Social media has effectively changed the realm of possibility when it comes to running and promoting a non-profit campaign. With dozens of websites at your disposal that are essentially free to use, the potential for reaching millions and creating a huge success is enormous, even for small non-profits with little or no budget.
Want to tap into the power of social media to raise money for your organization? Here are 3 steps to create a killer social media campaign and tons of examples to get you inspired:
1. Start with an idea worth sharing
Social media is all about creating buzz. It’s a fast moving environment with a lot of competition, so you’ve got to have a great idea worth sharing. What does that mean?
Well, the most successful fundraising campaigns have a few things in common: they are creative, speak to people, and make it easy to participate and share. Here are a few examples of some really good ones:
- To Mama with Love is a unique Mother’s Day Campaign created by Epic Change. It raised close to $17,000 for Mama Lucy in her efforts to educate children in Tanzania. Supporters were encouraged to honour their own mothers by making a donation and then creating a virtual scrapbook or “heartspace” on the site. They could then share their “heartspace” with their mother, friends and family via Twitter and Facebook, or via a customized e-card.
- Oxfam America’s Flickr Photo Petition is an incredibly simple campaign that was easy to participate in. It used pictures to put pressure on Starbucks to give poor coffee farmers in Ethiopia a chance to earn more. Not only did it work, but supporters felt like they had a part in making it happen.
- Breakthrough Breast Cancer’s “I like it on…” was an incredibly clever campaign that took off like a rocket on Facebook. The campaign invited girls to post the colour of their bra and later their favourite handbag location on their wall. Girls thought it was great and forwarded the invite on to their friends, resulting in millions of Facebook updates like “I like it on the floor” and “I like it on the table.” The campaign of course got lots of attention and generated enormous awareness for the cause!
- Another clever idea was the Great Whale Trail campaign created by Greenpeace. Greenpeace partnered with scientists to track whales using GPS while they migrated south through dangerous waters where the whales are hunted. They encouraged supporters to become involved by making personal fundraising pages in support of the cause. The result: over 5,000 personal fundraising pages were created raising over $120,000.
- Finally, the It Gets Better campaign, launched as YouTube video with a positive message to anyone who has been bullied, was incredibly successful because the message resonated well with a very large population and was easy to share. It quickly went viral with over 1,553,552 views!
Want more examples of great social media campaigns run by non-profits? Check out our very popular list of 15 Extraordinary Social Media Campaigns.
2. Create a buzz
Now, once you’ve got a great idea worth sharing, you’ll need to determine how best to share it. Dozens of social media websites means dozens of options! But you’ll need to strategize in order to make it a success. Here are 3 tips for choosing the right avenue:
- Go where your supporters are. In order to determine how best to reach potential supporters, you’ll need to find out where they are primarily. Are they on Facebook, Twitter, Digg? Do they like to use personal fundraising pages? If so, this is probably your best bet for getting your message out.
- Choose the best medium for your message. Think about which medium makes the most sense for your message. The medium is not just as a distribution tool, but part of the campaign idea itself. Clearly this was the case for Oxfam’s Photo Petition. And in some cases, the medium is the message. Greenpeace’s Unfriend Coal campaign, for instance, was successful because it was promoted on Facebook, the very network it was campaigning about.
- The more, the merrier. Don’t just think you have to promote on the number one medium for your supporters or for your message. Instead, choose a bunch that will allow you to reach the widest audience and feed into your number one! The “It Gets Better” campaign’s number one, for instance, was YouTube, but it was shared using Reddit, Facebook, Twitter and Digg. You can never go wrong with more!
3. Follow up with supporters
After you’ve spread the word, created a buzz, and started raising money, don’t stop there. Just like with any campaign, you’ll want to follow up with supporters with a “thank you” and some updates on the specific campaign they supported, in order to ensure they become lasting supporters.