How charities use social media to engage with their audience and drive donations?

Traditionally, NGOs and charities have used direct marketing (phone calls, street advertising, print, etc.) to reach out to their potential customers. For some of these charities, the customer can literally be anyone in the crowd, and growing brand recognition is the key objective.

I won’t take anything away from traditional marketing channels but, to be fair, it’s hard to imagine anything more powerful than social media. A successful, user-generated content campaign, amplifies the message of the organisation a lot further than just a geographical area where the ad is shown.

To learn how the most innovative charities and NGOs are using social media today, we interviewed Charlotte Cordel, digital project manager at Hopening, an agency specialised in fundraising for charities.

Nice to meet you Charlotte! You work with charities and NGOs such as WWF and Curie Institute. Which part do social media platforms play in the communications strategy?

It depends on the organisation, their targets and strategy, as well as the context of the campaign, but in general, social media helps the organisations to build engagement with donors and supporters.

By inviting the audience to share the client’s message on social media channels, we help clients to drive actions within their target audience. Engaging the audience in participating via social media channels, helps to build the relationship in a more natural way, and that will increase the likelihood of donating too.

Which social media tools are you using to build engagement?

Again, it varies from campaign to another, and the tools are selected to reach the target audience of the campaign best. But in the past, we’ve used tools like Thunderclap or Daycause to schedule the launch of a campaign with multiple collaborators posting tweets during the same day. Those tools have been great at the start of a big campaign or just before a significant event.

Lately, with some of our clients, we’ve gathered the social media posts on a social wall (powered by Flockler) and created a dedicated landing page for the campaign. We display the posts mentioning the campaign hashtag and moderate the feed to avoid anything inappropriate showing up on the site.

In addition to the social wall, one of the powerful tools we use is Facebook Lookalike Audiences in the Facebook advertising platform. That feature helps us to target people similar to the audience already connected with our client.

Also, we use traditional marketing channels such as email marketing and print to drive more traffic to the campaign landing pages. Our target is to create drive-to-web strategies asking potential donors to visit a landing page with call-to-actions and inspirational social content.

Could you share us an example of a successful campaign?

One of the great examples is the campaign for the SNSM, the French Association of Sea Rescuers. We started the campaign by asking people to share their messages via Thunderclap and then broadcasted all those posts at noon on D-Day to celebrate the Sea Rescuers’ World Day.

As a result, we quickly reached the top of the most trending Tweets list and the events throughout the day at SNSM’s locations by the coast amplified the messages. Other influential Twitter accounts such as the French National Navy and the Ministry of Ecology also took part in the campaign.

This summer, the Sea Rescuers’ World Day will be celebrated again! We hope to trigger even more engagement, online and offline with SNSM stations. The event aims at paying tribute to lifeguards and engaging the audience in supporting the cause.

Does social media have a direct impact on the number of donations?

Often, there’s no direct and measurable connection between social media and the campaign donations. Of course, we create Facebook Ads to reach out to potential donors, especially at the end of the year, and those are easy to measure. But in general, we find that social media channels generate awareness at the early stage of the funnel rather than drive people to donate straight away.

However, when we add a social wall on a fundraising campaign landing page, it serves as social proof. The wall shows other people already engaging with the campaign and encourages others to participate too. That builds the credibility of the initiative and shows the diversity of other people taking part.

Can you give us an example of the impact of a social wall?

One of the most striking examples is undoubtedly by the Giving Tuesday movement which we’ve built in partnership with the French Association of Fundraisers (the AFF). Recently, we launched the French version of this massive campaign that already exists in more than 35 countries. The goal is to encourage everyone, on November 27, to make a small gesture to their colleagues, friends or family members. It can be a simple smile, but also a gift of time, money or clothing for an association. This explains the slogan of the campaign: "Release your generosity".

The social wall collects the posts related to the campaign and it is a great way to highlight the variety and volume of participating associations, foundations, and partner companies. Some organisations publish a lot of content throughout the year which encourages other organisations to follow. With the help of the social wall, we can identify micro influencers; they help to build the engagement too. Many organisations have even contacted us regarding the social wall and how it has been set up for the client; what a great proof of the effectiveness of Flockler platform helping organisations to engage their audience in creating content and building brand reputation and awareness of the organisation!

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