Seven ways #nonprofits can tangibly raise money via Facebook Live

Chris Strub (right) interviews, from left, CEO Paul Calistro and Wes Davis of West End Neighborhood House in Wilmington, Del., near the end of Strub’s 50-state road trip in 2015.

Every nonprofit has a story to tell, and (almost) every nonprofit is looking to raise money.

And with Facebook’s recent introduction of a ‘Donate Now’ button unto live broadcasts, it’s now simpler than ever for nonprofits to leverage their stories to raise funds.

I’ve worked, in person, with over 100 nonprofits across all 50 U.S. states (list), and every single one has a presence on Facebook. (This is why I’m convinced Facebook Live is the best avenue when choosing a live platform.) Very few of those 100+, however, have stepped up to take advantage of the opportunity to live-stream to their followers — and every day that passes represents a missed chance.

Very few nonprofits have stepped up to live-stream — and every passing day represents a missed chance.

For many nonprofits, the fear of technology — and the associated costs — is a big hurdle. If you’re concerned about not having the right tech on hand, check out this blog post I wrote, titled “Live Video in 2017: Why Scrappy is OK.” And if you are curious what sort of technology I keep with me, this blog post covers “What’s In The Bag?

(If you want to take a deeper dive into why live-streaming is so critical for nonprofits, check out this episode of #AskTheExpert with Ross Brand from Nov. 3, 2016:)

Let’s assume, now, that you’re ready to pull the trigger and broadcast live on Facebook. What should you talk about?

Yes, your nonprofit organization needs a live video strategy and yes, it’s important that it plays into your broader social media plan. However, every journey begins with a first step, and before you get indefinitely hung up on perfecting the plan, I highly recommend you consider the seven concepts listed below, pick one and try it. (Don’t forget to turn on that Donate Now button for whichever option you choose!)

This is what the Donate button looks like on a Facebook Live. (Thanks Rose Mango for the screenshot!)
  1. Frequently Asked Questions. This is my favorite one. Your organization likely fields phone calls, emails, in-person inquiries and the like on a regular basis. Many of these questions are likely repetitive, and your CEO/Executive Director should be the woman or man most well prepared to answer these questions. Write down a list of the 10 most frequent questions your organization receives. Set up your iPhone to record your ED and Marketing/Communications Director, and have a third staffer monitoring the device for interactive questions. Have your marketing whiz ‘interview’ the boss by posing the list of 10 questions, while keeping an eye out for any other questions you may receive from the live audience. Recommended length: 10–15 minutes max.
  2. Volunteer Spotlight. Have your communications person stand with your most vibrant and gregarious volunteer, and spark a natural conversation about why he/she loves volunteering with your organization. This can be with one volunteer or several, one at a time or in a group. Be sure to include, at the end of the video, how people watching can become volunteers themselves. Recommended length: 5–10 minutes max.
  3. VIP Access. Perhaps your organization works with speakers. It’s become somewhat common to live-stream the speech that a guest (or your CEO, for example) might give. Instead, think outside of the box and offer exclusive access to a speaker after they’re done at the podium. Think of this like a post-game locker room interview. Have 4–5 questions prepared before you go live, but be willing and able to incorporate questions from your live audience during the stream. Recommended length: 5–10 minutes max.
  4. Employee of the Month. Perhaps your organization regularly recognizes a staff member for their positive contributions. You can use Facebook Live to dial up and ‘make Facebook official’ such plaudits. Bring your hardest-working staffer — make sure it’s someone who would be comfortable on camera — into the CEO’s office for a relaxed two-shot. This stream serves a handful of purposes — it brings great, tangible value to the individual being recognized; it demonstrates your CEO’s understanding of the responsibilities of her entire staff; it paints your organization as a welcoming, exciting and innovative place to work. Recommended length: 10 minutes max.
  5. Take a Tour. This concept requires a little more work, but if your nonprofit is housed somewhere that the public frequents, it can serve as a long-standing valuable piece of content. Great examples of where a live video tour can be a terrific asset would be a Food Bank (pro tip: you get terrible-to-no cellular service within large warehouses), a YMCA or a day care/counseling-type facility. Carefully consider whether you want to film something like this on a busy day, with people in the shot; or perhaps on, say, a Sunday, where normally busy spaces would be vacant. If you have a personable, camera-friendly CEO, a 5-to-10 minute walking tour of your facility is something he/she probably often does anyway — why not invite your Facebook fans to come along? Recommended length: Depends on how large your facility is, but probably no longer than 20 minutes max.
  6. Board Member of the Month. It’s likely that your organization has a Board of Directors, and if you’re lucky, it consists of prolific individuals with strong connections within your community. It’s also likely that those board members are eager for any opportunity to publicly express their support for your organization, on behalf of their business. Having your Executive Director chat with a well-known board member can be a terrific way to demonstrate your nonprofit’s appreciation for the business that board member represents — and ideally attract more community support moving forward. Recommended length: 8–10 minutes max.
  7. News Update. I bet your nonprofit uses an email list to communicate with your supporters. With a smidge of creativity, your social media staffer can turn that one-dimensional newsletter into a three-dimensional piece of valuable video content. Use the live platform to not only plug any events that you have upcoming on the calendar, but to show the audience why they’d want to come volunteer/support. Perhaps you have a luncheon coming up; consider having the caterer create two servings of the main course (and dessert?), and taste it on camera. Perhaps you’re tabling at a larger convention next weekend — take two minutes to sort through one of the gift bags your staff is piecing together for attendees. Or perhaps you run a fitness class at your facility once a week — bring in the Zumba instructor to tease the activities that will be taught during the next session. Recommended length: 5–7 minutes max … or longer, if you have interesting things to show.

Want to make the most of your live video content after you’re done broadcasting? My blog post titled ‘Tips for AFTER your live-stream ends’ covers a multitude of methods.

Chris Strub, right, used Meerkat to live-stream an interview with Kaulana Chang of the GSA Hawaii during Strub’s 50-state adventure in the summer of 2015.

As I said before, yes, your nonprofit organization does need a live video strategy — read a piece I wrote more than a year ago about the biggest nonprofit in Las Vegas, Opportunity Village, for an example — and working with a pro can help. If you want help developing a broader plan, please contact me for a free initial consultation — the best way is via Twitter.

If you’ve enjoyed this article, please take a moment to share it on your social media channels (particularly Twitter) and/or pass it along via email to a nonprofit you support in your community or social circle.

If you’d like to learn more about my work with nonprofits in all 50 U.S. states, my book, ’50 States, 100 Days: The Book’ is available for immediate download now on Amazon (and yes, I’m working on getting it printed as well).

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Chris Strub is the first man to live-stream and Snapchat in all 50 U.S. states, and a former social media consultant with Humana and their Bold Goal team. He’s now the CEO of I Am Here, LLC and is looking to travel to your community to work with nonprofits in your area in 2017. Learn more here.