Social networking sites are opening new doors for nonprofit marketing and fundraising. Through Twitter, many charities and nonprofits have been able to raise thousands of dollars while spreading awareness about social issues. Twestival is an example of a fundraising initiative effectively harnessing the power of Twitter to raise money. On February 2009, over 1,000 volunteers and 10,000 donors raised $250K+ for CharityWater.
People, aided by social technologies, are coming together to support causes they care about. Nonprofits can reach thousands of people with a “tweet” instantly. Physical and language barriers are no longer an issue. You can post a quick “update” right from your desk, home or on the go. Similarly, people can get your updates on their computer, mobile phone or PDA. Tweets can now be sent and received in over five different languages. Twitter has become an important part of any nonprofit social media strategy.
But it takes more than posting multiple tweets a day to get the job done. It is not quite as simple as informing followers that you need some money. Below are a 10 tips (best practices) which may help your nonprofit increase its fundraising success on Twitter.
- Cultivate a community. Asking people for money can be daunting. For this reason, it’s important to build a community of people interested in your content and cause before asking for anything.
- Make the message clear. State your purpose clearly and concisely. Highlight the “why” and “how” when making a call to action.
- Create hype and excitement. Generating buzz and excitement around your cause is imperative. It’s important to stand out and set your nonprofit apart from the rest. Hashtags and unique avatar ribbons are simple features that can be incorporated to your initiative and to involve supporters. Be creative. Put an open call out to people to use their unique skills and talents. Get them involved. Get them excited.
- Report regularly. Tell your network about your progress. Run donation totals on regular basis in order to maintain momentum and keep everyone excited about the cause.
- Make your messages meaningful. Do not waste people’s time. Don’t ask for donations on every tweet. The most basic of fundraising secret is that people give to people. Twitter is simply one more tool to help your nonprofit connect with its supporters. Remember, social media networking sites are about relationships.
- Ask your network to “retweet” (RT) your messages. A study conducted by Dan Zarrella finds that “calls to action (“Please ReTweet”), while they might sound cheesy, work very well to get ReTweets.” This is viral marketing as its best!
- Timing is essential. People are less likely to donate at particular times of the year such as right after Christmas, during the Super Bowl or national holidays.
- Give praise to volunteers, supporters and donors. These are your most important nonprofit resources. People want to know that they are making a difference. Showing appreciation also encourage a continued effort on everyone’s part.
- Back up words with action. Use Twitter to let followers know what your staff is doing to help. Create a sense of community around the change you seek. Connect with your network members to build trust and maintain credibility.
- Tweet about your cause in general. After the campaign is over, update people on the current state of the cause in general. Let them know where and how their efforts have made a difference. This keeps your nonprofit in peoples’ minds and primes them for the next round of fundraising.
- Authenticity before marketing. Traditional marketing, development and communication strategies do not work on social networking sites. Web 2.0 is much more about having personality and building online community. Nowhere is this more true than on Twitter.
Twitter is a powerful and cost-effective social media tool for nonprofit organizations. It can help you boost donations and connect to your donors. Before Twitter, and other social media, there was no economical way for a fundraising appeal to spread like wildfire. Now it’s incredible how many people a nonprofit can reach with very few resources. Experiment with it and give your supporters the opportunity to get involved quickly and easily with your nonprofit and your cause.