16 Social Media Fundraising Ideas and How to Launch Them for Maximum Impact
Are you ready to get started on a campaign for your nonprofit? Let us give you our best social media fundraising ideas, as well as some top tips to help you get them off the ground. With the power of online networking on your side, there is no limit to who your nonprofit can touch, and how far its objective can reach. We hope you find some of the best fundraising ideas for your organization!
- The Value of Social Media Fundraising
- 3 Approaches to Social Media Fundraising
- Running a Social Media Campaign
- Running a Social Media Challenge
- Running a Social Media Takeover
- Final Thoughts
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The Value of Social Media Fundraising
Social media consumes so much of our time and attention nowadays that it is arguably the most important platform to utilize for any fundraising mission. Nonprofits can find themselves highly visible to large amounts of people just by becoming active and sharing their vision for a better world online - often easily capturing the attention of like-minded people, who also want to see the same evolutions occur. When like-minded followers share your content with their followers, their friends and their community, your general sphere of influence expands, perhaps to people who were not previously aware of your cause, but are now moved by it. And so it becomes obvious that the true power behind social media is in sharing.
3 Approaches to Social Media Fundraising
Social media fundraising is a nonprofit no-brainer for acquiring funds. All you need is an idea, some knowhow, perhaps a nonprofit startup grant, and a little bit of luck to bring in much-needed donations. Let’s discuss three major approaches you can take to social media fundraising.
1. Social Media Fundraising Campaign
A social media fundraising campaign is a series of coordinated posts which reinforce a particular fundraising goal or objective. For example, let’s say a therapeutic riding camp is looking to raise funds for their summer program. They might create a "Weekend of Giving" campaign in which they solicit for donations over a certain weekend. They could advertise this in advance with any number of posts across several platforms, using visual storytelling, posting success stories for clients, and sharing the donation page.
2. Social Media Challenges
A social media challenge is more of a virtual fundraising event that ideally goes viral. An unprecedented and frequently-cited example is the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, in which participants post videos of themselves dumping ice over their heads, and then call out one or several of their friends to do the same.
Challenges are designed for supporters to do something fun, silly, or difficult to raise awareness for a particular cause, mission, campaign, or nonprofit. The sharing piece is built right in, because individuals naturally want to be involved. Once they complete the challenge, they challenge their friends to take part and challenge their social network.
Matt is ready to up his social media fundraising game!
3. Social Media Takeovers
The idea behind a social media takeover is that one of your supporters donates their social media account to your organization for a set period of time: this could be a day, a week, or even a few hours.
Essentially, this supporter would become your biggest champion for a set period of time, posting a continual stream of content that shows off your mission and hard work. For example, if you are a charity that works with animals, they might post photos of animals you care for along with the background story of each in the description.
The biggest benefit of this kind of social media fundraiser is that your nonprofit is exposed to a whole new network of people, to whom your nonprofit brings a fresh perspective, engaging content, and an invitation to learn more about its values.
Running a Social Media Campaign
How to Get Started
So your nonprofit has decided to run a social media campaign to raise money. Great! Let’s talk about how you can get it up and running with maximum effect.
Come Up With a Strategy
The first step is to come up with a solid strategy, which involves planning in advance and creating a timeline with certain expected outcomes, commonly known as goals. Any fundraising campaign that is launched prematurely is doomed to mediocrity; therefore, it is not enough to simply say "let’s create a social media campaign" - you need to answer some essential questions first. Listed below are a few questions that will help you build your strategy:
Who is the target audience for this fundraiser?
What is the story that we want to tell for this campaign?
What is a campaign title that will capture the attention of the public?
What time period will be most effective?
What is our end goal for this campaign? This should be a concrete goal like a monetary value you wish to raise.
What resources do we have at our disposal to accomplish our mission?
Do we have all of the necessary systems put into place to be able to successfully run a campaign like this? (Do we have an online payment processor? Who will send the tax receipts? How will we manage the stock of our merchandise?)
You can check out this these excellent fundraising tips for nonprofits that may apply to your social media campaign.
Take Advantage of Tools
At least one person on your planning team should have an excellent grasp on the use of social media, so that you can run the best campaign possible. There are tools built into social media that you can use to help make yours a success.
For example, on Facebook you will find that you can create a dedicated fundraiser page with a blue "donate" button.
Instagram allows people to make donations directly from your profile, and you can add a "donate" sticker to any of your Instagram stories.
TikTok just recently added a donation sticker as a way to help users support charities. These stickers can be added to any video or live stream, and when tapped they will take the user to a pop-up window that will allow them to make a direct donation, or to contribute to a campaign in some other way.
Plan Your Posts
The quality of your posting will make or break the success of your fundraising strategies, so plan carefully. Ahead of the launch, you should already have decided:
What you will post
When you will post
What you will include with each post
Who you will tag in the post
Which hashtags you will include in each post
Monitor and Review
As with any type of fundraiser, using metrics to learn and grow is essential. Monitor engagement with each and every post, and make any changes in real-time as needed. Then when your campaign is over, you can use this information to compare your results to your original objectives. This will help you to identify some key areas of improvement for next time.
Pro Tip: You have to wait until a campaign is over in order to collect enough data to determine what works and what does not. Trying to change your strategy and approach with every failed post will not get you anywhere (especially when one garners only a few likes or comments). You need to have a bird’s-eye view of the whole project in order to make educated decisions about how to alter your posts for the next time.
5 Social Media Campaign Ideas
Here are a few ideas to get the creative juices pumping!
#1 Host Live Stream Events
This is a fun way to get people involved in real time. Let’s revisit that therapeutic riding camp and run a day of giving. Have your most knowledgeable and/or charismatic volunteer or member take followers on a tour of the riding camp. Meet the horses, interview some of the therapists, or families that are willing to tell their stories. You may even be able to combine the live stream with #3 on this list: working with a social media influencer, for greater effect.
Tristan loves the idea of a live stream!
This type of virtual fundraiser can also be combined with a virtual auction - which may follow along the lines of these silent auction ideas - or a virtual gala.
#2 Take Advantage of Trending Hashtags
A little research on hashtags can go a long way. Find out what tags (that are related to your mission of course) offer the most traction. You may even try to get your own hashtag trending by using it alongside other popular tags. There are websites that can help you strike a balance between using a very competitive one and not being as visible, and using a niche one where you will be highly visible but only to a relatively small group of people.
#3 Work With Social Media Influencers
Never underestimate the power of a familiar face for your campaigns. Social media influencers come in a whole variety of pay and influence levels, so even the smallest nonprofit may be able to get one on board. Do a deep dive into popular online personalities that seem to share views that support your mission. There are some that would work with your nonprofit for a small fee, or even just for exposure if they feel strongly about your mission. Ensure that the people you choose will properly represent your nonprofit's values.
#4 D.M. Potential Donors
DM is short for direct message. Similar to sending fundraising emails - and this can be done automatically with software as well - sending a direct message is a deceptively simple tactic that works. As part of your larger campaign, simply reach out to people who have donated (or even shown interest) in the past. Share a bit about your current outreach, and ask if they would be willing to give to the cause. You lose nothing by asking!
#5 Offer Donation Matching
Donation matching is where a business will either match, double, or even triple each donation given by one of your donors. Like corporate sponsorships, this will often require that you have a pre-agreement with local businesses or other organizations, but if you can get it, this really helps lend credibility (and funds!) to your campaign.
Running a Social Media Challenge
How to Get Started
Challenges are a fun way to get social media followers involved and excited about your mission. Here are some ways to launch a successful and engaging challenge.
First, bring together a team of staff, members, and volunteers for a brainstorming session. Having a variety of input can help you to come up with some fun ideas that might otherwise remain unexplored. Note that a key to going viral is being provocative, creative, and daring, all within reason. Make this idea the focal point of your meeting.
Pro Tip: Your challenge idea does not have to be totally unique, but it is important to ensure that it is designed for your target audience.
Keep it Simple
Simplicity is your friend when it comes to social media challenges. If the challenge is too complex or expensive, people will not get involved. To ensure the most engagement, pick something that is simple, and then make the instructions very clear. Do not go with anything that requires more than just one or two steps to complete.
Collaborate With Others
If you have any partner sites, influencer friends, or other high-profile supporters, see if you can get them on board with the challenge. They may help it spread like wildfire.
Put Together a Task Force
Also in the vein of collaboration, have a task force of starters organized before you launch. The aim of this group should be to have a pre-informed set of people ready to start the challenge and then share it with friends to give your organization a boost.
Run Your Challenge
Have your starters come out strong with a really engaging video (the more charismatic your task force, and the more social media influential, the better), and then tag as many people as they can to keep it going. Each member of the task force should already have informed their network that this was coming, and had several of their friends or family ready to continue the challenge immediately.
Examples of Past Viral Social Media Challenges
Here are some amazing examples of past viral social media challenges that you can use as a model for your own.
ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. This simple challenge involved dumping a bucket of ice water over your head, then challenging one or several other friends to do the same. The fun of it captured the imagination of the public, and many high-profile celebrities and organizations became involved.
Movember. The annual "no-shave November" has been a staple for several years. Participants grow out their hair (facial and otherwise) to show support for cancer research. This clever campaign leans into the idea that people love to share selfies, especially with a changing look.
No make-up selfie. A similar campaign for cancer research is the "no make-up selfie", which also taps into the public’s desire to share themselves.
Betty White challenge. This challenge takes advantage of a well-loved celebrity’s life-long support of animal causes to get donors excited about giving. By invoking Betty White’s name and passion, The Animal Foundation was able to bring in thousands of dollars for their mission.
Pro Tip: Try to align the challenge with the cause you’re raising money for. For example, a challenge taking selfies with dogs suits an animal welfare nonprofit more than it does a sports club. While a sports club might opt to do a pushup challenge rather than taking dog selfies.
Running a Social Media Takeover
How to Get Started
It’s time for a takeover! Here are some ways that you can ensure your social media takeover runs seamlessly, and gets a ton of engagement.
Hmm...who should Oliver choose to takeover his nonprofit's Instagram?
Choose Who is Taking Over
The most important thing here is to choose someone who is fully aligned with your mission, your values, and is a true supporter of your cause. Not only will that ensure a passionate campaign, but this type of person will very likely have a strong network of like-minded people.
Select Your Platforms
When choosing your platforms, make sure that you are selecting those that are most used by your target audience. For example, if you are appealing to a more mature audience, you would probably be more successful on Facebook than TikTok. Here is a list of popular social media networks and what plays well on each.
TikTok. Video streaming with music and dance, or fun editing. Very popular with Gen Z and younger Millennials.
Instagram. Visual medium, popular with a range of ages and has strong "inspirational" vibes. Excellent storytelling capabilities.
Facebook. Ideal for both text and images, this is increasingly a popular platform for Gen X and Baby Boomers. Their birthday donation function makes it one of the best crowdfunding sites for nonprofits.
Twitter. Popular for quick blurbs and comedy bits, particularly satire. If you have someone on staff who is witty and can thread together creative and engaging short-text stories, then this may be the platform for you.
Set Your Guidelines
Before starting your campaign, take some time to sit down and talk with the individual(s) taking over your social media. Decide on things like:
Objectives of the takeover
What is allowed vs not allowed
Limits on the number or types of posts
Whether and what passwords are to be shared
During the discussion, an important factor to consider is the tolerance of your target audience. For example, a younger, more progressive group might get away with bolder, more controversial humor. Other groups may require more formal or serious posts.
Promote Your Takeover Ahead of the Big Day
Do not just take for granted that people are going to tune in to your takeover. Build hype around the event by sharing a series of social media posts before it begins.
4 Social Media Takeover Ideas
Here are just a few types of people that can make social media takeovers super fun.
Social media can be an extremely visual medium. So a great way to get some truly engaging posts is to enlist a professional photographer in your community to take over your Instagram and post professional photographs for a day.
Let students take over your social media for a day and show off their creative flair. An added bonus to this idea is that a younger group like students is very likely to have a strong social media presence built in.
Pro Tip: You can even do some marketing around the collaboration between your nonprofit and local students. Any kind of storytelling like this will help show the impact that your organization is having on the local community.
Children are some of the most creative people around, and are often unintentionally hilarious. Letting a child run rampant on your social media channel for a day can be comedic (and engagement) gold, as long as their guardians ultimately control what gets posted.
Many people enjoy events centered on food. Take advantage of any pro chefs (or even talented cooks) in your network to run a truly fun and engaging social media takeover.
Although this type of fundraising plan is deceptively simple to run, it’s imperative that your team plan every move ahead of time. As with similar fundraising events like peer to peer fundraising or crowdfunding for nonprofits, social media fundraising requires strong supporters that are fully informed of their role in the campaign.
All that being said, harnessing the awesome power of social media networks is a great way to run a fundraising event with a minimum of financial outlay. All you need is a bit of social media savvy and creativity to launch a really effective fundraising campaign.
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💡Can you fundraise on Instagram?
Absolutely. Instagram even offers a donation sticker that you can add to any story or image to make donating to your organization as simple as clicking. Find out more.
🔑 How can I raise money on social media?
There are a number of ways you can raise money on social media. Some of the simplest include direct donation campaigns like crowdfunding or click to donate buttons on your posts. You may also opt for peer-to-peer fundraising, or a more involved event like a social media takeover or a challenge video campaign. Find out more.
📝 What social media platform is best for fundraising?
This depends very much upon your audience, and how they best receive information. Twitter for example, is a platform best suited to short-form storytelling and humor (which can work with the right supporters). Instagram is far more visual and better suited to long-form storytelling. TikTok is super popular with younger generations. Facebook is increasingly popular with Baby Boomers and Gen X. Find out more.