6 Uses of Social Media to Influence Major Gifts

Jan 24, 2019Donors, Message

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Are your major donors on social media?

Sure they are!

They are tracking their college buddies on Facebook, posting recipes on Pinterest, following their favorite artists on Instagram, reading from their influencers on LinkedIn, and gasping at the latest political tweets.

How is your nonprofit using social media to influence your major gifts program?

Hopefully, you are showcasing your nonprofit’s most significant impacts on the various social media channels. You are using storytelling to tell about the differences you are making.

Before you ramp up your storytelling on social media, know what your donors want to hear.

Listen to find out what people are talking about and how they are engaged to support your nonprofit’s mission.

My fundraising background was helping community college students be successful. If I were researching that area today, I would want to know what donors are supporting in higher education. Do they want to support a specific technical program, the shortage of workers in a particular healthcare industry, or students majoring in science or engineering?

What are your donors interested in supporting?

Do the research. Notice where you have received the greatest response to funding requests. Ask your donors what they like to support. Watch how they engage with you and in your industry. Know what the gaps are in your industry. What are the lead stories? What is making national news?

Once you know what your donors are interested in hearing about, share on social media how your nonprofit is making a difference.

Social media is about storytelling.

Here are examples of how to leverage social media with storytelling to influence major gifts:

  1. Share a behind the scenes photo and a blurb of how you run your shop. Showing raw footage of how your work is being transparent and one of the best ways to build trust with our donors. As we sift through our social media feed, we are drawn to the photos that tell a story. Pictures are critical!                                                                                                                             
  2. Start with one story of impact. Find something or someone who has been transformed because of your work. Use grabbing headlines.                                                                                                          
  3. Tell the story several different ways. Let’s say your story is about Joe, a homeless person who secures a steady job at the local hardware store. First, tell about Joe’s transformation and newfound confidence. On another outlet, share how his family was changed and feels like a unit again. Next, tell the story from the business owner’s point of view — the feeling to help someone get off the street.

Tell one story at least three different ways on at least three different outlets. Consider making a series of blogs from one story. Be smart about repurposing your stories.

  1. Drive people to your website by linking to the full story. Invite visitors to sign up to receive information on how they can help solve your community’s most urgent needs, receive the latest stories of impact, and stay in the know.

Make sure your “donate” button is in a stand-out color and easy to locate on the landing page. 

Use Google Analytics to know which social media platform is driving fans to your website.

  1. Tell the story in images, videos, texts, and quotes.                                                           Grab some heart wrenching and unbelievable before and after photos. Show the transformation. Let your audience know that they can help solve these problems. They can help others like Joe get off the street and find a respectable job.                                                                                                                             
  2. Test your posts and see how people respond. There is no way to know until you take some stories for a test drive. Social media is a quick way to get responses and feedback from your audience. You don’t have to be on all channels, but you do need to know on which outlets your donors are spending their time. Select no more than three social media channels to post, especially if you are very small shop. You have to protect yourself from spending too much time on social media!

With feedback from your supporters on social media, you now know more precisely how your donors want to support you.

What resonates on social media will resonate with your major donors.

Understand your audience and what they care about most. Share your biggest challenges and how you are making a difference.  Remind your supporters how you are solving the problem and you need their help – they can be a part of the solution and the hero in the story. Your major donors are on social media.

Nancy Rieves, Ed.D. is a fundraising coach. She provides executive and development directors with a roadmap to maximize and sustain major gift fundraising. She prepares leaders to be confident and successful in raising money. Reach her at [email protected].


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