Social Fundraising: 4 Ideas for the Digital Age
While the concept of gathering funds for charitable causes dates back centuries, modern fundraising practices have radically changed with the rise of the internet, and they continue to constantly evolve as new tools and trends arise.
If you are a nonprofit professional, you likely dedicate much of your time to fundraising — and to finding the best new ways to do so. In the age of the internet and all things digital, technological fundraising solutions can become your best friend. However, you don’t want to completely remove the personal aspect of nonprofit fundraising.
Finding the perfect cross between personal and technical is key to creating an optimized fundraising campaign. For example, social fundraising is a great way to leverage your current donor network while working to grow by using digital tools to keep a focus on individual supporters.
What Is Social Fundraising?
Social fundraising, also known as peer-to-peer fundraising, is a method of fundraising in which supporters of your nonprofit take on a more active role in the organization by becoming fundraisers themselves.
These supporters-turned-fundraisers, armed with their own fundraising pages, take to social media and other forms of outreach to engage their families and friends and solicit donations for your organization.
In order for this fundraising method to be effective, you’ll need both an intriguing campaign and a group of dedicated supporters. Here are four key digital tools to develop strong foundations for each part of your social fundraising strategy:
- Social media strategy
- Advertising efforts
- Email outreach
- Optimized website
Ready to get started? Let’s jump in!
1. Social Media Strategy
Social media is one of the greatest tools to use as a nonprofit organization, in part because it’s free to use. Although there are options for paid social media placements, you can maximize the impact of your organization’s profiles on sites like Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram free of charge.
Most importantly, these platforms are what make social fundraising campaigns possible! When it comes to running a social fundraiser, there are two key sides of social media to take advantage of. These are:
- Your organization’s social networks. Use your own social media profiles to attract and interact with new supporters, and keep your followers updated with real-time posts. Social media updates are a great way to interact with your younger audiences. Challenge your supporters to take part in your peer-to-peer campaign by becoming fundraisers!
- Your supporters’ social networks. Your supporters are key to your social fundraiser. When the request for support comes from a loved one, the likelihood of a donation is much greater. This power of “social proof” is what makes social fundraising such an effective strategy for modern nonprofits. Encourage your fundraisers to discover the power of their own social media platforms when they ask family and friends to join the cause.
All you need is a good social media marketing plan to get started! Implementing a strategy goes a long way to ensure cohesiveness and efficiency across multiple platforms, and an overall success for your nonprofit.
Make sure to have a well-designed donation page ready to accept an increase in traffic and transactions once you kick off your social media strategies.
2. Advertising Efforts
Digital advertisements are a great way to increase awareness surrounding your nonprofit and its fundraising campaigns. While the majority of advertisements are paid engagements, there are opportunities for free advertising specifically for nonprofit organizations.
These two types of ads that have proven effective for nonprofits:
- Search ads: This type of advertising allows you to promote your web page on search engines like Google and Bing. These ads increase impressions and drive traffic to your page. Best of all, Google Ad Grants offers up to $10,000 in in-kind advertising to eligible nonprofits via search ads! Check out this comprehensive guide on Google grant management from DNL Omnimedia.
- Video marketing: Publishing video clips, campaign explainers and viral challenges to digital media channels like YouTube, Hulu and social media platforms provides an opportunity to draw attention to your organization. A good video advertisement can be extremely effective at creating an emotional connection between your nonprofit and your new supporters.
Strategically placed ads and digital content boost exposure among a wide-reaching audience and inform the masses about your cause. Regardless of the advertising platforms you decide on, this type of marketing can be an excellent method of gaining new supporters.
Video marketing, viral challenges and ads on social media are all great ways to significantly boost the visibility of your campaign — which is essential for effective social fundraising
3. Email Outreach
Email marketing is crucial to a successful fundraising campaign because it provides a more personal touch than traditional mass communication strategies. For example, email allows you to:
- Expand your network: When gathering leads, an individual’s email address is one of the most important elements to capture. You may compile email addresses of interested individuals from online lead capture forms, in-person at events or through referral programs. Email leads are one of the most effective ways to find new supporters and expand your donor network.
- Inform and educate: It is vital that not every correspondence between your organization and its supporters is a request for donations. Be sure to send a welcome message to new supporters, periodic updates on current campaigns or projects and basic background information on your organization and what you stand for. Use a series of comprehensive emails to help train your core team of volunteer fundraisers before kicking off your social fundraising campaign!
- Solicit donations: A key aspect of fundraising is the solicitation of funds, although this part can feel intimidating and awkward. Email is a great channel for soliciting donations because a carefully crafted email targeted to a specific segment of your donor base feels more personal than a broad call for donors.
- Thank your supporters: Email is an excellent way to show appreciation to your constituents, especially those who have become fundraisers themselves. You can offer encouragement and suggestions to supporters that are currently involved in a peer-to-peer campaign.
Collecting email addresses during a social fundraising campaign is crucial to the long-term impact on your organization overall. Since those campaigns reach large new audiences and can secure a ton of new small-scale donors, you’ll need to make sure you have a way of getting back in touch with them later!
If you want to add an old-school twist to your email outreach strategy, studies show that combining direct mail with email efforts increases conversion rates by up to 20%. This way you can play to the strengths of each medium!
4. Optimized Website
Your website is arguably the most important aspect of any digital campaign. Your advertisements, emails and social media posts should all ultimately direct your audience to your website for further engagement.
As far as fundraising goes (and social fundraising in particular), there are three key locations to optimize on your site:
- Involvement page: You should have a page dedicated to the various ways that individuals can get involved with your organization, such as making a donation, sign up to volunteer or become a peer fundraiser. At the conclusion of each section, make sure there is a clear call-to-action informing the user of their next steps.
- The main donation page: Crafting a donation page that is easy to use from the donor’s standpoint is crucial to seeing incoming donations. Take advantage of best practices like specificity, attention-grabbing images and recommended donation amounts.
- Individual fundraising pages: In a peer-to-peer or social campaign, each fundraiser should have their own fundraising page to share with their family and friends. These pages should be easily customizable so that fundraisers are encouraged to include a personal story or a reason why the campaign is so important.
Having an optimized website is crucial to the success of a social fundraiser because it streamlines the giving process and leads to increased levels of donation follow-through. For instance, a family member can give to their loved one’s campaign in seconds, even from thousands of miles away!
Be sure to record and analyze data from your advertisements, emails, social media posts and web pages to help further your targeted communication strategy. Your organization’s overall digital strategy builds the foundation for a successful social fundraising campaign. Click here to learn more about establishing your digital strategy with this step-by-step guide.
If you’re not sure where to start, check out these unique, relevant and successful online fundraising campaigns from Donately for inspiration. Before you know it, you’ll have your own trending campaign. Good luck!
Andrew is the head of marketing and customer success for Donately. After getting involved with nonprofits at a young age, he discovered a passion for helping the organizations that are making the world a better place. Knowing how vital online fundraising has become, his goal is to help nonprofits raise more money online each year! In his spare time, you will find him cooking up dinner, playing with his dog or cheering on Boston sports teams.