10 Ways to Use Social Media to Drive Your Fundraising Efforts

When raising money for a charity or nonprofit organization, do you use social media to support your fundraising goals? If you do, are you getting the most out of how you use it? Social media is a powerful way to connect with potential donors, engage others so they feel involved with what you are doing, and promote your fundraising efforts to greater success.

Over the last 5 years, I participated in the Pan Mass Challenge (PMC), raising an average of $5,456 per year and a grand total of $27,280. Every single year that I participated in this ride, at least 85% of my fundraising came through Social Media – specifically, Facebook.

Though the type of fundraising I have in mind is through a sports-oriented event, the following list can be applied to any fundraising work.

Here are 10 ways that you can use Social Media to promote your fundraising efforts:

  1. Announce your fundraising challenge. Let potential donors know what the challenge is and that it has begun. Make the launch of your fundraising challenge a big deal and leverage it to start your online campaign. (In other words, start as soon as you sign up even if the culminating event is months away.) Some donors like to get in on the ground floor; Give them that opportunity by letting them know that you are launching your challenge.Example: I’m in! I’ve registered for the 2015 Pan Mass Challenge and have set a goal to ride 188 miles and raise $4,500 for Dana Farber. Want to be my first donor?
  1. Thank your donors. Write a brief social media post thanking individuals who donated to your cause. Different people donated all at once? Don’t think everyone all at the same time! Rather, space them out over hours or even days.
  1. Tag the people you are talking to and about. In Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, you can tag specific people and also organizations – so do so! People love to be recognized and it encourages others who know them to participate. Also, it can help to expand your reach (i.e. the number of people who see your post) by connecting you to the people (and organizations) you tag.

Example from Facebook: Thank you so much <name> for your generous donation to my Pan-Mass Challenge ride! 100% of your donation goes directly to Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and the fight against cancer!

  1. Post updates about your fundraising progress. This helps keep you and your readers focused on your goal. It’s an opportunity to do a general thank you, or to express concern that time is ticking down and there’s still so much more to go!

Example: Half way there!!!! I’ve raised exactly half of my total goal of $4,500 for the Pan Mass Challenge!

  1. Talk about what you’re doing for your part. Keeping your audience informed about your progress can help them feel like they are along for the ride. Is this a sports-related fundraiser? Talk about how your training is progressing. Are you hosting an event or running a raffle? What have you done lately to move it along? In every case, sharing something you’ve learned along the way can be an inspiring and engaging message for your followers. Be sure to tag anyone you’re training or working with to share the love and expand your reach!

22.5 miles cycling into the wind. Welcome to spring in New England!
9% climb – done. 39 miles to go.
42+ miles. Ice cream earned!!
Today for lunch: 25 beautiful miles on the bike. What’d you have? 

  1. Educate your readers about your cause. Who does it serve? What does it support or enable? What has the organization accomplished in the past? What, specifically, will the money you are raising go towards?
  1. Post about the donation program itself. What percentage of donations will actually go to the charity? How many people are registered for the event? Who else is on your team? Sharing the impact of the program can be very powerful!

Example from the PMC: 100% of all donations raise for the PMC go directly to Dana Farber.

  1. Post pictures. Are you attending (or hosting) a fundraiser? Do you spend lots of time training for the event? Did you get a t-shirt? Are you hanging out with other people who are also involved? These are all opportunities for posting pictures!! Seeing what you are up to gives your readers a more tangible impression of what you are doing and what they are donating towards.Want to take it one step further? Use some of these images for your profile and cover photos!
  1. Provide the donation link! Obvious? Perhaps. But instrumental for collecting donations and easy to forget!If it’s a long link, consider shortening it using bitly, where you can customize the link – and then use the same shortened, customized link for the duration of your fundraising efforts!
  1. Ask for donations. Don’t imply it. Don’t assume it. Don’t do it only once. Put your request out there clearly and often.Examples:
    Please donate now
    Click on the link to donate
    Please support this cause by donating now
    Please help me get closer to my goal by donating now

A great place to post this request for donations is at the end of a post where you have thanked someone for a donation, or provided an update on your fundraising progress. Follow-it up with the donation link, and you’ve got yourself a powerful post!!

I think it should be noted that you should not tie your entire fundraising effort to social media. Nothing beats reaching out personally by email or phone, and thank you cards are always better than thank you emails. That being said… engaging social media fully throughout the duration of your fundraising window can give you better reach, a louder voice, and also help you feel supported by those who respond back online in addition to the donations they send you.