“You Can’t Really Use Social Media to Raise Money”

Justin Ware of Bentz Whaley Flessner @JustinJWare

Justin Ware of Bentz Whaley Flessner Follow @JustinJWare

Justin Ware, of Bentz Whaley Flessner, disagrees with the statement, “you can’t really use social media to raise money.”  In a recently released video, Ware shared how nonprofits can drastically increase the number of donors and donations by incorporating three key factors into their social media marketing efforts.  Below, the three factors that Ware discussed will be outlined.

An important note about what follows.  This is NOT a promoted article.  None of the persons, brands, companies, or organizations have compensated the author.*

Stop Paddling.  Catch a Wave!  While many nonprofits have not been able to take full advantage of the fundraising power behind social media, when Bentz Whaley Flessner implemented three key factors into a social media marketing campaign on behalf of Florida State University, they were able to raise $250,000 in less than two days.  Does this sound unlikely?  Read on…

 The Three Factors That Must be in Place to Raise Money with Social Media   

1.      Identify the Wave-Makers

Instead of going it alone, as many nonprofits do when launching a new fundraising campaign, Bentz Whaley Flessner helped FSU identify a rich network of 130 alumni and existing donors to act as fundraising ambassadors on behalf of the nonprofit.  Together Ware’s company and FSU’s giving team designed what he called an online ambassador program, wherein the initial 130 influencers were given sharable content and asked to spread it to their followers through social media.

Online peer-to-peer fundraising increases the number of potential donors and donations, because it does not only rely on a short list of potential donors but uses the energy within social media to create a new network of enthusiasts. 

BWF.com Bentz Whaley Flessner helped FSU raise $250,000 in less than 2 days by using social media. @BWF_social

BWF.com Bentz Whaley Flessner helped FSU raise $250,000 in less than 2 days by using social media. Follow @BWF_social

Ware explained that the power behind this concept is that the university was not asking their existing donors for more money; but, instead, it merely identified ambassadors who were influential on Twitter, Facebook, etc. and asked them to spread the word on those platforms.  In the video (http://bit.ly/18iiEcC), he called this “online peer-to-peer fundraising.”  Online peer-to-peer fundraising increases the number of potential donors and donations, because it does not only rely on a short list of past donors but uses the energy within social media to create a new network of enthusiasts.

For example, FSU’s initial 130 ambassadors used their influence on social media to enlist 1100 donors.  Nevertheless, the true indicator of success behind this online-only campaign was the fact that 380 of the 1100 had never before donated to FSU.

2.      Design the Infrastructure for the Wave

After identifying online ambassadors, a nonprofit will need to create the infrastructure that those ambassadors will operate within.  Since segments within the group could have different needs and motivations, and because social media technologies are ever-evolving, it is recommended that this infrastructure be designed to fit the specific group of identified influencers and their situation.

@AnnaSeacat Image used with permission from Ramón Ulldemolíns Andreu of Trustparency.

Watch how Trustparency works: http://bit.ly/1blQGxP  Image used with permission from Ramón Ulldemolíns Andreu of Trustparency.

Ware proposed that such an infrastructure should include a well-designed website/microsite, a user-friendly and responsive online giving application, as well as active social media accounts, including a blog and YouTube channel.  These social media technologies will serve to move the ambassadors and their followers through the fundraising campaign.

Image used with permission from Ramón Ulldemolíns Andreu of trustparency.

Trustparency helps nonprofits provide real-time updates to donors on a slick, mobile app. Watch how Trustparency can work for you: http://bit.ly/1blQGxP Image used with permission from Ramón Ulldemolíns Andreu of trustparency.

For example, Trustparency is a rather new, but quickly growing social media technology that is designed to feed ambassadors real-time content about an online fundraising project.  In Ware’s video (http://bit.ly/18iiEcC), he mentioned that during the FSU campaign, the initial 130 ambassadors were coming back to the university asking for more “updates” and fresh content.  As illustrated in an article about on-going transparency (http://bit.ly/18aJ63X), Trustparency is a mobile social media app that provides just that – real-time updates and fresh content to potential donors.

nimble_logo_edocr

For a limited time, Nimble is giving nonprofits a 30% discount. Click here for the discount- http://www.nimble.com/nonprofit/

Although the actual social media platforms are a crucial part to the infrastructure of an online fundraising campaign, employing a social CRM tool to measure and track the engagement on those platforms is essential.  In a recent article (http://bit.ly/12LnGN2) on SociallyMindedMarketing.com, it was shown how a social CRM platform, such as Nimble, can effectively mitigate marketing pitfalls that a nonprofit could be faced with, while managing an online fundraising campaign.  Brian Ross Adams uses  Nimble to mitigate potential pitfalls by employing the CRM solution to manage the online engagement for his charity, The Chronically Awesome Foundation.  Adams said that the Nimble platform helps his team measure, track, and organize those who receive services from the foundation, as well as the charity’s donors.  Moreover, he explained that Nimble makes it possible for his marketing team to proactively “search the internet for people who are using the #ChronicallyAwesome hashtag,” and effortlessly import the hashtag users’ profiles into the nonprofit’s database (A. Seacat, personal communication, September 15, 2013).

3.      Invest in the Wave

Investing in the right people to grow the relationships with the online ambassadors and manage the social media infrastructure was the third element that Justin Ware explained as a critical piece to the puzzle.  While the technology can vastly expand the crowd that the nonprofit can surf, the online ambassadors, who connect the institution to the crowd, need to feel that they are valued volunteers.  Moreover, each ambassador needs to have a personal relationship with a real person working for the nonprofit.

 

The personnel that nonprofit’s invest in should not only be skilled in managing relationships with online influencers and generating “topically-rich content” (Traphagen, 2013), but perhaps be recognized bloggers and social media influencers themselves.

Additionally, the nonprofit’s personnel will be responsible for working with an agency like Bentz Whaley Flessner to create the sharable content, which is fed to the online ambassadors.  In fact, in the video, Ware reminded viewers that the nonprofit’s active engagement throughout the online infrastructure should be less about asking for funds and more about providing valuable and sharable content.  And, considering Google’s strong support for the authorship markup, the personnel that nonprofit’s invest in should not only be skilled in managing relationships with online influencers and generating “topically-rich content” (Traphagen, 2013), but perhaps be recognized bloggers and social media influencers themselves.

Summary of How to Catch a Wave in the Social Landscape

Justin Ware proposed that many nonprofits do not believe in the fundraising potential in social media, because, historically, their social media marketing efforts have not drastically increased the number of donors or donations.  However, Ware explained that such negative results are indicative of nonprofits that “haven’t been using social media in the appropriate ways” (A. Seacat, personal email communication, September 13, 2013).

An example of an inappropriate way nonprofits sometimes utilize social media is when an organization directly asks for money on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc.  Conversely, If a nonprofit is successful in identifying enthusiastic online ambassadors and willing to invest in the appropriate infrastructure and personnel to support the social media program, the ambassadors will take over the fundraising efforts, as well as enlist new enthusiasts.

It is worth noting that the key factors outlined above do require that a nonprofit invest a sufficient amount of its marketing spend specifically toward social media.  Ware explained that to be successful in catching a social media wave, like the one he designed for Florida State, a nonprofit’s “online and social media investments must be on a par with traditional advertising efforts”…if not supersede it (A. Seacat, personal email communication, September 13, 2013).

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14 days free • No credit card required • Invite your whole team • Try all of Nimble’s features http://bit.ly/195lwog

*Full Disclosure: After this article was composed, Nimble extended a temporary, trial membership to the author to try its CRM solution.  This trial membership is available to everyone at: http://bit.ly/195lwog.  Additionally, for a limited time the CRM solution is giving nonprofits a 30% discount.  Sign up today to get your free trial membership and 30% discount:  Nimble

References

Traphagen, M. (2013). Rel=author or rel=publisher: Which Should I Use? (Updated). Virante. Retrieved from http://www.virante.org/blog/2013/06/14/relauthor-or-relpublisher-which-should-i-use/

7 comments

  1. Reblogged this on The Social Side of Giving and commented:
    Or can you? As we’ve discovered at BWF, through a growing list of successful online fundraising campaigns our clients have enjoyed, social media can be a major force in raising money. The key is, knowing what you’re doing with the channels and how to communicate with unique audiences on each channel. That, and a comprehensive peer-to-peer or online ambassador campaign, of course.

    Check out the following post we reblogged from SEO expert Anna Seacat. It’s full of tips to help you fund raise using online and social media…

  2. Thanks for the mention on the @Nimble article. Not only do we do #chronicallyawesome searches but we can also look for #lupus, #bipolar, #cancer, etc. The #chronicallyawesome foundation welcomes all chronic conditions- physical and mental.

    Our art auction is coming up- find out about it at http://www.WeAreChronicallyAwesome.com. Even if you are not chronically ill you can be chronically awesome.

    Brian

    1. Brian,

      It was my pleasure to feature your worthy cause.

      Here’s to being #ChronicallyAwesome

      @AnnaSeacat

  3. I put it on about 5 pages- let me know if it drives traffic- where are you located?

    1. Brian,

      Thank you for your comment and sharing this article with your followers. I am located in Lexington, KY.

      Anna

  4. Anna,
    Thanks for the mention of The Chronically Awesome Foundation. As founder and executive director of Chronically Awesome I use Nimble daily to organize not just our staff’s interactions, but my own. As someone who is Chronically Awesome, I am faced with challenges that Nimble helps me to overcome (when I say “challenges”, I will refer you to http://bit.ly/15EsG26 this blog entitled “What Being Chronically Awesome Means to Me”). Without a completely intuitive, full featured CRM that I believe Nimble has shown itself to be on the bleeding edge of, not just customer relations management but social relations management, I would often not know my right foot from my left… my hat from my gloves (yes I must say, I am a bit misty, and a bit in love with Nimble).
    Because we are a grassroots organization committed to working with a staff and board made up of primarily, in fact almost exclusively other Chronically Awesome community members, it is important that each feature of Nimble meets the needs of all of our very awesome, yet very chronic challenges. I have been in the software business for fifteen years, and have helped design niche crm systems, I rank the features, intuitiveness and responsive nature of your company to be well above any product I know or have worked on.
    Thank you for making Chronically Awesome a bit more awesome for us.
    Have a Chronically Awesome Day (should that apply)! Best wishes to you and your team.

    1. Jules,

      Thank you for taking the time to share such a thoughtful comment with our readers. Your insight into social CRM adds value to this discussion. I admire The Chronically Awesome Foundation and your commitment to helping people look at their world from a different perspective.

      Very sincerely,

      @AnnaSeacat

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Ethan McCarty

Digital strategy | Social business | People-centric biznology

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