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[GUEST POST] Donor Acquisition: 5 Effective Strategies for Social Media

Finding new donors is one of the most important ongoing efforts for any nonprofit. Strengthening your community and raising more money are vital to your ongoing success and pursuing your mission.

But where can you find these new donors? Whether you’re a small-town or multi-chapter national nonprofit, you need to be able to engage with individuals outside of your current community of supporters.

Gone are the days of standing on corners with flyers to raise awareness about your nonprofit. Now, you can reach people more effectively than ever online! Social media can be the key to increasing your donor acquisition rates.

So how can you use your nonprofit’s social media to gain more donors? Here are five of our favorite strategies:

  1. Use multiple platforms.
  2. Start with your existing community.
  3. Engage with potential donors.
  4. Use social media to document your real-life impact.
  5. Promote fundraising through social media.

Success on social media is all about engagement. If you make sure that your nonprofit is genuinely connecting with people, you’ll be sure to find success.

1. Use multiple platforms.

If you want to engage with your donors and turn your social media presence into an online fundraising platform, you have to figure out where your donors spend their time online. Consider some of the most popular social media platforms:

  • Twitter
  • Instagram
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Pinterest
  • Tumblr  

You want your social media channels to be a way to interact with your community as well as post content about your nonprofit and its mission. That means you’ll probably want to spend more time on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and LinkedIn—they’re the most conducive to interaction and conversation.

Next, you’ll want to run an experiment of sorts to find out where your nonprofit’s supporters are. There are a few ways to do this—you can send out a survey to your supporters and ask, or you can make accounts for your nonprofit on each channel.

Then, start reaching out and following supporters and other organizations you know, engaging in conversation, and posting about your nonprofit’s work.

Whichever platforms have the largest population of your community—where your content gets the most likes and shares—is where you’ll want to dedicate most of your social media efforts.

Consider asking one member of your team to take over all social media accounts, so that your nonprofit has a consistent tone across platforms and posts. If you can’t do that, work with your team members to set some guidelines in place that will help you maintain a level of consistency regardless of who’s posting.

Having a consistent, recognizable tone will be key to creating relationships and finding success when asking for donations later.

2. Start with your existing community.

When trying to acquire new donors online, you can’t message people willy-nilly and expect them to respond. They need to recognize your nonprofit and be familiar with your mission first.

That’s why you need to start by engaging your constituents online, so that they can help you build name recognition and generate interest online.

They’ve already proven their support of your cause, so they’ll be open to helping your nonprofit even more through something as simple as sharing a post.

So who can your nonprofit rely on for likes and shares?

  • Recurring donors
  • Volunteers
  • Staff members
  • Board members
  • The community you serve

Ask them to post about their experiences with your nonprofit, and encourage them to share their pictures online.

Don’t only post your own nonprofit’s work—share information from other nonprofits or related sources that can educate your followers on issues related to your mission.

Your social media channels shouldn’t just be a way to ask for donations—they should also serve as a trusted source of information for those who are interested in the cause you serve.

3. Engage with potential donors.

Once you’ve established yourself as a regular presence and a trusted voice online, you can start to interact with those who might become donors.

Individuals from your community’s social circles who interact with your posts are a good place to start. Even a simple “like” indicates support and approval of the message of the content or a level of sympathy for the cause.

Post interactive content and encourage people to engage with it. This content can include:

  1. Polls. Ask people if they prefer one thing over the other, or what their favorite nonprofit is. You can post both serious and silly polls to increase engagement.
  2. Surveys. These are longer than the average poll, and can help you learn more about someone. If you don’t know where to start, check out Bloomerang’s list of 23 questions to ask donors and prospects to get some ideas.
  3. Contests. Everyone loves to win, so offer the chance to win branded merchandise or similar prizes in exchange for signing up for your newsletter, etc.

Pay attention to which individuals interact with your posts the most. Then, if they’ve demonstrated their interest multiple times, approach them via tags or a direct message to see if they would like to be more deeply involved.

Since this is the first move in interacting with a prospective donor, this outreach isn’t necessarily the perfect moment to make an ask. Instead, offer other ways to get involved, like becoming a volunteer, attending an event, or becoming a mission ambassador.

These options will get them more engaged with your nonprofit’s mission as a whole, as well as give them a demonstration of what your nonprofit does on a day-to-day basis.

4. Use social media to document your real-life impact.

With the age of social media upon us, it is vital for all organizations, both for profit and nonprofit, to demonstrate transparency and accountability.

Your nonprofit’s social media accounts are a great way to demonstrate what your nonprofit is doing with the money it’s been given. Your donor retention rate, after all, is entirely reliant on your donors’ continued trust in your nonprofit’s work.

Therefore, your social media presence is a valuable way for your nonprofit to show the wider community what work you’re doing with the donations from your supporters. Ideas for this include posting:

  • Pictures and videos of your team and volunteers at work. Action shots and people-focused images are particularly effective.
  • Pictures or interviews with the constituents that your nonprofit helps. Film those impacted (with permission!) talking about the good that the nonprofit has done for them.
  • Links or PDFs of the financial section of your nonprofit annual report. Many people won’t care about the numbers, but those that do will appreciate the opportunity to see your nonprofit’s budget and consider it for themselves.

No matter what your nonprofit does, document it and post it on your social media accounts. As your photos generate interest, they also generate social proof, which will help your nonprofit find more supporters online.

5. Promote fundraising through social media.

Once you’ve generated interest, built a community, expanded your outreach capabilities, and started new relationships, leverage your social media accounts to boost your fundraising strategies.

Your social media fundraising tactics should blend the best of both digital and traditional marketing: use the language and catchy taglines from your traditional marketing efforts, and increase their impact with pictures and videos.

Social media marketing also allows your posts and calls-to-action to reach further than through traditional marketing strategies, because social media sharing transcends geographic distance in a snap.

When promoting your fundraising efforts online, don’t forget that your followers have to be able to donate online to ensure the maximum level of convenience. If they see an inspiring call to action while scrolling on Twitter, they’re not going to sit down and write a check.

They want to be able to click a link and donate from their phone.

So what are some of the best ways to promote online giving?

  • Use online, mobile-optimized donation pages. These are especially important for peer-to-peer fundraising pages because of their socially-driven nature.
  • Offer text-to-give capabilities. Being able to text a number and receive a link to an easy-to-use donation page is very attractive to donors who don’t have a lot of time and want to donate as quickly as possible.
  • Ask supporters to share, even if they can’t donate. Social media sharing can make your supporters’ social circles your social circles through the power of sharing and reposting.
  • If you’re less familiar with online giving, do a little research and read through Qgiv’s guide to the top online donation tools to get a better idea of what you need to boost your fundraising success.

These tactics, in combination with a catchy and easy-to-remember hashtag, can take your online fundraising strategy to the next level. The work that you’ve put into your social media presence before this fundraising drive will give your nonprofit the social proof you need.

Social media can be an immensely powerful fundraising and donor acquisition tool when used correctly. Building a name and a community is the first step to driving increased donor acquisition when the time comes to ask for donations.

Social media allows nonprofits to reach more potential donors than ever, so make sure that your nonprofit is growing as it needs to so it can continue to serve its community effectively.

Abby Jarvis is a blogger, marketer, and communications coordinator for Qgiv, an online fundraising service provider. Qgiv offers industry-leading online giving and peer to peer fundraising tools for nonprofit, faith-based, and political organizations of all sizes. When she’s not working at Qgiv, Abby can usually be found writing for local magazines, catching up on her favorite blogs, or binge-watching sci-fi shows on Netflix.

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