Maximize Your Social Fundraising This Giving Season
With more than $6 billion having been raised through Facebook and Instagram fundraisers now, social fundraising has cemented itself as a key strategy for increasing nonprofits’ revenue streams. With the giving season upon us, many nonprofits are looking for ways to maximize their social fundraising channels, and one way, of course, is through paid media. The problem with this approach, however, is that the average person typically needs to see an ad 10 times or more before taking a desired action. So if you haven’t started a paid social campaign by now, that’s probably something to keep in mind for next year.
On the other hand, organic social campaigns highlighting year-end fundraising endeavors can be effective right out of the gate and help drive outsized revenues even if deployed relatively late in the game. With that in mind, how can nonprofits best leverage social networks’ vast power this giving season?
1. Personalize and Contextualize
The giving season is always busy and crowded, as nonprofits are competing for the attention of both new and existing donors. Most donations made on social media come from net new donors, validating the channel’s utility for expanding donor pools. However, most nonprofits view the second gift as the most important gift to close, because the retention rate of donors after a second gift is almost triple that of first-time donors.
One reason the retention rate for first-time donors is so low is that many do not receive the prompt and personalized acknowledgement that would spur future giving. Personalization is important because it keeps donors coming back, with research showing that first-time donors who receive a personal thank-you within 48 hours are four times more likely to give again. The good news is there are technologies like conversational messaging that enable nonprofits to personalize relationships and connect one-on-one with existing donors at scale, converting those would-be one-time donors into repeat givers.
Contextualizing is also important. For example, a nonprofit would not want to ask a social media donor for another gift if that donor just created a birthday fundraiser last week. In addition to thanking donors personally, nonprofits should tell them all of the great initiatives their gift will support. By connecting with donors where they are, a nonprofit can foster a sense of familiarity and continuity that is conducive to ongoing giving. In short, nonprofits who personalize and contextualize with existing donors will be more successful at crossing the chasm between one-and-done, and repeat gifts, thus future-proofing their organizations.
2. Maintain Focus on Community-Building
In the old days, nonprofits focused on a few high-net-worth individuals who they were depending on to write big checks. Social fundraising flips this tactic on its head, as nonprofits are now engaging with a much larger pool of smaller potential and existing donors. In fact, increasingly, nonprofits are seeing there’s much to be gained from so-called micro-donations, with enterprises raising millions for charity through initiatives as simple as round-up options at customer checkout.
As noted previously, personalization of the donor experience plays a big role in driving that all-important second gift. But personalization is also a cornerstone of community building, which remains important because the more people see their peers supporting a cause, the more likely they are to participate and donate themselves.
Besides the fact that communities are built one conversation at a time, personalization targeting ambassadors — or those initiating and organizing challenges — is vital. It can be intimidating to ask one’s friends and acquaintances to give money and put their faith in a mission they may have never heard of before. Therefore, nonprofits must connect with ambassadors and make them feel valued, which will drive them to share.
Also, community management via engagement in forums, like Instagram comments and Facebook Groups, is important but can be time-consuming. However, when group members feel there’s a real person at the other end, they become more invested in the cause and often more inclined to give.
3. Experiment With Content
As the giving season inches closer, many nonprofits are reluctant to take chances or try new things. When it comes to social fundraising (specifically organic content), that is flawed thinking. One of the best aspects of social media is that nonprofits can afford to experiment and fail in a way that is small, fast and cheap. If something doesn’t work, a nonprofit can quickly pivot and try something different.
Another great thing about social media is that usually a light lift is all that’s required to generate compelling organic content. Simplicity reigns on social media, and anything overproduced tends not to work. Nonprofit executives focusing on giving season initiatives should collaborate closely with their organizations’ broader social media teams to get clued into their upcoming content plans for year-end, weaving in compelling fundraising asks where appropriate.
Or maybe don’t do an ask at all, and instead experiment with content like kindness bingo and kindness challenges to build awareness for a mission. Even use humor if and when appropriate. In fact, it can be beneficial to balance out some serious posts with something lighthearted or funny. Also, don’t forget to create content that is meme-worthy or captures cultural moments in time.
Try out the numerous tactics available (reels and stories, for example, with the fundraiser attached) and see what gets the most engagement. The bottom line is a nonprofit will need to commit to experimentation and fully unleash its collective creativity. If something doesn’t work, nothing is gained or lost - it’s just time to try again.
Ideally, the giving season is the culmination of a year-long effort aimed at cultivating and retaining donors through multiple practices (paid and non-paid) and channels, including social. Even if a nonprofit is just starting from scratch, social fundraising — particularly an organic social strategy — provides an abundance of low-risk, low-investment opportunities to connect, especially with the goal of securing the second gift.
It’s important to remember that personalization at scale, contextualization and a high degree of creativity along with community-building can help a nonprofit derive outsized revenues from social channels this giving season.
Related story: Top Tips for Bringing Gamification to Social Fundraising
Jeremy Berman is the co-founder and president of GoodUnited, a conversational messaging solution building relationships between nonprofits and their donors. Prior to founding GoodUnited, Jeremy was a product manager at IBM, responsible for leading the go-to-market strategy for the Apple-IBM partnership.