Could the Future of Fundraising Be Social?

As a fundraising tool, social media may not generate significant direct transactions, but, as some research shows, it can be useful in developing commitment and support among current and future donors.

How much of a role does social media play in your fundraising goals?

According to a recent survey conducted by web-based social CRM provider Avectra , almost three-quarters of nonprofits believe social media will have a moderately or very positive impact on their fundraising efforts over the next year.

“The survey results reflect the changing attitudes in the not-for-profit sector,” Avectra Chairman and CEO Richard Davis said in a statement. “Fundraisers are realizing that the old way of doing things needs to change in order for them to connect with their core constituents and to reach out to a new generation of donors.”

There is growing evidence that social media plays an important stewardship role.

Adding to this idea are the results of a recent Blackbaud study on generational giving that found social media channels are not primary transaction channels (methods of donation), but they are influential in developing engagement among donors, especially younger ones.

“There is growing evidence that social media plays an important stewardship role,” the study noted. “Studies of Facebook and Twitter users suggest a large percentage of these individuals are already highly committed to their causes and seeking more contact with the associated organizations. In an era where direct mail is simply too expensive to use as a cultivation vehicle, online engagement is growing in importance.”

This was especially true of generation Y. About 30 percent of this group of respondents reported social media was an extremely or very important method of staying in touch with organizations. And, though it was in reference to charitable giving, the study noted that about one-fourth of generations X and Y are comfortable sharing information about causes they support on social media, and they share this information often.

“We can’t solicit directly on social media—yet that’s where people are doing their business, it’s where they’re networking, it’s where they’re getting their information and making a lot of decisions in their lives,” Shaun Keister, vice chancellor of development and alumni relations at the University of California, Davis, told the Stanford Social Innovation Review.

The article, written by Julie Dixon and Denise Keyes, deputy and executive directors of Georgetown University’s Center for Social Impact Communication, goes on to explain that many organizations view social media engagement interactions such as “liking,” tweeting, and blogging as “gateway actions” that can build awareness and relationships among potential donors with the goal of moving them up the donation “ladder.”

“The consensus among development professionals is that the various types of social media have yet to be proven as effective, stand-alone fundraising tools; few direct asks are being made via these channels today,” Dixon and Keyes wrote. “Yet these social media channels are the very ones that increasing numbers of people use to gather and process information today—young people in particular.”

Shane Jones made a similar point in a recent SocialFish blog post about using psychology to attract social media donations. He wrote that the more people interact with your organization on social media, the more comfortable and committed they may feel toward it and the more inclined they may be to donate.

“When the time comes for you to ask for volunteers and donations, users may be more inclined to do so if they’ve already been socializing with your nonprofit,” Jones wrote. “Socializing, connecting, and engaging can motivate the human mind to support your cause!”

Are you using social media to foster fundraising? Let us know in the comments.

(Associations Now illustration/iStockphoto/Thinkstock)

Katie Bascuas

By Katie Bascuas

Katie Bascuas is associate editor of Associations Now. MORE

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