The rise of social media has created new opportunities for nonprofit organisations looking to appeal to new donors. Donor acquisition can be challenging, but social media provides an existing audience who you may not yet have tapped into.
It is estimated that there are 2.789 billion active social media users worldwide and 42 million in the UK. Moreover, on average they spend more than two hours daily on social media and messaging. This provides serious opportunities for nonprofit organisations to reach them on the platforms that they most enjoy using.
However, you’ll need to have a strategy in order to effectively turn your social followers into donors. This post looks at the steps you can take and tips you can follow to bring social media into your fundraising strategy.
The first question to ask is which social platforms you want to focus on. If you just want to use the most popular ones, then Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter are your best options. If you’re looking to explore different platforms, then you may want to consider Snapchat, Youtube, or Pinterest. These may not seem like major options for a nonprofit, but they all have an engaged audience and can help you find new donors.
Once you’ve decided on the platforms you want to target, it’s time to set the goals that you’re looking to achieve.
You can’t expect your social audience to instantly turn into donors – that’s why you need to plan your social presence so that it both informs and inspires your followers.
A social calendar can help you create a consistent social presence. This can be a simple spreadsheet where you keep track of the posts you want to schedule on a weekly basis. It can be even more useful when you’re planning a campaign or event, in order to have an an easy-to-access overview of what you’re posting.
The best way to reach a wider audience is by posting interesting news, updates, events and stories that matter to your followers.
This involves a degree of creativity, even with limited resources, and it’s a good idea to test different types of content. For example, visual content can be more appealing for a new audience. Luckily there are many free online tools to create images or videos. Live video can also be engaging and it can be an excellent way to bring people from awareness and towards the goal of engagement.
Awareness is important as an introduction to your organisation, but engagement is how you can ensure that you keep your social followers interested.
According to GlobalWebIndex, 15% of internet users follow charities on social media. The percentage reaches 17% in North America, but falls to 11% in Europe. Moreover, 1 in 10 internet users say that they social media to support or promote charitable causes. Nonprofits need to tap into this interest by creating engaging content.
In order to turn social followers into donors, you need to build a community that fosters conversations among its members. The key to this is to create an authentic presence that promotes dialogue and encourages discussions among the community. Storytelling can be very engaging and, once again, visual content can make a huge contribution.
View image on Twitter
Once you start engaging social followers, the next goal is to turn them into ambassadors for your organisation. This is the stage where they are engaged enough to share your content, promote your cause and encourage their network to support you. It’s an organic way to reach a wider audience, using the power of influence to create new followers.
The final and most critical step when trying to bring social media into your fundraising strategy is to turn your social followers into donors or supporters. It’s the next step right after engagement and it shows whether an organisation can really benefit from the time spent on social media.
A simple yet crucial tip at this stage is to ask for donations. Your followers may already be engaged enough to become donors, but if you don’t ask them clearly, you may miss a great opportunity. Social media users are more inclined to proceed to action if they are guided to do so. However, this doesn’t mean that all your social content should be focused on asking them to do so. It’s important to find a balance between encouraging donations and creating interesting content that promotes engagement.
Here are seven tips on how to turn your social followers into donors:
1. Inspire your followers – Social content must be engaging, but also inspiring: it should be appealing enough to motivate followers to join the community. This can be achieved through the power of storytelling, with videos and/or blog posts that offer additional details about the cause.
2. Make them feel involved – People are more likely to become donors if they feel part of a community. An engaging social presence can strengthen the relationship with new followers. It’s a good idea to involve them in your social conversation, whether through discussion or encouragement to share a story. This way they are more inclined to become your organisation’s best ambassadors and donate to your cause.
3. Know the right time to ask – Before asking for a donation, think about whether it’s the best time to do so. For example, a follower who just found your organisation on Twitter may yet not be ready to donate. By contrast, an engaged follower who interacts with your organisation on the same channel might be more interested in supporting your cause. According to David Pearce, Director of Fundraising and Marketing of Dignity in Dying & Compassion in Dying, “if you want to ask for attention, make sure you deserve it.”
4. Add CTAs – Another obvious, yet frequently ignored, tip is to include calls-to-action in your content. A Facebook post that doesn’t link to any webpage has fewer chances of turning followers into donors. A post containing a link helps your followers proceed to the next step, making it clear what you would like them to do. However this doesn’t mean that you should be spamming them with repetitive posts, as this ends up having negative results. Make calls-to-action a natural process of engagement, inspiring people to follow the next steps.
5. Set goals and measure them – If you want to turn your social followers into donors, you can organise your tasks by setting this as your end goal. This helps you prioritise your next actions, while also allowing you to measure your performance. This measurement could involve:
a possible increase in the number of followersa change in the number of clicksthe clicks towards a particular page that encourages donationsa change in the number of online donors
6. Give people a reason to donate – Social followers have to understand the reason that you’re asking them for a donation. A call-to-action does not guarantee the donation unless there’s an inspiring message, or a clear explanation of the importance of new donations for your cause. Video content tends to be more powerful, especially if you’re telling a story, helping to persuade your followers to become donors.
7. Optimise landing pages – Another key part of your strategy is to offer a good user experience. Once your followers click on the provided page, the next steps have to be as easy as possible. This includes:
- a simple donation process
- a fast and minimal page
- a page that’s properly optimised for a mobile audience
The last one is important, especially considering that a growing number of people access social media through their mobile phones. Thus, if they are interested in donating to your site, your form must be optimised for their mobile devices.
Social networks can be an important part of your fundraising strategy, both in terms of increasing awareness, but also by encouraging donations.
Great content and inspiring stories can turn social media followers into your organisation’s best ambassadors. And as social media usage increases, it can be an opportunity to find new donors who are interested in hearing more about your cause.
With many of us and our communities concerned about COVID-19, it can be tricky to know what direction to travel in and which decisions to make when it comes to keeping your charity's supporter community committed and engaged with your cause.