“Can’t talk now, it’s appeal season!”
Anyone working inside a fundraising organization has heard that from their development staff, or at least some iteration of the exclamation. From September through the end of the year, and sometimes beyond, all hands are on deck to reap the harvest of your annual appeal.
Over the last few years there has been a heavy shift in focus from more “traditional” fundraising methods, like letters and special events, to digital media and platforms to generate donor engagement. Worldwide recognition of charitable giving through online events like #GivingTuesday have helped to make social media a major player in the fundraising game.
As we always say, integration is key when planning fundraising communications. The objective with integration is to capture your constituents everywhere they are. In this day and age, it’s likely that the communication preferences of your donors vary. Much of this has to do with the demographic make-up of your supporters. In order to make your message compelling and get it in front of everyone, it’s necessary to mix things up. Direct mail and e-mail still reign supreme for year-end fundraising, but social media is an important piece of the puzzle when it comes to integrating your campaign.
Stick to the Message
Most appeals have a theme and use specific stories to illustrate it. Make sure that all your social media efforts stay on message. Stories are important because they will help you connect with you audience on an emotional level. Compelling stories help to make your mission tangible and show results. They’re also the way your constituency is going to relate to your organization. Keeping things consistent across multiple channels prevents donor confusion and solidifies your overall message.
Utilize Each Platform’s Strength
While your posts across your various social channels need to demonstrate the same message, the way you do so should be different across each platform. Each social media platform has its own strengths and weaknesses, so it’s important to use each to amplify your message in the most effective way.
Use Instagram to highlight your most powerful visuals for the campaign. This can include things like graphics and other materials from your appeals. However, the most powerful images for your nonprofit’s Instagram are those that highlight the people your organization serves. As the most widely used platform, Facebook is especially powerful for encouraging sharing among your audience. Post related stats and tidbits on Twitter, where short-form content is the norm.
Stay in the Now
Social media is all about the present. It moves quickly, so you need to make sure your posts are strong enough to get the attention of those looking on here and now. Rather than focusing on the shelf life of a post, focus on the expiration date of the information. Communicate with a sense of urgency by including important facts like the tax benefits of giving before the end of the year. Or communicate the urgency of a donor match or challenge that’s happening today. Then make the path to giving clear and up front.
Leverage Expanded Networks
If you take a few minutes to do a quick audit of your social audience, you’ll find that there are always a few individuals who regularly like, comment, or share your posts. Make a short list of those people, then cross reference your list of donors to see if they give to your organization.
Reach out to them personally to see if they’d be interested in serving as a social ambassador for your organization. Ask them to share your content or tweet to their friends. The objective here is to use the audiences of your audience to get your message in front of as many people as possible. Utilizing a few key supporters to broadcast your message is like getting an online testimonial for your organization. That goes a long way towards establishing trust with your inner circle and those beyond it.
Thank, thank, thank!
Wherever it is that you’re communicating with donors, thanking them is the most important step. On social media, piggyback on our third point and stay in the moment. Keep an eye on your social accounts and see who is engaging with your organization. Thank those who made a recent donation on the spot. If you’ve got a flood of people giving (and we hope you do), feel free to create a post with a fun graphic and tag your donors in a shout out. Need some more ideas on how to thank your donors? Check out our posts on making the donor the hero of your story and some other creative ways to say “thanks!”
Putting it Together
Closing out the calendar year is hectic for any organization that depends on its donors to sustain programs and support operations. These tips will help you organize your strategies, automate your messaging, and maximize your limited resources. Remember that no single method of communicating guarantees success, but the chances of hitting your fundraising goal increases when you integrate your messaging.