Raising money for your cause.

Being in the fundraising business – for profit and non-profit alike – for years now, I believe the best way to raise money for your cause using social media is to first and foremost know your audience.

Who are they, what do they want to read/learn more about, what resonates with them, what will motivate them to act? Examine the personas of your donors first and reach them where they are, using the methods that they prefer. Stop thinking about where you want them to be and what you want to say to them. Think about where they are online and what they want to hear from you.

Once you have identified who they are, start storytelling. Stories are the “marketing” of nonprofits and their causes. Each story should have a central figure, a need or goal, a positive outcome and an associated impact. The outcome and the impact tug on heart strings. At that point, when emotions have been stirred and competency has been demonstrated, ask potential supporters to react (aka like/comment/share/retweet), then join a mailing list, and ultimately contribute in a manner that matters most to them. A nonprofit’s perception of needs vs. a donor’s preference may not be the same. Only in a legitimate and dire emergency can you try asking for funds as “step one”.

Just remember… People who are interested in your organization enough to like you on Facebook or follow you on Twitter are doing so because they care about your mission. Your job is to strengthen their connection to your organization and to its mission by showcasing your good work and the benefit to your target community. Using your social media feed as a channel for high quality engagement will make the fundraising ask much easier because people will have higher awareness of your organization and its activities.

Filling your supporters’ newsfeeds with financial asks will be a quick route to disengaging them. They may not stop following your organization, but their eyes will quickly start to skip over your posts. Reach out to them. Why would they want to pay attention to your cause? Reach them in a moving manner of which stirs their emotions and puts themselves in your shoes for that cause. Create a mobile app or create questions in another social medium, but make sure to invoke a feeling from the audience in order to get them to react. Just being a non-profit and needing to raise money is not enough.

To make a long story short, create true friends. Be real and create real connections. Don’t be a cold brand posting updates that you think are useful. The beauty about social promotions is that they spread to friends of friends on Facebook, and followers of followers on Twitter. You can even run them straight from your website to drive traffic to your site… The key is to be data-driven in your approach but warm in your messaging. You’ll get the best engagement across your social networks by highlighting feel good stories about the impact you are having on the world. Create and share as much visual content as possible. Starting a blog is a great place to begin creating content that you can then share with your fans and donors. Embed an “ask” at the end of every blog post that links to an online fundraising platform.

If your ultimate goal is to fundraise, be sure to choose a good online fundraising platform that is integrated well with social media. You can complement online donations with sites that offer supporters other ways to give back. When you send out for example content through social media, make sure that the relevant calls to action are in place on your website – “donate”, “subscribe” and “learn more” buttons. When you make a direct ask, make sure to reference the multi-medium relationship you know the supporter has with the organization.

Apps for Action is also a great new free way for your supporters to raise money for you from their smart phone. It allows users to raise 25 cents for you each time that they download a free app. Users can also share the money that they have raised on Facebook and Twitter allowing for viral exposure. This is a perfect way to get young people who can’t afford to donate their own money to take advantage of all the time they spend on their phones and have it lead to a positive impact.

Ziggedy is another brand new fundraising option for non profits or charities. To start raising money, you simply have to shop on Ziggedy through partnered businesses and 50% of this referral commission goes to the charity of your choice. If you are already shopping online I think it is a great option to raise money at no cost to you.

Last but not least, I suggest you develop an organizational marketing communications strategy that incorporates your overall objectives, one of which is to raise funds since using one channel on its own can be very limiting. I would also recommend that you work on building your organization’s brand. The stronger the brand, the better the brand experiences, the easier it is to raise money.

Now that you know the basics, go and start applying those great tools to your cause and start seeing results in no time.

Good luck… Share your thoughts.

Written by

Ziad K Abdelnour, Wall Street financier, trader and author is currently President and CEO of Blackhawk Partners Inc., a private equity and physical commodities trading firm based out of New York City, Founder & President of the United States Committee for a Free Lebanon (USCFL), Founder & Chairman of the Financial Policy Council, Member of the Board of Governors of the Middle East Forum and Former President of the Arab Bankers Association of North America.