Brynne Krispin is a guest writer for GoodUnited and a social media strategist for nonprofits and small businesses. Working with NGOs, thought leaders, and policymakers in DC for the last decade, she specializes in getting people to care about complex issues that might otherwise get ignored. Her team at Cause Fokus uses empathy-based marketing to turn passive audiences into loyal advocates.
The landscape of nonprofit fundraising has changed dramatically in 2024. Individual giving has seen a steep decline, with donors becoming more selective about the causes they support. At the same time, nonprofits saw the largest trust decline of any American institution in 2023. This combination puts immense pressure on nonprofits to find creative ways to engage supporters and bring in donations.
In this environment, building a community of loyal advocates for your cause is more important than ever before. While paid ads and steeply-priced lead lists may deliver short-term results, long-term donor relationships are built on trust and community. In order to win back trust and stay top-of-mind, nonprofits must focus on establishing emotional connections with their audience through consistent, high-quality content. While building this community takes time, it will ensure you always have a full pipeline of people interested in engaging with your cause.
Imagine your nonprofit’s social media fundraising strategy as planning a trip to a new country. Paid ads and buying lead lists are like booking an all-inclusive package tour. It’s convenient, and you know exactly what to expect. You’ll be guided through popular tourist spots, but you might miss out on the adventure of exploration and discovering hidden gems.
Meanwhile, building an organic community is like backpacking through that new country. It requires more effort and research to plan your own itinerary, find local experiences, and connect with the culture. You’re not following a set path; you’re creating your own unique memories, meeting locals, and forming meaningful connections.
Similarly, cultivating an organic community involves crafting a unique approach tailored to your audience. It’s like seeing a new place through the eyes of a local, where you engage in authentic conversations, share personal experiences, and build a community that’s genuinely interested in your cause. While paid ads might offer a straightforward route to visibility, they can’t replicate the authenticity, depth of engagement, and lasting loyalty that come from organically building a community.
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So, instead of pouring more resources into paid ads or buying lead lists, focus on engaging with your audience and adding value to their lives.
Here’s how you can do it:
- Prioritize community-building over sales pitches. Social platforms are all about relationships first. Followers will tune out repetitive asks for money. Instead, share your mission through stories and behind-the-scenes looks at your work.
- Make eye contact with your audience. Create content that resembles the feeling of someone making eye contact with you in a crowded room. Say their name. Use more “you” and less “we.” Show real humans talking to the camera through videos and storytelling.
- Don’t fake it. Be genuine in your interactions. Share the real stories behind your organization’s work, the impact you’ve made, and the challenges you face. Authenticity builds trust.
- Interact frequently with followers. Respond to comments and questions to show you are listening. Being present and humanizing your organization leads to stronger connections.
- Monitor engagement and listen to feedback. Notice what content resonates and what falls flat. Ask followers for input on an upcoming campaign or what they want to see more of on your platforms. This allows you to continually optimize content for what matters to them (not to you).
- Educate and inform your audience. Share statistics, facts, and news related to your cause. Position your nonprofit as a trusted resource on social issues to establish authority. Leveraging the personal accounts of your CEO and other subject matter experts can do this more effectively than your brand’s accounts. People trust people over logos.
- Collaborate with partners and influencers. Joint campaigns, takeovers, and shoutouts expand your reach to new audiences in an organic way.
- Promote donation options, but don’t overdo asks. Share links to give and remind followers how they can get involved, but balance this with other types of content. Less than 20% of your organic content in any given month should be a direct ask. The rest must provide value to your audience like a gift.
- Show Gratitude: Always express gratitude to your supporters. Recognize their contributions and acknowledge their role in your mission’s success.
- Be transparent: Openly share how your donations are used. Share financial reports, impact assessments, and breakdowns of where the funds go.
While organic social media fundraising may not yield immediate financial gains, it offers something more valuable – a community of engaged supporters who genuinely believe in your cause. This community can provide a steady stream of support, not just in terms of donations but also through advocacy, volunteering, and spreading the word.
Having a strong organic community will also help improve your social ads when you run your paid campaigns for your nonprofit.
Nonprofits facing the decline in individual giving and heightened distrust in 2024 must pivot toward an organic community approach. Building a healthy, engaged community and focusing on quality content that builds credibility and trust are essential steps in ensuring long-term sustainability. By doing so, your nonprofit can weather the storm and continue making a meaningful impact in the world.
About the Sponsor
GoodUnited is a fundraising software that helps nonprofits harness the power of social networks, offering a solution that simplifies lead generation, automates supporter engagement, and maximizes fundraising revenue.Using GoodUnited, nonprofits can easily connect with a new generation of supporters, track mission impact across campaigns, and elevate Social Networks fundraising outcomes – something that simply can’t be done with other solutions on the market today.
100s of the world’s top nonprofits trust GoodUnited to help grow their mission on social networks – including Susan G. Komen, Stop Soldier Suicide, Make-A-Wish, the Michael J. Fox Foundation, and The Trevor Project.