10 Do’s and Don’ts of Social Media Fundraising

By | July 26, 2011

Guest Blog Post by Nathan Hand.

1. Don’t think social media changes the age-old strategy, at least not completely

The name of the game is still relationship building and communicating with the right people, in the right medium, about the right need, at the right time, and asking the right amount – amongst all the other clutter in their lives.  While all the social media platforms give us new mediums of asking (in addition to direct mail, in person, phone, etc.) it also adds to the clutter we fight.  There’s still a donor pyramid and those you connect with still mostly enter at the bottom.  The goal is, and will always be, to connect people to the causes they care about, facilitate their philanthropic dreams and help people be their best.

Tweet. Tweet.2. Do – use social media to drive web traffic

A fundraising study by Guidestar in late 2010 came up again the other day on Twitter.  Advice for Good shared what many of us found to be the most interesting piece of info from it, as it relates to social media and fundraising – that social networking websites like Facebook only account for 10% of online donations. It DOES NOT mean that social doesn’t drive the majority of online giving (or indirectly influence it).  It only means that as far as we can tell, Facebook Causes isn’t the answer and I haven’t seen a Twitter tool that allows you to literally give via Twitter.  And I don’t want one – funnel your social through your site where you can track and control conversions.

3. Don’t –  think a ‘LIKE’ always means it

In the same piece of research from Guidestar, only 6% of people who ‘liked’ an organization actually financially supported it. Plus, in order to publicly trash you or your organization on Facebook – at least in the most thorough way – they must ‘LIKE’ your page to tag you in a post. Even in a negative one. Check out Kyle Lacy’s great example. Until Facebook develops a ‘HATE’ button – there’s no way to separate the haters from the lovers.

4. Do – give easy, specific & real ways for people to help

We’ve had most success asking for specific items (digital camera, LCD projector, volunteers on Saturday at 5pm, etc.).  Sometimes they might be ‘budget-relieving’ – other times we simply would’ve gone without.  People want to help and more and more they want to know exactly what they are giving or funding with a donation.

5. Don’t – just ask for things

Similar to the fact that text-based giving only really works for disasters or specific urgent needs – the same goes for Twitter.  We’ve had more success asking for smaller donation amounts in accordance with a professional sporting event (pledge $.25, .50 or $1 per point for tonight’s NBA/NFL/NHL game – especially if the team is good or at least has a strong fan base, playoffs, etc.) It’s all part of harnessing the timely excitement.

6. Do – ask for intangibles

Faith-based? Ask for prayers.  New to Twitter? Ask people to ‘donate’ their #FollowFriday to your organization.  In a voting campaign? As long as you’ve got a real shot – DM a few of your most loyal supporters and a few with high klout/followers and ask them to donate a tweet or two. But in all of these – as with any fundraising medium – make it as easy as possible for them.

7. Don’t – ask too often

Again, like any other medium, if all supporters hear is asks, they’ll stop listening.  Share stories, results, quotes, stats, kudos, and more. It’s about building relationships.

8. Do – follow, monitor and support your closest champions

Put a ‘I’m on Twitter’ tic box on your physical donation cards and online. Create lists for your supporters, volunteers and advocates. Support their efforts where appropriate. If they do something great for another organization – don’t get jealous – RT it. Remember that most people support and follow 7+ organizations and it takes us all to create and support the great world we live in and the wonderful organizations that make up the nonprofit world.

9.  Don’t – forget you have other work to do

It’s easy to get sucked in to social media and spend all day clicking, posting and tweeting. Spend time setting up your monitoring tools and profiles and then determine when/how you’re going to check in on it. I’ve got it down to about 3 or 4 five-minute check-ins a day. If you want to be really responsive, set your phone to receive notifications when your organization is mentioned. Note: this only works while you’re small and don’t get several mentions a day. Also, you can only have Twitter account associated with one phone number…for now.

10. Do – guess and check!

Otherwise known as “experimenting,” it worked in elementary school math and it works in social media fundraising. And, because it’s still new and we’re all still learning – it might be the most efficient form of learning.  No one’s followers are the same and no one has tried everything.  If you’ve got an idea and you stay (somewhat) within the rules of the game – try it! Just make sure to contribute to the conversation and tell us if it worked!

Agree? Disagree? What worked or didn’t work for you? Please share in the comments!

Nathan HandNathan Hand is an AmeriCorps alumnus, holds an Executive Certificate in Nonprofit Management from Georgetown University, a Masters in Philanthropic Studies from Indiana University and a Bachelor of Arts degree from DePauw University. Nathan is Vice President of Development at School on Wheels, an organization helping homeless children in Indianapolis. He writes at www.nonprofitnate.com sharing thoughts for nonprofiteers and helping visitors navigate the world of giving. For more, follow Nathan on Twitter, Facebook and subscribe to his blog!

3 thoughts on “10 Do’s and Don’ts of Social Media Fundraising

  1. Pingback: Cause+: A collection of people & organizations doing good on Google+

  2. Beth Ann Locke

    Nathan – excellent! I believe that #1 is most true… this is new platform (which not all supporters use) to build relationships and create awareness and spread knowledge and joy. Love this post! @FundraiserBeth

  3. Steffen

    Nathan, all of your points are great.
    And I believe it is also true for the “old” fundraising strategy. Most fundraising events and activities that I helped with organizations don’t know what they want. Many times it is not communicated well the specific need.

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