms will be most
effective for your campaign and will reach your target audience. Put your energy toward creating
a great campaign for that social media site, not all of them.
Measure your campaign. Do not base your campaign success on donations alone. Spend time
reviewing your analytics early on in your campaign. Your analytics will give you valuable information regarding your audience, the time of day that your message is seen by the most people, who
is clicking on your post/tweet/link, and if the viewer actually donates to your fundraiser. Reviewing your analytics early and often gives you a better view of your campaign and allows you to
make changes to your strategy early on, if needed.
Fundraising With Social Media
Thank your donors. Oftentimes, people who donate money want to see how it was used and
whom it helped. Create short videos, or showcase pictures of the event, people, or cause that
your fundraiser helped. Post these items on your social media sites and encourage your followers to share your message. Not only are you interacting with the people who donated to your
fundraiser, but you’re offering them the ability to show others what they’ve done. That action will
not only make them feel good, but will help spread the word of your fundraiser even further, and
might produce additional donations.
Social media is changing. Fast. But that doesn’t mean your organization shouldn’t use it. Effectively using certain social media accounts, and the analytics that go with them, can not only help
you increase your brand, but also engage with your audience and develop better, long lasting
relationships that will increase your fundraising efforts.
¹ Curtis, Anthony. 2013. The Brief History of Social Media.
² 2014. Statistic Brain.
³ 2014. YouTube Statistics.
Molly McBride
David Howell
Elon’s Interactive Media Program