Depending on your nonprofit’s marketing strategy, social media may play a large role in your fundraising techniques. The increasingly digital nature of ads and marketing will make social media more prevalent in the future. But, as marketing becomes more social, it’s increasingly important to stay up-to-date on social media best practices and strategies that work.
It isn’t always easy to market through social media. But, whether you’re sharing a better donation page or high-quality content related to your mission, there are a number of techniques you can try to make your social media strategy more effective.
Through a mix of quality content and data smarts (among other things), your social media strategy can be effectively streamlined to maximize the impact of your fundraising campaigns.
There are a few best practices you can observe that will boost your fundraising efforts now and, hopefully, for years to come. As you’re using social media, remember to:
- Diversify your content.
- Know your target audience.
- Switch up your fundraising techniques.
- Be smart about your donor data.
You’ll find that all of these tips are helpful in their own way. Let’s start turning your social media strategy into a well-oiled machine that can take your development efforts to the next level!
1. Diversify your content
Having a variety of content on your social media platforms is essential to improving your fundraising across the board.
If you need to diversify your collection of content over social media, there are a few pointers to keep in mind. It’s a good idea, for instance, to:
- Share great photos. Photos are highly shareable content across all social media platforms. No matter the size or scope of your organization, you should be able to find content relevant to your work that would fit well into a photo. For example, you could take a page from the animal shelter fundraising playbook and use shareable pictures that inspire and excite your donors.
- Include an ask to donors. In any content you’re promoting on your social media platforms, you should fit an ask for donations into either the promotion of the content or the content itself. This functions as an important call to action for potential donors whose support will help you across all of your general fundraising efforts. Even if it’s a smaller ask — say, for $5 or $10 — you will find that including these small asks will make your content more effective fundraising tools over time.
- Share inspiring stories. Beyond pictures, take time to find stories that align with your organization’s cause and purpose. When combined with compelling pictures, these posts can become very popular over social media platforms, especially if they’re particularly emotional, inspiring, or heart-warming. If you’ve included an ask and a link to your donation page at the end of your story, you’re getting a significant amount of free promotion from your donors as they share your post. You’re also providing them with a reminder about why they support your cause in the first place.
By diversifying your content on your social media platforms by using different types of media, you can give your donors more opportunities to share and connect with your content. That often results in tangible benefits for your fundraising campaign! Try out these ideas to spice up your content for all of your fundraising programs and campaigns.
2. Know your target audience
Focusing on the audience you want to target is a well-known technique among nonprofit advertisers for improving your social media fundraising tactics.
If you segment your target audience into specific, identifiable categories, you’ll find that your organization can focus its social media strategy for development more efficiently.
While understanding your target audience for social media might seem difficult if you’ve never devoted much time to marketing strategy, there are a few techniques you can try to improve your chances. For example, focus on:
- Understanding your mission. No matter the nonprofit behind it, any fundraising effort can benefit from refocusing its social media efforts on its cause. Take the time to flesh out how your nonprofit’s vision and purpose will affect what donors you want to obtain and retain. Not only will it become more effective for your social media marketing, but it will also improve your fundraising strategies and efforts in general. Once you have a grasp on the messaging you want to communicate to your various segments, you can tailor that message to each group in a way that will be especially appealing to them.
- Refining your research process. Examine your donor base and their demographics. Are there more donors out there that could join your current donor base in following your mission? It might be time to seek out more donors. In this regard, Donorly’s donor research guide can be a great resource for changing up your donor research methods, allowing you to make better decisions in the social media realm. Understanding your target audience will help you promote your posts to the audiences you’re hoping to engage based on demographics like age, location, and interests. If you analyze your existing database and notice that women between the ages of 45 and 60 are especially engaged with your organization, you can target your messaging specifically to people who meet that criteria.
- Tailoring your message. Use your donor research to find the right way to communicate your organization’s mission. This can be more difficult than you might think, as social media platforms can require specific forms of editing and streamlining in order to fit their audience’s standards. Not to mention that different demographics tend to use different social media platforms. Instagram’s base is different than Facebook’s. Look at factors like engagement and impressions to identify which posts on which social channel are most effective, then experiment with posting on other channels to reach different groups of people.
Familiarity with your audience is one of the most important elements in any fundraising campaign, but it’s especially important when you’re looking to promote your campaigns in the social media realm. Knowing who you want to talk to, where they spend their time online, and how they prefer to read about your work is an important part of getting attention from your ideal donors.
3. Switch up your fundraising techniques
Although some social media platforms seem only to accommodate uniform types of content, there’s plenty of room to experiment with different types of fundraising on your social media channels. Varying the fundraising techniques you promote to your social media followers keeps your content interesting and appeals to a broad audience. A donor may choose not to donate on a standard donation form, but they might be willing to try donating another way. You’ll never know until you try
No matter the social media platform you’re using, there a number of great fundraising strategies that can complement the content you share on your social channels and inspire donors to get involved.
The next time you need to boost engagement with your posts and attract new donors, try using one of these fundraising techniques:
- Try peer-to-peer fundraising. Peer-to-peer fundraising is one fundraising method that’s particularly well-suited to social media fundraising. If you’re not familiar with peer-to-peer fundraising, it’s a form of fundraising that involves individual donors who set up personalized fundraising pages that they share with their friends and family. Since peer-to-peer fundraising relies heavily upon individuals’ social networks, encouraging your donors to participate in peer-to-peer fundraising events is a great way to find new donors that you may not have engaged otherwise. Encourage your participants to share their stories and fundraising progress on their social channels, and make sure to spotlight your event and your participants’ posts on your own pages. You’ll reach a wider audience than you could on your own, and it’s a great way to share high-quality content from people who love your work.
- Combine fundraising efforts with quality content. Any fundraising technique you use should be accompanied by great content. Your content and your fundraising should work together, not against one another! There should be a balance between fundraising asks, great photos, inspiring stories, informational videos, and other content. Avoid the temptation of making an ask each and every time you post; doing so can drive away potential donors. Instead, make an ask every few posts. The rest of your posts should be dedicated to sharing the impact your donors make by supporting you.
- Use other kinds of crowdfunding campaigns. Let’s say you want to increase the number of small to medium-sized online donations during a particular campaign, or you have an urgent need to raise money for a pressing need. These are both great reasons to combine social media with crowdfunding. “Crowdfunding,” in its simplest form, is rallying online supporters to raise money for a particular cause or project. It’s become increasingly popular for people who want to fund everything from vacations to heart surgery, and it’s become an effective fundraising tool for nonprofits as well. Since so much of a crowdfunding campaign’s success relies on building momentum and visibility on social media, it’s a great fundraising tool to explore if you have an active, engaged audience. Encourage people to share your crowdfunding campaign with their own networks to increase your reach and improve the likelihood of recruiting new donors.
Whether you’re promoting your crowdfunding campaign on Instagram or pushing your peer-to-peer fundraising through Facebook, you’ll find that varying the types of fundraising activities you share on social media keeps your audiences engaged and interested. That kind of exciting content also makes your audiences more likely to share your fundraising campaigns with their own friends and family.
4. Be smart about your donor data
It’s well known that social media websites actively collect data about their users. The bigger question you’ll have to answer is how your organization can use similar engagement data to your advantage while maintaining your own high standards and your donors’ trust in your organization.
Here are a few ideas you test use in order to use your collected data effectively without violating your donors’ privacy.
Analyzing your donors’ data can make your posts more effective. Try to:
- Analyze your data and social media management carefully. Use your CRM, software integrations, and social media platforms’ internal tools to measure engagement data and metrics including likes, reposts, click-through rates, and donations originating from social media posts. This is a valuable way to use data that’s readily available to everyone. It’s important to analyze any information you receive to make your campaigns more effective, but it’s also important to make sure you use that data responsibly.
- Explore matching gifts. Donors are often inspired to give when they know that their gift can make twice the impact due to matching gift opportunities. In some cases, a tool like 360 MatchPro’s matching gift research services can serve as a helpful tool for identifying and sharing information about matching gifts. For example, during Giving Tuesday, social media platforms often participate in gift matching that can be highly beneficial for your organization, especially if you’re also designing your social media strategy to target donors with matching gift opportunities.
Smarter data practices should both inform your social media techniques and influence how your refine them going forward. What strategies generated a lot of engagement? Which didn’t? Plan ahead to track key metrics when you’re designing your social media strategy in order to run a smart and effective fundraising campaign.
With the right research and planning, a social media strategy can play a large role in your fundraising efforts. Even if you want social media platforms to play only a small role in your overall fundraising strategies, social media provides plenty of opportunities to find, inspire, and engage new and existing donors.
Abby Jarvis is a blogger, marketer, and communications coordinator for Qgiv, an online fundraising service provider. Qgiv offers industry-leading online giving and peer to peer fundraising tools for nonprofit, faith-based, and political organizations of all sizes. When she’s not working at Qgiv, Abby can usually be found writing for local magazines, catching up on her favorite blogs, or binge-watching sci-fi shows on Netflix.