3 Ways Nonprofits Can Use Social Media to Engage Donors

Social Media can make a significant impact on nonprofit donor engagement.

Social Media can make a significant impact on nonprofit donor engagement.

Social media is proving to be a valuable tool for nonprofits to engage donors. Donors want to be associated with organizations they support beyond giving money, and these associations are what will lead to more donations. Social media is a means to this end. At its very premise, social media seeks to create a dialogue with an intended audience and, more specifically, build a relationship of value between business and customer (or donor and donee).

Philanthropic decisions are based on a myriad of research, including Internet search, and organizations must find ways to interact with these decision makers to capture their attention. So, as the economic recession pressures donors to re-examine relationships with nonprofits, now is the perfect time to engage donors and create a lasting relationship using social media.

Online fundraising tools no longer require a highly technical, web savvy expert. Here are 3 ways that nonprofit organizations can immediately begin to use social media to engage donors.

1. Create a blog. From a nonprofit perspective there are several key reasons to blog. Blogs should compliment your other channels of communication like video, print, and live presentations, but blogs can deliver perhaps the most important result. A well-written blog can deliver strong relationships with an audience. Blogging gives you a forum where your main objective is not to sell, but to grow and strengthen a personal relationship between you and your donors. Blogs are a fast way to join donor conversation, offer tips and insights or receive feedback. You can establish yourself as the expert, strike up donor friendships, feed internal collaboration and deliver content that your audience can directly relate to.

Example:  Beth’s Blog or Tactical Philanthropy 

2. Use YouTube. For the past several years, online video has become as a strategic tool for groups organizing on the web. Developing a short, simple video can express the needs of a nonprofit in a uniquely compelling manner. YouTube has a specially designed program that enables non-profits to create dedicated channels for themselves, making it even easier for people to find, watch, and engage with the organization’s video content. The most important thing is to make a video with a strong call to action.

You can sign up here: YouTube’s Nonprofit Program  

3. Get a Twitter account. Twitter is basically “microblogging.” You get 140 characters to answer the question, “What are you doing?” Fund-raisers use Twitter to engage donors they didn’t even know existed, often way beyond their geographic boundaries. The tool lets you “listen in” to conversations and hear what prospective donors are talking about. This is priceless knowledge for your own campaigns. You can follow other organizations and garner great advice. It’s real time insight and feedback from potential donors and peers.

Example: Charity: Water has harnessed the power of social media to fund its projects. The projected amount raised by Twestival currently stands at $250,000 USD. See Charity : Water or Twestival

As free tools, Twitter and the above are welcomed additions to hard hit budgets.


Professional Mojo is offering an online workshop for an overview of successful social media strategies that nonprofit and faith-based organizations can embrace to maximize donor engagement on June 25.

Hello or Goodbye? Don’t Underestimate Your Newsletter

With all of these great social media tools swirling around like someone just took a broom to a dusty floor in a sun room, one should never forget the value of the old school follow-up. What do I mean by follow-up? Well, specifically in this case, I’m referring to your newsletter. 

Your business newsletter is an unobtrusive reminder to your current and future customers or members of your value to them. Your name is planted in their mind again and again. The social media frenzy calls up on the critical aspect of developing a relationship with your audience, but keeping them around is another thing entirely. Be the creator of all things worth reading and add a newsletter to your social media portfolio.

 Here are a few tips to creating a great monthly read:

1) Awareness. Your audience needs a basic understanding of your business before they will do business with you. Explain who you are. Succinctly. I’m big on saying things as concisely as possible. After all, you have about four seconds to capture someone’s attention. Tell them who you are, what you sell and how to get in contact with you.

2) Image. Man. Oh man! This matters, people. Even with the down to Earth nature of your blog, or the matter-of-factness of your tweets, or the friendliness of your Facebook profile, your customers want to know you are a professional. They might enjoy the cutesy backdrop on your MySpace page, but rest assured if they are going to donate or spend money with you and your organization, they want solid reassurance of why. Prove to them you run a credible business. Convey to them you are the expert in your space. Give them real reasons why they should choose you over the competition.

3) Call to action. Don’t leave them hanging on the last word. Tell your prospects what you would like from them. It can be as simple as passing the newsletter along to a friend or associate (build that opt-in list you dream of). Ask them to sign up for an event or check out a new product. Provide quick links to other pages.

In the end it’s about value. If you cannot provide them value, that “what’s in it for me” factor, then you’ve lost them at “hello.”

FaceSpace. MyBook. Who’s a Twit? Digg what?

Oh just call me delirious, not Delicious. With all the hype over social media avenues and best practices, where’s a business to run to first? Some might say the local bar counter, but I’ll be honest, it’s not as bad as one might think. Sure, it might take a sip of the ole mint julep to ignite your blogging creativity, but wrapping your head around these new tools is actually pretty easy.

Whether you like it or not, the world has become a more social place, and subsequently businesses better get on the band wagon. Not a threat, just a reality. Take it or leave it, but if your business, no matter how big or small, hasn’t started to engage in some form of social media, you can simply roll down the window and watch your competition race by.

Here are a few great places to start finding your social media mojo:

In coming posts, we’ll drill into some of the most useful tools to grow your business and even your career. And once you get rolling, we’ll also do our best to keep you out of that unlabeled, dark hidden room in the back where you hear the others sound off, “Hi, My name is ___, and I’m a social media addict.”


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