Setting up your charity on social media

Social media has always been a powerful tool for reaching new audiences. Its usefulness in charity fundraising cannot be underestimated. But the effects of Covid-19 mean that getting your charity on social media is even more essential. Traditional face-to-face fundraising events have become difficult to hold, and many potential donors are struggling financially. One in five charities are thinking of downsizing due to the pandemic, or are considering closing some of their offices.

While social media does not hold all the answers to this crisis, it can help charities to reach potential donors and volunteers. According to Double the Donation, 29% of online donors say that social media is the mode of communication that inspires them the most to donate.

However, social media for charities comes with some unique challenges. Charities are often run by small teams, with funding directed towards providing for those in need. But you can run an effective charity social media strategy without a dedicated team or a massive budget. In fact, social media is an incredibly cost-effective way of reaching a large audience.

Benefits of social media for charities

Spread awareness

Charities can use social media to share vital information about the work they are doing. Social media can be a more informal way of sharing this information, compared to your website or printed materials. Think of social media as the gateway to your website, where potential donors can then get involved and make donations. By spreading your message in a lighter, more user-friendly manner on a potential donor’s social feed, you can gently bring your charity’s mission to their attention.

Build communities

By encouraging supporters to take action online, you can unite a whole community of people in support of your cause. For example, the UN Foundation created the #EyeOnClimate hashtag to encourage users to share messages about climate change. This encouraged hundreds of responses from around the world, bringing together a global community.

Inspire action

Everything in the online community moves extremely fast. This means that charities can mobilise grassroots support faster than ever before. 5 Minute Foundation’s hashtag #5MinuteBeachCleanUp asks followers to pick up litter on their seaside visits and has over 27.9K posts on Instagram. This shows the power that social media campaigns have in encouraging users to take real-life actions for important causes. If every post equals five minutes of picking up litter, then 2,375 hours have been spent clearing beaches as a result of this campaign.

Increase trust

Social media allows charities to communicate directly with donors – it opens up a two-way conversation, whether that be through comments or direct messages. At its core, it allows you to appear open and honest. This increases donors’ trust in your charity’s ability to deliver on its mission. Every donor is a stakeholder in your charity’s future, so it’s important that they can see your impact.

Launching your charity on social media

Choose your platforms

Which platforms will work best for your charity depends on several factors. What audiences are you trying to reach? What are your charity’s marketing goals? Different platforms suit different types of content and will help you to achieve different aims.

For example, Instagram’s focus on images lends itself to infographics, which can spread information to encourage new donations and volunteers. The infographics we have created for The Island York have helped to achieve these aims, by highlighting the charity’s achievements. These Instagram infographics have also helped to improve The Island’s reputation by spreading awareness of the work they do in the local community. 

Previously, our market research showed that the public was not certain of, or misconceived, The Island’s local impact. Using Instagram, we have promoted The Island’s work in helping vulnerable children and young people with their mental, social and physical wellbeing. This has helped to secure more donors and funding from local businesses.

Elsewhere, Cancer Research UK has shared that they find Twitter works best for sharing charity news, while Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram work well for telling stories.

Set up your accounts as nonprofits

When getting your charity set up on social media, make sure to make use of the special resources and features that are available for nonprofits on different platforms. 

  • “Donate” buttons on Facebook and Twitter allow you to run fundraisers directly from your account.
  • Instagram and Facebook have Charitable Giving Tools that make it easier for you to fundraise online.
  • “TikTok for Good” offers exclusive tools. For example, Promoted Hashtags to increase awareness for your cause, and Advanced Analytics to help you target your campaigns.

How to begin your charity social media strategy

There are countless ways in which charities can use social media, but here are a few ideas to get you started.

Fundraising challenges

Probably the most famous online charity fundraiser is the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. The challenge encouraged users to film themselves having a bucket of (you guessed it) ice water dumped over themselves and donate to ALS. Participants then nominated others to do the same. The challenge raised roughly $115 million for ALS.

Another example of a viral fundraising campaign is Run for Heroes’ #Run5Give5 campaign, which encouraged individuals to run 5k, give £5, and nominate five of their friends to do the same. The challenge raised over £2 million for the NHS. Challenges like these show the power that social media has in urging people to support charitable causes.

Top tip: campaign hashtags help to build communities through fundraising challenges. With one click, users can feel connected with other charity donors.

Promote online events

Whether it’s a conference with experts in your charity’s speciality or a fundraising concert, social media is a great way to promote these events. Many social media platforms have live video functions, allowing your followers to join your charity’s events in real-time. Online events aren’t just for lockdown, either. They can be more accessible to those who can’t afford to travel, or for people who have disabilities that would prevent them from attending in person.

In December 2020, Shelter held their ‘Hope Home Song’ virtual concert. Over 18,000 people streamed the concert, showing the potential that online events have for reaching much larger audiences.

Tell your story

Share your successes and achievements with your followers and donors. Getting your story out there can help potential donors to feel more connected with your cause, and show them exactly how their donations would make a difference. The possibilities for this are endless. You could use infographics, create videos, or promote blog posts telling a longer story.

Do you need further support with social media for your charity? We can get your campaign off the ground, so that you can focus on helping those that matter most. Get in touch with us to see how we can help.