Local United Way branch demonstrates the value of social media fundraising

Recently announced by local online publication Buffalo Business First, the United Way of Buffalo & Erie County will soon be leveraging the power of social media for its annual springtime fundraising blitz, Spring It On, to accept donations online

According to the regional United Way branch's website, the event is currently slated to begin on March 20 with 120 organizations already scheduled to participate, and it will last for exactly 24 hours. Last year, the effort turned out impressive results, attracting more than 180 nonprofits and raising an estimated $76,000, and this year organizers hope for even better outcomes.

The primary driver behind United Way's success has been their dedication to social media during these 24-hour campaigns. Using Facebook and Twitter, the United Way and nonprofit participants leverage the popular social networking sites to not only publicize the event and drive donations, but also to help guide and train other nonprofits hoping to utilize the medium in future strategies. This year, groups will be using the official #SpringItOn2014 hashtag to promote the event.

Charitable foundations can use social media to boost donations in a number of ways, including:

Customization
With each social network comes a different means of delivery. For Twitter it's short, digestible posts good for inspiring initial interest. Facebook is better for articles and longer messages, as well as for posting images and videos. Each outlet provides its own unique set of characteristics, and nonprofits can tailor their messages to suit each.

Publishing on multiple platforms with messages tailored to fit each one will help keep existing donors interested and engage, while simultaneously attracting prospective contributors.

Engaging donors
Social media is one of the most useful online fundraising tools nonprofits can have in their belts because it allows for an unprecedented amount of interaction with supporters. Through Facebook alone an organization can recruit contributors and volunteers far beyond their immediate area, something previously not possible for smaller groups. Nonprofits can use social media to have ongoing conversations with readers, gauging interest on fundraising ideas and mission activities. Through pictures, video and written testimonials, organizations can use the unique features of Facebook, Twitter, Reddit and many more to give donors an inside perspective of where and how their money is actually being spent. Showing contributors the value of their gifts can help cultivate a dependable roster of long-term givers, ultimately helping nonprofits to become more sustainable.

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