First, there was direct mail-driven fundraising. Supporters mailed in checks and received updates about your nonprofit through their mailboxes.
Then, there was website-based giving. Supporters were able to give whenever and wherever they wanted via an online giving page hosted on your nonprofit’s website.
Now, we’re seeing the third shift in fundraising occur in real-time, as social giving takes center stage. With social giving, supporters want to donate and experience continuing engagement in-channel on the networks they’re already spending significant time on: social networks.
In this comprehensive guide to social giving, we’re going to answer the following three questions:
Let’s get started.
Put simply, social giving is fundraising that is powered by social connections.
Over the past few years, the world of social giving has rapidly evolved and grown. You may be familiar with the term social giving as it relates to peer-to-peer and crowdfunding campaigns— as in, any type of giving that occurs due to a social connection.
However, the “social” aspect of social giving now more commonly refers to the social connections that exist on social media networks such as Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok. So, rather than just any peer-to-peer or crowdfunding campaign, it could be a Challenge fundraiser hosted using Facebook’s built-in fundraising tools or a livestreaming campaign hosted on TikTok.
Let’s explore this further.
When considering how social giving is evolving, we have to discuss two main drivers: general innovation in fundraising overall, and innovation that occurred as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The future of fundraising is here, and it’s taking place through in-channel engagement on social media.
If you’ve been in the nonprofit sector for a while, you’ve seen drastic changes in how donors give to nonprofits. First, it was through mailed checks sent via direct mail. Then, online donation pages appeared on websites and credit and debit cards became the only tool needed to make a donation.
Now, we’re watching a third shift in how donors give happen. Now, donors prefer giving virtually and in-channel in the social networks on which they spend significant amounts of time. Of course, this refers to the “Donate” buttons on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter; the Challenges on Facebook; the 24-hour giving days that are replacing formal galas and auctions.
Jeremy Berman notes a number of reasons why digital-native, in-channel, social giving is on the rise:
While some nonprofits have shied away from social media-based fundraising tactics in the past, it’s time to embrace what is quickly becoming the next wave of giving.
We can’t ignore the elephant in the room— the COVID-19 pandemic and its effects on nonprofit fundraising.
When the COVID-19 pandemic first emerged, nonprofits everywhere went into a panic. A downtrodden economy and depressed job market meant many donors had less to give than they would have previously. Plus, what supporters did have available to donate was often directed to pandemic-related causes— and, rightfully so during those early stages of uncertainty.
As a result, the nonprofit sector got creative. Nonprofits sought the support of donor-advised funds and planned gifts, foundations lessened the red tape separating organizations from much-needed grant funding, and social giving experienced a boom.
In an article contributed to AFP Global, Maria Clark cited the need for “future-proofing” a nonprofit in light of the COVID-19 pandemic: “It takes investment to build new revenue streams—both time and resources—so don’t wait until you ‘have to.’”
Clark identified two main avenues for future-proofing an organization: embracing entrepreneurship and diversifying a nonprofit’s revenue sources. It was observable in 2020 and 2021 that top nonprofits accomplished both goals by incorporating Challenges on Facebook , a type of social giving, into their calendars.
As nonprofits were unable to host their traditional peer-to-peer events, they pivoted to Challenges on Facebook as the virtual solution. Check out the following examples:
These Challenges on Facebook have not only been record-breaking both in terms of participation and funding, but they’ve also allowed nonprofits to connect with thousands of new supporters online. As such, we’re watching this COVID-19 innovation stick around long after in-person events are allowed once more. We’ll cover Challenges on Facebook in-depth later in this guide.
If you’re ready to embrace social giving in your nonprofit’s fundraising strategy, that’s great! However, it’s important to think strategically to ensure your social fundraising strategy is built to last. Remember— social fundraising is rapidly evolving, and creating a strong foundation will set your strategy up for success.
Keep the following five tips in mind.
Social fundraising connects your nonprofit with an entirely different audience than you’ve encountered in the past. These supporters aren’t participating for a tax write-off or because they have a well-established relationship with your nonprofit. It’s important to understand what motivates social fundraisers, so you can use these motivations to inspire further action.
There are a number of motivators behind social fundraising, including:
Craft your social giving campaigns with these motivations in mind. For example, you can:
With these strategies in mind, you’ll be appealing to the next generation of online supporters and connecting with new audiences online.
In 2021, Tiltify released landmark research on “The New Normal” in peer-to-peer fundraising. In the research, Tiltify stated, “For peer-to-peer fundraising programs to remain relevant in the rapidly changing digital world, they must evolve their strategies and tactics to better meet the needs of the tech-savvy public.” Essentially, it’s time to embrace a digital-native approach when planning fundraising campaigns in 2022 and beyond.
A digitally-native approach means that, rather than conceptualizing a fundraiser for in-person engagement and pivoting it to the internet, you plan a campaign with the idea that it will take place on the internet from the start.
There are a few interesting points to highlight from Tiltify’s research with regards to embracing a digital-native mentality:
By conceptualizing campaigns with digital engagement in mind from the start, the possibilities for your P2P efforts greatly expand. Thinking outside of the box in this manner is key for successful social fundraising.
Let’s explore the many avenues that social giving can take for your nonprofit.
Social media fundraising tools started with the introduction of the Donation button on Facebook, soon followed by birthday fundraisers and individual campaigns hosted by Facebook users on behalf of nonprofits. Now, you can access the following on:
And of course, Facebook has the Donate button, birthday fundraisers, and Challenges on Facebook.
As a quick recap: Challenges on Facebook are time-bound peer-to-peer fundraising campaigns in which participants complete a specified activity (ex: walking 10k steps per day) for a set time period (ex: 30 days) while raising funds from their peers on Facebook. During the Challenge, all participants are added to a corresponding group in which they connect with one another and engage in a digital community.
To host a Challenge, you simply:
Considering Challenges have the potential to connect your nonprofit with tens of thousands (or more!) new supporters, you may be wondering how it’s possible to have conversations with each and every participant in Messenger. Let’s explore that idea further in the next section.
As your nonprofit’s social audience grows, it’s likely that the individual conversations with each Challenge participant will outpace your team’s capacity. But, the last thing you want to do is abandon these messages or create a sub-par experience for all of the new supporters you’re engaging with.
Some nonprofits have shied away from messaging automation in the past, whether due to a fear of robotic-sounding recordings or difficulties creating an authentic experience. However, when it comes to social fundraising, embracing messaging automation is the only way to scale up and build your relationships with each individual social supporter sustainably.
There are now providers that can author a series of custom, automated messaging sequences that align with both your nonprofit’s brand and priorities as well as the responses from supporters. For supporters, it will feel as though they’re speaking (via Messenger) with a representative of your nonprofit; but, you won’t have to have team members waiting by the computer to hit “send.”
Not only will this allow you to scale up conversations, but you’ll also get to learn more about your supporters, obtaining information that will help you optimize your social giving procedures going forward (such as if you choose to host repeated Challenges down the line!)
We’ve briefly discussed partnering with a social fundraising services provider to bring your social giving strategy to life.
To give you an idea of what this would look like, consider GoodUnited’s turnkey social giving solution:
Beyond accessing a team that will orchestrate your entire social fundraising strategy— from managing Challenges to automating conversational messaging and ongoing optimization— you also access a team that’s on the forefront of social giving innovation. In the past year alone, GoodUnited has unveiled a number of groundbreaking social fundraising tools, including:
These innovations are merging the best of social fundraising with traditional peer-to-peer tools, creating the ultimate social giving experience for both your nonprofit and participants alike. And, you can only access them by partnering with a provider that’s on the front lines of innovation.
Social giving is where nonprofit fundraising is heading; if you’re not incorporating it into your efforts, it’s time to start!
If you’re venturing into social fundraising for the first time, or you’re looking for tips to elevate your strategy, consider partnering with a social fundraising services provider. Reach out to our team at GoodUnited today to learn more.
In the meantime, explore the following additional resources about social giving and Challenges on Facebook: