Everyone has social media these days, including your grandmother. At first glance that seems to be a good thing. You’re able to get your non-profit’s name and message out to more people easier. However it doesn’t always work in your favor. If you’re not careful, social media can actually wind up hurting your fundraising efforts. Before you call me crazy or tell me I obviously don’t know how to use social media correctly, let’s take a look at a few things:
- You would expect large organizations to have millions of Facebook likes, but let’s take a look at some of the biggest groups out there: American Red Cross – 840K; American Red Cross LA (2nd largest chapter) – 5K; American Cancer Society – 1.1M; Habitat for Humanity 543K; Planned Parenthood 803K. Likes don’t mean anything. It’s great that people like your posts or your organization, but that doesn’t necessarily translate into donation. Numbers can also skew the other way. American Red Cross LA is their second largest chapter but their FB page only has 5300 likes.
- Remember the ice bucket challenge? Everyone did it even if they didn’t know what ALS was or what the organization was really about. On the surface it seemed like an incredible way to raise an immense amount of money, and it did do just that. However, almost none of the people who donated will become repeat donors. Plus, while the organization now has a large influx of cash, it’s not a repeatable program so they will not be able to do it again year after year.
- Texting – now I know texting isn’t really social media, but for these purposes I’m going to add it in. Text to donate has become a huge success, allowing organizations to raise large sums of money quickly in the face of disaster – think Hurricane Harvey and Irma, Red Cross, etc. Once again though, these are all anonymous donors. Organizations receive a large influx of cash but no way to follow up with people who donate via text, so they’re missing out on cultivating additional donors.
- Instagram is a fabulous way to share moments from your organization, whether it’s your day-to-day happenings, snaps from your yearly big event, promoting something. And hashtags are the perfect way to reach audiences that aren’t currently following you. However, use the wrong hashtag and your photo goes into what I call the Instagram Black Hole. #food has over 237 MILLION photos posted under that hashtag. There’s no way your organization will stand out. But if you make it slightly more specific, like #foodandwine (if you were having a gala, for example) it drops down to 2 million posts. You’re much more likely to be found then.
Don’t get me wrong – social media is a fabulous tool for getting your organization out there, spreading your mission and disseminating information to the public. You just can’t rely on it to do the majority of your fundraising thru. Too much of the information you receive is incorrect, incomplete or not actionable. And without your donors you’re nowhere.
BY Courtney Rheuban