Fundraising with Social Media


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Social media can be an important way to reach potential donors for your non-profit. Learn best practices for reaching your audience with this white paper from Elon University's Interactive Media graduate program.

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Fundraising with Social Media

  1. 1. ELON UNIVERSITY INTERACTIVE MEDIA | Elon, NC | © Elon University 2014 Fundraising With Social Media How to harness the power of your followers Molly McBride Authored By: David Howell
  2. 2. ELON UNIVERSITY INTERACTIVE MEDIA 1 Today, most of the world knows what social media is. Pre-teens, young professionals, adults, and even grandparents are on social networking sites, and the trend doesn’t look like it’s going anywhere. But, just ten years ago, social networking was not such a common practice. One of the first social media sites, Friendster, began in 2002. By 2004 Facebook, LinkedIn, MyS- pace, Digg, and Flickr were added to the social media market and were gaining large followings.¹ By 2013, over 1 billion people were on Facebook. These statistics are staggering and show just how important social media is to the world today. The Changing World of Social Media The rise of social media has changed the way organizations interact with their audience. Now, a company can reach more people in less time, for less money. Social media has allowed organiza- tions to promote their brand, their products, and their causes, with little to no financial invest- ment, which is especially important when creating a fundraising campaign. The biggest benefit of social media is that it allows you to connect with your users on a less formal, more personal level. Using social media effectively creates a new level of engagement and understanding for your audience, which, in turn, makes them more comfortable with your organization and more likely to donate money. Social media also allows you to connect with thousands more people than email campaigns alone. It is hard to find an easier way to share your message with such a large audience. Why social media? As an organization that relies on donations, you understand that there are many methods and options for fundraising. In this paper we will explore how to use social media for fundraising, why your organization should be using it, and how to see the impact of your fundraising efforts. Social media can be a gold mine for your organization. Harness the power of your followers. Fundraising With Social Media
  3. 3. ELON UNIVERSITY INTERACTIVE MEDIA 2 There are many social media platforms available, but we recommend narrowing your fundraising efforts to just five accounts: Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, and YouTube. In this section we offer a brief explanation of each social networking platform. You will find how to use each of these platforms for your fundraising campaign in the next section. What Types of Social Media Should You Use? 1.15+ Billion 1+ Billion 500+ Million 500+ Million 70+ Million How Do They Stack Up? The total number of users per social media platform = 20 million Source data: Digital Insights Fundraising With Social Media
  4. 4. ELON UNIVERSITY INTERACTIVE MEDIA 3 Facebook is the largest social network, which makes it a must have for orga- nizations. When fundraising, you want to reach as many people as possible, and typically within a number of different demographics. As mentioned previ- ously, Facebook is used by people from all different age groups, and many of these groups interact with each other, meaning your message is likely to be shared with different demographics, even without your push. With more than 645 million users and an average of 58 million tweets sent each day, Twitter reaches a lot of people.² Possibly even more important to your fundraiser is the type of people that are on Twitter. Company execu- tives, professional athletes, actors, musicians, thought leaders, and more are on Twitter, and most have an open account, meaning they can be followed by anyone, including you. Following important individuals not only allows you to see what they are talking about, but also inreases the likelihood that they will follow your organization, which can increase your reach and number of followers. Other than following influential people, Twitter is a great way to share short messages and links. The 140-word limit makes it easy to send updates, quick pictures, or a thank you out to your audience. Google+ does not have as big of a following as Facebook or Twitter, but that does not mean you should ignore this social media platform. Google+ is similar to Facebook and Twitter in that it lets you create a list of fans or followers; however, in Google+ you get to segment those followers into groups called “circles.” Your circles can focus on different things such as, “fundraiser donors,” “influential leaders,” “board members,” and more. Google+ is also unique in that it supports video chats through a feature called ‘Google Hangouts.’ Google Hangouts enable you to set up a quick and easy video conversation through your webcam. These hangouts can include multiple people from locations throughout the world, and allow you to speak to each other in real time. Pinterest is an online visual pin board. The page is made up of millions of videos and images, often created or posted by organizations. “Pinners” review the images and videos and “pin” the ones they like. Oftentimes, pinners have a number of different boards on their page, ranging from reci- pes, to sewing tips, to campaigns they support. Fundraising With Social Media
  5. 5. ELON UNIVERSITY INTERACTIVE MEDIA 4 YouTube currently has more than 1 billion users and more than 6 billion hours of video are watched each month.³ Businesses, small non-profit orga- nizations, aspiring musicians, teachers, and almost any other demographic posts on YouTube. Many organizations use YouTube as a platform to edu- cate their audience about their brand or a specific cause. Once viewed, videos can be liked and the link shared on other social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and Pinterest. Before you set up your social media accounts spend some time thinking about your strategy and campaign. Set realistic goals for your campaign, such as how many people you hope to reach, or how much money you would like to raise through social media. Once you establish these goals, evaluate your audience and how you would like to reach them. You may want to create specific messages for targeted groups and only focus on one social media network to reach that audi- ence. As we mentioned before, you only need to manage a few social media accounts to establish a solid online presence. The following section outlines each social media account and how you should use each one to increase your fundraising. How should you use social media for fundraising? Facebook · Talk about your fundraiser in an interesting way. Don’t just ask people to donate money. Instead, tell them about your organization, the fundraiser, and the ways they can help your cam- paign. Use photos and videos when possible, as posts with either get viewed and shared more frequently. In addition to these social media platforms, we also recommend using a social media dashboard to assist with your campaign. A number of social media dashboards are available to make man- aging your social media accounts an easier process. Several dashboards, like Hootsuite and TweetDeck, manage multiple social media accounts and allow you to write your posts in advance and schedule them to post throughout the day. In addition to managing your posting schedule, these platforms also offer analytics of your social media sites. Analytics will be discussed further in another section of this paper. Fundraising With Social Media
  6. 6. ELON UNIVERSITY INTERACTIVE MEDIA 5 Google+ · Promote your posts. For a relatively small fee, you can pay to promote your posts. Promoting your post allows you to select the location, demographics, and interests of the audience you are trying to reach. The post will appear in those selected individual’s news feed, which will increase the chances of them seeing it. · Connect with similar organizations, or those that would support your fundraising effort. If another organization with 5,000 followers shares your image you are reaching that many more people. Return the favor when they have a similar fundraiser, event, or appeal. · Create fun, ways for your audience to engage with you. For instance, offer a weekly give away or contest. Your prize could be something as simple as a sticker featuring your organization name, or something larger like a gift card. Twitter · Tweet about your fundraiser at least 3 times a week. You can engage your audience by differen- tiating your tweets. For instance, one tweet might link back to the donation page on your web- site, one tweet might thank those who have already donated, and one could remind your follow- ers of the impact your fundraiser is going to have for a particular group. When your tweets are favorited or retweet, be sure to thank the user. · Create hashtags that are specific to your fundraiser, but also use common hashtags like #fund- raiser or #showyoursupport to reach thousands of additional Twitter users. Research which hashtags are trending and add to your tweet, if appropriate. · Take the time to follow other organizations and people with influence. Look for similar organiza- tions and follow who they follow. It is likely that these individuals will also follow you and this will increase your likelihood of getting your tweet retweeted, and your fundraiser reaching a larger audience. · Google+ is all about your circles. The more people in your circle, the more people you reach. Take some time to add more people to your circles. Look for thought leaders, other organizations that fundraise, community members, and even competitors. The more people in your circles, the more people you will reach. Fundraising With Social Media
  7. 7. ELON UNIVERSITY INTERACTIVE MEDIA 6 Fundraising With Social Media · Conduct a Google Hangout. Once you’ve established solid circles, offer to do a Google Hangout to get to know your audience and tell them about your organization and fundraiser. If you already have a good list of donors, consider asking one of your donors to participate in the Hangout and tell your audience why they chose to donate. If your fundraiser applies to a specific group or cause, such as creating a park for local children, request that a child or parent of a child that will be impacted by the fundraiser join your Hangout and speak with potential donors about how the park will benefit them. Pinterest Youtube · It’s likely that you already have visuals and marketing materials developed for your fundraiser. Use those preexisting pieces and create a Pinterest board for your fundraiser. Once you’ve added some images, promote your board on your website and other social media sites. · Follow other local organizations. Increasing the number of people you follow is likely to increase the number of people who pin your fundraising board. · People love videos, and the shorter the better. Create a video about your fundraiser that leaves your viewer with an understanding of your organization and your fundraiser. · Make sure you have a call to action. You’ve already accomplished the hard part, getting your audience to watch the video, now what do you want them to do about it? Without a clear call to action your viewer is likely to go to another webpage after the video ends. Make sure you tell the audience what you want them to do at the end of the video. Is it donate money? Share the link with their friends? Both? Clearly state the call to action and your audience is more likely to donate or share. Many organizations also use Kickstarter or Indiegogo for fundraising. Kickstarter is a crowdfund- ing platform that enables individuals or businesses to raise money for a specific project they are working on. Indiegogo is a similar platform, but allows people to fundraise for anything, not just creative projects. Both platforms allow an individual or an organization to tell the public about their project (usually through video) and why they should help fund it. In the event that a fund- raiser gets full backing, the organization or individual receives the money and the product is created. This is a great way to educated additional people of your fundraiser, offer an easy way to donate, and show your audience that other people are donating as well.
  8. 8. ELON UNIVERSITY INTERACTIVE MEDIA 7 You’ve created a solid campaign strategy, developed an informative and engaging campaign, and started sharing your efforts with your audience. All of that is vital to a good fundraising cam- paign, but one of the most important steps of social media is tracking your engagement with your audience AFTER you’ve actually produced the campaign. Luckily, there are a number of options for tracking and analyzing your fundraising campaign and many are free or already a part of your social media site. Each of the social media platforms we mentioned offers analytics. The analytic offerings are slightly different for each platform, but in general, they offer the same few features: How Do You Measure Social Media? Post Analysis: Website Tracking: Measure how well received your post or tweet was and which audience it reached. Facebook Insights will show you how many people liked, clicked on, shared, and commented on a post. Google+ offers a similar feature and looks at how well a post was received by your audience. YouTube also offers detailed analytics for each video, which includes how many people like and comment on your video, how long they watched it, and if they shared it. Once you connect your Pinterest page with your website you can see how many pinners are pinning things from your website, as well as how many people are clicking on your pins. Fundraising With Social Media Whichever social media network you choose to use, make sure you’re speaking to that audience, and not in general or formal terms. If most of your Pinterest demographic is females in their mid-twenties, don’t post pictures that would appeal to a middle aged male executive. If your YouTube video is specific to your fundraising campaign, don’t add a bunch of information on your organization’s mission or leadership chart. Focus on what your audience needs to know and present it in a way that will appeal to them.
  9. 9. ELON UNIVERSITY INTERACTIVE MEDIA 9 You may find that one or two of your platforms are really not being explored by your audience. That’s ok. First, look back and see if you properly publicized those platforms. If you did do proper publicity but still aren’t seeing the results take some time to review the posts, pins, or videos your organization put out. Are they intended for the target audience of that platform? If not, this is an easy fix. If they are appropriate and you’re still getting a low level of engagement considering removing yourself from that social media platform all together. It will save time and energy in the long run to stop using a social media platform, instead of constantly trying to change your strategy to increase engagement. Start with a solid strategy and always keep your audience in mind. Social media is just that, social, so you need to present your campaign in a way that your audience will understand and respond to, and you must engage with your audience even after you post your messages. Have a conversation with your audience by replying to comments, tweets, and retweets. If a donor posts something to your Facebook page, make sure to thank them for their donation. This will make them feel better about donating and will show your other Facebook followers that your organiza- tion is appreciative of the contributions followers have made. Pick the platforms that work best for your audience. We recommend Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest, and Google+, but you may only need one or two of these social media sites. Once you’ve established who your audience is you can easily decide which platforms will be most effective for your campaign and will reach your target audience. Put your energy toward creating a great campaign for that social media site, not all of them. Measure your campaign. Do not base your campaign success on donations alone. Spend time reviewing your analytics early on in your campaign. Your analytics will give you valuable informa- tion regarding your audience, the time of day that your message is seen by the most people, who is clicking on your post/tweet/link, and if the viewer actually donates to your fundraiser. Review- ing your analytics early and often gives you a better view of your campaign and allows you to make changes to your strategy early on, if needed. This paper covered a lot of information on social media. Here are a few key points we recom- mend you keep in mind when creating your social media fundraising campaign: Key Takeaways Fundraising With Social Media
  10. 10. ELON UNIVERSITY INTERACTIVE MEDIA 10 Conclusion Sources Social media is changing. Fast. But that doesn’t mean your organization shouldn’t use it. Effec- tively using certain social media accounts, and the analytics that go with them, can not only help you increase your brand, but also engage with your audience and develop better, long lasting relationships that will increase your fundraising efforts. ¹ Curtis, Anthony. 2013. The Brief History of Social Media. tis/NewMedia/SocialMedia/SocialMediaHistory.html ² 2014. Statistic Brain. ³ 2014. YouTube Statistics. Fundraising With Social Media Thank your donors. Oftentimes, people who donate money want to see how it was used and whom it helped. Create short videos, or showcase pictures of the event, people, or cause that your fundraiser helped. Post these items on your social media sites and encourage your follow- ers to share your message. Not only are you interacting with the people who donated to your fundraiser, but you’re offering them the ability to show others what they’ve done. That action will not only make them feel good, but will help spread the word of your fundraiser even further, and might produce additional donations.
  11. 11. Molly McBride David Howell Elon’s Interactive Media Program