Over the past year, nonprofits have innovated their fundraising strategies at the speed of light. Both to connect with their current audiences during a global pandemic and to establish relationships with the next generation of supporters, many organizations realized that it was time to modernize or get left behind.

This was visible in a variety of ways— most notably, the mass pivot to virtual fundraising events.

At this point, your nonprofit’s supporters can make donations through Facebook, Instagram and TikTok with ease. That functionality has existed for a while now. However, did you know that you can use social media and social fundraising to connect with your supporters, even beyond the baseline fundraising tools?

If you’re not particularly plugged into social media, you may have overlooked a few exciting trends that are on the rise and that have already been adopted by some of the world’s largest nonprofits. But don’t worry, now is the perfect time to examine those trends.

With that in mind, let’s discuss three social fundraising opportunities that are on the rise in 2021 and what your nonprofit can do to make the most of them:

  • Facebook Challenges
  • Conversational Messaging
  • Social Fundraising Solutions

Let’s dive in!

Facebook Challenges

Facebook Challenges are time-bound peer-to-peer fundraising events that take place entirely on the social network.

During a Challenge, participants are added to a Facebook group dedicated to the fundraiser. For a set period of time, participants complete a challenging task (such as walking 10k steps per day for a month) in tandem. While doing so, each participant raises P2P funds in support of the effort and your nonprofit using the platform’s built-in social fundraising tools.

There are a variety of benefits that come with hosting Facebook Challenges. First, they’re not only easy for your nonprofit to host (no physical location or materials required), but they’re also easy for participants (who likely already have access to and are familiar with navigating Facebook) to join.

Second, they tend to attract an entirely new audience that the hosting nonprofit hasn’t engaged with previously. On average, we’ve seen that over 90% of Challenge participants are new to the organization or cause. So, that means it’s an additive fundraising method that won’t draw existing support away from your other fundraising initiatives.

Lastly, because of the Facebook group element, Challenges are ideal for creating digital communities for your supporters to connect with one another on a more personal level. With other virtual fundraising events, such as livestreamed galas or concerts, attendees view an experience and typically have little interaction with one another. With Challenges, participants can converse, share fundraising tips, and encourage one another along the way.

Here’s how to host a Facebook Challenge for your nonprofit:

  1. Outline the parameters, including the start date of the Challenge, the time frame that it will last for, the task participants will complete, and the fundraising goal you hope to reach.
  2. Create the corresponding Facebook group and any educational materials for participants (such as guides about how to start a Facebook fundraiser and participate in the Challenge).
  3. Use Facebook Ads to amplify the fundraiser and encourage individuals to participate.
  4. Engage with participants in the group for the duration of the fundraiser, whether with encouragement and updates or discussion prompts to foster connection between supporters.

You can host multiple Challenges throughout the year, whether for your entire supporter base or for segments of your audience. And, you can do so without needing to invest significant resources into planning a physical event.

Bonus tip! Facebook groups can be used to cultivate community in a variety of ways outside of hosting Challenges. For example, you can use groups to manage volunteers and advocates or to connect supporters with shared characteristics (like those within a specific age group).

Conversational Messaging

As you moved in-person events onto virtual event platforms, and coffee meetings to Zoom calls, have you missed the experience of speaking one-on-one with your nonprofit’s supporters? These one-on-one conversations are where you learn more about each unique individual who supports your organization, from why they’re so passionate about your cause to how they would like to continue engaging with your nonprofit going forward. In the past, these chats have been challenging to replicate in the digital sphere.

But that was before conversational messaging entered the scene. Now, you can hold one-on-one conversations with each of your nonprofit’s social supporters using the chat functionality built into the social networks— such as Facebook and Instagram Messenger.

These conversations can be tied to a specific event, such as chatting with each participant during a Facebook Challenge; or they can be held on an ad-hoc, ongoing basis throughout the year with individuals who choose your non-profit as their own personal fundraiser. An example of this would be when people ask their community to donate to a charity of their choice rather than give birthday or Christmas gifts.

With conversational messaging, you can:

  • Share educational resources and fundraising tips. For example, did you know that if a supporter makes the first gift to their own fundraiser, they’re significantly more likely to reach their goals?
  • Express gratitude for the individual’s support and share encouragement to help them reach their fundraising goals. As a supporter approaches the end of their Facebook or Instagram fundraiser, you can check in each day to remind them to re-share and re-promote their campaign.
  • Answer any questions the supporter may have about fundraising. For example, if they work with one of the top matching gift companies outlined in this Getting Attention guide, but are unsure of how to start the match process, they can communicate with your nonprofit in Messenger.
  • Ask questions to learn more about the supporter. Why do they support your nonprofit? How would they like to continue interacting with your cause going forward? What is the best way to reach them with future opportunities to give back— email, phone, on social media, or something else?

But, how do you communicate with supporters in Messenger to begin with? You invite them to connect with your nonprofit! For example, every time a supporter starts a fundraiser on behalf of your nonprofit, comment a thank-you note to express gratitude for their efforts. In that note, invite the participant to connect with your nonprofit in chat. Once they do, you’ll be able to message back and forth.

Social Fundraising Solutions

At this point, you may be interested in incorporating Facebook Challenges and conversational messaging into your nonprofit’s social fundraising strategy. But these tactics are labor-intensive and require social media-savvy staff to spend time holding one-on-one conversations with hundreds (or even thousands) of supporters on social media?

But, that doesn’t mean you can’t use these trends in your nonprofit’s strategy. There are now many social fundraising solution providers – both agencies of teams that can manage the process for you; as well as automated software solutions –  designed to help your nonprofit connect and raise your relationships with the next generation of social supporters. These include services such as:

  • Automated thank-you notes. This GoodUnited guide to thanking donors on Facebook emphasizes the importance of making sure each supporter, whether first-time or long-term, is thanked soon after they start a campaign. Social fundraising solutions ensure no one falls through the cracks.
  • Custom conversational messaging sequences and automation. The provider can author conversational messaging cadences that are aligned with your nonprofit’s branding and goals. With this, you can hold realistic conversations with all social supporters without tasking a staff member with managing those chat conversations.
  • Challenge management. From planning your Challenge to managing the Facebook Ad campaign promoting it, a social fundraising solutions provider can help you every step of the way. They can even moderate any associated groups to ensure the conversations remain aligned with your nonprofit’s branding and goals.
  • Data collection and reporting. Social fundraising is still a mystery for many nonprofits. Your social fundraising solutions provider can collect data on your supporters, as well as intelligence on what worked and didn’t work in your strategy, to improve your efforts going forward.

For nonprofits looking to scale up their social fundraising efforts, it’s time to think with an entrepreneurial mindset and begin making the argument for investing in new tools to do so.

The past year has been a whirlwind when it comes to innovation in nonprofit fundraising, and the same holds true for the social fundraising sphere.

Nonprofits are using Facebook, Instagram and even LinkedIn to hold exciting new peer-to-peer events online, connecting with an entirely new audience of supporters while doing so. Furthermore, organizations are using tools that have long existed— like social media messaging functionality— to steward social users into becoming lifelong supporters. Social fundraising no longer means waiting on the sidelines for supporters to start fundraisers on your behalf— now, your nonprofit can take an active role in the process.

That said, to truly make the most of these trends, your nonprofit needs to think with a growth mindset. Investing in solutions to help you manage social fundraising is key to scaling up your programming sustainably.

Cassie Losquadro

Cassie Losquadro

Cassie Losquadro is a sales leader at GoodUnited, the social giving solution. Cassie has spent the last 5 years in the fundraising technology space. Cassie is energized by working with nonprofit leaders and changemakers who are to a person, saving the world through their initiatives. Hailing from Rhode Island, Cassie lives and works from Charleston, SC with her husband, two children, and a rescue pup Bella. Connect with Cassie on LinkedIn

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