Today, 79 percent of Americans use social media.
That’s more than a ten-fold jump in a decade, according to the Pew Research Center. “Americans spend more time on social media than any other major Internet activity, including email,” said Business Insider. Not surprisingly, the Pew Research Center reported in 2018 that 90 percent of 18 to 29-year-olds have at least eight social media accounts, which decreases with age. Interestingly, this study showed that suburban Americans earning over seventy-five thousand dollars a year with some level of higher education have the highest social media usage. As nonprofit professionals, this tells us that social media will continue to play a critical role in reaching our donor base.
Over 86% of nonprofit professionals reported that their organizations see some of this value; they use social media in some form. However, most nonprofits allocate less than one half of one full-time employee to manage their social media efforts. In my experience as a fundraising and marketing professional, this is especially true for small nonprofits. They don’t see returns as quickly as more traditional fundraising strategies or the opportunity to build real relationships and so they tend to shy away from putting serious effort into social media fundraising. I’m not sure any sized nonprofit can afford not to take social media fundraising just as seriously as traditional fundraising efforts anymore.
Social media is a phenomenal fundraising tool for nonprofits. It’s free; helping us lower our acquisition costs. We get to leverage the social proof of our supporter’s networks. We have unparalleled access to connecting with our donors. Really, there are countless benefits.
Here are three ways you can build stronger donor relationships with social media:
Listen to your donors.
One of the most tried and true fundraising strategies for major donors is soliciting feedback. Think about this: your nonprofit already has potential and active donors offering feedback to you 24/7 on social media. So, are you listening? Whether that be with their posts, comments, reactions, or sheer silence; your organization’s followers are offering invaluable advice around the clock.
Nonprofits make their followers feel heard in many ways:
- Always follow back. Let your followers know they are noticed and appreciated.
- Be quick to respond. More than 83% of Twitter users and 71% of Facebook users expect a response the same day. If you don’t have an answer, then tell them: “That’s a great question! I don’t know. Let me find an answer for you.”
- View your nonprofit’s timelines daily. Comment, like, and share your follower’s posts.
- Take notes of themes, keywords, and stories your followers are sharing about your organization. Also take note of what they are not saying about your mission, vision, core values, and programs. Relay these notes back to your team.
- Observe who your followers are – age, gender, location, and interests. Take these observations and incorporate them into more relevant content.
Engage with your donors.
After taking time to listen to your supporters, be sure to curate and schedule inspirational content to engage with your followers.
- Inspire with stories of impact. Remind your followers why they love you. Share testimonies of beneficiaries, program impacts, staff, volunteers, board members, partners, and donors. Most individuals have “no interest engaging in conversations or relationships with large “faceless” corporations on Facebook.”
- Say thank you. Make sure your supporters know how much you appreciate them.
- Share relevant content from others. When you share relevant posts from your followers and partners, you show that you are connected with the broader community – not just out to get likes and dollars.
- Go Live. Give it a try on Facebook, Instagram, and Youtube. Consider live tweeting. It can make your connection feel less cookie cutter and more authentic.
- Make them feel like insiders. Give them exclusive behind-the-scenes pictures and videos of your programs and events.
- Host exclusive social events that would excite your donors. Holding private Facebook groups, Google Hangouts, and live webinar events with your leadership team are a few examples.
- “Gamify” your social content with competitions, challenges, and polls.
- Measure your impact. In the words of PR news, “You cannot manage what you do not measure.” Make sure your team is regularly measuring your social analytics to improve engagement.
Empower your donors.
One of the most significant benefits of social media is that is has given everyone a platform to be an advocate. How are you empowering your followers to be an advocate for your nonprofit? Have you been listening and providing relevant content? If you regularly post inspirational giving opportunities, your donors are more likely to repost and participate. Don’t make it hard for them to be a voice for your cause. When they do advocate for your organization (ex. starting a birthday fundraiser on Facebook), be sure to thank and recognize them.
As with any fundraising strategy, the key is to market your social media strategy around your donors (“donor-centric”), not the other way around. Remember that your donor’s network is on social, so it is your responsibility to tap into their network and empower them to become advocates for your organization. That starts with listening to your followers and engaging with relevant content. It continues with empowering your supporters to advocate for your cause.
Are you in need of more inspiration? Take 3-minutes to watch 7 nonprofits who are crushing their social.