Digital Strategist for the North American Division.
If you’re like most non-profits, the end of the calendar year means one final fundraising push. But it might surprise you that the success of these year-end initiatives is directly connected to the story you’ve been telling throughout the year. Whether or not you realize it, your communications (or lack of) are telling a story, and that story is the key to creating a sense of the value of your organization. When your audience values what you’re doing, they are more likely to support you.
Social media is popular because it speaks to a basic human need: to connect and share. So how do we use social media to tell our “story” all year long and build a connection with our audience that ultimately motivates them support our mission?
In digital marketing we often talk about the 20/80 rule. The ideal ratio of posts on an organization’s social media should be 20% sales messages (aka direct appeals), 80% engagement. In other words, 80% of the content posted by your ministry should demonstrate the need your organization fulfills, share what initiatives your ministry is implementing to satisfy this need, update your audience on your goals and various efforts, showcase impact through testimonials and results, and simply engage your fans.
Think of social media as a potluck with friends during which you share your desire to go on a mission trip. You wouldn’t hard sell them or ask them for their support with no context, but you might talk about your goals, ambitions, why it’s important, and share your general excitement about what you have planned. Once your friends understand how important this mission trip is and why you want to go, they will naturally be more inclined to help you when you mention that you haven’t yet reached your fundraising goal. The same principle is true for an organization’s social media channels. If you spend most of your efforts telling the story behind your cause and creating value, your followers will gradually become more emotionally invested. Then when you make direct appeals for support (the 20%), your results will be more effective because your supporters feel like they understand the importance of your mission and know how the money will be used. This is especially important for millennial givers, who demand transparency and accountability when it comes to use of funds.
In addition, don’t forget the “Rule of 7,” which states that: a person needs to be exposed to a message a least seven times before they’ll take action. This means when your organization is building its general digital content strategy, not only should you to take in account the 20/80 rule, but also work across all your channels (digital, email, print, website, etc.) and platforms (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.) to reach your audience multiple times—reinforcing your message and maximizing effectiveness. Try utilizing a diversity of content that is relevant to your mission to help enforce the same “story” or message in unique ways.
Remember to plan in advance. Build your value all year long, and launch your digital year-end campaign at least 7 weeks out from the December 31st deadline. Then schedule reminder posts with milestone updates every 10 days. As the deadline approaches, increase the urgency in your message and boost key posts to cut through the clutter and ensure that you reach your fans. Post a few days before the deadline and then the day of the deadline in tandem with email reminders. It's not too late to incorporate social media pushes into your strategy this year. Consider a 10 day reminder on December 22, another on December 29, and one final push early on December 31.
Now if your organization can't join the digital fundraising bandwagon this year, you can always add these strategies to your organization’s list of “New Year’s resolutions.”
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