4 tips for nonprofits to boost social media fundraising

Nonprofits may have a difficult time developing consistent best practices for fundraising platforms that constantly change. For example, social media channels offer a great opportunity to connect with potential donors, but changes to popular sites could cause marketing to become less effective if organizations don't stay on top of new content requirements or sharing features.

In a recent LinkedIn piece, Lindsey Rose, the marketing strategist for Charity Dynamics, described the latest adjustments to Facebook's newsfeed algorithm. These changes aim to personalize content based on user preferences.

If nonprofits want to ensure their online material remains visible, it's important that fundraising news and messages offer the engaging content audiences want and channels prioritize. Here are four tips for posting material on Facebook and other channels designed for user interest:

1. Have a plan
Social media may seem less formal than other marketing channels, but it needs to be treated like the important resource it is. Unfortunately, nonprofits don't always allocate time and resources to designing content. A survey performed by the Content Marketing Institute and Blackbaud found 77 percent of nonprofits that use content marketing don't create documented plans for campaigns.

The organizations that do create social media content designed around specific goals and donor information report improved performance for the materials. When developing a strategy, it's important to take all relevant data for success into account. Lindsey Rose said Facebook will now push data to the front based on engagement, so a documented social media content plan could set goals for the number of likes each post should receive.

2. Build a network
Another change to the Facebook algorithm involves relationships between users. Basically, the more an individual interacts with a nonprofit, the more likely the organization's posts will show up in a newsfeed. If nonprofits want their fundraising materials seen by Facebook audiences, its important to foster an ongoing relationship with them.

This means posting content besides fundraising material that encourages participation from audiences. This could be caption contests, surveys or public opinion questions. The Nonprofit Quarterly encouraged organizations to form social media connections with a variety of individuals - not just donors. Volunteers can become advocates for a cause, using their own voice to speak to an organization's goals and needs, while other nonprofit organizations can help share news with new audiences and grow online networks.

3. Post engaging content
Expert opinions gathered by the Nonprofit Technology Network warned organizations against sounding too impersonal on social networks. People often go to these channels to be entertained. When they see posts that prioritize requests for donations, users will see a nonprofit as a faceless organization and not a friend.

Mixed in with requests for donations should be content that shows how important and interesting a nonprofit's daily activities can be. The Content Marketing Institute survey discovered 66 percent of nonprofits want to become better storytellers through marketing. This means using a variety of content, such as pictures, videos and personal testimonies, to request donations and show audiences where their money will go.

4. Make donation simple
When it does come time to ask for donations, it's important nonprofits offer the ability to give money instantly and easily. With the right donation software, organizations can put donation directly on Facebook pages.

Facebook users shouldn't have to abandon their current activities to donate money. If nonprofits keep users on the site, they can weave donation requests into ongoing social media narratives. Even better, simplicity means users can like and share posts with friends to help support the cause through other means besides monetary donations. The more people that want to take part in a mission, the more likely new audiences will see their actions with the new Facebook algorithm.

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