One of the scariest things about social media is that it happens with or without your permission. While a lot of NGOs and businesses are leaving digital on their to-do list, the public are out there actively looking for information, sharing views and discoveries on social networks and blogs. This isn’t a bad thing, and often it’s for the greater good, as in the case of Intelligent Giving, a website given over to Independent ratings and reviews of charities.
According to the Intelligent Giving, there are 180,000 charities in England and Wales, 20,000 in Scotland and 5000 in Northern Ireland. Of these, I estimate that most are niche or dormant with only around 5000 charities fighting for a share of the public interest. When it comes down to an individual level (a specific donor), depending on their personal interests, there might be fewer than 20 charities that are of special interest to them.
This makes finding targeted donors for fundraising even more important and original approaches essential to differentiate your organisation. So how and where do you find them?
This is where social media can really come into it’s own. Thousands of Facebook groups are unofficially given over to supporting charities and thousands more social destinations and blogs are only to happy to evangelise on behalf of their favourite charities to their readers. These are people publicly stating their willingness to help you. Not all will give donations, but some will and others will lend support.
Google can help find them and so can addictomatic.com or search.twitter.com or numerous others. But if you’re not already a participant in social networks, don’t just charge in – that would be like walking up a to a group fo people and interrupting their conversation. This is no place for pushy face-to-face fundraising techniques. Watch for a while, get a feel for what’s going on and judge if the people will be receptive and decide what to ask them for (support, idea, donations, action, volunteers…).
Social Media allows you to reach out to your grass-roots supporters on various networks, so you might want to look at nurturing relationships within those networks, giving them news ahead of other places and asking them for the right kind of help.
One obvious, cheap and easy route would be to seek out the popular bloggers with interests that align with yours and ask them if they’ll add a link or promote a fundraising campaign. Remember you’re dealing with a person, not necessarily a business, so be polite and not too pushy – if they are willing they’ll be flattered and agree quickly without a big sales pitch. Bloggers tend to work on a more personal level so you’ll need to nurture and manage the relationship, keeping them informed so they get scoops and news or exclusives. If they convert just a small percentage of their readership to act, you’ll have just completed you’re first bit of digital fundraising ROI.
And if you do it right, with a transparent, coherent digital / social strategy, the right people will start to find you.