TikTok Philanthropy Has Important Lessons for Nonprofits
Personal recommendations from friends and family tend to be the most impactful.
Classy’s Why America Gives report also found that next-gen donors (Gen Z and Millennials) are four times as likely to learn about causes from influencers and celebrities compared to traditional donors (Gen X and Baby Boomers). Plus, these supporters are 1.7 times more likely to find causes through the media. This combination makes social media platforms like TikTok worth nonprofits’ attention.
As younger generations grow their social followings, they feel called to make an impact. TikTok, in particular, has become a powerful outlet for social media influencers to inspire charitable giving from their audiences. We’ve encouraged nonprofits to explore TikTok for a while, and these trends reinforce the validity and potential impact of that recommendation.
To best leverage this trend, nonprofits need to know the upsides and challenges of TikTok philanthropy. Below, we’ll cover these, along with more about what drives younger generations and examples of TikTok philanthropists that nonprofits can connect with and learn from.
Younger Generations Want to Make an Impact
Alix Earle, a recent University of Miami graduate with more than five million TikTok followers, credited her teachers and what she learned in business school for her social media success. To give back, she established a scholarship fund for promising business students.¹ By using her TikTok for philanthropy, Earle helps remove monetary barriers and promote diversity and inclusion in business.
In Why America Gives, we saw that next-gen donors like Earle are three times as likely to advocate on an organization’s behalf compared to traditional donors. In doing so, they make a difference themselves and encourage others to join them.
We also found that they’re more inclined to make charitable giving a central part of their budget. While traditional donors tend to be more pessimistic about the economy and cancel a recurring donation when faced with financial stress, next-gen donors show a willingness to cut back in other areas to continue their donations and, when faced with rising community needs, even increase them.
The Upsides of TikTok Philanthropy
Next-gen donors are a social media-savvy community. Their greater involvement with social media likely contributes to their increased trust in influencers and groups outside their inner circle. This means that nonprofits can reach a wider audience if introduced to prospective donors through a familiar TikTok philanthropist.
Why America Gives also proved that next-gen donors are 2.7 times more likely than traditional donors to host an individual fundraising page on behalf of an organization they support.
Jimmy Darts, a TikTok philanthropist with more than 12 million followers, uses his platform to promote GoFundMe pages for individuals in need who, despite their situations, take time to show him kindness. He posts videos of the individuals’ initial acts of kindness and learns about their stories to drive momentum for the corresponding campaign page. He then posts a follow-up video where his supporters get to see him donate the money they all raised to the individual.
TikTok philanthropy has the potential to drive peer-to-peer fundraising for specific initiatives if influencers feel empowered to set up donation sites where their followers can give to causes they promote.
The Challenges of TikTok Philanthropy
While next-gen donors have a strong desire to give back, Why America Gives found that they’re more likely than traditional donors to shift their attention to different causes rather than remain loyal to a specific organization.
There’s a potential risk with TikTok philanthropy for donors to quickly move on to the next nonprofit once an influencer stops promoting your cause. However, with the right donor stewardship tactics, the risk becomes much less likely, and donors who remain tend to deepen their engagement.
The key is to engage donors who arrive at your nonprofit through a TikTok influencer as soon as they make their first gift. Your initial impression can define how long they decide to support your cause. In fact, our State of Modern Philanthropy report found that one-third of first-time donors who became recurring givers did so within the first 90 days of their involvement with a cause. This speaks to the power of nurturing a donor immediately after they give.
Ensure that as soon as someone engages with your campaign, you actively pursue stewardship and donor retention strategies. Personalized recurring giving appeals are a great option to welcome them to a special community within your organization. Explore these 7 Ways to Boost Recurring Donor Acquisition at Your Nonprofit for inspiration.
How to Best Leverage TikTok Philanthropy
To make TikTok philanthropy work for your nonprofit, lean into the three primary fundraising pillars Classy has defined based on the current giving landscape: storytelling, experience, and connection. These pillars will help elevate your TikTok presence and potentially grab the attention of modern, charitably-minded influencers.
In addition to creating great content, TikTok’s integration with Salesforce Marketing Cloud will be a game-changer for businesses looking to tap into the vast potential of consumers on the platform. Maintaining awareness of influencers who believe in your mission and seeking out ways to connect with them is another critical practice. Establishing these relationships with influential personalities can do wonders for your visibility. Check out these 7 Tips to Find the Right Nonprofit Influencers for Your Organization to get started.
Storytelling has the power to bring new donors into your orbit. This multifaceted tool helps your audience visualize the difference they can make by supporting your cause. It helps them find a sense of belonging within your work. Powerful storytelling relies on personalization, authenticity, and creativity to attract donors to your nonprofit and get them excited about being involved.
Why America Gives found that Americans’ view of giving has evolved. In addition to donating to established nonprofits, they want to give directly to individuals or causes in need and provide nonmonetary contributions, such as volunteering time. Zachery Dereniowski is a TikTok influencer leveraging this trend to tell powerful stories that inspire giving.
Dereniowski engages with individuals and small businesses, at first concealing his identity. When they respond to him with kindness, he presents them with cash and provides opportunities for them to give to others as well. He also partners with celebrities and corporate sponsors to increase his reach and impact. Each of these interactions leads to short, heartfelt videos that drive engagement with his audience and toward crowdfunding links in his bio.
Nonprofits can follow this example by highlighting stories of helping individuals through their work. Take your broader mission and show it in action at the ground level. By creating emotional stories that move donors, you inspire direct giving.
When you provide a seamless, powerful giving experience, you create something to help donors remember you. Experiences are about getting donors involved in an activity or feeling like they’re part of a key moment.
Community Organized Relief Effort is a crisis response nonprofit that brings immediate aid and recovery to underserved communities across the globe. CORE’s TikTok content incorporates messages from celebrities and influencers to drive momentum for timely causes.
This strategy aligns with what we found in Why America Gives: next-gen donors are 1.6 times as likely to be motivated to donate following a sudden news event or crisis than traditional donors. They want to connect to the moment and experience being part of its solutions.
Celebrities Cindy Crawford and Rachel Zoe shared videos on CORE’s account to encourage giving for World Refugee Day. The nonprofit also partnered with Big Freedia, a TikTok star with more than 497,000 followers, to help disseminate critical information about COVID-19 during the public health emergency.
Nonprofits can follow CORE’s example by creating content that captures the moment. Give your supporters a way to experience giving back to a timely cause. By connecting with influencers and celebrities, you can maximize your reach and tap into the full power of TikTok philanthropy.
The best way to connect with donors is to meet them where they are. Through the platforms they use most, share information that connects their donations to the work you’ve done. You want to build a connection that lets them see that they made a difference through their gift.
MurphsLife Foundation is a nonprofit formed around donations to individuals and groups. The founder shares short videos on TikTok that rally his audience of more than 6.4 million to crowdfund for the people and causes he highlights. He always connects donors to the results by reminding them they’re the ones who made it happen. The caption for a video about a fun day at an orphanage in El Salvador reads, “YOU threw a party for an orphanage.”
Another video shares, “You guys did it again. Julie has terminal skin cancer that has spread throughout her entire body. Her parents now have a fully sustainable home that is 100% paid off … you have paid for her medicine for the years to come … They’re in contact with the best doctors here and have money now in the bank for emergencies. Thank you for ALL of your love and support.”
Nonprofits can follow this example by connecting donors to the tangible results of their donations. Why America Gives found that next-gen donors prefer connecting through bite-sized, frequent updates. Social media is an excellent way to convey that information. Show your supporters exactly what they made possible and remind them that they’re the reason it could happen.
Use TikTok Philanthropy as a Tool to Form Meaningful Relationships with Donors and Influencers
TikTok philanthropy is a growing trend among next-gen donors. This platform offers an opportunity to connect with new audiences through powerful storytelling, timely experiences, and meaningful connections. With the right stewardship approach, you can turn donors who find you through TikTok into lifelong champions of your cause.
This is also a chance to meet influencers interested in doing social good and help them use their platform to act on that. By promoting your work, they can expand your reach and raise critical funds for your causes. With the double impact of reaching new donors and having influencers elevate your message, TikTok philanthropy is a trend worth nonprofits’ time.
If you’re new to TikTok, check out our TikTok for Nonprofits blog for how-to steps on setting up your account, plus quick-and-easy tips and examples for creating your content.
Copy Editor: Ayanna Julien
1. “TikTok Star Alix Earle Provides Scholarships for Business Students,” News@theU, last modified June 29, 2023, https://news.miami.edu/stories/2023/06/tiktok-star-alix-earle-provides-scholarships-for-business-students.html.
TikTok for Nonprofits: Should Your Organization Use It?
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