Social Media and Fund Raising

I presented the topic of Social Media and Fund Raising at Fund Raising Professionals of Metro Louisville’s membership meeting on February 8, 2011.  To save time, I focused on how to use social media for development strategies instead of showing all of the possible platforms.

In addition to what I presented below, interesting questions/insights included:

  • How frequently should you send out tweets or update your status? (Click here for some advice.)
  • Social media is not a shortcut to relationship development; it’s a form of it.  It takes time, just like relationships in person.  “To Raise Money” is the last way to use it because, as development professionals know, you must lead to the ask, not start with it.
  • Social media is, however, a faster way to find out about people’s interest and about foundations’ interests.  Institutions may share insider information to followers, and individuals often share more than they should.
  • It is the best tool for instantaneous feedback, but the feedback is public.  Everyone sees comments that express  praise as well as the ones that express disapproval.
  • Most nonprofits are interested in social media because their older donor base is dying, and they want to engage a new generation of donors.

Development professionals can use social media any of four ways:

  1. To Learn
  2. To Educate/Inform
  3. To Engage
  4. To Raise Money

How to use it to learn:

  • Follow or like the print publications or fund raising professionals you already subscribe to
  • Follow someone who follows them – (see
    • NOTE: Kirsten does a bi-weekly newsletter in which she provides links to the best articles of the week.  If you get her newsletter, you don’t need to follow her on Twitter.
  • Follow people or businesses in related professions or in your field
    • Marketing professionals @KatyaN4G (nonprofit marketing blog)
    • Tech Soup @TechSoup (they sell tech equipment at a big discount and provide technology coaching to nonprofits)
    • Michael Margolis @getstoried (storytelling)
    • Bridgestar @bridgestar (nonprofit governance)
    • Other examples:
      • If your nonprofit works with abused children, follow a child psychologist or a legislator who advocates for children.
      • Do you help impoverished families? Follow a financial literacy guru.
      • In the performing, visual, or literary arts? Follow artists who have performed at your venue or playwrights whose work you’re going to produce.
  • Do searches on Twitter
    • #nonprofit #board
    • #fundraising
    • #grantwriting

How to use it to educate/inform:

  • Post any news about your organization onto social media outlets, even if you have a “News/Press” tab on your web site, and even if your news didn’t make the major press outlets.
  • Share videos
  • Share tips on Facebook or Twitter (see
    • Remember those other experts in your field you were following?  Share their tips with your audience.
  • Answer a question or enter a discussion on LinkedIn
  • Start a blog about your organization
  • Send out a newsletter
  • Host tweet chats

How to use it to engage:

  • Make the time to reply to people who have commented on your status, your links, your discussions, or your blogs.
  • Participate in other people’s conversations.
  • Offer something unique but authentic and honest in all your tweets, status updates, blogs, and comments.
  • Allow your “followers” to be the first to learn about new things you’re doing, as when the Derby Festival theme was unveiled on Facebook.
  • Tag people in photos and give “shout-outs” to donors, volunteers, sponsors, etc. after your major events.  It’s a small recognition, but it’s automatically viral because their friends and followers see everything about them.  Once my friends see that I donated money to a cause, they might want to do the same.
  • Ask your “followers” what they want
    • Just send out a general tweet or Facebook status asking the question
    • Put a survey on your blog

How to use it to raise money:

  • Partnerships with major corporations
    • For every 10 people who “Like” Bath & Body Works, the company will donate $1 to a women’s shelter.
  • Make people aware of your campaigns and events and provide links to where they can donate.
  • Again, tag people in photos and give “shout-outs” to donors, volunteers, sponsors, etc. after your major events or fund raising drives.
  • Follow or get on the mailing list of foundations you plan to apply to.
  • Remember that the ask is at the end.  If you haven’t done any of the learning, educating, or engaging tips, you have no reason to use it to ask.

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