Social Media: An Indispensable Tool for A Successful Crowdfunding Campaign

Social Media for NonprofitsFor the past several years, crowdfunding, – in the age of shared economy and “pay it forward” – has become one of the best ways to fundraise for organizations and individual causes. Crowdfunding is so effective because it allows individuals to quickly and efficiently reach large numbers of people through various social media channels. It’s that instant communication of a story with friends, family, acquaintances, and others who share similar interests, that makes crowdfunding so profound. 

Social media has become the megaphone and public relations of crowdfunding. As an organization or as an individual you must be ready to create content that will engage all possible donors. Latinos – for example – over-index in the use of mobile social apps and at FundLatinos we encourage our campaign creators to leverage that usage. 

Some of the best practices to use social media in crowdfunding campaigns are:

  1. Be ready to engage family and friends. Let them know beforehand that you will be setting up a crowdfunding campaign and ask from them to let their networks know. If necessary, write for them the pitch: “My cousin Ernesto just had a baby which needs medical care – will you help?”
  2. Identify “campaign ambassadors” early on. These are the people who believe wholeheartedly on your campaign and will help spread the message of its importance.
  3. Be truthful when writing your campaign story. Be specific and to the point. Remember people are giving you willingly their time (to read about your campaign) and hopefully their money to help.
  4. Use social to your campaign’s advantage. If your campaign is about a start-up or a product be sure to be a member of interest groups / pages on Facebook as well as already follow specific Twitter / LinkedIn accounts that have an interest in what your campaign is about.
  5. Create a content calendar.  Your campaign needs attention, just like you need air to breathe. If a campaign is left unattended and no follow-up content is created or posts written in social media, it will never thrive. Think of sharing aspects of your campaign at least three times per week.
  6. Be sure to discuss how this campaign will ____________ (innovate, help, secure, transform). Write the milestones and why are they important.
  7. Schedule your posts in social media and be sure to celebrate every milestone and thank people for their contributions. Donors who are engaged with a personalized thank you could donate more money, engage their own audience to help, or help you in the future.
  8. Use good visuals, video, testimonials to engage your audience.

A funding goal that is achievable is also important. For Latinos who donate close to their community and many times to organizations they know, it is important to know the success of a campaign is achievable. Crowdfunding on the FundLatinos.com platform is geared to individuals as well as organizations and we are there to help you construct campaigns that will be successful.

If your campaign reaches its goal be sure to thank the whole community that has supported you. Social networks should not only be used to fundraise but also to give thanks. Have that content ready and stay positive!

 




Employing a Social Media Strategy to Supplement Volunteer Recruitment

Nonprofit Social Media StrategyWith the expectation of immediacy in the digital age, it’s no surprise over 75% of American adults use social media.  As millions connect daily, social media has become cross-generational and a part of everyday life; those same millions using it to gather daily news and connect with social causes.  If harnessed correctly, social media can be the perfect medium for any non-profit organizations volunteer recruitment arsenal.  Like most things though, having a well laid plan is necessary, otherwise much of what social media has to offer will be squandered.  Considering the amount of technoliteracy required, simply charging the Millennial to post content on social media isn’t a strategy.  Adversely, being of an elder generation isn’t an excuse for not having a strategy either.

Volunteer administrators are tasked with recruiting, training, staffing, and acknowledging volunteers.  At many non-profit organizations, the function of recruitment is reactionary, with volunteer administrators responding to emails, answering phone calls and arranging meetings.  Employing social media allows those recruiting, to be proactive by opening new doors, enlarging the organization’s social network, and increasing the likelihood of onboarding new volunteers.  Keep in mind though, every detail from the content, channels you post on, when and how often you post needs to be intentional with a designed purpose.

Understanding the purpose is first determined by knowing the ‘why’ of the social media strategy.  Whether the goal of the strategy is to generate support for an event or to create a virtual community among volunteers, knowing this goal will shape ‘how’ it’s accomplished.  The ‘why’ in this particular case is converting virtual followers into volunteers.  For those just starting out, focus on one goal at a time to maximize results before implementing more advanced practices.  Focusing on more than one campaign can diminish your social return on investment (ROI), conversion rate of followers to volunteers and your message consistency.  Because this process needs to be Inclusive to other programs within the organization you’ll want to avoid creating a strategy on your own.

Start by conducting an audit to set a benchmark:

Using publicly available data, measure your current social media metrics and set a standard.  But don’t stop there, compare your metrics against likeminded organizations.  Include your information technology (IT), webmaster, and communications staff in the conversation.  Social media engagement needs to be cross-functional to successfully engage the many social circles that exist. As a collaborative group, create guidelines to measure ROI.  Be sure to consider the following;

  • Measure website traffic.  Work with your webmaster and determine current traffic rate before implementing the strategy.  Continually measure the change in traffic as time progresses.  Websites with a social media presence experience nearly 55% more traffic than those without.  
  • Followership and social reach.  Determine current rate of new followers per month.  This only works by having authentic followers (not bought and paid for) on social media.  Over time, monitor this to see if there’s an uptick in followers.  Building a network of authentic followers will create a community around your organization’s brand.  Followers connected to your organization will advocate, share, repost and comment on your content.
  • Frequency of posts.  Each social media channel has an optimum posting frequency rate.  Measure your efforts against current industry standards, using that as a starting point.  Identify what works best, readjusting frequency as needed based on audience feedback.  Finding the optimum post rate will allow for increased visibility of content, while mitigating risk of ‘content shock,’ or audience fatigue from over posting.  
  • Social media is about interaction.  Go beyond ‘numbers’ and dissect the feedback you receive.  Be cognizant of language used by the audience when engaging and compare this over time to quantify effectiveness.  What you say about your organization may (or may not) be what others are sharing through their social networks.  Keeping interaction conversational with followers will humanize your organization’s virtual presence, creating authenticity and trust.  It will also allow you to keep your finger on the pulse of what’s being shared about the organization.

After the audit, plan the deliberate outreach to the targeted audience:

When focusing on volunteers (current and potential) you’ll want to research and understand the population you’re trying to convert.  Pay attention to their demographics and where they reside on the social web.  Different populations have a tendency to use certain social media channels.  Conduct research and seek out the populations you desire.

  • Collect demographics.  Send surveys and conduct deep dive of publicly available information about current and potential volunteers.  Gather age, gender, location, education, profession, and their sources for news.  Collecting data will allow you to segment your outreach and better understand your audience, resulting in stronger virtual connections.
  • Use analytic tools.   Monitor click rates and capitalize on how people engage.  Consider using Google analytics (similar applications) or paid ads that allow you to track and analyze data.  Adopting analytic applications will let you quantify and assess the degree in which your audience engages.  This allows you to see what resonates with your audience and hone in on what works.  

Creating content with consistent branding:

While consistent messaging is important, also consider the way it’s reinterpreted by the audience.  Social media is largely ‘social,’ so focus on making the virtual connection.  Be sure the recruitment strategy is on message with the overall strategic plan of the organization.  Content and logo use should be within the branding and style guidelines that exist, but may need to be modified, allowing engagement to be conversational.  Consider color schemes, images, videos and nomenclature.  Add keywords for search engine optimization (SEO).  Tone and voice should be such that it reaches the broadest audience while being relevant and engaging.  Using images and videos will keep your message brief, concise, and visually stimulating, keeping your audience captivated.

Employ an editorial calendar and a dashboard:

Use an editorial calendar to plan content that’ll be used on social media and traditional marketing channels.  Plan the types of posts, who’s assigned to content creation, due dates and when to publish.  Coordinating content, will ensure material is regularly posted for your audience.  Be sure content creation and editing are congruent with current organizational branding and style guidelines.  Here’s a great editorial calendar template by CoSchedule.com that can be used as a starting point.

After you set up an editorial calendar, save yourself a tremendous amount of time and schedule your posts in advance using a dashboard.  The employment of a dashboard will allow you to schedule posts on multiple channels simultaneously, collaborate with other team members, analyze results (usually a paid feature), and simultaneously track several campaigns.  Research the use of dashboards carefully, as some allow integration between Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ and Facebook, but some do not.

Social media should be used to augment (not replace) traditional means of marketing and outreach.  Don’t forget incorporating social media into existing marketing tools.  Integrating social media into your website, publications, email newsletters, events and promotional booths will bring your social media presence outside the social web.

Adopt staffing roles and shared responsibilities:

Because social media takes place 24/7, managing interaction will present challenges.  Unless there’s full-time staff whose job is to manage social media, you’ll need the support from others who can commit time to monitoring engagement.  Achieve this by assembling a team that can dedicate time to posting and interacting with followers.  Ensure team members have visibility of what the others are doing.  Create an environment that encourages information sharing to prevent duplication of effort, while facilitating true collaboration.  Until your organization can determine significant ROI of your social media strategy, responsibilities of social media management will be a team effort.  In the meantime, the team can work on attaining buy-in through shared management.  Sum the hours of shared responsibilities, painting a picture of how much dedicated time is necessary to do this successfully.  Only after there’s buy-in from leadership will a dedicated staff member be considered to manage social media.

Initiating engagement and listening to feedback:

Be social.  Interact with followers who post and share your content.  Like the act of volunteering, the virtual connection should focus on the experience through virtual engagement.  Be deliberate with your message while being conversational.  Assign a real person (not an auto responder) who can reply promptly while using discretion.  Below are some tips to do to this effectively.

  • Transcend formal discussion.  Conversational engagement will humanize the organization’s web presence.  Go the extra mile and nurture back and forth dialogue that’s honest, authentic and transparent.  This will create an intimate and positive conversation, keeping your followers engaged and enthusiastic.
  • Capitalize on the engagement.  Create chat sessions, Facebook groups and hashtags that allow followers to provide feedback, advice and commentary.  Both successes and failures exhibited by the organization will be noticeable based on what people share through their social media.  By creating and owning these outlets, you can post content to drive conversation in a direction advantageous to your goals.
  • Post in real-time.  Take advantage of social media and post updates in real time while at events where volunteers are serving.  Like a conversation between two people, volunteers will document and record their good (and bad) experiences, sharing them through virtual conversations.  If those you’re engaging have a good experience, the conversation that follows will take care of itself.
  • Properly tagging others.  ‘Tagged’ followers often times receive an alert notifying them of engagement and will in turn respond, creating conversation.  By tagging others, you allow the conversation to be tracked.  If it’s not tracked, you lose an ability to analyze the data using third party applications.
  • Listen and continue cycle:  Follow the conversation and analyze engagement through the entire lifecycle of the strategy.  Use the data to periodically audit the process, making adjustments as needed.  Feedback from engagement will contribute back into the process of auditing, setting new benchmarks, targeting and segmenting the audience, generating future content, staying in tune with supporters and strengthening the virtual relationships.

For many including myself, it’s hard to remember a life without instant access to the digital world.  But in the grand scheme of things, social media is relatively young in age when compared to other marketing tools.  There’s a reason traditional marketing tools have stood the test of time.  While social media isn’t a ‘fix’ or something to be solely relied on, it’s one of the fastest growing social circles for collaboration with an estimated 20 million new users projected over the next five years.  For non-profit organizations that have a limited advertising budget, little visibility and few staff, social media can offer an outlet that levels the playing field against the 1.5 million other organizations competing for the same attention from volunteers.  Like starting anything from the bottom, it takes dedicated time (give it an hour a day), deliberate action, fine tuning and most importantly, patience.  As your audience grows, so will your conversion rate of authentic followers to volunteers.

 

Three Tips for Social, Two Tools for Posting, and a Millennial in a Pear Tree

nonprofit social media advice - instagram, hashtags and moreThe millennial generation cares just as much about their legacy and impact on the world as they do about accolades on their individual resumes. The spirit of giving, volunteering, donating, and investing in others is especially strong among millennials during the holiday season. The Millennial Impact Report, sponsored by the Case Foundation, states that 84% of millennials made charitable donations in 2014 – and 30% of those made their donation via an online giving platform.

Are you thinking through new and innovative ways to reach the millennial generation? Optimistically, nonprofits have a digital strategy in place that uses the right channels to make it easy  for millennial donors to interact while also being practical to maintain internally. As the end of the year approaches, however, consider a few additional easy-to-implement tips that could further raise awareness and boost donations, especially among the eager-to-participate millennial demographic.

How Many Messages for Good? About a Billion.

Take every digital communications channel you know, your supporters use, and the world recognizes. What is the common denominator? Texting.

SMS integration into your digital strategy is important, and there are an abundance of text-to-give platforms. Fairly new to the scene is a company called Twilio, a Silicon Valley cloud communications company creating software that makes reaching distinct audiences via text message simple. For example, the American Red Cross implemented Twilio SMS communication capabilities to rally geographic-specific volunteers via text messaging – a technology everyone uses and understands.

At Dreamforce 2015, Twilio pledged to set aside 1% of its current equity to fund their charity arm, Twilio.org, expanding their commitment to philanthropy and setting more nonprofits up for targeted communications success. Their corresponding campaign ‘A Billion Messages for Good’ echoes that commitment and furthers the impact of social good.  501c(3) nonprofits are eligible to apply to receive $500 of kickstart credits, and a 25% discount on SMS (text) messaging, voice calls, client calls and recording.

Not a coder? No problem. Twilio has support materials to help you along the way, including non-coder guides to walk non-programmers through the SMS message setup process step-by-step.

More Than Shameless Selfies

Instagram is red-hot right now, having grown a community of 400 million users in just under 5 years. Business Intelligence recently reported that Instagram is more important (in terms of prestige) among young people than Facebook or Twitter. What Instagram possesses as a powerful visual storytelling tool, however, it lacks as a donation platform – because of the inability to add donation links directly to photos or in the comment fields. To overcome this, put a donation link in your Instagram profile with a mention of the link in individual photo captions.

In addition, nonprofits may consider accompanying storytelling on Instagram with sponsored content (ie: an advertisement) to further their reach and drive people to invest in their cause. Instagram’s self-serve ad platform is perfectly simple to use, and you pay only for results. You have the ability to target individuals based on the content they like, comment on, view, etc. This means a local animal shelter can directly target Instagram users who share pet adoption stories or engage with various animal rescue content.

Additionally, Instagram offers the choice of various calls-to-action. Instead of a headline like “Shop Now,” nonprofits can select “Learn More,” making their relationship with a potential donor more authentic and emotive. Video content can be especially powerful for nonprofits, allowing up to 30 seconds of visual storytelling. If a nonprofit is crafty enough in its targeting, messaging, and execution, you will see dividends from the investment in sponsored content.

#donate – The Hashtag of Generosity and Real-Time Donations

Recently founded Washington, DC startup GoodWorld is changing the donation landscape on Twitter and Facebook. GoodWorld has made donating an instant, easy experience that can be shared to inspire action from others.

Recently I met a nonprofit representative at a social event, and she was telling me compelling stories about their work and impact on others’ lives. I felt compelled to invest in their mission in that very moment, on-the-spot. She referred me to use GoodWorld, asking that I simply tweet “#donate $amount @thecharityname” to commit the donation quickly and easily. As soon as I posted my tweet, I received an email with a personalized payment link that I could complete when I got home. GoodWorld helps capitalize on these moments of inspiration, translating emotional response into commitment and action

How does it work? Sign up your nonprofit organization through GoodWorld, whose technology will then scan your Twitter and Facebook pages for the phrase “#donate.” Then instruct your donors to simply write “#donate” on any Facebook post or Tweet with your nonprofit tagged in the post. This hashtag triggers an email directly to the interested donor with a personalized link to complete the donation.

The act of using #donate not only secures instant dollar donations but also spreads your organization’s message to the reach of that donor’s social following. You’re using donors as your brand ambassadors, making your job as a communications professional easier than ever.

 

This is simply a sprinkling of new trends and ideas to think through as end-of-year add-ons to your nonprofit’s already existing digital strategy. Or maybe they spark thoughts to fully incorporate into your 2016 digital strategy. Inevitably trends shift, making room for better technology to emerge every day. Your digital roadmap will make the shifting journey easier to navigate, and put you in control of having the most impact on your audiences.

6 Steps To Jumpstart Your NonProfit’s Social Media Presence

Social Media Tips for NonprofitsIs your nonprofit effectively maximizing social media? If not, you are missing out on the most effective way to amplify your nonprofit’s mission and build an audience of evangelists for your purpose.

Social media isn’t going anywhere. In fact, it’s only developing at a faster rate than ever, and smart nonprofits are keeping up.

Whether you are a beginner or a social media veteran, here are six steps to jumpstart your nonprofit’s social media presence.

  1. Decide your voice

The beauty of social media is that it gives anyone the opportunity to start a conversation with anyone, anywhere. However, this beauty can become ugly when the conversation becomes noisy and crowded.

The first step to nonprofits rising above the noise by effectively using social media is deciding their voice. This process starts offline with the leadership team establishing the organization’s mission, vision, and values. From there, your team can decide your nonprofit’s voice as you decide which conversations you would like to champion.

Decide which conversations your nonprofit would like to engage and be clear with a consistent voice when you engage those conversations. Engaging in the conversation isn’t enough – you need to lead it. Become the thought leader in your nonprofit’s market by using your voice through social media to help you establish your platform. The more specific you can be about your voice within the conversation, the greater success you will have in rising above the noise.

  1. Establish your presence

I’ve heard some people recommend to only choose one or two social media platforms and be consistent with those. I disagree. In 2015, when social media, texting, and emailing are the most common ways of communication, every nonprofit should have a presence on the most common social media platforms.

As of today, those platforms are Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, and Instagram. I want to take a moment to specifically speak to Google+. While most people do not use Google+ to correspond with others on a daily basis, you must make posting via Google+ a priority. It is a key factor in establishing your organization’s presence in search engine results, increasing your visibility in prime online real estate.

When establishing your presence on social media, register with branded usernames to maintain brand consistency among your channels. Social media is changing daily, and these platforms will not be the most common forever. This is why you need someone on your team who is responsible for managing your nonprofit’s online community and keeping up with new trends.

  1. Hire someone to own it

Simply signing up for these social media platforms and posting every once in a while doesn’t cut it. The key to success on social media is consistency. In our work helping faith-based nonprofits find their key staff, one of the most common searches we are conducting right now are marketing and communications staff members. Smart nonprofits are hiring a digital native with a marketing mind who is responsible for building community through social media. This team member is focused on growing the nonprofit’s presence and curating its conversation online.

As a leader, equip your social media manager with the tools he or she needs to succeed. There are many tools on the market like HubSpot, HootSuite, and Buffer that can help your social media manager maximize his or her efforts.

  1. Share thought provoking content

If your nonprofit isn’t already blogging, start now. Then, share your content via your social media channels. If you’re just getting started, my recommendation is as follows:

  • Twitter – tweet at least 9-12 times a day
  • Google+, LinkedIn, and Facebook – share at least 1 content item a day
  • Instagram – post at least 1 photo per week

Sharing your own content isn’t enough to build a substantial following on social media. Find other organizations that align with yours that are creating content and begin sharing it. As you share aligning organizations’ content, they will likely begin sharing yours as well. This will help build your audience through other networks that align with yours.

  1. Build community

Once you have chosen the conversation you want to engage, setup your accounts, and have a person who is responsible for building your platforms, start building community online. The primary way to start building community online is to engage in conversation that builds community among your nonprofit’s target audience.

If you’re starting from scratch, the fastest way to begin building an audience is to invite those who are already a part of your community to join you on social media by using the following tips:

  • Send an email to your nonprofit’s contacts and invite them to join each of your social media platforms
  • Make it easy for people to find you by adding social media icons with links to your channels on every page of your website
  • Add sharing buttons to every email you send to encourage people to share your content through social media

Once you have invited your own network to join you online, start expanding outside of your current network by applying the following tips:

  • Choose keywords that align with your nonprofit’s target audience and add/invite people who have those keywords in their profiles
  • Find hashtags that align with the above keywords, add/invite people who are using those hashtags, and use those hashtags as you share your content
  • Ask your current audience to engage in social media contests. It might be something like, “We’ll choose 5 people who share this post with our username to win ____.”
  1. Experiment with advertising

Once you have the basics of your social media platform established, begin experimenting with social media advertising. My recommendation is to begin with Facebook and Twitter. Use the Power Editor on Facebook to create several ads at once to reach specific audiences. Use Twitter cards and promote sponsored tweets to a tailored audience with interests that align with your organization.

Start small when you begin advertising with social media. Success will look different for every nonprofit, so take time to analyze your results and tweak them as necessary.

Nonprofits are Turning to Twitter to Drive Interest Around Fundraising Efforts

Using Twitter to Fundraise - Fundraising AdviceAs social media continues to grow in popularity, the investment by early adopters into online fundraising and technology is finally starting to pay off.  If you were not one of the early adopters, don’t worry, it’s not too late to build and engage your online community.

There are many social media channels useful to nonprofits, and a multichannel approach strategy is highly recommended. But for the purpose of this article, we are going to focus on one of the most widely used communications vehicles today, Twitter.

Twitter has been used to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars for charities and charitable causes – according to an MDG Advertising report, using Twitter during fundraising events can result in 10 times more money raised online. It has helped successfully spread awareness about social issues, and best of all, it’s free (for the most part). Those reasons alone make it a major asset to nonprofits.

Audience growth on social media continues to be very high. The 2015 M+R Benchmarks Study reported while email list sizes grew by 11 percent in 2014, Twitter audiences increased by 37 percent averaging 5.4 posts per day.

Because spreading the word is a core function of Twitter, it is an ideal place to raise awareness and support for your online fundraising effort. But to do it successfully takes more than posting multiple tweets a day.

First and foremost, focus on building and nurturing your community of supporters through offline and online channels. Twitter is a great tool to have in your arsenal, but it’s the community that powers it. These tips should help you harness that power and start you off on the right foot to a successful fundraising campaign.

The following steps will guide you through the “rules” of engagement.

First Things First:

  1. Don’t try to sell yourself in 140 characters, but do tell stories. If all you do is tweet about yourself, and never provide value in your tweets, your followers will lose interest quickly. Keep your language casual. Talk about your supporters and what they have been able to accomplish. You can build the story with multiple tweets.
  2. Provide value to the audience. This is a must to get your supporters engaged. Find a balance within your tweets by providing information (i.e., retweets from other organizations), a quote, inspiration and even entertainment to brighten their day.
  3. Be true to yourself. But not at the expense of being heard. The biggest mistake nonprofits make on Twitter is when they tweet with the same voice they use in their letters from the executive director. It won’t work. If all you “give” is speeches on Twitter, you won’t have many people listen; they will move on. Talk and get involved with hashtags. Spotlight other people that are doing good things that are related to what your cause is doing. Provide value and you will build a much bigger social media following.

Fundraising Tips to Remember:

  1. Demonstrate return on investment (ROI) from a donation. You are asking for help. Be sure to state your purpose clearly and concisely. Let people know why they should care about your cause, and be specific about how their contribution will benefit others. Potential supporters are more apt to respond to your ask if they know exactly what will become of the funds they are providing. You will ensure your organization’s credibility by being specific.

Twitter Fundraising Tips

  1. Communicate an achievable goal. “We need to raise $1,000 in the next hour to provide a safe place for 50 women and children to sleep tonight.” “If we get 20 new supporters today an anonymous donor will give $1,000 donation.” Make it realistic and achievable. Whatever your goal is, during the day, tweet out your progress. Be sure to time your online fundraising posts thoughtfully. People will lose interest in the idea of supporting your cause if the pattern of your tweets appears robotic and repetitive.

How to use Twitter to Fundraise - Fundraising Tips

  1. The power of friends. Friends inspire 33 percent* of the time! Take this opportunity to drive community and donor engagement around your nonprofit’s cause. Urge donors to post messages about their gifts on social networks to encourage their friends to give. You get two opportunities with this one – stay in touch with current supporters, get retweets and gain new supporters. Don’t forget to use RT (retweet), and #FF (Follow Friday) when calling out your friends to follow.
    *Salsa online donor engagement survey.

Nonprofit Fundraising Advice - How yo use Twitter to get donations

 

A Few Thoughts Before you Tweet:

  1. Match your branding, headlines and call to action. It’s all about the details. Make sure your donors are directed to a landing page that matches your tweet. When you are driving a donor to a branded page your conversion rate will be six times higher.
  2. Follow up. If you are implementing a fundraising campaign be sure to plan your follow up before you ever send your first tweet. Know what you want your tweets to say, how often and what you expect your results to reflect. It is important to have a number of tweets ready so you can respond quickly and appropriately when the time comes.

And as most of you know, the real trick in raising money is to not give up. The same goes for Twitter. As you continue to build followers and spread your message and relevant news about your cause, those followers will step up and push your message as well.

Follow my blog with Bloglovin