Fundraising the Smart Way – Part 2

I’m collaborating with Ellen Bristol of The Leaky Bucket Nonprofit Blog on a series of reports on nonprofits and social media. Ellen focuses on how nonprofits can manage and improve their fundraising performance, emphasizing strategic management, metrics, benchmarks and processes.

Why? Because as she says, too many nonprofits ignore the strategic stuff and focus on tactics. And when they do, fundraising suffers. Social media seems like a tactical issue, but when you look at it strategically, it can boost your fundraising performance in meaningful ways.

In today’s post, Ellen has added her thoughts to the end of each section, which I’ve put into italics.

Using Social Media Right, Part 2

4. Who Does the Work? Many nonprofits assign their social-media work to younger employees, assuming that since “young people” are more likely to use social media more than the rest of the staff, they’re “perfect” for the job. But experience may not equal expertise. Can the staffer oversee a multigenerational marketing and branding effort to increase awareness of your organization and raise money?Maybe your social media should be handled by a team including someone for content and someone else to post and link.

Ellen’s comment: Social-media tools may be easy to learn, but knowing how to use them doesn’t deliver the message. Make sure your social-media messages help to fulfill your fundraising strategy: are you attracting the right funders and getting the results you want.

5. Use Your Brochure and Other Existing Materials. Don’t reinvent the wheel when creating content. If you have good brochures or annual reports, why not share the information through other formats? Your supporters aren’t memorizing the copy, after all.

Take information from brochures or reports and break it down into bite-sized chunks. I’ve seen organizations get at least ten posts from one brochure.

Ellen’s comment: Several short posts that deliver related messages are more effective and drive a larger following, than the occasional huge post. Create a conversation with followers.

6. Be Quick. In the past you could wait weeks before you shared photos from an event in a newsletter. With social media, audiences expect it almost instantaneously. If you have an event, get some or all of your pictures posted within 24 hours. That may not be possible if you use a professional photographer; save those shots for the annual report and make sure someone on staff is taking candid shots as well. The shots may not be as nice but they can serve as a good appetizer for your post event coverage and appeals. Make sure that you tell people at the event where and when they’ll be able to find the photos.

You may also need to shift your view of perfection. Perfection is a worthy goal but it takes a long time. “Good” takes a lot less time.

Imagine that your nonprofit’s focus or main issue is being covered in the national news. You need to comment on it immediately and use it to introduce your organization to the community or reinforce your image. To execute, you need a streamlined approval process. This is not the time to forward an idea to a dozen people for approval. Think of the media coverage as your Super Bowl; you have to get your Super Bowl advertisement out as soon as possible.

Ellen’s comment: In fundraising, “getting it done” is often better than “getting it perfect.” People can even use “getting it perfect” as a way to delay doing the fundraising task at all. Set up and simplify your approval process ahead of time. Master the art of writing succinct copy quickly. These are strategic issues!

7. Share a Vision

Most people don’t know what you do or how you do it. They know you do good work but that’s about it. Take them into your world and let them feel your passion for your cause. People love “behind the scenes” features, where you get to find out how the magic is made. So profile some of your employees. How did they come to your organization? Tell us about the person who answers your phone. Have four or five questions that you ask each employee. Ditto for clients, donors and board members.

Make sure your employees, volunteers, and board members follow your posts. It’s not a bad idea to give them a fun quiz to make sure they are. They are your chief ambassadors, so they need to know what’s happening in your organization.

Engage your followers with questions and ask them to respond. Studies have found that only a very small percentage will likely respond but it’s important to make sure you’re having a dialogue and not a sermon.

Ellen’s comment: Not only does this tip help you build your following, it helps you and your insiders appreciate the true mission and impact of your nonprofit!


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