How do nonprofits use social media for fundraising?

A social media fundraising campaign by United Nations Foundation

Social media is one of the most effective tools for nonprofits and charities to raise awareness, build engagement with donors, and drive donations.

With social media platforms like Facebook, X (formerly Twitter), YouTube, Instagram, TikTok, and more, nonprofits can build a closer relationship with donors and keep them informed at a relatively low cost. Social media channels complement traditional marketing channels like direct calls, mail, and in-person events, which require more time and higher investment.

But often, new donors first find out about a charity on social media. Our friends encourage us to do things like walks and runs for a good cause, donate to animal welfare organisations, show support for climate change organisations, and much more. According to NP Source, 55% of people engaging with a nonprofit on social media take action; donate money or clothing, volunteer, participate in an event or purchase a product supporting the charity.

Using social media for fundraising has multiple benefits:

  1. Keeping existing donors engaged and in the know. Social media makes it easy for nonprofits to share their latest news and campaigns with donors. Quizzes, polls, and competitions are some of the best ways to activate your fans and followers.
  2. Building a community. Social media enables nonprofits to build a community of like-minded people who are an organisation’s most loyal supporters. Facebook Groups are probably the most powerful option, allowing members to share their content as well. Now and then, you can ask your community to help you spread the word. 
  3. Increasing reach. In addition to connecting with your existing audience, increasing reach is one of the most important goals for a nonprofit’s social media activities. In social media fundraising campaigns, nonprofits often ask their fans and followers to share content mentioning a hashtag. A hashtag campaign will reach friends of your organisation’s fans and followers, and your message can travel far beyond your current audience size.
  4. Amplifyifying your message. A social media fundraising campaign will work the best if you combine it with other marketing channels and activities. For example, you could use social media advertising tools to target a particular geographic area. At the same time, you could launch a display advertising campaign at bus stops, train stations, malls, and other public places available in the area. And finally, you could work with local support groups to get the message out to their members. The more touchpoints you have with the customer at the same time, the better results you can expect to see.
  5. Increasing donations with social proof. When you’ve organised a user-generated content campaign, you can gather all hashtag entries in one place with platforms like Flockler. From there, you can use an embed code to display a curated feed of social proof on a campaign landing page. The authentic content from your fans and followers increases the chance of visitors clicking the 'Donate' button.

3 examples of nonprofits using social media for fundraising

Are you looking for inspiration? Here are 3 examples of nonprofits using social media in their fundraising campaigns.

United Nations Foundation: #EqualEverywhere

A social wall for a hashtag campaign

Are you ready to take the #EqualEverywhere pledge? The United Nations Foundation has set up a campaign fighting for girls and women to have equal rights everywhere. In every country and aspect of life.

In addition to asking for a donation, campaign page visitors are encouraged to take the pledge and join the fight for equal rights. Visitors can also share their stories on the site and through social media channels. The entries are then gathered in one place, and the social proof is displayed with a social media wall.

WWF: A yoga pose for your favourite animal

On social media, organisations are in constant competition for attention and nonprofits are not an exception to the rule. Your social media fundraising campaign isn’t actually competing against other nonprofits and charities but against any other activity online (and offline) that keeps potential donors engaged elsewhere.

That’s why spending some extra time planning an innovative concept for your campaign makes a ton of sense.

Recently, one of the stellar social media fundraising campaigns is launched by the WWF Germany. In the campaign, they asked their audience to try out a yoga pose for various endangered species. For example, can you do a fish, cobra, or dolphin?

An Instagram feed embedded on the WWF campaign page

Adding a bit of humor and fun to your campaign doesn’t hurt and helps you stand out in social media feeds. Also, the WWF is tapping into a trend of increased yoga activity during the pandemic. Paying attention to global consumer trends can help to build something timely, unique, and engaging.

Petco Love: #PetcoFamily

A social media wall on the Petco Love nonprofit organisation’s page

Petco Love is a nonprofit focusing on one thing: creating a better world for animals and the people who love and need them. With 6.5 million animals adopted and 1.500 pet stores, it’s one of the leading animal welfare organizations.

The organisation is asking customers to share their experience with the #PetcoFamily hashtag to drive donations. The best entries are displayed in a curated feed on their website.

How to launch a social media fundraising campaign?

Here are six steps for a successful social media fundraising campaign:

  1. Choose social media platforms.
  2. Plan the message and campaign concept.
  3. Select a memorable hashtag.
  4. Collaborate with influencers.
  5. Gather campaign hashtag mentions with Flockler.
  6. Display social proof on any digital platform.

1. Choose social media platforms

A social media fundraising campaign starts with the selection of the most suitable social media channels. Quite naturally, your organisation should pick channels where you already have a following and fanbase. Typically, Facebook and Instagram are the favourites of Flockler customers. However, there are multiple rising social media channels and niche communities online, and the key question your marketing team should consider is where your audience is spending time right now. Are they perhaps in TikTok or Twitch, where the organisation might not have a profile at all?

2. Plan the message and campaign concept

After selecting channels relevant to the campaign, it’s time to define your big ask. What are you expecting your audience to share or create together with you? What type of content would have the highest impact driving donations?

Based on our experience with 1000+ brands across different industries and geographical areas, there are a few key ingredients in a successful campaign message.

First of all, make sure your call to action is easy to understand and clearly defined. If you are asking something vague, your audience won’t know what is expected from them. On the other hand, if you make your ask too complex, people will give up after reading your instructions. Creating examples before the launch or even ready-made, shareable templates might help at the start.

Secondly, find something your audience will find easy to connect with. Look for a theme that sparks emotions. If possible, ask your audience to mention another person when sharing their message on social media channels. Mentioning someone else will automatically increase the reach and engagement of the post.

And finally, start with a single post and share it with your most loyal fans instead of a big bang launch. Then, listen to the feedback and tailor the message before broadcasting it everywhere.

3. Select a memorable hashtag

An image with three women and the call to action to participate in a campaign

Some organisations already have a branded hashtag that they use in all campaigns. But if your organisation is new to hashtags, there are a few simple things to pay attention to. First, when selecting your hashtag, go for the simplest and shortest possible one that's unique to your campaign. And then make sure that the hashtag hasn’t recently been used for another purpose or campaign in any social media channels!

4. Collaborate with influencers

To kickstart your campaign, influencer content embedded on your website can lower the barrier for others to enter as well. In addition, you can use influencers’ networks to reach out to people that are not aware of your organisation just yet. Also, influencers can help you access social media channels and other niche communities where your nonprofit organisation is not active yet.

5. Gather campaign hashtag mentions with Flockler

Once you’ve got your campaign ongoing and you are starting to distribute the message in all marketing channels, it’s time to sign up for a free trial account with Flockler.

The social media fundraising campaign results

With Flockler, you can gather hashtag entries from various social media channels and measure the volume and engagement of those posts. Based on the data and reports you receive from Flockler, we recommend that you get in touch with people who have been the most active in your campaign and those with high numbers of likes and comments. Everyone loves to hear that their efforts have been recognised, and you can deepen the relationship further.

6. Display social proof on any digital platform

A social media wall embedded on the San Francisco-Marin website

And the final step, display the best hashtag entries as social proof on your campaign landing page and all digital platforms. The social proof will encourage your website visitors to take action and donate.

With Flockler, you can gather and display social media feeds from your favourite channels. See the full list of supported content types and sources

Flockler helps marketers like you to create social media feeds and display user-generated content on any digital service. Keep your audience engaged and drive sales.

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