Wondering how to engage your supporters?
You don’t need us to tell you that donors are what keep the lights on at your organization! That’s why one of the biggest pain points in the nonprofit world is dealing with lapsed donors. Constantly replacing churned donors with new ones isn’t a sustainable strategy. Instead, you should be focusing on the best way to maintain and organically grow your donor base: retention.
Donor retention involves building strong relationships with your existing donors. Then they’ll want to keep donating and spreading the word about your organization. The only way to bolster your retention rate is to connect with your donors at a deeper level.
They should be hearing from you on a regular basis, and not just through the email newsletter or other marketing communications. Social media can play an integral role in keeping your mission on supporters’ minds at the day-to-day level, making you an engaging part of their lives. You don’t want to be just a periodic appeal that pops up a couple of times a year.
If you don’t know how to communicate on social media outside of liking cat videos, you’re not alone. Here are some tips for using social media to enrich your donors’ experience, boost retention, and make your organization stand out from the crowd.
1. Engage your supporters on the same sites they use
One of the beautiful things about the digital era is that there’s a platform or app for everything. However, this blessing can also be a curse for new social media outreach coordinators. The last thing you want to do is spend hours making profiles and developing content for sites that your target audience doesn’t use. So, take some time to plan which platforms you’ll use to reach your donors beforehand.
A surefire way to figure out where your donors post is by asking them directly. Consider sending out a short survey or include a link in your newsletter. Then your donors can tell you where they spend their time online. You can collect this data during campaigns and store it in your fundraising software. You can even ask which content they’d like to see in your posts, such as long-form videos, photos, and infographics.
If you already have organized donor records on hand, great! You can do some research and make initial inferences. Donor demographics, particularly age, can be helpful indicators of the social media platforms that your supporters frequent. For instance, Facebook today attracts an older audience while many Millennials stick to Instagram, Twitter, and TikTok.
You want to know where donors spend their time online (and where you should too).
2. Be active on your social media account
Once your social media profiles are up and running, your real work begins: posting and interacting with your followers. Social media allows you to be a part of your donors’ everyday lives and bring heart to your fundraising. Here are some ways you can bring your social media presence to life:
Encourage followers to interact with your posts
Have you ever wondered how the most successful nonprofit influencers get so many likes, comments, and shares? According to NXUnite, it’s because they treat social media like a two-sided conversation. They prompt their followers to communicate through their posts, such as asking them a question to answer in the comments. This is important because social media algorithms will prioritize showing and spreading content that followers are authentically engaging with. Including a direct call-to-action will predispose them to follow through and boost your engagement!
Pay attention to feedback
Besides fun photos and educational content, social media can open a new channel for questions and comments. Take every opportunity to address questions and remarks from your followers in direct messages and in the comments section. It’s up to you to make sure they have their questions answered as soon as possible.
And don’t just visit your social media apps to make posts! A lot can happen in between your normal posting times. Stay alert to how your supporters are reacting to your content and engage with them whenever possible.
3. Engage your supporters by hosting virtual events and campaigns
There is, indeed, an app for that! The pandemic has proven the usefulness of technology to broaden your event offerings and connect with your supporters. Here are some digital fundraisers that you can host through your social media profiles.
If you’ve dabbled in virtual fundraising, it’s likely that you’ve heard of this method. Text-to-give campaigns are self-explanatory: your donors can send gifts to your organization right from their native texting app. You can easily advertise your campaign by posting your code to your profiles. Then create shareable content that includes your text-to-give number. Your donors won’t even have to put their phones away to participate!
Platform-native fundraising tools
Many social media platforms have adapted to the influx of charitable activity on their sites by developing built-in fundraising tools. Facebook has an integrated fundraising feature that allows your friends to give directly to your campaign through a donation button on your account. It’s easy to encourage your supporters to use this method. But then you lose a lot of control/options that you’d otherwise have over the campaign.
Spread the word about your cause far and wide! Crowdfunding campaigns are meant to reach a large audience. Ask for smaller donations over a short period of time. They’re easy to implement through a crowdfunding platform like GoFundMe. Don’t forget to include different tiers so that more people can participate. To further incentivize a donation, you can offer prizes, like branded merchandise. To maximize control and customization of your campaign, try creating a dedicated campaign donation page on your website. Include a fundraising thermometer, then share it far and wide on social media.
Collaborate with a nonprofit influencer
One of the broad appeals of social media is the ability to collaborate with other users to access their networks. If you have connections in the nonprofit world, especially those with a social media following, leverage them for guest appearances on your profile. You can even host your own panel to discuss your mission and trends in the nonprofit sector by using the platform’s live stream feature.
Host a virtual auction
This timeless fundraising technique has come to social media! Especially in the wake of the pandemic, virtual auctions have gained popularity due to their accessibility and simplicity. According to Snowball, social media can be a valuable platform to host a highly-visible virtual auction. Use your feed to advertise items up for auction. Then link to your auction page in your bio so your donors know exactly where to go.
With social media, the sky’s the limit. You know your donors better than anyone else. So work with your team to brainstorm ideas that your donors would love to participate in. If you have an idea, there’s likely a platform out there that can help you make it happen!
4. Engage your supporters with an invitation to be a part of the story
All nonprofits start with a good story. It’s likely your donors support your organization because they sympathized with your “why” and wanted to help you achieve your mission. Showing your potential donors why people like them decided to give is a great way to convert casual viewers into supporters. Social media provides ample opportunities to do so!
Include loyal donors by inviting them to appear as a guest on your account. This can come in many forms, such as a guest-authored post or an interview with constituents or donors. Be sure to tag your featured supporter so that they can share it with their own network. Soon, you’ll have loyal followers lining up to be a spokesperson for your nonprofit!
To say social media has revolutionized our communication channels is an understatement. Create a social media presence to keep up with your competitors in the space. Showcase your organization’s personality and show a little extra love to your loyal donors. Once you see your donor retention and acquisition numbers increase, you’ll be glad you did!
Guest author: John Killoran
John Killoran is an inventor, entrepreneur, and the Chairman of Clover Leaf Solutions, a national lab services company. He currently leads Clover Leaf’s investment in Snowball Fundraising, an online fundraising platform for nonprofit organizations.
Snowball was one of John’s first public innovations; it’s a fundraising platform that offers text-to-give, online giving, events, and peer-to-peer fundraising tools for nonprofits. By making giving simple, Snowball increases the donations that these organizations can raise online. The Snowball effect is real! John founded Snowball in 2011. Now, it serves over 7,000 nonprofits and is the #1 nonprofit fundraising platform.