Deepen Donor Relationships Through Facebook Live
COVID-19 has presented unprecedented challenges to the nonprofit sector with no playbook to follow. Most organizations have had to make difficult decisions about how to modify their fundraising practices or whether to fundraise at all during the pandemic. Many are concerned that they will appear insensitive or tone-deaf by attempting to raise money while their donors are consumed with the tragedy, fear and economic uncertainty brought on by the novel coronavirus.
During difficult times, people often turn to their strongest relationships for comfort and a sense of community. Article 1 of NextAfter’s “The Fundraiser’s Creed” states that, “People don’t give to organizations or from websites: People give to people.” These challenging days will reveal whether your donors view your organization as a “brand” or as a personal connection, which is fundamental to their identity.
How they perceive your nonprofit will greatly impact your ability to raise funds during the crisis. Fortunately, Facebook Live allows organizations to scale individual outreach, which can help “humanize” your nonprofit and increase your donors’ willingness to support it during the pandemic. Here are a few examples of how you can be there for your donors by going live:
1. The Shared Experience
It’s as simple as it sounds: Turn the camera on, and reinforce the message that you are in this together with your donors. This is a time when it’s OK to let your guard down and get personal. (It will be to your organization’s benefit later on.)
Talk about how COVID-19 has impacted your organization, your mission and your employees. Discuss what it’s been like balancing working from home while your kids have to learn remotely, and converse about the challenges of social distancing, self-isolation and what you’re feeling. Most importantly, ask livestream viewers about their experiences, what they’re feeling and make sure to end on an uplifting note about the future of your work while expressing gratitude for your donors’ support.
This livestream has nothing and everything to do with fundraising at the same time. You ARE NOT asking for financial support, but will be building a human bond over a difficult and universal shared experience, which will change the way your donor processes your next ask when it arrives.
Let’s face it: Part of the quarantine experience is searching for entertainment, and many of those searches are happening on social media feeds. Your organization can be part of the solution by providing valuable and interactive livestreams to your donors and supporters. At least on a weekly basis, have one of your team members go live to discuss interesting stories about your organization’s history, your work on the ground or those who you’ve helped.
Part of this experience should include taking questions from supporters (either live or submitted beforehand). An amazing case study for this is the Cincinnati Zoo, which has been posting daily “Home Safari” livestreams with their zookeepers answering live questions. Don’t be deterred if you don’t have access to an empty zoo or museum; the stories, information and healthy distractions you are providing is what will be valued by your donors (even more so if they can be used as a supplement for distance learning).
Regardless of what your organization’s mission is, you’ve likely built up countless stories of people you’ve helped. This is the perfect time to tell those stories by interviewing beneficiaries via Zoom or another video platform. Those interviews can then be uploaded to Facebook where donors will be notified of your “premier” the same way they are when you go live.
This is a great way to provide valuable content to your donors and supporters, while gently reminding them of how impactful your work is. Organizations can also create a unique donor-centric experience by having your president or other organizational leaders take questions from donors virtually, essentially creating a call-in show for your nonprofit. While sharing recorded videos gives you more content flexibility, it’s still important to monitor and respond to the comments that those videos generate. All videos (and all social media content) should be perceived as a two-way discussion, which gives followers unique and valuable access to your organization.
While COVID-19 is an unprecedented challenge for nonprofits, it’s also an unprecedented opportunity to test creative ways to bond with donors. Television viewers have now become accustomed to seeing network quality news and entertainment programs produced in hosts’ homes with less than ideal sound, lighting and video quality. This isn’t a moment to hold back over concerns about branding or production quality; nonprofits have been handed a creative blank check to be bold, and they should take advantage of it. If senior staff is uncomfortable being on video, organizations should give digital natives, who are more likely to be familiar with influencer culture, the flexibility to experiment. Their passion and authenticity could prove to be the perfect vehicle for deepening your relationship with donors who are also social media savvy.
Of course, there are countless ways to engage your donors and supporters with video content on Facebook and other social media platforms. Regardless of which style you choose, the goals should be the same: providing your donors with value, reminding them about the importance of your work and building a sense of community. At this moment in time, providing community and togetherness for our donors might be the most valuable benefit your organization can deliver. It’s also something they’ll remember and reward you for long after the pandemic passes.
Dan Sonners is director of nonprofit marketing and an assistant vice president at Conrad Direct, a leading independent list brokerage firm. He also hosts the Dynamic Nonprofits podcast.