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5 Social Media Tips for your Nonprofit Crowdfunding Campaign

posted May 21, 2013, 1:08 PM by   [ updated Jun 7, 2013, 9:39 AM ]
    Immediately after the tragic events at this year’s Boston Marathon, Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick and Boston Mayor Tom Menino created The One Fund Boston to help the victims, families and first responders affected by the bombings.

    Within one week, crowdfunding had allowed the organization to raise more than $20 million. The nonprofit has received an outpouring of donations from organizations including shoemaker New Balance, Major League Baseball and Simon Property Groups, among many others.

    In the same timeframe, users of the nonprofit Teespring rallied together to create a variety of t-shirts that backers could purchase to show their support for the events unfolding in Boston. Joe Waters, the author of Cause Marketing for Dummies and founder of Selfish Giving, a blog that teaches nonprofits how to fundraise using social media, took the cause to Pinterest and in less than a week, a t-shirt campaign created by Emerson college students raised more than $40,000. Another campaign featuring a “Stay Strong Boston” t-shirt sold over 5,000 shirts and raised $98,000 in the same amount of time.

    So what was The One Fund Boston and Teespring’s secret to achieving so much fundraising success in such a short amount of time? The organization used social media to get the word out about its crowdfunding campaign, and by following the five tips below, your organization could also exceed its fundraising goals.

 1. Act Quickly
Timing is everything when it comes to a successful crowdfunding campaign. As soon as a “focusing event” – the name nonprofit strategists give to major disasters like the Boston Marathon bombings or Hurricane Katrina – occurs, your organization needs to develop a campaign.

As Stephanie Kapera, a contributing blogger to
 Software Advice, explains, “The window for action is small, however: online donations following a disaster quickly spike and drop within the timeframe of just a week. The more time that goes by, the less proactive and passionate people tend to be about giving, and so the first few days following major disasters and tragedies are crucial for setting up a platform for people to contribute to.”

 2. Leverage Online Influencers

With your campaign launched, your next step is to find influential people on social media with a sizeable amount of followers. Craft a short and sweet message, asking them to share your campaign with their followers. Joe Walters was nice enough to promote the campaigns on Teespring to his Pinterest followers.

Keep in mind that you should always put yourself in the shoes of a potential promoter. How can they benefit from letting people know about your campaign? What can you do to provide value to their site or service? Learn more about this in 
5 Kickstarter Mistakes You Should Avoid.

3. Use a Multi-Channel Approach – Understand the Benefits of Each
Exposure is key, so be sure to use as many social media outlets as you have access to. Accumulating as many tweets, pins, posts and even Instagrams as possible will help spread the word about your campaign, and be sure to encourage your followers to share the campaign too. This brings us back to the sales funnel model described in the previous article (point #5).

“The important thing to understand about Pinterest is that it’s not a standalone site,” says Waters. “It needs to be used in conjunction with Twitter, Facebook, blogs and other social media sites. If you're new to social media, you don't just ‘start’ with Pinterest. That'd be like waking up in the morning and saying, ‘You know what, I'm going to get dressed and I’m going to start with just socks. Socks are pretty much all I need.’”

“One thing that’s important for nonprofits to understand about Pinterest is that it’s aspirational,” Waters says. “People tend to pin things that aren't about what they've done or what they're doing—they pin things that represent who they want to be. You wouldn't want to use Pinterest to post 500 pictures from your fundraising gala. That’s just not a good use of the site.”

4. Use Hashtags
Hashtags allow people to see the collection of all tweets about a certain topic, which helps raise awareness and consolidate online conversations. Companies like Samsung have also used hashtags to raise money for causes like their #TeamAutism campaign.

“I drove traffic to my Pinterest board with hashtags,” Waters said. “Interestingly, a lot of the fundraising that happens on social media for nonprofits happens around hashtags.” By serving as bookmarks that let people easily locate tweets about a particular issue or topic, hashtags are an effective way to raise awareness and consolidate online conversations.

5. Get Visual
Studies have shown that 83 percent of human learning occurs visually and images are 43 percent more persuasive than plain text. Incorporating eye-catching visuals can bring more attention to your campaign. People are also four times more likely to share images over plain text, further increasing your campaign’s exposure.

“People love visual content,” Waters said. “What matters for nonprofits is that they understand the types of visuals that work best on all the different sites. Pinterest is a place to store things, to showcase collections. Not all sites work that way. It’s important to pay attention to these different nuances.”