In nonprofit parlance, it’s called “peer-to-peer fundraising,” but no matter what you call it the concept is the same: You ask your friends, family and colleagues to support the cause you care about with a donation.
The recent Amplify Austin campaign was a great venue for peer-to-peer fundraising. It offered donors a chance to share on social media the news of their donation and ask for others to donate to the same cause. But there are plenty of other online platforms for fundraising — even the nonprofit’s website itself can help. That’s because it’s all powered by your connections online.
In fact, social media is a powerful fundraising tool for volunteers, as is email. Thanks to digital messaging, we can invite even more people to make a donation, and today no online fundraising platform could work without it. Think about crowdfunding sites like GoFundMe, Kickstarter, Crowdrise and Indiegogo. The “share” button and the auto-share functions are the key to spreading the word and raising more money.
But a click or two isn’t going to cut it if you really want to see a result. To drive more donations to your cause and reach beyond your circle of friends, you’ll need a more effective strategy. Here’s what fundraising experts do and how you can apply these simple tools for your fundraiser.
1. Make a donation yourself. It might seem obvious, but if you’re not showing your friends that you care enough to give, why should they? Make a donation that is a little more than what you’re asking others to give, and make sure others can see that you gave and how much.
2. Share your personal connection with the organization. You’re giving for a reason. Use the social media post, email or tools offered by the online platform to share a story about why you support this cause as a starting point — but don’t just stick to their words. Make sure to change-up their suggestions and use your own words.
3. Take advantage of this invitation to donate by telling your friends about the nonprofit. Don’t assume others already know. When you’re an ambassador for a cause, your friends are giving mostly because you asked them, but it’s a good opportunity to introduce them to the nonprofit you support. Raising awareness is a gift to that nonprofit.
4. Be clear with your call to action and repeat it at least twice in each message. Most of us learned in school not to be redundant in our writing, but online messaging is not the time to worry about that. Most people don’t read (take it from a professional writer!). So be clear and make sure it’s easy for them to see the DONATE link at least twice.
5. Send to people you know will give first, then expand your list. Nobody likes to be the first on the dance floor. Make sure there are a few donations from friends visible before asking people outside your circle of closest friends. Send a message to the early donors by explaining that you need their help to get your fundraising off to a great start.
6. Encourage even small gifts. Nonprofits love hearing from people who’ve never donated to their organization before. Through their own strategic messaging, they can turn that $10 donor into a lifelong supporter.
7. Keep asking. Most of your connections won’t mind hearing from you at least three times. Make each email or post a little different, add a photo or video and keep them interested. Sometimes, people genuinely miss your message the first time (or two).
8. Let your connection know that if they can’t donate, sharing your message is also a gift. Create your posts and emails with that in mind, and the person they pass it on to will just be able to click “share” or “forward” without having to explain the cause themselves.
Remember, when you help raise money for a cause you care about, you’re not just giving money. Your gift of raising awareness and identifying new donors is huge for that nonprofit. Be persistent and upbeat with your simple, meaningful message and you’ll see great results.
Then be proud of the work you’re doing for your community.
PHOTO: By Sidharth Bhatia for Unsplash