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 http://recharity.ca/can-you-raise-money-with-social-media/
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: