Since the wild success of the Ice Bucket Challenge last year, the impact of successful social media marketing has become a hot topic among nonprofits. Personally, after seeing countless friends douse themselves with iced water in the name of charity, I started to look more closely at how my favorite nonprofits use social media. Unfortunately, I see too many nonprofits’ Facebook pages that haven’t been updated since 2014 and Twitter accounts with ten posts per day. Navigating social media can be a difficult task for marketing purposes—and a daunting one for fundraising.
Thankfully, GiveMN’s Give to the Max Day is a statewide crowdfunding initiative that makes it easier to use social media for fundraising. It’s unprecedented growth each year is a testament to the importance of crowdfunding in modern fundraising. If your organization isn’t capitalizing on crowdfunding through social media, here’s why it should:
- It’s low cost, if not completely free. If your organization isn’t on Facebook or Twitter, stop reading now and make a page this second. The beauty of social media is that it’s free to use and often free to maintain thanks to tools like Hootsuite that allow users to manage several accounts from one platform.
- You can reach a broader audience. Crowdfunding allows your followers to share the initiative with their personal networks much more easily than sharing your latest postcard or e-vite. Because of this, it’s much easier to expand your reach outside of the immediate geographic area.
- Millennials are waiting to hear from you. Speaking on behalf of my generation, we use the internet to learn about and engage with our favorite brands and organizations. Gaining our support now is the beginning of establishing long-term support.
There are also organizations who use social media for crowdfunding but do not generate enough funds or advocates from it to make it worth the investments of resources. There are four boxes on the to-do list that must be addressed before any crowdfunding initiative can be successful.
- Ensure your target audience is online. Crowdfunding is often the “catch-them-all” approach for virtually raising awareness or funds. However, casting such a wide net fails to acknowledge the different ways in which users engage with others online. Your organization should segment its current donor base based on identified or predicted online behavior, then target the campaign to the segment(s) who are most likely to be meaningfully engaged online.
- Focus the initiative on one program or area of focus. Donors seek a clear understanding of the impact their gift will have on the organization. The “catch-them-all” approach is sufficient, but narrowing your campaign to solely support one program or area of focus will maximize the perceived impact of support for the donor.
- Tell a compelling story. Storytelling is the most compelling way of expressing your organization’s need for increased funds or awareness. Highlighting one beneficiary of the program or statistics of the program’s impact is one of the best ways to communicate the effectiveness of an organization. Making a short video for a crowdfunding campaign is a good idea, as it can be promoted by itself on social media and/or embedded in email communication with donors.
- Continue the conversation after the initiative ends. Now that supporters are engaged with your organization, continue the conversation both online and in-person. Developing a plan for retention will help maintain the momentum after the initiative ends, and encourage supporters to stay engaged. One of the biggest issues the Ice Bucket Challenge faced was engaging the supporters once they had fulfilled the challenge.
As we anxiously await the final results of this year’s Give to the Max Day, nonprofits should use this time to identify what aspects of participation went well and what could use improvement. Thinking strategically about how to recreate the success of this year’s event on your own, or increase that success next year, can help your organization have Give to the Max Day, everyday.