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Turning Your Nonprofits Social Media Followers into Donors (No matter how big or small your social media following is)

donor attraction social media Jun 24, 2018

Every day and in every way, you are told your nonprofit must be on social media. It’s the be all and the end all to widely promoting your cause, so they say. So you create your nonprofit Facebook page, start dishing out those tweets and posting those Instagram-worthy images.  

Now what?

Well, now you are told - get more followers. Do what you have to so those likes and retweets and shares go up. And that’s not wrong - it’s always good to grow your audience - but you shouldn’t feel like you have to “keep up with the Joneses” or suffer social media envy when you see another organization with more followers than yours. You shouldn’t be so hyper-focused on numbers that you forget why you want them there in the first place.

So ask yourself this: Are you seeing more donations from your social media following? Are your new-found followers helping move the needle in terms of volunteer hours or maybe just getting the word out about your cause?

If the answer is ‘not so much,’ like it is for most nonprofits using social media as part of their communications and outreach strategy, the following information will help you bridge that all-important gap from passive follower to active supporter.

So let’s start at the beginning.

You gained a new follower (YES!!) Now they’ll learn more about your organization as they see regular posts about who you are, what you’re doing, and why.  

The next step is to help them become actively engaged in the conversation about your organization. That shows up when they begin to like, comment, and share your content - a big and important step in social media engagement that you’ll want to celebrate as well (second happy YES!!!) This means that your new follower doesn't just see your message, they are helping you to spread information about your organization, meaning you are reaching a broader audience.

Ultimately, you want to be in a position to have them agree to join your email list, where you can build a deeper and more powerful relationship between your organization and this potential supporter. (More on that later).

But to get there, you need to take advantage of what I call ‘the three A’s.’ They are three types of strategic posts you can begin incorporating into your social media communications calendar that will promote engagement that leads to donor support - Appreciation, Advocacy and Appeal.

Appreciation Posts: Everyone likes to feel appreciated, and it’s no different for your followers. It helps increase connection to your organization and its causes. So show them a little social media love!

  • Ask for your followers feedback, showing that you appreciate and value their insights regarding the issue your nonprofit is working hard to address.
  • When they comment on a post, acknowledge it and thank them (or answer a question if they’ve posed it). This also helps cultivate a feeling of dialogue, instead of a one-sided conversation.
  • Repost or share posts or tweets from followers that positively reflect your movement or your impact.
  • Ask a question at the end of your post that invites a personal response and shows you are interested in them as individuals.
    • “My favorite thing about Thanksgiving is being around the people I love most in the world. What are you most thankful for this holiday?”
  • When you reach certain social media milestones or benchmarks, give recognition for your followers support
    • “______ was our 500th follower! Thanks so much for joining our page!”
    • “We are celebrating our 15th anniversary and it wouldn’t be possible without your interest and support of our mission. Thanks so much!”
  • Mention or tag donors or volunteers, so that the message goes to their friends and followers.
    • “Huge thanks to the constant support from @ ______! Your support has truly helped us move our mission forward!

Advocacy Posts: Social media is the perfect way to communicate your organization’s values and the work you are doing to make a difference in the lives of those in need. Invite people to advocate on behalf of your nonprofits with posts like these:

  • Ask your followers directly to spread the word about your work, or an important initiative, or to attend an event. You can even ask them to ask their friends to spread the word.
  • Invite them to take a survey that will help shape the way in which you plan to advance your mission with new programs and services.
  • Add a call-to-action.
    • Call your congressman.
    • Learn more about [X,Y,Z] issue
    • Volunteer your time.

This gives direction, and helps give your followers a way to put their general interest in your cause into a specific action.

Appeal Posts: This will not be an appeal for money; but an appeal for their email address. (That’s not to say you can’t ask for money on social media and I’d be very disappointed if a smart, savvy marketer like yourself doesn’t have a nice big “DONATE” button on your Facebook page). But what you really want here is a way of connecting more powerfully with your social media follower so that they are receiving strategic emails from you that will generate more support more often.

How? By offering your followers something of enough value and interest that they are motivated to provide you with their name and email address. It could be your annual report, an infographic that defines the impact of your organization, a how-to volunteer guide or voters guide.

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Once you have that guide or checklist, you’re still going to need to get your followers’ attention so that they click on the option to provide their email address and, in turn, get your “freemium.” Here’s some ways to do that:

  • Use inspirational stories and testimonials and include an invitation to opt-in to learn more.
  • Use hashtags that relate to your mission.
  • Don’t be afraid to use something quirky like a .gif if it still relates to your cause. (Recently we did a very serious appeal to have people opt-in for a mailing list to support animal shelters to save dogs and cats lives. What did we use? A cat jumping from one part of a fence to another with the meme “Take the Leap!”)
  • If you see a media topic trending that relates to your nonprofit, share it and suggest that people could learn more about the topic by downloading your freemium.
  • And, of course, you could use the direct approach. :)
    • “Want to know more about our programs? Download this guide”
    • “We were just featured in [name of your local newspaper]. Get our annual report to see how we are helping in the community.”
    • Share a video clip of a recent event or fundraiser. “This video is of our gala. Want to know why so many people are passionate about this cause. Learn more here.”

Once you have their email address, you can now reach them both in their news feed and their inbox. Each touch point can reinforce the other. This consistent messaging enables you to keep  your mission top of mind and even more importantly, allows you to virtually build a relationship with understanding and respect for one another before inviting them to give their financial support. 

And because you took care in fostering this connection, it is more likely that your donor will not be a “one and done,” but a long-time contributor who is personally invested and willing to speak well of your organization and its work to others.

That’s the wonderful power and process of turning social media followers into donors.