9 Tips to Maximize Your Fundraising With Social Media

Online fundraising is growing fast, even in the nonprofit world. In 2016, Blackbaud found that 7.2% of total nonprofit fundraising came from online giving. Small and large organizations alike are investing in ways to allow their donors to give online.

People are also taking their phones out and making donations, literally. In 2016, 17% of online transactions were made using a mobile device. This shouldn’t come as a surprise since one in ten American adults are “smartphone-only” internet users according to the Pew Research Center — meaning they own a smartphone but do not have traditional home broadband service.

So how does social media play a role in online giving? This year alone, 92% of NGO’s use Facebook and 34% actually pay for social advertisements. Social media is a pathway to find new donors and a place to stay engaged with existing ones. Below are nine tips for nonprofits who are just getting started or are looking to optimize their social media strategy to boost giving.

First, identify which social platforms your donors or supporters are most likely to be on. Stick to the ones that have the largest amount of growing users. Don’t invest in any platform unless you’re sure your donors are using them. Snapchat growth recently slowed 82% according to TechCrunch, so unless your target audience includes Gen Z and Millennials, don’t bother with Snapchat. 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.

For each platform, establish your fundraising strategy and set goals. Incorporate these goals into your entire social media strategy. If you choose more platforms than the top three, create fundraising specific goals for each and how they will support each other. If you don’t have a social media strategy yet, get TechSoup’s social media starter kit here.

Ask These Questions to Start:

  1. What are your donation goals?
  2. How will people give online?
  3. Why should people donate?
  4. How will you deliver your message?
  5. How often will you post?
  6. How will you engage and maintain relationships?
  7. Who will manage the channels?
  8. Will you use paid advertisements?
  9. How will you track your progress?

Don’t just pitch. Tell your story and update your donors.

People want to hear about how you make an impact, learn something new about your social mission, and feel like a part of your cause. This is what will motivate people to follow you and give.

This Is Storytelling:

charity: water uses storytelling to update their donors.
And charity: water makes you feel a part of their impact.
World Bicycle Relief uses storytelling to show their impact.
And World Bicycle Relief updates their donors on their progress towards their fundraising goal.

Create campaigns to increase fundraising around a specific topic or cause.

Here’s How to Create a Social Fundraising Campaign:

  1. Brainstorm: Sit down with your team to come up with ideas for campaigns and determine how long they will run.
  2. Hashtag: Choose a hashtag that you will use in every social post promoting the campaign.
  3. Content: Create content on your blog and think of other social content that you will support on social during the campaign.
  4. Landing Page: Decide if you want to create a landing page to house your campaign content. TechSoup uses Unbounce to create landing pages.
  5. Call To Action: Think of what actions you want people to take and include this in all the blogs and postings.
  6. Track: Use a platform to track your hashtag and social postings throughout the campaign. Remember to track the hashtag from the beginning of the campaign — it is hard to track after the fact. Keyhole or Hootsuite are good tools for this.

At TechSoup, for example, we just finished our 20 Days of Adobe campaign where we featured 20 tips for using Adobe Creative Cloud to promote our Adobe products. We made heavy use of Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to promote our campaign and provide additional tips to complement our 20 Days of Adobe content.

At TechSoup, we used the hashtag #makeitawesome throughout the campaign.

Use social media to find your real advocates. Once you develop a base of supporters on social media, let them know you care: Engage with them and don’t miss a chance to respond. You don’t just want your followers to be “slacktivists.” Use tools to better understand your followers and how often they are engaging. Commun.it is free and paid tool that will show you who is your engaged followers, supporters and influencers. Turn your engaged followers into your supporters and grow your influencers to be your biggest promoters.

Once you have built relationships and trust on social, it’s time to activate those supporters. You can activate your supporters in any of these three ways:

Create a member hashtag campaign: If your nonprofit has membership, encourage new members to tweet about your organization in your member on-boarding emails. If they donate to your cause, you can also include a tweet in the followup email. Use a free tool to generate the tweet link and remember to include a hashtag.

Tweet by one of TechSoup’s members after they made a purchase

Create a brand ambassador program: Harness your top supporters and influencers through a brand ambassador program that incentives them to advocate on your own behalf. This program must be mutually beneficial, so figure out how you can give your supporters something in return. We recently started such a program at TechSoup.

TechSoup’s recently launched their ambassador program

Create a fundraising tab on Facebook: Have your advocates fundraise for you using Facebook’s fundraising features.

World Bicycle Relief has multiple fundraising for their cause on Facbeook.

Create content that makes people want to STOP, not scroll.

Always use images or videos in your postings. (Bonus points if you include sloths!)

92 percent of NGOs are on Facebook, so you need to stand out. Be creative with your content and find ways to break-through the noise.

The Story of Stuff Project, a nonprofit that focuses on reducing a consumption-crazed culture, became known for their animated educational videos.

The ASPCA, American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, finds ways to stay relevant and very clever. Figure out what makes your organization unique and embrace it.

Consider selling products online that promote your cause and advertise them on social media. In fact, it’s never been easier to sell your goods online. Sites like Shopify let you build beautiful e-commerce sites, and they even offer a nonprofit discount through TechSoup. Once you add e-commerce to your fundraising, promote your store items directly within your Facebook page. Buildon, a nonprofit that offers service learning programs in the nation’s toughest high schools and builds schools in some of the world’s poorest countries, uses an online store as part of its fundraising efforts.

Buildon’s products for sale on their e-commerce site.
TechSoup uses the shop tab on Facebook to promote Boost their subscription service.

TechSoup has more tips on how to get started with e-commerce.

I hope you find these tips helpful for getting started with your nonprofit. Let me know in the comments if you have any tips.


Ctrl Shift is a project of TechSoup, a nonprofit that works to provide other 501(c)(3) nonprofits with the tech, resources, and training they need to carry out their missions. Learn more…

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