The Power Of Social Giving

We live in a digital age that has us looking at phones and working on computers for the majority of our waking hours. Spending more time staring at a screen may be breeding generations of individuals who lack interpersonal skills, but it also has made the world a smaller, more connected place. We are able to communicate and access information about people and events all over the globe and in turn feel more connected than ever to each other’s stories. Enter social giving, which capitalizes on the digital connections we feel to gain support for a cause. Social media allows us to share our tragedies and crises with more people than ever before, making the audience for philanthropy efforts bigger than ever before.

While pulling at heartstrings to raise money for a cause sounds like a simple enough idea, how do you gain support when everyone else is doing it too? The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge is the most viral social fundraising effort to date. Everyone remembers the videos of friends, family members and even celebrities dumping buckets of ice over their heads dominating their newsfeed in 2014. Come on, it even has it’s own Wikipedia page! The Ice Bucket Challenge raised $115 million in donations from only 2% of the individuals who were reached during the campaign. Even though $115 million is amazing, what happened to the other 98% of people who saw the campaign online? Missed donations could be due to the long form required to fill out in order to complete the giving process. With our face-paced, digital, at-your-fingertip lifestyles, it’s nearly impossible to maintain engagement when a process is reminiscent of a legal form and fax machine.

While the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge is a unicorn in the world of social giving, there are tons of other great causes that have seen staggering increases in donations thanks to story sharing on social media. From tragic Humans of New York photos raising funds for individuals to political campaigns gaining momentum due to small online donations, there’s no doubt that people are social creatures and the internet creates close emotional connections. We’re drawn to the idea of helping others, whether that be a monetary donation, volunteering time, or spreading awareness. So nonprofits and foundations are pulling out every trick in the book to take advantage of our social nature to raise money for their cause.

What are some of the tips we’ve learned from successful social giving campaigns? The first step is to spread awareness. This might be through a video challenge, a hashtag campaign, or encouraging people to share images or stories related to the cause. But hashtags and image filters can fall on deaf ears, and we’ve seen that more than ever with the recent terror attacks around the globe. A French flag over your profile picture or posts that include #PrayForOrlando doesn’t make an actual difference during a crisis if those are the only actions taken. People who display their support online without giving any in real life are known as the “slacktivists”. While spreading awareness and showing support on social media is important, when people take actions in real life, a greater impact is made. Now the trick is to turn this slacktivism into activism, whether that means spreading awareness by participating in local events or making charitable contributions. Once awareness is spread, it’s crucial to tell a story that people can relate to and care enough about to be a part of. If you know the audience you want to reach, create a story that will relate to their lives and experiences. Most importantly, a simple and easy donation process will maximize funds raised. The longer the process and the more information required, the number of people who click “Donate” will drop dramatically. We live in a one-click society, so creating a process that works for a fast-paced lifestyle is key.

As an individual you might already be donating to organizations you support through social media or directly via their website. And there’s even more that businesses can do to help raise money for the foundations they care about. Every company is always looking for ways to increase involvement with community programs as well as national and international foundations. Any company that has an eCommerce aspect to their business model is able to implement small donation requests whenever a purchase is made. You know how the grocery store sometimes ask if you’ll donate $1 to hungry kids at checkout? This same tactic can be used when making a purchase online. Before clicking the “Buy” or “Order” button, ask the customer if they’d like to donate $1 to a selected charity. While many people might be thinking that this strategy is aggressive and potentially annoying to customers, it turns out that more than half of consumers like when they are asked for a small donation at checkout. Even those who don’t like being asked will often donate because they feel guilty about not giving while they’re spending money on themselves (and most likely on something that isn’t a vital necessity).

Imagine every Airbnb host donated 1% of their profits to a charity of their choosing. That 1% would add up quickly and could make some serious impacts on the charities involved. Companies that use the sharing economy as their business model can encourage the service provider to donate a portion of their proceeds to their selected charity. For example, GigSesh is a site that connects career experts with individuals seeking career advice and networking opportunities. When experts sign up, they can pick a charity and the percentage of their proceeds they wish to donate. It’s easier to give back and donate than ever before, so get creative about how social media and eCommerce transactions can be used to collect small donations and make a large impact.

Social giving is here to stay and proving to be quite successful for companies looking for ways to engage with donors online. From spreading awareness through social media campaigns to adding donation options for online transactions, there are many ways to increase digital fundraising efforts. 12% of all giving happens in the last 3 days of the year, so don’t miss the chance to engage with generous donors! Create a plan and execute using new media platforms and find a way to reach people’s emotions so the hashtag “slacktivists” will become money donating activists.