Nonprofits on Social Media: How to Turn Followers Into Donors

5 min
nonprofits on social media tips
Elizabeth Chung

The power of social media can be hard to put into words, yet it’s a crucial part of a fundraising strategy for a modern nonprofit.  A successful social media presence can not only help you expand your reach and foster your community of supporters—it even has direct correlations with fundraising dollars.

In fact, according to Classy’s special report, Why America Gives, consumers are more likely to be motivated to donate to a nonprofit by a social media influencer than a professional athlete, hollywood celebrity, local politician or national politician.

Which is all great news, but the million-dollar question is: how do you get people to actually donate?

When it comes to long-term strategy, what’s helpful to remember is that there are typically several steps between acquiring social media followers and turning them into financial supporters. Below are a few tactics that will help you cross this bridge and turn social media followers into donors. Before we dive into those tips, let’s cover the basics.

Best Practices for Nonprofits on Social Media

A little bit of research will go a long way when it comes to effectively connecting with your followers. In addition to reading up on best practices for posting, check out the demographics and habits of each platform’s users.  

To get you started, check out Classy’s Big Social Media Guide for Nonprofits and a few of our favorite resources:

Once your team has a good grasp on the best practices for each platform then you’re ready to start planning out your nonprofit social media strategy.

1. Post a Variety of Engaging Content

A key part of any successful social media strategy is a mix of engaging posts and conversation starters, not a stream of donation appeals. In fact, when it comes to social media, millennials’ top pet peeves are coming across the same content constantly (69 percent) and getting hit with asks over and over again (69 percent).

While there’s a place for appeals in your strategy, foster your followers’ connection to your organization by prioritizing storytelling and educational opportunities in your various content pieces. Focus on the following types of posts:

Supporter Recognition

Dedicate a major chunk of your social media strategy to recognizing donors, fundraisers, and volunteers. This can look like tagging them and thanking them directly for their gift, or you might retweet fundraisers’ posts that promote their personal fundraising pages.

nonprofit on social media tweet

Another good idea is to craft a post-donation social message for donors to use right after they make a gift. You can do craft one for an individual donation and one to spotlight and recruit monthly donors.

Impact Highlights

Showcase your organization’s work through videos, infographics, impact stories, testimonials, and blog posts. Include a link back to your website to drive that next touch point.

Check out how BlinkNow spotlighted one individual’s story to grip heartstrings and show the long-lasting impact of a donation.

In the example below, the Charity:Water team takes a simple anniversary announcement post and turns it into an engaging post and contest. By sharing the number of members, this post not only engages followers, but it was a great way to motivate prospective donors to join the hundreds of others who already made a gift.

Cause Awareness

Beyond your organization’s own impact and focus, offer valuable information related to the wider issue you address and what’s going on in the space. Share timely and relevant content from other thought leaders, news and media outlets, or organizations to elevate a broader discussion about the social problem.

Here, LoveYourBrain, an organization that supports brain injury recovery and raises awareness about brain health, shares an article relevant to their cause.

Read Next: A Year of Creative Fundraising Ideas

Asks

Direct donation appeals should make up only a fraction of your social media content, since you don’t want to bombard followers with hard asks. When you do ask followers to make a gift, tailor your language so that supporters can connect the act of a contribution and their core sense of identity—who they believe themselves to be as individuals. They should also be able to identify the difference they can make through their gift. Suggest specific donation amounts that are tied to tangible results.

Note how charity: water calls out the impact of a certain gift amount while inspiring readers to step into their role as participants of the solution.

When followers click the link, they’re taken to a webpage that uses pass-through parameters, which enable the specific donation amount to prepopulate on the form. Seeing the same suggested gift amount here as the social media post can boost the commitment level of a follower who is thinking of donating.

social media donation page

Donation appeals are not the only types of asks to weave into your documented social strategy. As a softer ask, you also want to encourage supporters to sign up for your newsletter. We’ll dive further into this in the following sections.

As you try out a mix of these post types, make sure to track engagement and referral traffic to your site to see which content supporters are responding to and adapt your monthly plan accordingly. 

Free Download: The Quick Start Guide to Data-Driven Fundraising

2. Hook Donors in With a Separate Compelling Story

When thinking of how to turn social media followers into donors, organizations naturally want to reach out to people who directly follow their brand on social media. But sometimes, the trick is to think beyond just reeling in those fans.

We looked at three organizations that had particularly successful—if not unique—social media and fundraising strategies: Reach Out WorldWide (ROWW), Kindred Image, and Invisible Children. A common theme among all three was that each had a compelling person or story that independently caught people’s attention:

  • Reach Out WorldWide organization was formed by late actor/producer Paul Walker
  • Kindred Image founders caught the attention of audiences worldwide through their documentary, The Drop Box, which became the catalyst for Kindred Image
  • Invisible Children produced the viral short film “Kony 2012

One thing to consider is that rather than seeking out and following your organization’s page on social media, prospective donors can be instantly hooked by another catalyzing story or event that they may choose to follow and support, which then introduces them to your organization.

As you think about how to turn social media followers into donors, consider whether you can create (or already have) a compelling event, story, or element that would engage your audience, and throw promotional efforts behind it on social media.

Classy’s recent report, The State of Modern Philanthropy, shows that 60 percent of mobile traffic to Classy campaigns come from social media, which means a good chunk of donors coming from social media is on their mobile devices. Ensure a positive user experience with mobile-responsive campaign pages.

Free Download: The State of Modern Philanthropy

3. Acquire Email Addresses

One of the major ways to turn social media followers into donors, hands down, is to first convert them into email subscribers. Your posts should drive people back to your website where you can collect their email addresses through an updates signup box, like the one below that Mercy for Animals has on their homepage.

subscribe to email list

Email acquisition is key to increasing your number of prospective donors. It allows you to maintain an elective conversation with anyone who lands on your site, including those social media followers who click through your posts. When you’re able to loop them into your regular communications cycle, you can start to strengthen the relationship on a more consistent, personalized basis.

Sprinkle posts into your social media mix that directly ask followers to sign up for your blog or newsletter, and link these posts back to a webpage where they can enter their email address. Once you’ve recruited these new subscribers, continue to send them valuable, relevant content that solidifies their connection to your cause. Only consider sending a donation appeal after several touch points.

 

When it comes to turning social media followers into donors, the goal is to effectively engage them with relevant content and drive them back to your website. Site visitors then have an opportunity to learn more about your organization, sign up for your email updates, and/or donate. With each post, determine whether you are offering a valuable piece of information that encourages a long-lasting relationship with your followers. Then you can start leveraging your social profile as a portal that leads to greater levels of support.


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