9 “Show Me the Money”

How Your Social Media Can Aid Your Fundraising

Can you use social media for fundraising? Yes–as long as you remember that fundraising is a lot more than just the ask.

Build a Relationship Before You Ask

Experienced fundraisers know they are going to spend a lot more time cultivating their donors than asking. Cultivation means getting to know them, helping them get to know you and your organization, telling the donors stories that will be inspiring and meaningful to them, and getting them emotionally and perhaps actually involved in the work you’re doing.

Donors need to know, like, and trust you before they will give to you.  That means building a two-way relationship between the donor and your organization–and social media are wonderful for that.

On social media you can:

  • Find  actual conversations your supporters and their friends are having. Listen in. Discover what matters to them. Enter the conversation when you can add to it.
  • Share information about the causes you both care about–NOT always about your organization.
  • Answer questions. Nothing makes a person feel better about your organization than asking you a question online and seeing your Executive Director answer it.
  • Bring people behind the scenes with photos or video of your staff, interns, or volunteers at work. The “you are there” feeling that video can provide helps them feel like a part of your success.
  • Show your impact. If you’re building houses for the homeless, you can post daily or weekly pictures of the house going up.  If you’re running an after-school program, you can feature stories or poetry the students themselves have written.

The possibilities are endless. The end result should be the same: you make a donor smile and feel proud to be involved with you. That’s how you want them to feel before you ask.

Getting Closer After You Ask

Experienced fundraisers also know that they need to spend a lot of time after the donor gives, on stewardship.  Stewardship is the fancy word for keeping up the relationship and even strengthening it after the donor gives.

Why does this matter? Imagine you’ve been dating someone. They give you their attention and affection, take you out to dinner, give you gifts. They pop the question. You say yes. Then, once you’re married, they ignore you. How long would you stay in that marriage?

Too many nonprofits put all their effort into acquiring donors–the dating part of the process–and skimp on retaining them, the part that’s about keeping love alive. As a result, 70% of first-time donors never give a second gift to that organization.  They feel taken for granted.

We can do better than that! Here’s how you can use social media to make people feel even closer to your organization after they give than before:

  • Thank them. Yes, you still want to send a personal thank-you letter to the donor as soon as possible after each gift. But what if you also thanked them on Facebook, where their friends could see it?
  • Invite them to online events exclusively for donors. They could have a chance to chat with the director of their favorite program, or with an expert in the field who likes your organization. Google Hangouts on Air and Tweet Chats are easy to do and to join, and they give the donors the sense they are special.
  • Ask them to take action. It could be as simple as sharing something with their friends online, or as exciting as signing up, then showing up, for a rally. Whatever they do will strengthen that feeling, “This is my cause and my organization.”

What about the Ask?

Social media give you many ways to build stronger relationships with your donors and to make sure they are ready for your next fundraising appeal.  But social media are generally not the best place to ask for money.

Think about it. When you go on social media, are you looking for a chance to donate? Or are you looking to be entertained, amused, informed, outraged?

Your donors are no different. If all nonprofit organizations disappeared from Facebook tomorrow, people would keep going there to see pictures of their grandchildren.  But if their real friends stopped posting on Facebook, they would leave too.

On social media, you want to be the donor’s friend–and a friend who constantly asks for money ceases to be a friend before very long.

If you do decide to ask online, make sure:

1. You’re raising money for something tangible and exciting.
2. You use the same conversational voice when you ask for money as when you chat online.
3. You get their friends involved. (Ideally, one of your supporters asks his or her friends to support you instead of you making the request yourself.)
4. You make it really easy to donate. “Click here” and the simplest donation form you can find will increase your donations.
5. You make it part of a campaign that also includes chances to give by mail.

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