“Can’t talk now, it’s appeal season!”
Anyone working at 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’s been a heavy shift in focus from more “traditional” fundraising methods, like letters and special events, to digital media and platforms that generate donor engagement.
And worldwide recognition of charitable giving through online events like #GivingTuesday has helped make social media a major player in the fundraising game.
As you know, integration is key when planning fundraising communications. And the objective with integration is to capture your constituents everywhere they are.
The communication preferences of your donors vary. Much of this has to do with the demographic make-up of your supporters. But it’s necessary to mix things up if you want to get a compelling message in front of your audience.
Direct mail and e-mail still reign supreme for year-end fundraising. But social media appeals are another important piece of the puzzle.
Stick to the Message
Most appeals have a theme and use specific stories to illustrate it. Make sure that all your social media appeals 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.
So, keep things consistent across multiple channels to prevent donor confusion and solidify your overall message.
Utilize Each Platform’s Strength
Your posts across your various social channels need to demonstrate the same message. But you need to use unique approaches that work best for 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. And 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 in your social media appeals.
Leverage Expanded Networks
Take a few minutes to do an audit of your social audience. You’ll find that there are a few individuals who regularly like, comment, or share your social media appeals.
Make a short list of those people. Then cross reference your list of donors to see if they give to your organization.
Then, 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!
No matter how you communicate with donors, thanking them is the most important step.
On social media, piggyback on our third point and stay in the moment.
So, keep an eye on your social accounts and see who is engaging with your organization. And 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 as part of a social media appeal.
Putting it Together
Closing out the calendar year is hectic for any organization that depends on donors to sustain programs and support operations.
These tips will help you organize your strategies, maximize limited resources, and raise more with social media.
Remember that no single method of communicating guarantees success. But the chances of hitting your fundraising goal increase when you integrate your messaging with social media appeals!