How to Raise Money for Your Unsexy, but Important Cause Through Social Media
It's beneficial for fundraisers to elicit emotion and dollars from donors when they can put a cute face on their causes. Animal-welfare organizations have the luxury of displaying cute kittens, puppies and other animals, while child-welfare nonprofits can showcase the faces of needy children. Those images really tug at the hearstrings (and the purse strings). But how can you raise money for your cause when it doesn't translate easily to cute, emotional imagery?
According to Susan Gordon, director of nonprofit services at Facebook fundraising platform Causes, the secret is building a community through social media. During her session at the 2011 Nonprofit Technology Conference in Washington, D.C., "Community Is Better Than Cute Cats: Raising Money for Your Unsexy, but Important, Cause," Gordon shared how organizations can utilize the power of social media to raise awareness and money for their causes, no matter what their missions may be.
"A lot of nonprofits that have topics that are out there think they can't fundraise in social media, but that's not true," Gordon said. "The one thing we're really seeing with successful organizations is they're investing in their community. A lot of people approach fundraising on social media the way they approach it in direct marketing, and it's not working too well. It has to be about community."
She gave the example of the Japanese Cultural and Community Center of Northern California (JCCCNC). JCCCNC is a small nonprofit in San Francisco devoted to meeting the evolving needs of the Japanese-American community. When the earthquake and tsunami hit in Japan last month, JCCCNC wanted to help, so it created a Causes page on Facebook. What the people at Causes found was that while the American Red Cross was bringing in the most traffic and money on Causes, e-mails kept pouring in from JCCCNC.
Upon further investigation, Causes found that JCCCNC has a small e-mail list of dedicated donors and incredibly strong communications. So JCCCNC sent its Cause to its e-mail list and it grew from there. People on its file knew what JCCCNC was and felt so comfortable with the organization that they shared the Cause a bunch of times on Facebook. As a result, JCCCNC had raised more than $150,000 on Causes as of March 18 (nearly $242,000 as of April 1) — nearly half of what the American Red Cross had raised on Causes at the time — with just 11 employees.