Month: July 2014

How do you use your social media to raise money for your charity? Part 2

I don’t think too many charity leaders or Marcom professionals are going to suggest to you that social media will create overnight success for your organization. Most nonprofit professionals don’t think it will, but some of us are quick to give up when we aren’t getting overnight success. Josephson (2013) describes a complaint he sometimes hears:” We have a Facebook page but it’s just not working”. A common and very flawed statement. First the definition of “working” is often skewed but just having a page and thinking it will magically engage your donors, raise money AND connect with a younger demographic on its own, or with little effort, is ridiculous. Generally speaking in life, the more “free and easy” something is to get the harder you have to work and spend on it to get results out of it. Social media is similar. It is great because it is so accessible, easy to start and use and incredibly free. But that means you have to invest more intentionally in how you use it”
Given how busy we all are it is easy to invest some time in pushing information out to your followers and investing little to no time engaging them and interacting with them. Why is this important other than the obvious answer that it is not called “social media” for nothing? Developing relationships, engaging and building trust with your followers increases the likelihood that you will build trust with and engage their followers. Creedon (2012) describes :”… more than half of social media users (68 percent) say that they would “take time to learn more about a charity if they see a friend posting about it.” As leaders working or volunteering for a nonprofit this is music to our ears. To attract volunteers, to engage new first time donors we have to first get people interested in our cause and our organization. We must spend time both informing our followers what we do as well as in developing relationships with them. If we do they will be more likely to share our content and to describe to their networks how they are involved with us. As Creedon suggests when they do this well over half of their followers will in turn take time to learn about what we do.
In their blog post on Forbes, Ambassador and Clark (2014) describe how to turn this interest into raising more money for your favorite charity. There authors suggest recruiting a team of volunteers to help with online pledge fundraising. However recruiting a team is not sufficient -these authors suggest that you have to show them how to help you. They describe:” It’s critical to engage them regularly and provide them with guidelines about what to post and how to ask their audiences to support the cause. To increase engagement, try to make the process turnkey for them (Ambassador & Clark, 2014).”
This appears to be a critical factor “making the process turnkey”. Doesn’t it make sense the easier you make it for your followers to share your, content, your story and your pledge pages; the more likely they will be to share them. Additionally most of the followers on our social media may be interested in raising funds for us but they are not professional fundraisers. They way however be highly resourceful and fluent in their use of social media. Arming these followers with our stories which are interesting , compelling and easy to share makes them more effective in telling our story to their followers. Arming these same followers with sample posts and tweets to support our fundraising appeals or our peer to peer fundraising pages only makes them more effective in raising funds for us.
Josephson, B (2013) Can You Raise Money With Social Media? February 14, 2013 RE:Charity ; as retrieved from
Creedon ,A (2012) Infographic: Social Media’s Impact on Giving in 2012
Bruny, M..A & Clark ,D (2014) 5 Tips To Help You Raise More Money For Your Favorite Charity In 2014 Forbes as retrieved from:
If you want to read part one of this article follow this link:

Does your social media raise any money for your charity?

Every once in a while I go to a conference or a presentation in which the presenter suggests that charities are not really raising any money with or on social media. I find this viewpoint interesting, often these presenters provide data that shows charities are increasingly raising more and more money on their websites. Our supporters do not make donations on our twitter account but they may click a link they saw on one of our tweets which clicks through to a pledge page or our donate page on our website. In my mind in such a case our social media has been a part of the chain which has made it easy or accessible for someone to make a donation to us. Our social media has not directly been the vehicle in which the transaction took place, but it is part of the chain which ultimately made the donation probable or even convenient.
I suppose it is also another one of the tools we use to make our case of support. That is it is another way we inform people that we have a need and show them a convenient way they can act immediately to support us. Josephson (2013) elaborates :”Where do you get your news nowadays? Some combination of the TV, newspaper, newspaper websites, blogs and social media I would guess. Well that’s how donors are learning and engaging with organizations as well, through a variety of mediums and devices. So integrating your campaigns, communications and events with social media increases the chances of reaching your immediate audience as well as the opportunity to reach new people with the message as well.”
Social media is another tool, not unlike traditional media that can be used as one more method to share your story or your users stories. The benefit to social media -if used effectively- is that it is in alignment with the way people prefer to get information to assist them to make purchasing or donating decisions. We have become wary and distrustful of traditional advertising; however we trust and value the input and opinions of our friends and social networks. A good deal of this type of information is or can be obtained via our social media channels of choice. Josephson (2013) illustrates how this works:”Social media and the web should make it easier than ever to get testimonials from your donors who can share and advocate on your behalf. I love the sharing option after you give as when people give, openly, it encourages others to give. If someone you know trusts an organization you are much more likely to also trust that organization. Think of restaurant recommendations, movie reviews or Amazon purchases. We value what our peers, or people like us, value. So without those fancy algorithm’s or rating system get your donors to share about you easily and when they are most pumped on your cause (after a donation for example).”
If you are not convinced the social media might help your charity Creedon (2012) has an info graphic on Nonprofit Quarterly which might have you reconsidering. Creedon (2012) reports :”The average online donation through social media is increasing every year and has doubled in the last five years”. Currently most charities are likely raising a greater proportion of their revenue through more traditional fundraising methods than they are using social media or even their website alone. However the rate of growth of the total amount or the percentage of revenues raised online certainly is cause to pay attention to these tools and tactics. This infographic also identifies some interesting themes ,some of these themes directly relate activity on social media with online fundraising success. For example:” although 98 percent of nonprofits have a Facebook page, only one-third of those organizations are using the social network for soliciting individual donations, and even less (20 percent) use it for event fundraising. Although a lesser number of nonprofits surveyed (74 percent) use Twitter, the infographic indicates that those using Twitter in their fundraising campaigns were able to raise approximately ten times more online than those who didn’t use Twitter.”
I can’t imagine nonprofit leaders or fundraisers hearing that their appeal or campaign could have ten times the success by using a particular media or technique would not do everything they could to ensure that they used the tool or media. Like all other financial transactions that are day to day occurrences for each of us, most of us have an expectation that we are able to make these transactions online. A few years ago I paid my bills by mailing a cheque. Now if I need to use a cheque to make a payment I have to first remember where I keep my chequebook, because I use it so infrequently. I also don’t go inside my bank branch very often as my paycheque is directly deposited and most of my bills I pay online.
It may be too easy for charity leaders to ignore social media or online giving as proportionally it makes up a small percent of their charities total revenue. Given the rate of growth of online giving this would not seem wise. I deal with more than one bank, if any of these banks stopped improving the types of services they offer or how easy it is to use these services online- I would stop using that bank. It is quite likely that some of our donors if we do not constantly make it easier for them to donate to us online-they will move their support to charities who do. And if the growth of online donations doesn’t encourage you to jump on board, heed Birkwood’s (2014) words:” Major charities are reporting declining results from established fundraising methods such as street, direct mail, door-to-door and telephone fundraising, according to a new report from the charity think tank New Philanthropy Capital.” When old tricks begin to stop working it is definitely time to learn how to learn some new tricks.

Josephson, B(2013) Can You Raise Money With Social Media? February 14, 2013

RE:Charity ; as retrieved from

Creedon ,A (2012) Infographic: Social Media’s Impact on Giving in 2012

Birkwood, S (2014 Charities report declining results from established fundraising

methods in Third Sector as retrieved from: report-declining-results-established-fundraising-methods/

How Warren Buffet gives to charity

I like reading articles written by people writing about why or how they support causes that are important to them. I suppose it is a bit of an industrial hazard to wonder why people support the charities they do and how they make the decisions which ones to support. Today I came across this post on Next Avenue. When you read a title called How Warren Buffet Made Me Smarter about Charity- you have to give it a read. The author Eisenberg(2014) quotes Northern Eastern University Professor Rebecca Riccio who states;” Giving with purpose, means achieving two distinct, but highly compatible goals” — to satisfy your personal motivations for giving and to give money to high-performing organizations where it can make a real difference.” This seems to be a very reasonable criterion for deciding which charities to support. In describing Buffet’s views on charity he quotes;” “the important thing is that you feel good about it when you’ve done it. Business is easy, because the market tells you whether you’re right or wrong. But with philanthropy, you can keep doing something that doesn’t make any sense and there’s no playback from the market,” Riccio herself invented the RISE method for deciding which charity to support. In this model Relevance, Impact, Sustainability and Excellence in Management and Operations are to be considered.
As the leader of a small charity the advice to rate sustainability jumps out at me right away. Often charities are encouraged to behave in ways that are detrimental to their own sustainability. Often making investments in fundraising capacity, administration or creating financial reserves are not supported. Organizations like Charity Navigator may provide some direction for donors in deciding which charities to give to but I think overall they can be damaging to the sector. They can be particularly hard on small locally run charities. For example if you are a large multinational charity it may be much easier to create economies of scale when it comes to fundraising or administration costs. If you want some further examples of how the sector as a whole can be forced into making decisions which do not contribute to sustainability (and you are not one of the 3 million people who have already viewed this) check out this You Tube video :
Impact is another criterion described in the RISE approach is also very important. You can review financials to evaluate the results of both a for profit and a nonprofit organization. Financial statements might create a pretty complete picture for a for profit, but for the NPO they tell less than half of the story. We are concerned with ROI but we are not concerned with shareholder value and only slightly less concerned with profit (creating some profit or surplus does contribute to sustainability). As suggested by Riccio (2014):” Just as if you’re investing in a company and want to feel confident it will determine the financial returns you’re looking for, when you invest in a nonprofit, you should try to see if it will deliver the social returns you’re looking for.” Part of the story of a small charities impact might be in their annual report but you will also likely find it on their website and in their newsletter.
Riccio does seem in favor of the charity rating sites but does caution that donors be cognizant of each of these organizations formula for rating charities and determining if their world view of how charities operate is similar with your own. Clearly I would not advise charities to ignore administrative costs or fundraising costs; however there are times when an organization needs to invest wisely and consider a long term view of how these investments will benefit the organization. In the post Riccio is credited with two additional viewpoints that are refreshing from a nonprofit leadership perspective. The post describes:” Riccio urges donors not to be dismissive of charities merely because they pay their executives significant salaries or have fairly high overhead. “We have placed extraordinary expectations on what the nonprofit sector should be doing to care for our most vulnerable populations and yet we somehow want them to do that on the cheap,”
The article also credits her with this second perspective;” She also encourages you to be a sustained giver — making regular, repeated donations to the same groups that you want to help. Being a sustained giver, helps nonprofits have a reliable income and gives them confidence to take a longer-term view of how they’d like their programs to work over the years,” says Riccio. “A lot of the work nonprofit organizations do takes time to see results. By sustaining an organization for the long haul and providing a reliable source of support, you’re giving them the breathing room it takes and they won’t be as subject to fluctuations in funding that can force them to stop and start programs.” Sustained gifts do create as she suggests confidence to take a longer term view. However they also do create cash flow which can be very important particularly for the small charity. I am not sure if everyone who supports a charity realizes how important sustained giving or monthly gifts are –but it is refreshing to see an author and a professor advocating it.
Eisenberg,R (2014) How Warren Buffett Made Me Smarter About Charity: Tips from a Giving With
Purpose MOOC he helped teach: Next Avenue; May 20,2014 as retrieved from
Ted Talks (2013) Dan Pallotta: The way we think about charity is dead wrong as retrieved from: