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How to Use Social Fundraising for Nonprofits

The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge was the viral craze in 2014. It was a wildly successful social fundraising campaign that not only increased public awareness about ALS (“Lou Gehrig’s Disease”) but also raised $115 million — increasing the organization’s funding by 187% that year.

So why was this fundraising effort so successful? One reason is that it leveraged the power of social connections in a fun way. It gave people a fun opportunity to join their friends in helping others. And it was all accomplished through social fundraising.

Social fundraising is a powerful tool for nonprofits to increase funding, engagement, and awareness for their organization’s mission.

What Is Social Fundraising?

  • Social fundraising.
  • Peer-to-peer fundraising.
  • Crowdfunding.

Perhaps you’ve heard these terms, which are often used interchangeably to mean fundraising that leverages the social circles of those who already support your organization. It empowers them to fundraise on your behalf by reaching new donors.

How Social Fundraising Helps Nonprofits

Social fundraising is a powerful tool to connect with new donors because your engaged, existing supporters have a personal relationship with potential donors that the organization wouldn’t have reached otherwise.

5 Benefits of Social Fundraising

Although nonprofits need financial resources to operate, social fundraising provides so much more that is necessary to keep it going. Five benefits of social fundraising include:

  1. Strengthening the relationships you already have.
  2. Building relationships with new partners.
  3. It costs less — financially and in staff time.
  4. Raising awareness about your organization and its cause.
  5. Increasing funds raised to operate the nonprofit.

4 Best Practices for Social Fundraising

Social fundraising gives a voice to your supporters and empowers them to fundraise for you. Your donors’ family members, friends, and colleagues are moved to participate because of their connections with your existing supporters.

So, what are the best practices for social fundraising that ignite your supporters to invite others to participate in fundraising for your organization’s cause? Let’s examine a few.

1.     Communicate frequently, creatively, and effectively.

What is the best way to retain and spark participation with your donors?

Engage with them through one or all of the following:

Social media: Post creatively wherever your audience is. Don’t assume people will share your posts — ask them to share. According to NonProfit PRO, the average Facebook user has 155 friends. If just 65 supporters shared a post about an action they took with your organization, it would lead to over 10,000 connections that you otherwise never would have had. The average donation value by type of share breaks down like this:

  • $13 when an online campaign is shared
  • $23 when a donation is shared
  • $63 when a campaign organizer shares their campaign

Email: Sending emails are another way to cultivate partnerships with your supporters. They are more personal than newsletters or social media and provide an opportunity to thank your supporters personally.

Optimized website: Keep your website current and include ways people can get involved by volunteering or donating. Be sure your website has separate pages that describe specific volunteer opportunities and financial giving. And remember to include links that make the process user-friendly.

Postal service: Emails are good, but it adds a special touch if you can send your supporters hand-written notes. Of course, it’s rarely possible to send everyone hand-written notes, but you can decide when that extra care is warranted, and they are appreciated.

In-person: Many of us are hungry for face-to-face interactions after the isolation that accompanied a worldwide pandemic. Getting people together builds community and fuels passion for an organization’s mission.

2. Tell a compelling story

You can have a strong email campaign and post every day on multiple social media sites, but it falls flat if you don’t have a compelling story to tell.

People love relatable stories. They inspire, and they move to action. Consider the difference between hearing, “Many women suffer from depression after abortion,” and “Jane was a vibrant college student excited to become a nurse like her mom and grandmother. She was deceived after being told that taking the abortion pill would be an easy way to make her unexpected pregnancy disappear. However, she was unprepared for the excruciating physical pain as well as the emotional pain after visualizing her baby alone at home after the abortion. She now can’t concentrate, has trouble getting out of bed, and was forced to take a leave of absence from school. If she had been empowered with accurate information to make an educated choice before her abortion, her experience could look very different today.”

Stories paint a picture of why your organization exists, and when you communicate that well, it moves the right people to join you.

3. Create friendly competition

People enjoy a fun challenge. The ice-bucket idea was brilliant as it challenged people to do something a little outrageous yet fun. Participants nominated their friends to either dump ice water over their heads or donate — and most people did both, which tells you something about us.

You can make a game of it by setting goals and a visual way for everyone to see how close you are to reaching your goals (i.e., goal thermometers). Then your organization can create teams during a fundraising campaign and recognize everyone but give fun incentives for those with the highest participation or giving.

4. Acknowledge and appreciate participants

Nonprofits could not exist without the generosity of many generous people. If you want to burn a supporter out quickly, treat them like an ATM. Appreciate them well, and you have a committed partner. Always let your supporters know how much we appreciate them and every gift of time and resources.

We Are Grateful for You

All of us at Caring Network are so grateful for you and your partnership. We couldn’t empower women facing unexpected pregnancies without you. Your support literally saves lives.

If you would like to learn more about other opportunities to serve, we invite you to contact us or check out our “Get Involved” resources. 

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