Recap > AFP Vancouver: Leveraging Social Media to Facilitate Fundraising Efforts

AFP Vancouver’s monthly breakfast meeting brought together four panelists (contact information below) experienced in social media, mobile giving, and other digital communications strategies.

While the questions asked of the panel might suggest otherwise, a general theme of the responses from the panel was “social media is just one part of a more complete fundraising and engagement strategy”. Here is a summary of the responses of the panelists on tips for using social media and mobile giving as a fundraising tool. (Notes in brackets are my own additions).

Why use social media as a fundraising tool?

  • Integrated into offline efforts and personal connections; it’s a piece of a whole
  • It’s only a tool; there needs to be a strategy behind it
  • Provides opportunities to listen to and engage with a community of supporters
  • Help supporters share your message with their networks
  • Get your org into the hands of as many as possible
  • Get more earned media
  • Get more volunteers
  • Use it for calls to action

What are tangible actions on Facebook to raise money?

Before you start…

  • “Dig your well before you need it” – if you are starting now and want to raise money now, you’re too late.
  • Need an engagement plan first.
  • Website should be the centre of any online campaign; all online outlets should be connected to each other.
  • Messages should be consistent across online platforms.
  • Once people click through to the website, they should NOT be directed to your home page. It should be easy for them – clear donation page, easy payment options, email follow up written well. Ensure a good user experience.

How to amp up your Facebook success

  • It’s possible to create a custom landing page for Facebook Pages. Landing pages results in higher page “likes”. (FBML was referred to, but this is now out of date – landing pages are now built using frames. Check out this post by Beth Kanter for more information on Facebook landing pages).
  • Multiple touch points (i.e. supporters follow you by email newsletter, texts, Facebook) leads to increase giving. Need to know donors’ communication preferences.
  • Online = smaller gifts because these donors are often on a lower rung on the ladder of engagement.

Specific tips

  • Need to share a variety of content and not too much. Max 3/day. (Check out Dan Zarrella for great stats on how to get the most from your social media efforts. He found that once every two days is best.)
  • Create urgency. Make specific asks.
  • If you show up only to make asks, you may get huge (and public) backlash.
  • Reply to comments. Use people’s names. Click through to their profiles to get to know them better (if their profiles are public).
  • Share successes and how money is being used.
  • Need to have a visibility action plan – be checking account at least 5 days/week, 5 min- 1 hr/day. Timing depends on when your supporters are online.

Other thoughts

What are tangible actions on Twitter to raise money?

  • Twitter is a community. Many people interact/influence exclusively on Twitter.

Specific tips

  • Tell. Ask. Share. Engage. Monitor.
  • Rebroadcast messages in different ways. Talk at different times of the day, depending on when your demographic might be online.
  • Have fun. Be authentic.
  • Keep messages to <120 or even <100 characters so that people can easily retweet you without having to shrink your message.
  • Use hashtags (eg #elxn41 was used for the recent federal election). Start a conversation, make sure your supporters know to use it, then follow the hashtag to monitor the conversation.
  • Do keyword research to monitor conversations. Use word that your audience would use, and not necessarily the jargon you use.
  • Use Hootsuite as a tool to monitor all your social media accounts (ie also Facebook too). You can post to multiple accounts and schedule tweets. “Cook once and eat 3 times.”

General uses

  • Use it to connect with influencers. (They don’t need to be following you). Journalists are all over Twitter. Find ones that have a concern for the issue/topic you are wanting to raise.
  • Use it to make your superfans super happy by highlighting them/their work or sharing prizes.
  • Drive traffic to mobile giving campaigns – this has been very effective in disaster response fundraising.Twitter and mobile giving go well together because people are often using Twitter on their phones already.
  • Great for listening for breaking news that might be relevant to your work and that you might be able to piggyback onto.

And mobile giving?

How it works

  1. There is no text messaging fee to the user for donation texts. These are absorbed by wireless carriers.
  2. Carriers charge for the donation (currently now only $5 or $10). Carriers pass on $ to Mobile Giving Foundation Canada (MGFC, a registered charity), which passes on money to the charity.
  3. Only charities are currently licensed to do this. Must fill out application with MGFC.
  4. Charity works with one of the recommended service providers to arrange the text choice (eg text HAITI to 1234567) and do the techie stuff. (Note: This is where the cost to the charity comes from – paying the service provider. This is NOT the wireless carrier, but a company that arranges mobile giving).
  5. When people make a text, the get a reply asking them to confirm their donation by replying “Yes”, after which a “Thank You” text is received. At this point charities can also arrange with the service provider to conclude with a “Reply to sign up to receive further texts from Charity XYZ”. Any further texts to/from the charity will result in standard text message rates being applied to the individual.
  6. Individuals can get tax receipts online via a code they request by text. Receipts are given by MGF, not the charity. Donor information (ie phone number, account name) is not currently shared with the charity (unless the “reply to sign up for more” is completed above).

Why mobile giving is important

  • It reaches a new demographic. They often have never given before. Low barrier. A credit card or cheque isn’t necessary.

Challenges with mobile giving

  • Limited amounts to give (only $5 or $10 currently). Information isn’t shared with charities. Costs charged by service providers are prohibitive for smaller campaigns. MGFC is looking to address some of these.
  • Because of these issues, mobile might remain limited to mostly disaster response giving. Another technology might leapfrog into prominence by the time these issues are sorted out.
  • (One current possibility in print is a combination of QR codes with websites designed for phones.)

Final Thoughts

If all this seems overwhelming, I suggest listening first. I recently set up and gave personal training on a “digital listening” plan with a client to get them started with social media. By following some of your personal favourite nonprofit organizations through Facebook, Twitter, their blogs and e-newsletter, you can quickly get a sense of how others use it, and what seems to be working.

Panelists’ information Communications (Dave Teixeira)

Raised Eyebrow (Lauren Bacon)

Beachcomber Communications (Angela Crocker)

Mobile Giving Foundation (Katherine Winchester)

Twitter: An engagement tool, not a fundraiser ticket-seller

I’ve had multiple conversations with friends and former colleagues about Twitter recently, particularly it’s use in promoting special events. (Who hasn’t? To be honest, the number of blogs and articles about Twitter could make a person twvomit. So now I’m adding to the gag reflex. Alas.)

Most of my responses follow along the lines of a phrase I hear over and over again on Twitter from people like @rootwork. Twitter is a tool, not a strategy. Twitter-less doesn’t necessarily equal boat-missing.

Should we use Twitter to help sell tickets to our upcoming fundraising event?
What’s your online relationship with supporters? If you communicate with donors, volunteers and other supporters through good old Canada Post, Twitter is probably not the next logical step to communicate with them and get them to buy tickets.

But we want to connect with new supporters too. What about Twitter for that?
Are possible new supporters on Twitter?
If you want them to come to your event, or if your cause is a local one, you’re likely looking for geographically-close people. Geographically-close Twitter users. If you’re trying to raise money to build a knitting museum in small town Salmon Arm, BC … sorry, my Grandma’s not on Twitter. (Actually, my Grandma probably wouldn’t come to your event anyway.) However, your target demographic might be a nice fit with Twitter users (Gen X and Y communicators, on average).

So how do I reach out to these possible new supporters?
Engage them. Add value. If your Vancouver-based environmental organization is having a fundraising event at which young local “green” entrepreneurs are being recognized, you’ll need to build a Twitter following that includes people that are into this sort of thing. To do this, you’ll need to tweet about things and be a part of the conversation related to corporate social responsibility, environmental issues, entrepreneurism, etc.

I need specific examples. Vague phrases like “adding value” and “engagement” are annoying.

  • Tweet about interesting articles you have read (eg More demand than supply for green graduates – Vancouver Sun
  • Support others doing similar good work by tweeting about them (eg Vancouver entrepreneur wants to “green-up fleet vehicles”
  • Find people on Twitter that are already tweeting about this stuff, follow them, and hope they reciprocate (eg do a Twitter search of “environment vancouver” or “green vancouver“)

Alright, I think I’m ready. Giddy up!
Whoa. Keep in mind that Twitter takes time and effort. Do you have someone at your organization that has room in their workload for this? Many people and organizations that sign up for Twitter are excited at first (like Oprah and her followers) but soon tire of it and quit. Your reasons for using Twitter should go beyond just selling tickets.

For more ideas: