What is social fundraising?
Social fundraising is a critical concept to understand, but can also be a confusing and complicated one. The focus of this page is to explain all of the concepts around social fundraising for nonprofits. A fundraising campaign can include an annual donation request, a dinner or gala, a peer-to-peer campaign, an organized 5K, etc. Our goal is to have communicated the value and opportunity, core principles to follow, and some next steps in order to use the power of social fundraising to benefit your organization.
Social fundraising defined:
Social fundraising for nonprofits is getting people (supporters, donors, evangelists, fundraisers, etc.) to post to their personal social media networks about the actions that they take related to your cause.
Social fundraising evolution
Asking for money is historically a social thing. There is a certain level of familiarity and context-awareness required to make the action of giving a positive experience. Nonprofits know this well and are especially adept at it.
As you know, giving is rarely one-sided. A donation is really more of a conversation than a transaction, and as a result, nonprofits have traditionally used channels familiar to their audience at that moment — usually the more personal the better. Think collection boxes or even church alms. And a lot of organizations are still using events like dinners and galas as cornerstones of their fundraising program because of the in-person component.
However, these channels often have problems with scale and efficiency. What’s great though is human beings have shown that they’re quick to adapt and adopt new technologies that ease communication. Over time, direct mail, the telephone, and digital channels (such as websites and email) all became familiar enough to be used for donation requests.
These innovations were eagerly embraced by nonprofits because of their low cost and scalable nature. Donors, in turn, loved the fact that it was easy to get involved and help.
Naturally, social media quickly became another channel in which nonprofits could spread the word about their work and their need for support. Social media allowed nonprofits to spread awareness about their mission as well as ask for donations.
However, it was different than techniques in the past in two very big ways.
- 1 Individual users were quickly building their own networks of family and friends that now could easily and quickly be reached
- 2 Social media changed what was socially acceptable to push out to their personal networks in volume
Think about this…
Direct mail will get supporters to make a donation, but will it get them to write letters to 100 of their friends?
Phone calls work to get supporter donations, but will supporters then call 100 of their friends?
Email will drive donations, and is easier to share, but how likely is it that 100 emails will be sent out by supporters ? How many clicks is that?
Social media is another great way to get new donations, and with just one click, donors can share their donation with over 100 friends.
Social fundraising - a shift in nonprofit thinking
Social fundraising happens when supporters want to interact with a cause, make it their own, and show the world how they care and give back… all through their mobile device and social networks.
It’s a profound change in how people interact with nonprofits and it’s an essential part of evolving and modernizing how fundraising works.
Most nonprofits have added some form of technology to their fundraising arsenal. What began with in-person, direct mail, and telemarketing now most likely has the addition of email, online ads, and now social media.
The concept of social fundraising is a necessary shift in the way nonprofits behave in order to account for this new world of communication. Recognizing the importance and value that social fundraising brings to all of their initiatives is becoming imperative.
And, the fact that shares have a real power to result in a new donation from someone not already in the nonprofits audience is huge. However we can’t overlook what the ‘friend-to-friend referral’ nature of these shares adds to overall cause awareness as well which is often just as important to your nonprofit as a donation.
Many nonprofits are currently embracing this powerful shift in their fundraising. Now, more than ever, they aren’t just asking for a donation and leaving it at that. They are also empowering their community to share their story in their own words, which brings in new supporters — and new donors.
Nonprofits are now providing tools to supporters in order to launch individual (peer-to-peer) fundraising efforts, encouraging them to tell their story in their own way, and then watching them bring friends and family into the mix to give, support, and share.
The power of the crowd is real. When a supporter takes your story as part of their own, it resonates with their networks on a much more personal level, making it nearly impossible to ignore.
Social fundraising is going to create one of those next big spaces on the internet. The old paradigm for fundraising was, “I need help,” and an individual would give you money or send in a cheque.
But when you layer asking for help with social media, it turns one donor into hundreds, even thousands of donors sometimes. It turns one advocate for your cause into an evangelist; where they can talk about a cause and share it broadly.
We want nonprofits to leverage that. We want to make sure that, whether you are the biggest nonprofit or the smallest one, you have the information and ability to get into the social fundraising game.
Rob Solomon, GoFundMe CEO