Nonprofits and social media – raising funds without spending a dollar.

As you know, we’ve been blogging about some general tips to help nonprofits in their fundraising efforts.  Today we want to suggest a few ways that nonprofits can use social media as a viable – and free – fundraising too.  To be sure, the phrase, “you have to spend money to make money” is as true for nonprofits as it is for a business.  However, there is one media (if you can harness it) that break this mantra – social media.

You’ve heard a million things about the use of social media (many of those you’ve read on our blog); however, it’s not enough to “use” social media – but rather to use it with purpose.  And in this case; to use it to raise money.

So, here’s how you want to purposefully use your social media platforms to raise your funds.

1) Find the right “friends” and “followers”

My mom used to say, “show me your friends and I’ll show you your future.”  She was right (of course).  But in regard to nonprofits and their friends and followers on Facebook, Twitters and blogs, we say “show us your fan base and we’ll show you your volunteers, your promoters and your donor base.”  So, yes, generally widen your net of followers, but be sure to be purposeful in the kind of followers you gather from time to time.  Here’s how you start – go find blogs, Twitters and Facebook pages of people that are like minded and involved with nonprofits generally.  Follow these people/organizations and start to develop “social” connections with them.  You’ll find that over time, you’ll increase your targeted fan base and thus increase your potential donor base.

2) Make news with your blogs

Your blog is like the cover of the New York Times.  It is a place to set an agenda.  Your agenda.  And, what’s your nonprofit’s agenda?  Your cause.  So maximize your blog to highlight the things you are doing “out there” with your nonprofit’s efforts.  Then post those blog entries on your Facebook and Twitter accounts for people to read and get excited about your nonprofit’s activities.  Once they are engaged…they will want to sow back into your group.  And if you’ve strategically developed your fan base, then these efforts will be that much more effective.

3.  Empower your followers/fans to engage in something

It’s not enough to just “tell” something, but rather to empower someone to “discover” something.  Set up creative ways for people to engage in your organization.  Use cause centric fundraising (see our article on Cause Centric vs. Brand Centric Fundraising) to engage people in your efforts.  But, a bit of balance is in order here.  You obviously can’t always “ask” for something all the time.  That’s a good way to get “unfriended”.  Pepper in a good number of campaigns that allow people to engage in your nonprofit without any “asks” – use videos, photos, fun polls, real stories of the people and groups your nonprofit effects…things like that.

So, be sure to use your social media presence purposefully and don’t overlook it’s fundraising potential.  And remember, social media takes time to maximize so stick with it.  Keep doing these things long enough and you may find that your social media platforms become your greatest fundraising assets.

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