How can charities use social media to smash their fundraising goals?
Social media is already a fundamental part of many charities' fundraising strategies. It is both a valuable tool for supporter engagement and a platform for fundraising in its own right. Last year, Enthuse revealed that although the pandemic accelerated the process of digital transformation among UK charities, just 12% would consider themselves advanced in their approach to technology and tools - of which social media is now a vital part.
In response to these findings, we sat down with Digital Glue: a full-service marketing agency with expertise in communications, design, websites, and digital marketing, to get their views on how charities can harness the power of social media to level up their fundraising game.
Here’s what they had to say…
The key to social media success is strategy. You must be clear on your approach to what can initially seem like a daunting part of the internet. Your strategy will dictate where you choose to spend your time and energy, who you want to target and with what approach.
A few key questions to consider when planning your social media strategy:
What do I want to achieve?
Who is my target audience?
What are my Key Performance Indicators? (How do I measure success? E.g. I want my content to be seen by 5,000 people per month)
What is my budget?
How much time do I have to spend on it?
What is my target Return on Investment (ROI)? (How much money do I want to raise per £ spent?)
Once you’ve finalised your strategy, the next step is content. This is what you choose to populate your social channels with, and is the key to engaging with your audiences and securing donations.
A few tips for content creation:
When reviewing your posts, put yourself in your audience’s shoes. Have you gained value? Has it sparked an emotional response within you?
Is there a clear Call-to-Action in the caption? Every post you share should tie in with your general marketing strategy. Whether you’re directing people to your website, or asking for a donation, you must make it easy for your audience to act on the piece of content you’ve created.
Plan your content schedule. At the end of each month, sit down and think about what you want to share next month. You don’t need to be posting every day, but it should be well prepared and tie in with any key milestones in your general strategy.
From a fundraising perspective, it’s also worth considering the different approaches to social media you may need to achieve your goals. For example, you may need a different strategy to raise awareness of your charity and its cause than you do to ask for donations: the most emotive, shareable content isn’t necessarily what will raise the most money. However, it will help to raise your profile and grow your audience, who have the potential to become donors further down the line. Our advice would be to aim to strike a balance between content intended to raise awareness and spark interest, and content intended to secure donations, and not try to be all things to all people (at the same time!).
An example of this could be a video campaign based on short interviews with people who have benefitted from your charity’s work, talking about their background and how their lives have changed. This type of emotive content tends to receive a higher level of engagement and wider reach compared with content that doesn’t tap into our emotions. From this, you could launch a related event series, encouraging your recently engaged audience to get involved and donate.
With so much competition for limited newsfeed space and user attention, your content needs to both look great and align with your charity’s brand identity. This will require a certain amount of design work – however – don’t panic if you’re short on graphic design experience!
We’d recommend graphic design software, Canva, which allows you to easily create professional-looking content using their various design tools and templates. It’s a good idea to create 3-4 standard templates for each social platform (for example, an image for an event announcement on Facebook), which you can easily edit within Canva to include whatever information you need. The aim is that whoever sees your image will know it’s you without having to check who posted it!
If you’re a small team and short on time, it could be worth investing in a social media scheduling tool. Manually posting across all your channels can be time consuming, so a scheduling tool that auto-publishes your content at a specified time will speed up this process.
Canva Pro has its own content calendar that allows you to schedule your designs to be published whenever you like, but another great option is later.com. They have a Starter package aimed towards small businesses starting at $15 a month, allowing you to schedule your content and move on to other tasks.
Social Media Platforms
Now, let’s break down some of the key social media platforms, and discuss a few of their pros and cons from a fundraising perspective.
There’s no getting away from it, Facebook is still the engine room of social media: partly because of its roughly 2.9 billion monthly active users, but also because so many other platforms are tied to (or owned by) The Metaverse. If you keep your approach simple and your content succinct, Facebook will allow you to reach a very wide audience.
It's also worth taking note of the demographic of Facebook users – despite its popularity, the percentage of UK users aged 18-24 has declined to 18% in 2022, and 13-17-year-olds make up just 4%. People aged 25-34 are the largest group of Facebook users, with 35-44-year-olds making up the next largest group.
This is relevant to fundraisers because, although people aged 75+ are the most likely group to give to charities in the UK, research suggests that the 35-54 group actually give the largest amount. With its simple donation feature allowing users to give directly through your charity’s profile, and its large audience of donation-friendly-35-44-year-olds, Facebook remains a highly effective fundraising tool.
X (Previously Twitter)
X is a great platform to encourage conversation: fantastic in many respects despite some accompanying challenges.
Sharing content with a question can open a door to people that want to communicate with you. It also allows you to react to other people and pages and get involved in important conversations through engaging with hashtags and trending topics. From a fundraising point of view, it’s a great platform to raise your charity’s profile and reach a huge audience. You can also capitalise on the hashtag feature by setting up your own hashtag and encouraging people to share it as they get involved in your events and fundraisers.
It’s worth observing that there is currently no feature where users can donate directly through X. It’s also important that your campaigns are well-thought-through and monitored carefully: the fast-paced, open nature of the platform is good for facilitating conversation but can also lead to negativity and backlash.
If you’re looking to tap into the donation potential of millennials and Gen Z, then TikTok is an avenue you’ll need to be exploring. According to Cloudflare’s 2021 Year in Review, TikTok received more internet traffic than Google last year!
With a very simple video editing tool allowing you to tweak clips into engaging short-form videos, TikTok is ideal for highlights reels, vlogs, short interviews and other awareness-raising content. TikTok also has its own TikTok for good initiative, encouraging charities and nonprofits to use the app to ‘grow their audience, activate supporters, and raise awareness around specific causes’.
If you’re looking for an example of charity best-practice on TikTok, look no further than British Red Cross. With over 430,000 followers and 7 million likes, they have perfected the art of creating engaging short videos to motivate, educate and entertain their audiences.
With 2 billion active monthly users worldwide, Instagram is an incredibly popular platform, and has huge potential for visual (image or video-based) content.
It does come with some challenges for charities: it doesn’t allow you to embed a link into your captions, which makes it more difficult to drive users to your website or a donation platform. To somewhat mitigate this, you can put a link in your Instagram bio, and reference this in your captions. However, it does make the process more long-winded, so, for that reason, the platform is better-suited to awareness-raising.
For charities with a large enough following, swipe-up stories are an option for driving traffic to your website. This will allow you to add a clickable link to your Instagram story, promising a more traceable return on investment. However, this feature is currently only accessible for profiles with over 10,000 followers, so isn’t an option for charities starting out on social media. If you’re willing and able to invest in your Instagram presence, it can be a great option to raise your profile, particularly among a younger audience. However, purely from a fundraising point of view, there are probably platforms that will yield a better return on your time and effort.
Ultimately, there is no one ‘right’ way to approach social media fundraising, and success will look different to everyone. However, if we could recommend two key takeaways to incorporate into your social media activities going forward, they would be:
Consistency is key. From your design theme to your posting schedule, it’s important to stay consistent in your approach to social media. Consistency will help to build your charity’s brand identity, and ensure that your social media activities are in line with your overarching fundraising strategy.
Consider the ‘why’. Every social post should have a reason behind it, and that reason should link back to your charity’s strategy and goals. Consider what you want to achieve by your presence on each platform and the best way to achieve it through your content.
We hope you’ve found some useful insights to help kickstart your charity’s social media journey – if you have any questions don’t hesitate to get in touch.
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