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Increase Online Donations. 17 Social Media Ideas for Nonprofits

Your inside guide to use digital cheaper, faster and more efficiently.

Sitting on the steering committee for three separate nonprofit initiatives, I see first hand how the scarcity of resources ties your hands. I've created this list of cost effective, innovative online fundraising ideas to show that you don't need a lot of resources to devote to digital to make an impact on your org's bottom line.  

Social media for nonprofits

Nonprofits can use social media better

With the projection that by 2018, the global population of social media users is to grow to 2.44 billion, or 33% of the world population, (Source: TrackMaven) it is more important than ever to use digital better.

However, nonprofit organizations have a weak record of using the growing social media world to their advantage. According to a study by the Case Foundation, in collaboration with Social Media for Nonprofits, the vast majority of nonprofit communication personne—a full 88%— consider email and their websites to be their most powerful tools. 

Although 97% have a presence on Facebook, most nonprofits—nearly 3 out of 4—ignore best practices regarding engagement and thought leadership. Instead they mostly use social as a megaphone to broadcast information about events and sharing organization-centric info. With over 76% of Americans using social media, nonprofits can’t ignore the potential to engage and increase donations on these platforms. social media market insights 

Does that sound familiar?

 There are legitimate reasons for not devoting resources to social media:

  • Scarcity of money
  • Scarcity of time
  • Scarcity of people-power
  • Scarcity of knowledge

Social media for nonprofits

Hidden in plain sight: Tips for using social media to drive revenue

Whether you are a large nonprofit that has devoted social media personnel or a small nonprofit with no social media plan, you’ll find something useful in this list of ways you can use social media to raise more donation dollars.

1. Socialmediatoday

Social Media Today is an online community and resource for professionals where social media is mission-critical.

  • People power: If social is going to be anything other than an afterthought, you can not leave social to a single individual who is being tugged in other directions by other responsibilities. Consider an intern if budget is tight.
  • It’s about relationships: Most nonprofits use digital media for vision and messages, not for relationship building. Use digital media to ask questions and encourage interactions and communication from your audience. When you interact with your audience you learn a lot more and gain credibility. Relationships lead to growth.

2. causevox.com/blog

Begun by volunteers who helped nonprofits scale, they started this crowdfunding platform to raise funds for volunteer projects. In a few years, they’ve helped tens-of-thousands of people fundraise online, serving thousands of nonprofits every year. Their mantra today is “to help good things flourish.” 

  • The fundraiser that keeps on giving: A recurring donation campaign is one of the top online fundraising ideas because recurring donors give 42% more over the course of the year than a one-time giver. Encourage your donors to give recurring gifts through a planned giving email fundraising blitz. It’s a fundraiser that gives back all year long!

  • Go Personal! Peer-to-peer fundraising accounts for ⅓ of all online donations, so it’s one of the best online fundraising ideas out there. Encourage your networks to set up personal fundraising pages and fundraise for your nonprofit.

3. Nonprofitquarterly.org

NPQ is an independent, nonprofit news organization. They serve nonprofit leaders, charitable foundations, educators, independent activists and others involved in the civil sector.

  • Mobile friendly first: Today 47% of people access their email via their smart phones. Since nonprofits shared that their websites and newsletters are the key to their fundraising, then make sure yours is user-friendly.
  • Reserve your name: Reserve your name in all social media platforms. KnowEm is a great place to visit to see which social networks you’ve yet to claim.

4. Bradaronson.com

We caught this new blog from independent entrepreneur Brad Aronson and like his focus on the positive. He offers writings on inspirations and kindness, as well as practical tips for entrepreneurs. Look for his new book “100 Reasons to Smile.”

  • Donate in 140 characters or less: If your supporters use Twitter, you can work with Charitweet to allow your audience to make donations via Twitter. Its an easy way to gain access to donors that actively use Tweets as communication. All you need to help donors make a difference is 140 characters and 5 seconds.
  • Make it as easy as sending a text: text2give is worth checking out if you’re looking for a way to allow your supporters to easily donate via text. This a good strategy for events. Event participants want to enjoy your hard-planned event. They often don’t have cash with them or don’t want to stand in line and miss the event. In those cases, they’ve generated a good return by promoting text to give.

5. Blog.bufferapp.com

Buffer is a tech company that offers ways to optimize your social media use. 

  • Up your numbers: To highlight the effect of having little staff to handle social media, a HubSpot survey found that more than half of nonprofits spend 2 hours or less per week on social media marketing (whereas half of for-profit businesses spend at least 6 hours per week). One successful example from using more time on social media: When the earthquake hit Haiti, American Red Cross quickly sent their text-to-donate message across their social media outlets and it became viral. Within a week, they raised $5 million from texting alone. Over $20 million was raised in a matter of months through social media. 
  • Follow the 3 As: Steve Shattuck at HubSpot proposes a three-part system for non-profits to organize their posts to social media, the “Three A’s”:
    • Appreciation: 1/3 of your social updates should recognize your donors, supporters, volunteers and employees
    • Advocacy: 1/3 should engage and share with the content of other groups or nonprofits who are relevant to your area
    • Appeals: 1/3 should solicit donations or help

6. Sproutsocial.com

Sprout offers a tech platform to streamline and enhance business with customers.

  • Don’t spread too thin: With your limited time to spend on social, don’t spread yourself too thin by trying to adopt every network that comes up. Do an excellent job on two or three networks with an optimal  potential for reaching your audience instead of a mediocre job on 7.
  • Keep it short: Short videos, short online articles, and short emails keep donors the most engaged, informed, and inspired to give. Source: Abila

7. Proweb365

Proweb365 is a website design and branding company. They offer discounts for website design and maintenance services to nonprofit organizations.

  • Recruit remote volunteers: Technological advances make it easier to recruit volunteers regardless of geographical distance. You can either look for candidates on your own website or post an announcement on job boards (Devex.com, Reliefweb.int, Idealist.org).
  • Build an awesome website: This is an outlier because we admit that you will need to devote money and resources to build an awesome website. If you use social media well, you will be directing people to your website. That is all for naught if the site isn’t out-a-site.

8. Ironpaper

Ironpaper is a growth-driven digital agency in New York City that helps companies achieve core business objectives.

  • Live stream it: An emerging trend at the tail end of 2015, live streaming will continue to gain traction. It’s good to be bold and try something new. Equally essential is repackaging the live stream content for further use in blogging, email, and social media content. Stretch Internet is an awesome resource if you want resources to help you live cast events.
  • Tap into Snapchat: Empowered by Square Cash, Snapchat lets people easily send digital payments to Snapchat Friends. Snapchat has over 150 million active users;  60% of U.S. smartphone users are between the ages of 13 and 34 are Snapchatters. And Snapchat has an astounding engagement rate with over 50% of Snapchat users on the platform daily.

social media for nonprofits

Important digital trends to keep in mind

These are trends in digital that nonprofits should have on their radar:

  • Millennials are most inspired to give by social media. Gen X and Baby Boomers prefer  email. Prediction: Gen Z will prefer mobile apps. Source: Global NGO Online Technology Report
  • For non-profits, social media is growing 3x faster than email.
  • Facebook and Twitter followers grew 42% and 37%, respectively, while email list sizes grew 11% in the past year. Source: Social Media Benchmark Study

social media for nonprofits

Choose a strategy and go for it

Even though time is tight and resources are low, a few little tweaks can make social media a serious donation source for nonprofits. These relatively easy digital tips can make the ask for donations simpler and more efficient.

Bonus Tip:

  • Wikipedia is free. Use it. This online encyclopedia comprised entirely of consumer generated and edited articles is the 8th highest trafficked site on the Internet. Wikipedia offers nonprofits a lot of visibility for no cost. If you don’t have a Wikipedia page for your nonprofit consider creating one. Keep in mind that since this is a consumer-edited encyclopedia, you’ll need to keep an eye on the page to ensure no one adds incorrect information.

 So connect with your supporters online better by choosing the strategy you and your organization have the capacity for. I sat down and created a social media plan with the nonprofits I work with this week. For as we all know, with more money, you can do more good.