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4 ideas for using social media to increase online donations

I know it. You know it. Everyone knows it. Social media is a great resource for fundraising. In fact, supporters are raising 32% more through social media than they were just two years ago. Of course, this is the struggle—many are starting to understand the importance of using social media in their fundraising mix. So how do you make your call for donations stand out from the crowd?


Before crafting the perfect posts, think about your overall social media strategy. Individual posts are important, but your overall social media appearance is, too. For example, when a new person is checking out your Facebook page, they will not be won over by how clever that one post was; they are going to be looking at the following before clicking the “like” button:

  • Consistency – Do you post regularly or just on occasion? Your audience expects regular updates and Facebook algorithms favor brands that post consistently.
  • Variety – Your audience wants to know you have a lot to offer—pictures, videos, stories, one-liners, infographics, etc.
  • Modesty – Are you only talking about yourself on your social channels? You should be following the 80/20 rule – 80% of your posts should be about things that interest your audience (think: what problem can you solve for them) and 20% can be focused on your brand (think: calls to action).

The following are four ways to use social media for nonprofits, which in turn, can increase your online donations. I have provided examples of what other nonprofits are doing in each of these areas for some added inspiration.

1. Event pictures

Pictures used on social media do not need to be professional, but make sure they are quality images that capture your event. Donors and social media followers want to know that you are doing great things and putting their money to good use.

Example: Our client, Girl Scouts of NE Kansas & NW Missouri, does a great job documenting their events and telling a story with photos. They include photos of everything from behind-the-scenes prep work to the happy faces of event attendees. These photos show their audience that the Girl Scouts are bettering themselves year-round—not just at cookie time.

2. Showcase your volunteers

We live in a society where people are connected and working nearly 24/7; time is more precious than money, so why are people willing to give you their time? How have they been affected by their work? What are their favorite success stories? Use social media as a way to say thank you and show off the great volunteers that are a part of your organization.

Example: Browse the North Star Therapy Animals Facebook page for their therapy team profiles. These stories are heartwarming and make you want to be a part of their organization.

3. Showcase those you serve

Showcasing your volunteers is important, but nothing is impactful as sharing praise from those you serve; hearing that their money is making a difference straight from the recipient means a lot to donors and potential donors. It makes them feel good and want to do more so they can keep feeling good.

Example: A lot of nonprofits need to protect the identities of those they serve, so they fear they can’t harness the power of testimonials. That is not the case. Donors understand the need for confidentiality and happily accept anonymous testimonials. Our client, HEARTS for Families, posts testimonials on their Facebook page using general images and first names only. The image draws people in and the words show donors how important your cause is to those you serve. These pictures are always the top posts for engagement for HEARTS and have generated more clicks to their website that posts without pictures or testimonials.

4. Pin your wish list

Yes, Pinterest is fantastic for retail brands and fashion, but it is also a unique way for nonprofits fundraise. Create a board with your donation wish list items; some people prefer to give physical items versus cash, so don’t leave those people out. Pinterest also works for those who like to give money; create a board that visually shows what different donation amounts can fund.

Example: The Humane Society of New York has a “Wish List” board on their Pinterest page that contains everything they need to keep their organization running. Donors can “pin” the item to their own Pinterest board to show all their followers that they have made a donation. This is a win-win for the Humane Society; they not only got a donation, but more exposure.

Social media is a powerful fundraising tool when used correctly. Just make sure to keep up your other fundraising efforts, too. Social media is the most effective when it is combined with other marketing strategies, such as emails and print ads. You want people to encounter your brands everywhere—online and off.

Ronald Pruitt

Ronald Pruitt

Ronald is the President and Founder of 4aGoodCause, the fundraising CRM that makes recurring, monthly giving a breeze for small nonprofits.

For over 25 years, Ronald has had the joy of doing what he loves, building online solutions that make a difference in the world. He’s helped raise millions of dollars online for small nonprofits across the country. Connect with Ronald on LinkedIn.

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