If you’re a nonprofit just starting out in social media, you can launch a very effective online fundraising campaign for free using only a blog and Facebook. Mastering these two tools will help you to build the framework for future online fundraising strategies.
According to the 2011 Nonprofit Social Network Report, 92 percent of all nonprofits use at least one commercial social network and 89 percent of them use Facebook. A survey commissioned by Idealware also found that 84 percent of nonprofits were effectively using blogs to enhance existing relationships with donors.
Many people remain skeptical about diving into an industry that is new and foreign to them. One visit to Mashable, the holy grail of social media news, will overwhelm first-time users with so many different technologies and social websites it can be intimidating for someone who is unsure of where to begin.
Start a blog
A blog is basically a news outlet for your organization, where you can post stories, images and videos for your audience to see and share. The purpose of a blog is to build an audience of readers who either support your cause or find your content interesting enough to keep coming back (and hopefully share your content with their social networks). You can start a blog for free at WordPress.com, Blogspot.com or Tumblr.com.
Share your blog content
Once you have your blog up and you’re producing content, the next step is setting up social channels to share your content with people who might find it interesting or relevant. Countless channels exist for this, and as you begin to venture into the world of social networking, you’ll soon discover the best websites and discussion forums to connect with your most targeted niche. But before you overwhelm yourself with the endless possibilities, we suggest you start with Facebook.
The idea is to concentrate on sharing your content in channels where your prospective supporters are already participating. According to the February 2012 eBizMBA Rank, Facebook dominates as the most popular social media website in the world.
Setting up a page is free and fairly simple using Facebook’s comprehensive step-by-step process. Just remember to provide all the most important information about your organization, including your mission. And don’t forget to upload a profile picture that either displays your logo or represents your organization’s larger purpose.
Once you’ve created and customized your Facebook page, you can start recruiting Facebook fans and sharing links to your blog every time you publish a new article. A Facebook “fan” is basically a “subscriber. People who “like” your page are essentially “subscribing” to your content. And the more content these fans “like” on your page, the more frequently your future content will appear in their newsfeeds. That is the most basic way to build and retain Facebook fans.
Turn your visitors into donors
The possibilities for creating fundraising campaigns through these platforms (and more) are as infinite as your imagination. But, the next critical step is creating a destination where readers can easily donate. You’re much more likely to reap a higher volume of donations through these online channels with an online payment form. Instead of trying to encourage donors to mail you a check or show up to a location to give you money, why not let them donate right where you’re proactively attracting them to your content?
By linking people to an online payment form from your blog and your content, you not only present your visitors with a way to donate online, but you can also share a link to your online payment form in every future social campaign you execute.
To maximize the success of this social fundraising strategy, you should regularly produce interesting content that your targeted fans and subscribers will find interesting and, hopefully, share. Doing this will spread awareness for your organization and attract an audience that may be interested in supporting it, but might not have known about it otherwise.
Remember to continually share your content through your Facebook page and other social channels if you have them. If not, once you’ve mastered your Facebook page, you can explore all the benefits of using Twitter, LinkedIn, and countless other social technologies to connect with new potential donors.