Social media fundraising is a triple threat — it’s easy to share messages and promote campaigns, costs little to nothing to use, and lets you get in front of a massive audience of potential donors. All this ease means you get to focus on the strategic side of things, like setting your fundraising goal and figuring out exactly how you’re going to reach it.
You’re in the right place! This guide covers social media fundraising best practices, whether you want to go viral or simply launch your first social campaign. We’ll also cover messaging tactics and campaign ideas for the leading social networks.
3 social media fundraising best practices 👌
Ready to raise money and awareness online? Start off on the right foot with these best practices.
1. Focus on the platforms your supporters love
The social media scene has exploded over the last two decades, with a growing number of users flocking to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Snapchat, TikTok, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Reddit, and more.
When it comes to fundraising, the most important factor is which platform your target audience is most likely to visit. Where do they go for news, friendly conversation, and brand updates (and memes)?
It’s better to focus your efforts on one platform your supporters engage with than to try to perform well on every social media site.
If you’re in the early stages of your campaign or don’t have a following yet, you can craft an initial fundraising strategy based on which demographics prefer each social media platform. For instance, Facebook is used by a variety of age groups, while Instagram is hugely popular with millennials and TikTok is home of the Gen Zers.
If your social media strategy is more established, use built-in analytic tools to figure out how you’re performing on each platform. Where do you have the most followers? Which types of posts get people donating? When are users engaging most with your content? By doing this on a regular basis, you can make accurate, data-driven decisions about where to shift your resources.
2. Balance donation requests with great content
Social media is all about sharing and connecting. Generally speaking, people log in to keep up with friends and organizations, discover new stories, and get inspired by others around the world.
They expect captivating narratives, facts, testimonials, images, videos, and fun challenges — not daily or hourly requests to donate or buy tickets.
In other words, you’ll need to blend in a little to get the most of your social media fundraising efforts. Aim to strike the balance between relevant, eye-grabbing content and your fundraising appeal. A great rule of thumb is the 70-20-10 rule:
- 70% of the time: Share content that highlights your campaign or brand, attracts people to your cause, and informs or excites your audience.
- 20% of the time: Share content from other sources, like educational institutions, other nonprofit organizations, and people that benefit from your cause.
- 10% of the time: Share promotional content, like requests to donate, buy a ticket, or join your monthly giving program.
One great example is The Journey, a video series by charity: water that’s racked up hundreds of thousands of views. Each video takes viewers to the countries where their clean water donations are making a difference, showing the real-world value of their support without directly asking for funds.
Whether you’re part of an organization or an individual fundraiser, it’s best to think about social media as a long-term fundraising tool to gain new supporters. Creating interesting content — like infographics, webinars, and polls — and promptly replying to comments will go a long way!
3. Put your supporters in the driver’s seat
One of the biggest benefits of social media fundraising is that you’re tapping into a network of real, connected people. They can lend an authentic voice to your cause and leverage their own personal relationships to raise funds and win over new supporters.
So, don’t just share your story — give your social media followers concrete ways to take an active role in your strategy.
Create fundraisers, programs, and resources that take advantage of the fun, community-based nature of social media. Here are some of the most common tools and ideas:
- Peer-to-peer fundraising: With this strategy, your supporters create personal fundraising pages and collect donations on behalf of your cause. Most people recognize peer-to-peer fundraising campaigns as birthday fundraisers or marathon pledges.
- Brand ambassadors: Assemble your top supporters — the ones who are the first to like, share, and comment on your posts — and invite them to become brand ambassadors. They’ll champion your cause based on the goals and expectations you set. You can also recruit social media influencers, businesses, and co-workers.
- Crowdfunding: Launch a crowdfunding campaign and have your supporters share the campaign page on social media with a quick-and-easy tool like one-click social sharing.
Now that we’ve covered the fundamentals of social media fundraising, let’s explore some ways you can bring these ideas to life.
7 amazing social media fundraising ideas 💭
We’ve rounded up a quick list of fundraising events and campaigns that work particularly well for social media. These ideas are ready-made to drive engagement, build off trends and hot topics, and get eyes on your donation page.
1. Host a livestream event 👀
Live virtual events really took off during the COVID-19 pandemic, but they’ll stick around as a powerful tool for social media fundraising. Try an expert webinar, gaming tournament, speed dating night, movie watch party, and more. (And check out our article on how to set up the perfect livestream fundraising event.)
2. Jump on a trending hashtag 👻
Hashtags clue you into emerging trends, letting you get in on the conversation, introduce yourself to new donors, and fundraise with ease. For instance, you can use #NationalPizzaDay to ask people to donate funds to a food pantry. Make sure your message and call-to-action are relevant to the hashtag so people aren’t confused why you’re posting.
3. Kick off a social media challenge 💥
Ever heard of the #IceBucketChallenge? The wacky, ice-cold dare raised over $115 million in 2014. Ask your followers to do something funny, challenging, or crazy, post evidence to social media, and tag their friends to participate and donate. Don’t forget a hashtag to go with it.
4. Partner with a social media influencer 📣
Celebrities, influencers, and experts have a knack for getting people to hit the donate button. Ask them to contribute funds, match donations, promote your cause, appear at an event, donate products, and more. You can even do a social media takeover, where your cause “takes over” their profile, including their cover photo, profile picture, and social media posts.
5. Slide into the DMs 💬
While social media is great for sharing your message with a large audience, it’s hard to beat a personalized, one-on-one request to donate. If you’ve got the resources, send direct messages (DMs) to each potential donor on your social media channels. You can save time by shortening your fundraising appeal into a bite-sized message. This is particularly effective if you’re a personal fundraiser with a smaller network of contacts.
6. Hold a photo or video contest 📷
Want to raise awareness fast? Tap into people’s competitive nature with a contest. It’s a fantastic educational tool because you can choose a theme and create a hashtag that’s relevant to your cause.
Call for photo and video submissions, and then have people donate on your campaign page to vote for their favorites. A contest sets you up for a ton of organic engagement (likes, comments, questions) and the visual element helps you stand out in everyone’s news feed. Plus, people can participate from their mobile device.
7. Set up donation matching 👥
Donation matches let you double or triple your funds without increasing your workload or online fundraising costs. On social media, a donation match can add credibility to your campaign and give it a boost if donations start to lag.
It’s common to get a match from businesses as part of their charitable giving program, as well as wealthy individuals and nonprofit organizations. Our articles on getting donations from companies and corporate sponsorships have tips for a smooth request process, whether it’s your first time or hundredth time.
No matter which idea stands out to you, decide on some success metrics or benchmarks you’ll track throughout your campaign. That way, you can understand when it’s time to course-correct or celebrate.
Hashtag, you’re it
In this guide, we’ve covered all things social media fundraising, but we’ve got one more fundraising tip: Choose a powerful fundraising platform to manage your campaigns and win committed donors.
Over 15,000 organizations use Givebutter to supercharge their social media fundraising efforts. Here are a few reasons why:
- 😍 Customizable fundraising pages
- 💸 Easy offline and online donations
- 🎫 Seamless events and tickets
- 💬 Instagram-style live supporter feed
- 📱 One-click social sharing
- 👀 Real-time goal trackers and leaderboards
- 💳 Popular payment methods: credit card, Venmo, and text-to-donate
It’s free to sign up — click here to create your account and start raising money.
Rachel is a fundraising and marketing consultant for nonprofits whose aspiration since she was 16-years-old is simply this: help others, help others.