People often hit me up for fundraising for various social causes. I tend to do more for homeless, children, cancer and autism causes, but I’m always up for something fun and helpful. With the social web, there are some tried and true ways that I approach cause marketing and raising money for nonprofits.
Here’s what I’ve learned:
Make a Simple Landing Page
Have a website that’s easy to point people towards, and make it simple, with a good story. Make sure there are pictures and people on the page, as we want to connect with the cause. But mostly, make sure there are lead capture and donation capture tools in place at every turn.
Make Donations Simple
I really like how ChipIn does their donation widget. It might not be perfect, but it has a little gauge that tells us how many people have donated, and it has a “share/embed” feature, so that if someone is so moved, they can put the widget on their site or webpage or wherever, and get more people into the mix.
I also like that ChipIn allows people to set their own level of donation. I know few people who want to throw $100 my way, but I can usually get $20 out of someone’s pocket. I just have to do five times as many successful requests to get that number back up to $100, right?
Use Social Tools
If you’re asking for money, awareness, signatures or letters to the government, and you’re not asking for help via the social web, you’re missing the most powerful tools out there. Twitter and Facebook have really changed how people can grow their donor base and/or raise awareness faster. There are some caveats to this, so let’s talk about those for a moment.
If you ask people to constantly tweet or post donation requests as part of your campaign, then you’re also asking that person to spam their social networking community with your message. The more times someone spreads your message, the more times it runs the risk of annoying people in that person’s network. Be very wary of how your requests might impact your potential social audience. Donor fatigue has a sister experience in social asking fatigue.
Putting a “Like” button for Facebook and a “Tweet” button for Twitter on your page for asking, and making that sharing part of your ask, alongside the money, is your opportunity to get a more exponential sharing opportunity built in.
Seek Corporate Match Sponsors
Every time I ask for money now, I find a corporation or two that would make good matching partners. If I can get $20 out of your pocket, maybe I can get $10,000 worth of matching funds out of a few companies’ pockets. Thus, I can hand in $20,000 worth of donations instead of 10. Better, eh?
To do this, explain to your corporate match sponsors how you’ll get them more awareness and potential sales for their donation. For instance, Hanes has done a great job of doing “buy one, donate one” deals for helping homeless people get socks. The more you can draw attention to this kind of opportunity, the more that you’ll find sponsor support for this project, and maybe again in the future.
Tell Stories, Many Stories
Use every charity drive, every campaign, every fundraising effort to be a way to write stories about the people who donate, every bit as much as you write about the recipients. Humans love seeing their name (and face) in print. Write a blog post about some of the people who gave. Don’t single them out, as such. Don’t write only about the top donors. Just write about a smattering of smart people who gave to a just cause, and give them the stage.
Write about your volunteers. Write about the person who spread the word so much that you felt like it was their cause, not yours. The more you can praise those who get you to the goal, the more you’ll find helpers next time. Blog pages are free. It doesn’t hurt anyone to keep sharing the name of those who got you there.
In closing, don’t forget to experiment. Not every method words for everyone. Not every distribution path is ideal to reach the right kinds of donors or supporters. Though I’ve talked a bit about using social media and web tools for fundraising and awareness, realize that not everyone is on the social network, and don’t forget to use your feet and your hands, as well. It’s a lot more complex than just banging out a few tweets to get a cause funded. Call it a mix.
And please, share what you’ve learned on the comments section.
Chris Brogan is president of Human Business Works, an online education and community company. He recently launched 501 Mission Place with Estrella Rosenberg, an education community dedicated to helping nonprofits develop and grow their capabilities.