Let's Raise Some Money
Insights from Karen Climer about fundraising and nonprofit organizations

Using Social Media To Involve Donors

October 28th, 2013 by Karen Climer

The best way to raise the most money is not through direct mail, not email, not telefundraising, not social media, not even face-to-face personal visits.  The best way to raise money is using multiple channels.  (Note: the best channel for the actual ask is still the good ole’ face-to-face visit.)

Think about your personal friends.  You don’t connect with them in one way.  Sometimes you call.  Sometimes you have lunch.  Sometimes you text.  Sometimes you might even send a snail mail card.  Treat your donors and prospects the same way.

I’m stressing multi-channel because today we are going to talk a little bit about social media.  Social media is the newest channel, so some people suggest it will replace mail and email.  It won’t.  Social media will complement everything else, but won’t replace it.  You need every piece of the puzzle.

Most nonprofits approach social media by thinking about the various social media tools.  We need a Facebook page.  What should put on Facebook?  What should we tweet about?  What about Pinterest?  That’s like approaching a building project by saying, “We need to use a hammer.  I just bought a new drill, so I want to be able to use that.  How about the power saw – let’s use that.”  What a house that would be!

Social media needs to fit in your broad-based donor engagement strategy.  Decide first on your goals and audience.  Then figuring out which tool to use is natural.

The biggest mistake I have seen with social media (besides not having a strategy) is that nonprofits focus on themselves and what they are doing.  Most nonprofits use social media (particularly Facebook) as a means to broadcast news.  The real power in social media is engagement.  We have the chance to involve our donors, but instead we are pushing content at them.

The Humane Society does an excellent job engaging people on Facebook.  They involve donors by asking questions, by asking people to do things that don’t involve money (share this link, sign this petition), and by letting people make comments even if they disagree with the comment.  Let’s say someone posts a comment that says, “The zoo is great.  I love seeing the lions and tigers.” The Humane Society will respond to say why they disagree, but mostly they let their friends respond.  By responding, the friends become even more outraged that the zoo locks up these animals.  Thousands of people will respond and say something along the lines of, “The zoo is cruel.  Let the animals go.”  Don’t delete a post just because it is against your organization’s position.

The other big mistake I’ve seen is that organizations focus on what they are doing and not on the broader mission.  Again, the Humane Society shows us how to do it right.  Their Facebook page is not about the Humane Society – it is about animal cruelty.  Remember, people don’t care about your organization, they care about the cause Yes, there is plenty of information about the Humane Society, but there is just as much information about animal cruelty in general.

Finally, don’t expect to raise money through social media.  The real power in social media is connecting with people.  It’s a great tool for cultivating, but not necessarily raising money.  So don’t quit doing everything else you’re doing.

We’ll have more about social media soon because there’s lots more I want to share.  If you have an example of a nonprofit organization that does a good job with social media, tell us about it in the comments section.

Posted in Cultivation, Social Media

One Response

  1. Elle

    This paragraph is right on target!! “Think about your personal friends. You don’t connect with them in one way. Sometimes you call. Sometimes you have lunch. Sometimes you text. Sometimes you might even send a snail mail card. Treat your donors and prospects the same way.”

    That’s how I was, and still am, successful.

    Good work, blogger!

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