Social media fundraising strategies for NGOs: all you need to know


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Social media is a crucial tool for the fundraising strategy of NGOs and nonprofit organisations. It’s also a great way to increase impact and spread awareness. With more than 4 billion people using the Internet, and 2.07 billion Facebook monthly active users, followed by 800 million of Instagram and 330 million of Twitter (Statista), the scope of potential by utilising these online communication tools for social good is enormous.

NGOs use of social media

According to Tech Report on NGOs use of social media worldwide: 

  • 93% have a Facebook page
  • 77% have a Twitter profile
  • 57% Youtube
  • However, while 95% agree that it is powerful for online brand awareness 
  • Only 32% have a written online strategy

This needs to change (and fast!), or organisations risk losing out on cost-effective acquisition and income streams. The current fundraising sector is challenging, and here are some strategies.

So, where to start, what channels to focus on, and how to optimise them to attract new supporters, retain current donors, and increase fundraising income? Read on to find out!

Social media fundraising strategies

Online fundraising ideas: best channels and examples

Social networks differing from more traditional communications tools, are an interactive and necessary addition to online fundraising ideas and strategies. Through comments, shares, and likes, people feel more engaged in the mission, values and stories of the cause they’re supporting. Most importantly, two-way instant communication allows users to become active agents and by doing so they feel a higher responsibility towards the causes they care about. 

By engaging directly in open online communication, supporters feel they belong to a group, to a community with a unifying mission and shared values. Sustainability movements, social causes, charity events, humanitarian missions and habitat conservation plans are all examples of causes that bring people together: they become an integral part of the supporter’s identity. 

What’s more important than any marketing campaign? A strong community that helps to spread awareness and expand potential reach even more. This is achievable with the assistance of social strategies. 

Online fundraising ideas

Here are the best channels to prioritise and examples of it done right.

Facebook’s Fundraising Tool

Folks at Facebook know about the power of community very well. In 2016, they set up a new feature that allows users  to raise money for nonprofits. At the beginning of 2018, the tool evolved, giving the opportunity to create fundraisers for personal needs. Anyone can create its own campaign – similarly to platforms like GoFundme and Fundly. But there’s more. Last April, they introduced matching donations to nonprofit fundraisers.

“People often pledge to match donations to their fundraisers, and we wanted to make that easier” stated the Facebook team

“David Smith lost his sister in a car accident in 2013, and this year for his birthday, he started a fundraiser for Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD). He told family and friends that if he could raise $100, he would match their contribution. People rallied around the cause and raised $2,360 — more than 10x his original goal.”

Thanks to this new tool, people who set up fundraisers can pledge to match donations from $5 to $2,500, helping them to create a momentum for their campaign. This has brought collaboration between individuals and organisations to the next level.

Instagram hashtags, stories and IGTV

A platform which is getting more and more power in the online marketing field is Instagram, acquired by Facebook back in 2012. Only 39% of non-profit organisations have an Instagram account. Instagram is an excellent way to grow audiences and find more like-minded people interested in the cause, even through the use of hashtags alone. 

Instagram stories and Instagram TV (IGTV) are the latest trends that are taking the world of marketing strategies by storm. 

‘Stories’ could be one of the best fundraising tools for nonprofits. They allow a more authentic and raw way of communicating, which appears more genuine and truthful to the users. They’re a crucial way to raise awareness and include supporters in the organisation’s story and mission. Instagram stories allow users to publish less polished and curated content, hence they’re more an on-the-go type of content compared to other Instagram photos. 

Instagram also provides a live and TV feature, positioning itself in the vlogging market, directly next to Youtube.

Here are some charities who use this tool in an excellent way,  Doctors Without Borders and Shelter.

Instagram stories for NGOs

To chatbot or not?

Social messaging is going bananas. The number of active users of Whatsapp, WeChat, and Messenger is growing exponentially and they’re the favourite way for Generation X and Y to communicate, rather than email and calls.

Your organisation should be ready to switch from email and calls to messaging platforms and engage in warmer conversations with potential donors. That’s where chatbots come in. 

What is a bot? The term comes from “robot” and a bot is any software that performs a task automatically. A chatbot answers a message automatically. Yes, it might sound a bit sci-fi and “not-human,” but if used strategically and mindfully a bot can help organisations like NGOs and charities to save money, time and resources. 

Chatbots should never replace human-to-human communication, but they can be used for specific tasks. They interact 24/7, at no cost and they are able to answer FAQs – including donors enquiries – at any time.  

This not only helps to create better customer service but also and most of all a closer relationship with the community, spreading the message and the awareness further. They are a great storytelling tool, providing a mix of written and visual content that emotionally appeal to supporters. 

Strategic use of chatbots for nonprofits could shift an online marketing strategy for the win. It might seem a bit complicated at the beginning, but with the right expert help from a digital agency, it can drastically change the way NGOs raise and spread awareness.

Here’s a great example from Charity: Water.

Messenger chatbot for NGOs

Online Fundraising tools that increase engagement and donations

Online fundraising tools create the opportunity for more transparent and direct community engagement and education while offering a great way to boost, promote and support online fundraising campaigns and donations. Here are some of the best tools that can be added to fundraising strategies to increase engagement and donations. 

online tools to increase donations

Video, video, video (and video)

Social networks are a key marketing channel for nonprofits. We got it. But, what matters, even more, is the type of content that NGOs and charities should share on their platforms. Nowadays, one-third of the online activity is spent watching videos, around 500 million people watch videos on Facebook and the video consumption on Instagram has grown 150%, in 2017 alone. It’s clear then that videos are a must-have component of an effective social media content strategy. 

If videos are great tools for NGOs to increase engagement and spread awareness, live videos, the latest trend, are beyond useful. Livestream and New York Magazine conducted research to see how consumers use live videos. Here are some interesting findings:

  • 80% would rather watch live video from a brand than read a blog.
  • 82% prefer live video from a brand to social posts.
  • 87% would prefer to watch online if it meant more behind-the-scenes content than a standard TV broadcast.

As for live video platforms, here are their favourites:

  • Livestream: 45%
  • Facebook Live: 66%
  • YouTube Live:70%

Lead-generation using Facebook advertising

Lead-generation is a process which involves identifying and cultivating potential new supporters for your organisation. It’s not just for start-ups or corporates and is a simple way for nonprofits to attract new supporters, grow their database and diversify your current audience. Lead-generation can take the form of online value exchange, online petitions or surveys and is best marketed via social media advertising and click- funnels. 
When it comes to digital led marketing and fundraising, Pencils of Promise is a nonprofit that gets it right. Not only are all of their marketing campaigns based on digital strategies, but their whole brand embraces digital.

Online value exchange

Nonprofits need to have an effective way to capture new email addresses when potential supporters land on the homepage of the organisation’s website. Investigate appropriate online value exchange options for your nonprofit and consider offering potential supporters something in return for their data. Examples of this could be an e-book, PDF of interesting facts or stories, access to a behind-the-scenes video, or training videos related to your cause. 

ONE’s “Poverty is Sexist” campaign is an excellent example of online value exchange. ONE created social media campaign collateral, phone wallpapers, and an open letter, all designed to be shared to grow the momentum of the movement and increase their supporter base.

Online value exchange for NGOs

To wrap it up

With more than 4 billion people using the Internet, it’s clear that social media is now a must-have marketing and communications channel. NGOs, nonprofit organisations and charities can benefit from a strong and well-thought online fundraising strategy in many different ways: to increase their reach, to convey more authentic stories, mission and values attached to their cause and to achieve a more transparent and genuine way of communicating. Particularly useful for these purposes are the latest social media content trends and tools, including live videos, chatbots and online value exchange. 

With an ever-changing marketing, technology and fundraising landscape, simply being online and having a profile is not enough. What your organisation needs is a well-rounded and well-thought social media fundraising strategy, planned by digital and content marketing experts, constantly updated with the latest trends. It can truly make a huge impact on fundraising campaigns.

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