Reaching your nonprofit’s supporters on social media is essential to maintaining engagement with them, but it’s also an excellent method for attracting new donors! Growing your donor list through savvy online strategies is an important way for 21st-century nonprofits to stay relevant for all their supporters, not just the ones who attend their fundraising events.
Social media, in particular, can be a tricky area to focus your marketing efforts. That’s because the best practices for social media marketing shift constantly.
To succeed in engaging your supporters and reaching new donors on social media, your team needs to balance a mix of shifting user preferences, wider marketing trends, and changes in how platforms organize and promote content.
To help guide you, we’ve highlighted 7 proven ways to acquire new donors and attract wider audiences through your social media marketing efforts:
- Host a peer-to-peer fundraising campaign.
- Create more engaging digital content.
- Use unique giving tools and platforms.
- Segment your channels by the audience.
- Conduct custom merch fundraising.
- Follow some branding best practices.
- Create donation and volunteer matching challenges.
Experiment to find the best mix of social media strategies that suit your organization’s goals and donor base. Let’s get started!
1. Host a peer-to-peer fundraising campaign.
If you’ve never heard of this type of online campaign, you’ve been missing out. Peer-to-peer fundraising campaigns are an extremely effective way to engage your social media followers and attract the attention of new donors.
Online engagement is hardwired into the whole concept of a peer-to-peer fundraising campaign! Volunteer fundraisers host their own campaign pages and promote them to their online networks via social media. It’s one of our absolute favorite fundraising ideas here at Qgiv.
There are a number of reliable strategies for taking the digital engagement even further in your peer-to-peer fundraising campaign:
- Use gamification elements to recognize top volunteers and donors.
- Create timed fundraising challenges and achievements.
- Host live fundraising events throughout the campaign to generate wider interest.
- Promote volunteer-created content on your main campaign pages.
If a peer-to-peer fundraising campaign sounds like a good fit for your nonprofit, take the time to develop a comprehensive plan for your social media techniques and live events. It’ll pay off!
2. Create more engaging digital content.
Content, your messages and visual materials, are at the heart of social media marketing. Engaging, high-quality content is simply the best investment you can make in your nonprofit’s social media efforts.
As mentioned in the section above, gamification and other visual campaign elements are perfect content to attract the attention of new donors on social media.
Fundraising thermometers are a great example because they’re a classic tool that continues to work! Visually tracking your campaign’s progress goes a long way to maintain momentum and draw attention at the crucial last stages.
Another great way to engage social media users with your content? Live video. There are all kinds of ways you can incorporate streaming video into your social media marketing. You might live stream:
- Your unique fundraising events
- Major campaign announcements of success or new developments
- Announcements of new projects, goals, or missions
- Award ceremonies and galas to recognize donors and volunteers
Focus on generating digital content that will 1) attract attention, 2) get viewers curious about your mission, campaigns, or events, and 3) encourage them to get involved.
3. Use unique giving tools and platforms.
In a time when many social media users are increasingly wary of sharing their personal and payment information online and even distrustful of some of the bigger players, it’s important that you find online donation tools specifically made to meet the needs of nonprofit organizations.
Plus, these tools and online campaign platforms serve as smart social media marketing strategies in and of themselves! A unique or alternative online donation tool is much more likely to catch a new donor’s attention than a simple link to send you money on PayPal.
Here are some of the most common and effective alternative ways to collect donations:
- Peer-to-peer fundraising and crowdfunding campaigns
- Fully mobile-optimized and customized donation forms
- Custom product fundraising and donation add-ons
Offering something new is always a smart move, and it’s no less true on social media. If anything, online users are flooded with advertisements and donation appeals on a daily basis, so make yours stand out!
Just be sure to effectively market any new online giving outlets you choose to promote on social media.
4. Segment your channels by audience.
This great practice for online marketing comes to us from the business world. It’s extremely effective, but nonprofit marketing teams often take it for granted and end up weakening their social media presence overall as a result.
Just as you segment your communication techniques to make sure your messages are heard by the right donors at the right times, think carefully about what social media outlets are the most relevant to the messages and solicitations you share there.
In a nutshell, don’t spread yourself too thin. Pick just two or three social media platforms to focus your efforts. They’ll likely be:
- Facebook will attract the all-around broadest audience, although it’s increasingly preferred by older web users more than younger ones. Facebook makes it easy to promote your campaign content and directly share your donation forms.
- Instagram is the preferred outlet for younger users. Depending on your mission and donor base, it might be a good idea to focus here. Create great visual content and familiarize yourself with the best ways to direct followers to your website.
- Twitter is more difficult as a marketing platform, but there are excellent opportunities to develop an organic, personable brand identity and foster tons of direct engagement with your supporters here. It’s great for sharing quick updates and links.
Carefully consider your message and target audience whenever you update your social media marketing strategies!
5. Conduct custom merch fundraising.
Offering products, merch, and other incentives is a foolproof way to catch the attention of wider audiences online!
T-shirts are a perfect example. Create the perfect t-shirt that relates to your mission and has a wide appeal for donors and soon-to-be-donors alike. There are a few surefire marketing techniques for promoting your custom merch on social media:
- Create regularly scheduled posts on one or two platforms.
- Post engaging and varied visuals that include the shirt.
- Include direct links to your online store or the shirt’s campaign page.
- Ask your followers for shares and invite donors to post their pics, too.
For even more tips, we recommend Bonfire’s guide to designing and promoting custom merchandise and t-shirts online.
Just be sure to find a custom shirt or merchandise platform that offers flexible options for how your nonprofit can design, offer, and sell its shirts to online supporters. Don’t put yourself on the hook for personally distributing them!
6. Follow some branding best practices.
Your nonprofit is almost certainly aware of the importance of building a brand identity, but do you know any specific ways to get started or ensure you’re heading in the right direction?
There are a few essential best practices that businesses use to build social media brands, but you can easily adapt them to your role as a nonprofit organization. They include:
- Don’t be too promotional or constantly solicit donations in every single post.
- Encourage direct and genuine engagement with supporters.
- Focus your efforts on only a few social media platforms.
- Track your marketing results in relation to shifts in your branding strategies.
When it comes to branding, you’ve already got the added benefit of being a nonprofit organization! Your existing supporters follow you because they believe in the value of your work and mission. Potential donors are naturally more willing to trust your messaging and intentions than they will a for-profit business.
Foster mutually supportive relationships for a healthy online brand, one that encourages engagement and can organically attract new supporters.
7. Create donation and volunteer matching challenges.
Another great way to build some excitement and engagement on social media is to hold a special matching gift drive or volunteering challenge!
Matching gifts and volunteer grants are surprisingly overlooked aspects of corporate philanthropy and can provide major boosts to nonprofits of all sizes. Here are some ways to create engaging challenges to promote online:
- Designate a specific period of time, a week or month, and challenge your followers to reach a certain amount of donations matched by their employers. Host an entertaining event or distribute free t-shirts to thank them.
- Arrange a special matching gift drive with a local business willing to provide a percentage match on all donations you receive within a shorter time frame. This is a great way to attract attention from new donors within your community.
- Promote a similar volunteering challenge along these same lines leading up to your next major community service or development project. Some companies offer extremely generous volunteer grant programs, so do your research!
Plus, most supporters will leap at the chance to have their donations or volunteered time matched by their employer! This makes these challenges an excellent marketing strategy.
Social media only amplifies the impact by encouraging supporters whose donations were matched to share the news online with their friends, family, and (most importantly) co-workers!
Attracting new audiences for your nonprofit’s work on social media platforms can be a tricky balancing act, but following even a few smart strategies can make a major difference.
By focusing on social media engagement, you can continually grow your donor list and your donation revenue. Start experimenting to find the right strategies for your mission!
Abby Jarvis is a blogger, marketer, and communications coordinator for Qgiv, an online fundraising service provider. Qgiv offers industry-leading online giving and peer to peer fundraising tools for nonprofit, faith-based, and political organizations of all sizes. When she’s not working at Qgiv, Abby can usually be found writing for local magazines, catching up on her favorite blogs, or binge-watching sci-fi shows on Netflix.