October 31, 2012

Why can’t I raise any money with social media?

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Help your donors climb the ladder of engagement

First of two parts. Next:
Tips & tools for effective online fundraising

Target audience: Nonprofits, cause organizations, foundations, NGOs, social enterprises, cause advocates, fundraising professionals.

John HaydonWhy does it seem that raising money with social media is almost impossible?

We all know that retweets can travel faster than an earthquake and Facebook is basically word of mouth on steroids.

But why do so many social media fundraisers fall flat?

The answer lies in understanding exactly how people use social media, and why these tools even exist in the first place.

Four ways you use social media

If you think about your own behavior, you’ll realize that you use social media in at least four different ways:

  • Connect – Facebook is a friend network. The reason you visit your Facebook news feed is to see what’s happening with your friends. Updates from brands, including nonprofits, are mostly interruptions.
  • Discover – Twitter is where you discover interesting pictures, videos, and blog posts. You’ll also make new friends who might eventually become Facebook friends. YouTube is where you discover awesome videos, either by searching or browsing categories and trending videos.
  • Sharing – Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest, and in fact all social media, is about sharing. On Facebook, you’ll share with friends; on Twitter and Pinterest, you’ll share with the world; and on Linked In you’ll share with professional connections.
  • Organizing – You use Facebook Groups and Google Hangouts to get things done. You share common goals – no matter how formal or informal – with the other members.

What these four uses have in common is that they’re all relational. You and your relationship with a person, or you and your relationship with content or a goal.

Facebook is not Amazon.com and Pinterest is not eBay

This isn’t to say that people don’t buy things as a result of using social media. If I find an awesome musical group on Google Plus, I’ll buy their music. When I saw a Facebook ad about the tsunami in Japan, I donated money by clicking on the ad.

That being said, I never use social media with the goal of buying something or donating to a nonprofit.

The ladder of engagement

If you look at the ladder of engagement that Beth Kanter and Katie Paine discuss in their book, Measuring the Networked Nonprofit, you’ll learn that you need to take someone’s hand on Facebook or Twitter and walk them down a specific path where they will eventually pull out their credit card.

In terms of garnering donations, this means inviting those who naturally have a passion for your cause to join your e-mail list, where they are much more likely to donate to your cause.

What do you guys think about using social media for your organization’s fundraising efforts? Leave us a comment and let us know what’s worked best for you!

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• 3 top tips for nonprofits’ online fundraising (Socialbrite)

• 4 Facebook apps to raise funds for your cause (Socialbrite)

Fundraising tips and tools (Socialbrite)John Haydon delivers social web strategy solutions for “the quick, the smart, and the slightly manic.” Curious? Then visit the John Haydon blog, follow him on Twitter or leave a comment.

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