Can Nonprofits Raise Money on Social Media?

Does senior leadership at your organization ask “why can’t we raise money on social media? Look at the Obama campaign. They raised millions of dollars.

First of all, let’s get real. Comparing your nonprofit to a Presidential campaign is ridiculous. Your organization is not running for the President of the United States. You don't have access to every news outlet, generating millions of dollars worth of earned media, or the funds to spend millions of dollars on advertising and marketing. 

Second, the majority of nonprofits have not raised a dime on social media. According to the Nonprofit Social Networking Benchmark Report by Blackbaud, only 2% of nonprofits raised between $10K and $25K on Facebook in a 12 month time period. And just 1% raised between $25K and $100K. Take a look at the chart below.

For the organizations that are raising money on Facebook in particular – here’s a breakdown of how money is being raised:

  •   33% raised money via Individual Giving
  •   20% raised money via Event Fundraising
  •   17% raised money via Causes
  •   11% raised money via Personal Fundraising


Why are these statistics so dismal?

According to the reports survey participants:

59% of nonprofits say they have not developed a social media strategy.
Obviously this is problematic; Without a strategy, there is no ladder of engagement to cultivate donors.

63% of nonprofits say social media is not Executive Management's priority.
If social media is not a priority for leadership, then your organization certainly won’t raise money on social media.

72% of nonprofits have no dedicated social media staff.
If your nonprofit wants to raise money via social media, you will definitely need dedicated staff to develop a strategy and execute it, as well as test new ideas and iterate.

Nonprofits think social media is free
In addition to the Nonprofit Social Networking Benchmarking Report survey findings, I have also found that Executive Management thinks that social media is free.  Social media is definitely not free. It takes staff time, resources, and financial investment.

Nonprofits should do social media appends
There are reputable vendors like SmallAct that will match your email file to your social media followers so that you are able to connect with them. This will allow you to focus on deepening your relationships.

Lead acquisition is necessary
Tools like ActionSprout can be used to launch very simple petitions or pledges on Facebook and will capture your followers' email addresses. Facebook ads and promoted posts can be utilized to direct your social media followers to a special landing page on your website with a strong call to action or a call to donate. Using this strategy, you can capture your constituents' contact information.

By the way, Care2, who runs this blog, also has some great recruitment tools to reach advocates and donors.

To sum it up, most nonprofits aren’t raising any money on social media. But as you can see from the survey results, many nonprofits aren’t dedicating the necessary resources and strategies to raise money. I think that social media can be a great channel to build a community and a list of prospects if your organization is strategic. But most importantly, nonprofits need to view social media as one of multiple channels that they can use to plan and roll out campaigns that have fundraising components. A multi-channel approach is still what brings in the most donations today.



Tricks & Treats for Nonprofits to Spark Action This Halloween

Tis the season for candycorn, caramel apples, and costumes. It’s also a great time for nonprofits to host a contest or run a Halloween campaign focusing on one of your issues to enage your constituents before launching into the holiday season and the year-end fundraising. Did you know that 30% more people enter promotion campaigns at Halloween than on non-festive days of the year? It'd be great to see how other holidays compare. Do you think that Valentine's Day and Mother's Day get a similar bump? What times of the year have you gotten the most traction?

I found this infographic from Antavo that talks about Halloween contests that involve your constituents' costumes, their pumpkin carving skills, their screaming abilities, and their pets (because 1/5 people dress up their pets).

While the ideas in this infographic are geared toward Facebook contests, you can repurpose these ideas across social networks, and you can structure them as contests or campaigns. These contests and campaigns can be tailored for Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and any other network that your organization is social on.

This is a creative way to foster discussions with your community and keep them engaged. You can also host a themed pumpkin carving contest that is connected to one of the campaigns you are working on.  For example, if you work on food issues, you can start a recipe contest for the scariest looking food. People are already on a roll, just search "Halloween recipes" on Pinterest.

The National Zoo hosts an annual Boo at the Zoo campaign, which has raised a lot of money for the nonprofit.  The National Wildlife Federation (NWF) has used Halloween to promote their clean energy campaigns in the past, and to talk about the Most Fascinating Things About Halloween's Scariest Creatures. Halloween is a chance to put a spin on the information that you diseminate on a regular basis, and to more readily grab your constituents' attention. Goodwill SoCal is currently asking people to enter their one-of-a-kind Goodwill Halloween costumes. They're running the contest on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. If people enter on Facebook, they also have to Like Goodwill's Facebook page.

One way to ask people to enter a contest or engage in conversation about a campaign is through the use of hashtags. Make sure to note that people who enter a contest through a social network need to make sure that their entry is public. Even if they're using the hashtag, if they aren’t posting publicly (users need to look at their privacy settings), their entry won't be counted. This is particularly true for Instagram.

Take a look at the infographic, and see if it helps you get any ideas for your organization.

What Halloween contests and campaigns has your nonprofit hosted before, or do you plan to host? We'd love to hear.



The New War on Social Media Vanity Metrics

If you manage social media for your organization, you probably face incredible pressure to show growth and success. You may use free or paid tools to show numbers such as growth in followers, Likes and shares, RT’s, and sentiment based on secret algorithms by computer programs. But are these stats meaningful? Do they really give you the full picture of how your organization is connecting with your constituents and moving them up the engagement ladder? Do these stats show your boss about how your organization is meeting its mission and making an actual impact? NO! That’s why you need to change the way you measure social media and declare a war on vanity metrics.

Why is Social Media Data Important?

Last week during the Salsa Conference, I was asked this very question, why is social media data important - by Adrianne Burke, of Salsa Labs, during our panel Measuring Your Social Media.

As nonprofits organizations, your ultimate goal is to fight for social change and mobilize people to take action.

Social media is just one of several channels that you should be using to connect with constituents, build community, and mobilize people to work toward your goals.

You need concrete social media data to determine your impact through social media. The data you should look at is:

  •  Are people taking action on your issues?
  •  Are people signing up to volunteer?
  • Are people sharing your content with their friends and inspiring them to get involved with your organization?
  • Are you developing strong enough relationships where you can cultivate these people and turn them into donors down the road? 

What are the Best Tools for Collecting Data?

  1. The human brain is the best analytics tool. (Note, I borrowed this from Paull Young who heads up digital at charity: water). Don't just rely on tools and expect them to give you the full picture. For example, the only real way to measure sentiment and how people are feeling about your campaigns, your content, your work, and your impact is to analyze the conversations yourself. What are people saying to you on social media channels? Is it positive? Is it hostile? Is it neutral? Who is saying these things? Your constituents? Trolls? Bloggers? Track these conversations each week and put them in a spreadsheet; this will allow you to track your growth over time. You will also be able to clearly see what is not working and address it head on.
  2. Focus on connecting all of your key data from multiple channels to create a true picture of your overall performance. For example, look at your Google Analytics to give you an understanding of your website traffic and referrals. Where are people coming from? Is it FB? Is it through online ads? Your email appeals? What are your bounce rates, time spent on site, etc?
  3. When you have content to promote that links back to your website or advocacy action, set up unique source codes or short codes for each social network and channel so that you can track where people are coming from. Look at your CRM stats to find out conversion rates across different social media platforms and channels.
  4. If you are looking for a paid tool, Sysomos is a decent online media and social media analytics system that captures organizational mentions in online media and blogs, and on social media networks. It will also provide a break down of what content spiked on Twitter, blogs, and Facebook. But don’t rely on this, or any one tool, to give you the complete picture of how you're performing on social media.

Should you Care About Reach, Engagement, or Fan/Follower Count

Of course you want to be growing month to month, but your organization should not be so obsessed with numbers. It’s about quality, not quantity. It's much better to have 5,000 committed people on Facebook who want to help your organization meet your mission, take action, volunteer, or donate money than 50,000 people who just “Liked” you on FB but really aren't interested or invested in your organization. From the data I have actually seen on several FB pages, the more people who “Like” a page, the less people who are actually engaged with it.

So, what exactly is it that you should be focusing on? Here are more meaningful metrics to focus on that I've written about here on Frogloop. These are the metrics that should resonate with senior leadership a lot more, because ultimately you are showing them a return on investment that is equal to your organization’s actual impact.

Focus on Target Audiences
Are you fostering meaningful conversations with target audiences? Who is talking about you, and are you talking back?

Focus on Engagement That Connects to Mission
Are you measuring engagement based on your organization’s mission and key goals? Or are you resorting to vanity metrics that actually have nothing to do with your mission and the impact you seek to have?

Focus on Commitment and Conversion Rates
Do people feel committed to your organization and the work you do? Are you moving people up the ladder of engagement and getting them to take an important action on behalf of your organization because they feel passionate about your mission? 

Focus on Influence and Trust
Do the people you seek to reach look to your organization as a leading authority? Do they come to you first for the latest information and resources, and do they trust your organization? 


Study: Photos Generate More Retweets on Twitter

Past studies have said that sharing photos on Facebook sparks engagement. According to a new study by Dan Zarrella of Hubspot, sharing photos on Twitter generates significant retweets too. Zarrella analyzed close to 500,000 tweets and found some interesting data.

Tweets that had photos and used Twitter’s own image uploading system were retweeted 94% more then if users uploaded photos by another 3rd party system such as Twitpic, which experienced a 64% retweet rate.

As some of you know Facebook and Twitter have been duking it our for years over becoming king of the social networks. After Facebook purchased Instragram, Twitter no longer provided access to users through their API. So it was no surprise to see tweets that included photos with Instagram links were 42% less likely to be retweeted. And Tweets that included Facebook images links were 47% less likely to be retweeted.

In short, photos appeared to increase retweet rates, unless the product was owned by Facebook. Sometimes I feel like 5 year-olds run these companies and who can't figure out how to play together on the playground. But I digress.

Check out the graphs that Zarrella shared based on his analysis.



DC Brown Bag Series: Year End Email Strategy Clinic

Want to position your organization well to maximize your year end fundraising efforts?  With only a few months to go, the clock is ticking. Don’t worry; DMFA-DC has you covered!  Join their interactive session on Monday, October 21st at 12PM at the Human Rights Campaign (1640 Rhode Island Avenue, NW - 
Washington DC) to get fresh ideas from industry experts as you strategize to find new donors and appeal to existing ones. 

Admission is free, but space is limited so sign up early!  Event details below.


DMFA's brown bags are informal clinics where you can learn at lunchtime. We provide clinics and speakers to help you grow your fundraising dollars and you bring your lunch! 

It’s 11 weeks until the end of the year. Are your year-end email campaigns ready to rock and roll? Or are they sounding more like a polka? If you’re looking for fresh ideas and case studies to radically boost your year-end email campaigns, DMFA-DC has got you covered. Join us on Monday October 21 for an interactive session with three online experts who will share winning strategies to help you turn your online fundraising up to “11” in these critical final weeks of the year. Admission is free to all DMFA members and non-member guests. Space is limited so sign up early.


Speakers include:

-- Dane Grams, Director of Direct Response and Monthly Giving, Human Rights Campaign

-- Lesley Hostetter, Director of Integrated Marketing, Lautman Maska Neill

-- Marc Abanto, Senior Communications Strategist, Blue State Digital

-- Moderator: Moira Kavanagh Crosby, MKDM


Click here to register!


Insider Nonprofit Conference Planning Tips from the Pros

Last month we provided 11 tips to make your life easier when planning a conference. We wanted to really get to the core of the conference-savvy folks' secrets, so we reached out to those who are working in the nonprofit sphere, planning annual conferences to hear their insider tips.

We got some really great feedback, and are excited to share these pro tips with you.

Christine Schaefer of Salsa Labs told us that "the most important thing to remember about running any conference is that you are the gracious host.  Just like inviting your friends to watch 3 hours of photo slides with no breaks from your vacation is poor hosting, subjecting your guests to long speeches or powerpoint shows that seemingly never end will lose you friends.

So, think through the details by asking yourself this question: how can you make your guests feel most comfortable and enjoy the conference?  Ask it often. 

Gracious host = gracious guests.  And, gracious guests will enjoy hearing your stories, help with whatever you may need and possibly offer gifts."

Christine shared her top three tips for taking extra care of her guests at conferences.

  1. Have staff or volunteers at the information desk whose sole job is to act as a concierge - i.e. walk people to the room they need; handle emergency needs like printing, band-aids, etc.

  2. If your conference will have a lot of people traveling from out-of-state and a lot materials, offer a shipping service at the end of the conference to send all their materials back for them. Then they don't have to carry them in a suitcase. You can sometimes get sponsors who will cover the cost of shipping, or have a computer setup so they can pay for their shipping by credit card directly on the USPS site (so you don't have to handle their money). Then, just ask for a small cash donation in appreciation for the volunteers who take care of packing their items.

  3. Give them a mini-agenda and map of the conference (show restrooms, etc. on the map) inside their name badge; no need to keep pulling a big map out of their bag or looking up a web app (especially if there might be a spotty cell phone signal in the building).


Ricci Levy, Executive Director of the Woodhull Sexual Freedom Alliance revealed a few of the tricks that she keeps up her sleeve:

  • THE most important piece of any conference planning is a reliable, engaged staff. It is impossible to manage all of the details of a conference by yourself.  If you are in charge of the event, be sure you have a second-in-command who can step in and pick up the pieces seamlessly and without drama.

  • If you have a volunteer staff, responsible leadership is key to a successful experience for the volunteers and for the organization.  Regular engagement of the volunteers in the months leading up to the event is crucial to a successfully staffed event.

  • Train staff - paid or volunteer - so that the information you want to capture, and all of the registration desks and workshop positions are operating from the same understanding. A policy and procedure manual will be a big help in this.

  • Have a fully-fleshed out social media plan for the event. Pre-scheduled tweets will make your life much easier at the event itself.

Darian Rodriguez Heyman, Co-Founder of Social Media for Nonprofits, explained that "There are tons of conferences out there full of talking heads. Make sure that your speakers share not only vague concepts and theories, but the concrete tips and tools that not just inspire your audience, but inspire them to action. It's not about the what… it's about the 'so what.'" 

Darian also shared a few logistical tips:

  • The key to attracting a large conference audience is pitching a big tent, meaning inviting lots of partners to help spread the word and offering them benefits and tickets in exchange.
  • A conference can't flow smoothly without tons of planning- having a "Q2Q" that literally plans out who's doing what for every minute of the big day is crucial.

Lindsay Martin-Bilbrey, Program Director at NTEN: The Nonprofit Technology Network answered a few questions about conference planning and the importance of self-care.

  • What is the most important item to have on hand when planning a conference?

My smartphone and water (really it's coffee, but water is the healthier choice I'm supposed to say).

  • What do you wish you would have known when you were planning your first conference that you know now? 

That your backup plans need backup plans need backup plans. It's so important to have a good long term and short term crisis plan in place, so that when something doesn't go as planned, you have a solution to get you to the next step. And this isn't just advice for onsite. It's for before and after the event too. Also, it's okay to remember you can't control everything, including the weather.

  • What is the first thing you do when a conference ends? 

Ten years ago, it was get a bottle of red wine and sit down. Now, it's call my kids and then get the bottle of red wine and sit down.

  • What is a tip for nonprofits who are hosting a conference while still managing daily affairs of their organization?

Use all the help you can get to make sure that the planning/hosting an event is truly cross-functional and community driven. But remember that at the end of the day, you have to make the decisions so block time off on your calendar to have it just be another part of your daily to dos.

Jamie McGonnigal, Community Engagement Manager of the New Organizing Institute weighed in to answer the questions, as well.

  • What is the most important item to have on hand when planning a conference?

People. You need to have good, reliable people on-hand when planning a conference. You don't have to be good at everything, but you can always surround yourself with people who are smarter and better than you at some things.

  • What do you wish you would have known when you were planning your first conference that you know now?

Things are going to go wrong. Your job is to do everything you can do to avoid that from happening, but your job is also to understand that some things are still going to go wrong. The sooner you get that into your head, the better off you'll be. You can't beat yourself up. What you can do is do everything you can do to avoid those issues from coming up again.

  • What is the first thing you do when a conference ends?

Have a cosmo. Sleep. And then debrief as soon as possible. If you're going to do this again, you need to get people's opinions and thoughts as soon as possible. Send out surveys to attendees, presenters, volunteers...get as much info as possible.

  • What is a tip for nonprofits who are hosting a conference while still managing daily affairs of their organization?

Understand the importance of the conference and that community building needs to be an essential part of all of your work. Without them, where would you be?


We're excited and hopeful that these tips will support the work you're doing in your community. Were you surpised by any of the suggestions? And we're curious of you, what do you wish you would have known when you were planning your first conference that you know now?


Which Social Media Platforms Are Worth Your Time and Energy?

One of the questions I'm asked often when I speak at conferences is which social media platforms should our organization invest staff time and resources in? My response is "where is your community hanging out." This requires organizations to research the answer since every community has different preferences.

One good place to start looking at this data is to take a look at the demographics of different social networks. Realtime Report does a great roundup of the latest social media stats every couple of weeks. I also found this infographic that provides an overview of some useful stats to check out.


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