online donations

How to Find and Engage Your Biggest Online Supporters – Part 1 of 3

Julia Claire Campbell Nonprofits, Online Fundraising Leave a Comment

online donations

The truth remains that even in the rapid-fire world of technology, the Internet, social media and mobile tools, the most effective form of fundraising is still the personal ask.

People will not support your organization and your cause if they are not given a compelling reason to do so.

And what better reason than because a beloved relative or trusted friend has asked them to?

 Consider these two scenarios:

Scenario 1: You receive a form letter in the mail from a breast cancer research charity that bought your name from another organization’s mailing list. The letter is addressed “Dear Friend” and lacks any personalization. You are confused because breast cancer research is not even your passion – protecting the environment is.

 Scenario 2: You receive a personal message from a friend on Facebook asking you to sponsor her in a walk for breast cancer research, in honor of her mother. She writes in the first person about watching her mother suffer from the disease, and why she wants to help others. Breast cancer isn’t a cause you usually give money to, but you love your friend and you want
to help.

In which case are you more likely to donate? Clearly, Scenario 2.

What if your friend posted the same gripping story on Facebook, on Twitter, on LinkedIn and in her blog? What if she made it easy for you to share her story with your friends online? And for them to share with their friends?

Result: The organization’s message would reach more people and it would result in more awareness and money raised for the organization.

And it would be much more cost effective than blindly sending out another costly appeal letter. People who want to spread the word about your cause, raising money and awareness are by far your greatest online asset – if they are identified, engaged and acknowledged correctly!

 So where do you find these online supporters?

 1) Your email newsletter. Nonprofits should use their email list to send out clear and concise calls-to-action, and then determine who is opening the emails, who is sharing the content and who is forwarding the emails to their networks.

2) Your social networking profiles:

• LinkedIn – Use LinkedIn Groups strategically to find people who care about your cause and who are vocal online. You can now search LinkedIn profiles for Volunteering History and Causes.

• Twitter – Twitter is a perfect place to engage with supporters. It seems intimate when you are tweeting one-on-one with someone, but don’t be deceived – Twitter is a huge public forum that is buzzing at an astounding rate! See who is following your organization on Twitter and how active they are on the site.

Do they ReTweet your content? Do they give you a #FF (FollowFriday) mention? Create a Twitter list of all the Twitterers who have shared your content and mentioned you.

• Facebook – You can see who your Fans are, but (depending on their privacy settings) you probably cannot see much about them other than their name.

However, you can see who is liking, commenting on and sharing your content – thank them profusely! Try installing a “Top Fans” app on your page.

3) Cross reference with your database. Make sure to cross reference your online supporters your donor and volunteer database. Are they there? Have they given? Have they attended an event?

You will get to know them and see where their interests lie and where they have yet to connect.

NOTE: You have to be actively using these tools to find your supporters – this requires an investment in staff capacity and resources.

Two important things to remember:

• You can’t go by Klout score alone. I wrote about Klout score vs. passion in a previous blog post. A person doesn’t have to have millions of Twitter followers to be a thought leader or influential in their field.

• Just because someone is influential does not mean that your cause will resonate with them. Think about how you cultivate major donors – a strategy that just includes contacting all the rich people in town is faulty and will get you blacklisted.

Be strategic in who you contact to promote your nonprofit online and make sure it’s an appropriate fit.

Stay tuned for part 2 of the special series How to find and engage your biggest online supporters – So now we’ve found them – what do we do with them?

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