Three essential steps to social fundraising success

Three essential steps to social fundraising success

Today’s post is part of the Lightspan Digital #MarketingHop on “Social Media for Social Good,” in which bloggers were asked to share their story about how people use social media to raise money and awareness, communicate with volunteers, and otherwise further their cause.

The world of nonprofit fundraising and communications is changing. Fundraisers have more tools than ever before (which can be both wonderful and frustrating).

It is easy to get lost. Let’s look at Facebook. With 98% of 2012 Benchmark respondents saying that they have at least one Facebook page (the average has 2.1), nonprofits have clearly embraced this social media tool. But where is the strategy? And how are we measuring success?

I have struggled at times with how quickly some nonprofits start (and inevitably stop) the latest and greatest social media activity (tweets, blogs, pinterest…the list goes on and on). It feels that many are jumping on board with little regard to how it fits into their organization’s overall goals and strategies. It seems fear of being left behind is a strong impetus for starting a social media activity.

So, let’s focus on Facebook for a moment. There is a small group of “Master Social Fundraisers”; defined as nonprofits that have raised more than $100,000 annually on Facebook. Quite a feat, really. You might jump to conclusions about the makeup of this group (they must be national, they must have a lot of resources). Well, not necessarily. According to the 2011 Benchmark report, these organizations are not all large in terms of operating budget, but they are *huge* in terms of followers and dedicated resources:

  • 30% of the Master Fundraisers had budgets between $1 and $5 million (so relatively small)
  • The average Facebook following of a Master Social Fundraiser is nearly 100,000 (more than 15 times the average)
  • 30% of Master Fundraisers dedicate 2+ staff to managing and fundraising on their social networking presence (compared to an industry standard of 2%!)

It is only a small group of organizations that have accomplished this level, but it is exciting to see how organizations are raising friends and funds through social media.

So let’s talk strategy. For those of you who are interested in launching a social media campaign, you will want to follow these three key steps (2012 Benchmark report):

  1. Create a social media strategy (be sure it links to the organization’s overarching goals)
  2. Get buy-in from management – you will need their support for the next item
  3. Staff dedicated to doing social media – although it is possible to have an effective social media presence employing interns and volunteers, it requires dedicated staff to build a following of 100,000!

It is an exciting time in the area of nonprofit fundraising and communications. For those of us who didn’t immediately jump on board with social media (and silently wished it would go away :), it is important to note that this doesn’t have to be an overwhelming proposition. Although we should keep these rising new stars on our radar screen, it is not necessary that your organization immediately implement each new tool. Let strategy instead of fear be your motivation. For every new consideration, we should ask, “How will this help us achieve our social media strategy?”

It is a fast moving world and things are changing quickly. But I suspect successful social media strategy is as much about diligence and consistency in action as it is about grabbing hold of the next best thing.

This post is part of the Lightspan Digital #MarketingHop on social media for social good. Check out other views from community managers, board members, connectors and leaders in the social good community by viewing their posts (links below). To continue the conversation please join us in a Twitter Chat with the hashtag #Marketinghop on Tuesday, March 19, 2013, at 1 pm CST.


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    Love the points on "Master Social Fundraisers" Christa! I talked to a handful of nonprofits last week about another style of fundraiser and why they got started with it, and each organization said some variation of: "It seemed everyone was doing xyz so we felt we had to be there."

    There's definitely a strong copycat current in nonprofits (for-profit too) that too often pushes strategy and creativity aside.

  • Thanks for the comment. It is a fun new world in the field of nonprofit communications!

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