Leveraging social media and online communities in nonprofit fundraising

The use of social media and online communities will be key components of nonprofit fundraising strategies in 2015.
Date Published
12/18/2014

As the year draws to a close, many 501(c)(3) organizations are likely reviewing the success of their 2014 nonprofit fundraising efforts and are in the process of planning their 2015 strategies. Taking stock of what worked and what didn’t when it comes to raising money to support a foundational mission is a great launching point to create stronger campaigns that deliver positive results on a consistent basis.

Many nonprofits understand the need to leverage technology in their efforts to draw attention from donors. The growth of platforms like Twitter, Facebook and others presents a unique opportunity to reach a wide range of people in the most efficient manner possible. There are literally millions of individuals who engage in social networking conversations on a daily basis. Forward thinking charitable organizations would be wise to develop plans that integrate social media into their nonprofit fundraising campaigns.

Wild Apricot recently highlighted five social networking trends that will become prevalent next year, the most important of which is the use of video.

Technology has advanced in such a way that it has created a major shift in people’s general behavior. There was once a time when many donors were moved to lend their financial support after reading a written appeal delivered to them on behalf of a nonprofit. However, with the introduction of devices such as smartphones, tablets and computers that have the ability to display video content, donors are now more likely to be moved by powerful visual imagery and a strong call to action message.

Adding a social media component to this strategy allows a 501(c)(3) organization to deliver video-based appeals to their social media constituents, who in turn can pass it along to others within their personal social networking circles. This is a much more efficient way to raise awareness about a specific movement or cause. It is also an organic form of marketing that is far more effective than contacting current and potential donors by telephone, and less expensive than deploying a direct mail campaign.

The combination of social media outreach and video will be a growing trend in the nonprofit fundraising sector for 2015 and charitable organizations should begin brainstorming on how to effectively develop these strategies.

Participating in online communities
The Internet, while being a great source of information, is also ideal for the development of virtual communities. This is where people who share the same passions around movements or causes can connect and share ideas with others no matter where they are located in the world.

Nonprofit Technology Network highlighted the importance of charitable organizations to either participate in these online meeting places by becoming active participants in the conversations that take place, or creating one of their own. The more involvement that takes place, the stronger these virtual groups become and their social impact is immeasurable.

Nonprofits that are mission-driven should take this unique approach as a way to rally others around their causes. Creating these discussions will ultimately lead to their fundraising efforts becoming much more stronger and effective. In addition, this strategy can be a way to secure both one-time and consistent donations being made to the organization.

As technology continues to grow in both size and scope, it will be important for nonprofits to begin integrating this tool into every aspect of their operations. Doing so will leave a positive impression with savvy constituents and cause a 501(c)(3) group to be seen as modern and updated with the times. However, failure to properly leverage these tools will put an organization at a sizeable disadvantage that may be difficult to overcome. 

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