Before the rise of the Internet, fundraising often used to mean going door-to-door, organizing mailing lists, and the occasional bake sale. While those tactics remain tried-and-true, many fundraising organizations are now leveraging the power of the internet to put their fundraising efforts on a global scale — and harness the power of thousands worldwide instead of just a few people in their neighborhood.
Social media sites like Twitter and Facebook have become centers for building online communities and encouraging donations to worthy causes. The question is, can social media help you develop your brand and reach out to donors? And how do you get started with social media?
Social Relationship Building
Fundraisers are a vital component of any non-profit organization, and organizing them takes time and resources. Non-profits need to communicate their needs out potential donors, which in itself is a full-time job for many. Spreading information about a non-profits cause requires strong communications skills, a clear message, and the ability to build relationships and communities.
Building these relationships requires a variety of tools, and social media is just another weapon in a non-profit’s arsenal. Social media can be used to leverage volunteers and enthusiasts to disseminate information, build enthusiasm, and get people interested — and invested — in a non-profit’s cause. Platforms like blogs, message boards, videos, social games, and podcasts can all be used to get the word out and raise awareness.
Social media tends to differ from more traditional techniques in that it’s easier to create a dialogue and create conversations. With social media, the message doesn’t just travel in one direction. It can spread outward as word of mouth spreads and people who are invested work on your behalf — not because they’re paid to or obligated, but because they’re genuinely enthusiastic.
Social Media Campaigns and Engagements
Running a successful social media campaign starts with a website. Having a mailing list, a Facebook page, and a Twitter account are a good start, but that’s only a first step. The key to succeeding with social media is talking to people, not trying to sell to them or lecture at them. Platforms like Twitter work best for small conversations, asking and answering questions, and providing links back to your website, videos, and / or blog.
The Web also features a variety of dedicated fundraising tools, designed to make donating and raising awareness easy. Sites like Razoo, GlobalGiving, or ChangingThePresent can help non-profits raise and collect money for their cause.
But these tools are only as good as the person behind them. Good fundraising is about building relationships, fostering trust, and getting people invested in the work you’re doing. While most social media tools are free to use, they still require time and effort — for example, getting a Twitter account and using it once or twice a week will just mean your message gets lost in the deluge of information that flows through Twitter daily.
To truly gain any momentum with social media, it’s necessary to engage on a daily basis, being communicative and enthusiastic without seeming “spammy” or pushy. It’s a fine balancing act that takes time to perfect. The guiding principle to keep in mind is that it’s called “social” media for a reason. Users on Facebook or Twitter aren’t interested in a sales pitch or a lecture. They want content they can engage with and share, and people they can talk to instead of anonymous figureheads to whom they can’t relate.
The good news is, unlike fundraising or development, social media doesn’t have to be a full-time job. It can be done in bits and pieces throughout the day, and while a certain level of time investment is involved, it’s usually only a few minutes at a time. With just the right touch, social media can overcome the geographical limitations of fundraising and bring your message to the whole world.
Author: Thank you to Jenny Ann Beswick for this article. Jenny has a passion or social media and fundraising jobs. Let us know if you have any tips related to social media and fundraising events!