Wondering where social sector content marketing and fundraising is heading in our post-digital revolution world?
I recently listened in to a conversation on the Cause Vox blog on this very subject, and the consensus was this:
Bad News/Good News:
- The fundraising environment is altered. Technology has made it easy to build a well-oiled online content marketing strategy, set up online campaigns and develop user-friendly branded websites. Social media makes it easy for folks to share your campaigns. People connect online, with you and with each other. If you’re not adapting to these changes, you’ll be left behind.
- People haven’t changed. You’ll still want to connect based on commonalities. Shared values. Emotions. Passions. Just using different tools and channels.
The best way to take the bad with the good, mix them together and come out on top?
Let’s review what you must do to succeed within the current nonprofit fundraising environment.
3 Key Social Fundraising Fundamentals for Nonprofits
1. Your Inspiring Story Presentation
The more it’s memorable, and “sticky,” the more it will be shared.
Stories are the oldest form of human communication. It’s the way parents teach their children. Not with infographics and pie charts. They connect with their kids by telling them their life stories.
Stories communicate and trigger emotions. Empathy. Sympathy. Sadness. Happiness. This goes to people’s guts. Which connects to their hearts. And the heart trumps the head. Every time.
Of all the content you can create, storytelling is your ultimate weapon and the most powerful means of communicating your message.
Read more on how people can be inspired to change the world, one drama at a time, here.
2. Leveraging People Power
The more you share, the more success you’ll reap.
Advocacy marketing and social fundraising helps to scale relationship building by tapping into your current supporters’ personal networks. When folks are moved by your powerful story, they’ll share it. With friends, family and colleagues. As an expression of who they are. And as an expression of how they relate to others.
And then the folks they share with, will share again. You grow an army of storytellers!
This makes your supporters advocates for your cause. And by advocating on your behalf, as your extended fundraising force, folks feel doubly empowered. They’re not just giving. They’re acting on your behalf.
People-based marketing and fundraising are transformative, not transactional. People give back not just to you, but also as a little ‘thank you’ or signal to their friend. Through giving and acting, they show they’re a part of a tribe or movement. And people really want to belong.
3. Tapping into the Power of ‘Social Proof’
People are Trusted More Than Organizations and Brands
The more voluntary advocates you have, the more trust you’ll inspire. Trust is what triggers folks to take actions. Review-based purchased decisions (e.g. Yelp; Yahoo) are the huge trend in sales and retail today. People look to their peers to become better informed before they make their own decision.
This ties back to Robert Cialdini’s principle of influence: social proof. When others we respect or like do something, we’re inclined to follow.
6 People-To-People Fundraising TIPS:
1. Pick One Compelling Emotional Story
Don’t try to raise money for everything all at once.
People know they can’t cure cancer. Show them how they can help progress towards a cure. People know they can’t help all 20 of your programs. Describe one in detail, so they can visualize the happy ending they can make possible.
Don’t mix your story up with facts and figures.
WHY THIS IS IMPORTANT: Data depresses response. It’s a myth there are story people and data people. We’re all story people.
2. Include a Clear Call to Action
If you want folks to share your message, tell them.
Let folks know how they can actively support you, beyond simply clicking “Donate” or writing a check. Show folks how they can be an active part of your movement and community.
“Please retweet this to your network.”
“Join the movement to create lasting change.”
“Please forward this message, with a brief introduction in your own words that describes why you give and why you care.”
“You are central to the story we’re writing together.”
“You can set up your own birthday campaign here.”
“Start your own food drive here.”
WHY THIS IS IMPORTANT: Without a call to arms, your “army” is left a bit in the dark as to what you want/need them to do to help. This doesn’t lead to a satisfying experience for them. Part of your job as a fundraiser relates directly to making people who support you feel really good. This is how you’ll sustain their support over time.
3. Actively Recruit Your Advocates
Your goal is to multiply the impact of limited resources.
No doubt your organization works within staff, volunteer, and budget constraints. Online people-to-people fundraising enables you to leverage the resources you already have – creating a network of leaders ready and willing to promote your campaigns to their personal networks.
Actively recruit your tribe of fundraising boosters. This may be something you promote on your website, as well as via email and social media. Consider giving these campaigners a catchy name so folks feel part of a group that shares common values (e.g. Arts Advocates; Back-to-School Believers; Change Champions; Democracy Devotees; Earth Enthusiasts; Family Fanatics; Grassroots Groupies; Housing Helpers; Interfaith Initiators; Jazz Jubilators; KidSave Kickstarters; Legal Aid Leaders; Make-a-Wish Magicians; Neighborhood Network; Ocean Obsessives; Peace Promoters; River Rooters; Science Supporters; Technology Teamplayers; University Uniters; Voices for Veterans; Women for Women; Zoo Zealots, etc.).
Create a job description for these folks, so they commit to joining in and taking on this special role as your philanthropy facilitator. When folks sign up, thank them warmly. Let them know what to expect next, and when they’ll hear from you.
WHY THIS IS IMPORTANT: P2P fundraising is just another form of word-of-mouth marketing! And people trust word-of-mouth recommendations from their friends and family above all else. Your advocates are your cheerleading and booster squad, who’ll augment ongoing fundraising efforts by raising funds on your cause’s behalf.
NOTE: You may want to make a special effort to recruit folks who are trusted and recognized influencers for your cause and/or community. These could be specific people, or groups of people (e.g. “Mommy Bloggers,” “Food Bloggers,” etc.)
4. Make Your Supporters Super-Heroes
Philanthropy should be more than just giving money.
It should be a transformative experience. It should feel good. It should feel big and important – not like a one-time donation that may feel like a ‘drop in the bucket.’
Millennials and Boomers are the two most dominant demographics in today’s world, both in terms of contributing to the workforce and to contributing to nonprofit causes. And they want to be active, not passive. They need you to show them how to do this. Multiple times. In multiple ways.
Beyond just being a donor hero, you must show your supporters how to leverage their support and grow it beyond their own gift.
WHY THIS IS IMPORTANT: P2P fundraising propels your supporters more deeply into your organization’s narrative, as they become not just donors but also fundraisers on your cause’s behalf. In other words, they become super-heroes!
5. Make it Easy
To facilitate relationship-based fundraising, you must offer options that are relevant and scalable. Something your supporters can accomplish all on their own.
Encourage folks to pick a reachable goal. This can be dollars they intend to raise, donors they intend to recruit and/or appeals they intend to send. Offer ongoing support and cheerleading as they move towards their goal.
Offer folks an easy-to-use platform. Show them step-by-step how to use it. Of course, you can ask folks to share via social media and/or email. Yet today there are many additional options. You can offer fundraising pages online that serve as the hub for your campaign. Start with your own constituent management or donor management system to see what it offers. Many systems — including DonorPerfect Online, DonorPro, Artez Interactive from FrontStream, and Blackbaud‘s suite of tools — offer fundraising features and peer-to-peer functionality, although you may need to pay an additional fee. Today there are numerous companies offering explicit peer-to-peer fundraising solutions (e.g. CauseVox, Classy, Network for Good, among others); some will help you with everything from messaging to promotion to follow-up.
WHY THIS IS IMPORTANT: If it isn’t easy, busy people won’t engage.
6. Make People-to-People Fundraising Personal
Allow people to fundraise on your behalf using their own voice.
This brings out their own passion and makes them feel actively empowered. They aren’t just mimicking your message word for word; they’re elaborating on it and making their own personal pitch.
I like to offer several different messages as samples. Your advocates can choose one, or they can take bits and pieces and tailor the message to one with which they feel comfortable.
WHY THIS IS IMPORTANT: You want to empower supporters to tell their own story. A story about why they support you, and why others in their circle of influence should too.
Raising money in today’s fundraising environment involves shaping how newly connected groups grow and change the world around them. Technology is empowering people to come together like never before. Your job is to help people use the tools at their disposal to share their values and passions. Never forget that a major part of your constituents’ agenda is often a quest for meaningful social interaction; a tribal connection.
Best-selling author and blogger, Seth Godin, notes: “A crowd is a tribe without a leader.”