3 Tips for Discovering New Supporters on Social Media

Today’s blog comes from Cassie Losquadro, Solutions Executive at GoodUnited.

Cassie Losquadro is a sales leader at GoodUnited, the social giving solution. Cassie has spent the last 5 years in the fundraising technology space. Cassie is energized by working with nonprofit leaders and changemakers who are to a person, saving the world through their initiatives. Hailing from Rhode Island, Cassie lives and works from Charleston, SC with her husband, two children, and a rescue pup Bella. Connect with Cassie on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/cassiefaella/

The discussion around nonprofits and social media tends to revolve around how to engage with people who already support your nonprofit. You’ve certainly read articles about how to create eye-catching infographics that inspire your existing social media followers to give to your nonprofit, or how to create ad campaigns that target social followers with upcoming birthdays in the hopes that they create a Facebook birthday fundraiser on your behalf.

But, what about when it comes to connecting with and acquiring new donors for your nonprofit? That tends to be where the conversation stalls.

While it may seem like social media and social fundraising has been around for quite some time, the truth is that few nonprofits understand how to use these platforms to grow their audience in a meaningful way. That’s why we’ve created this guide to help your nonprofit discover and steward new supporters on social media.

We’ll cover the following three tips for finding new supporters on social media:

  • Engage with individuals who begin supporting your nonprofit on their own.
  • Use Facebook Challenges to engage new supporters in a digital community.
  • Use conversational messaging to seal the deal.

According to Fundraising Report Card’s benchmarks, donor retention has been on the decline year after year. So, for the final tip, we’ll focus on how you can steward these supporters into long-term engagement. 

Let’s get started.

Engage with individuals who begin supporting your nonprofit on their own.

Did you know that people can start their own independent fundraiser on behalf of your nonprofit without your organization ever knowing about it? For example, someone can start a Facebook fundraiser, reach their fundraising goal, and complete the campaign— and your organization could be none the wiser until a check appears in the mail (or via direct deposit) just a few short weeks later.

This means that you could have an audience of supporters who actively advocate on behalf of your organization without you knowing they exist or having them in your donor database. When it comes to discovering new supporters on social media, these existing (but hidden) supporters are a great place to start!

First, you need to discover the individuals who are starting fundraisers for your nonprofit on Facebook. The goal is to discover these campaigns soon after they begin so you can reach out, share resources with the new supporter, and ensure they have a positive experience fundraising on behalf of your organization.

Navigate to the “Fundraisers” section of your nonprofit’s Facebook profile, which shows all campaigns that have been started on your behalf. Then, use the “Sort & Filter” tool, sorting to show the newest campaigns first and filtering to remove any fundraisers that you’ve already thanked.

Then, comment on all of these newly-created campaigns to express your gratitude and open the door for continued engagement. Something as simple as the following will do the trick:

“Hey [Name of Supporter]! Thank you so much for starting a fundraiser on behalf of [Name of Nonprofit]. Your campaign will [Discuss Impact], and we can’t express our gratitude enough! We’d love to keep in touch with you throughout the campaign and beyond via [Next Steps].”

The next steps could be signing up for your email newsletter, filling out a survey to provide more information, or even connecting via Facebook Messenger (which we’ll discuss in a bit). Check out this GoodUnited guide to thanking supporters on Facebook for more thank-you note inspiration.

One of the biggest benefits of this strategy for supporter acquisition is that the acquisition cost— a key metric when it comes to measuring nonprofit success— is comparatively low when it comes to other supporter acquisition methods. You don’t need to go out, advertise, and recruit new supporters. Instead, simply acknowledge those who already exist. 

Use Facebook Challenges to engage new supporters in a digital community.

Our next tip requires a bit more effort from your nonprofit, but the payoff is worthwhile. Consider hosting a Facebook Challenge, a type of peer-to-peer fundraiser that’s hosted entirely on Facebook, to recruit and engage new supporters on the platform.

A Facebook Challenge involves supporters completing a task (such as walking 10,000 steps per day) while they raise funds for your nonprofit using a Facebook fundraiser. During the Challenge, all participants are added to a corresponding Facebook group, through which they experience a sense of community and can network with other participants who have a shared interest in your nonprofit.

Facebook Challenges are a data-backed method to connect with new supporters. When Susan G. Komen hosted Facebook Challenges in 2020 (check out the case study from GoodUnited here), the organization realized that over 90% of the campaign’s participants were new to the host organization. This meant thousands of new supporters (and corresponding contact information) were added to its donor databases.

With that in mind, here’s how you can host this type of virtual fundraising event:

  1. Choose a Challenge task and set the duration for the campaign. For example, you could have the Challenge run for one month and task participants with reading 10 books during that period.
  2. Create an online community for participants. Create a Facebook group for participants to connect within, writing a clear description of the group so participants understand what they’re signing up for. Plan out your strategy for engaging supporters in the group, such as sharing discussion topics and livestreaming members of your staff completing the task themselves.
  3. Use Facebook Ads to market the campaign. Use targeted ads to send known supporters (and those generally on your nonprofit’s radar) to join the group and create corresponding Facebook fundraisers. Encourage participants to invite their friends and family to join as well!

Once supporters join the campaign, it’s time to engage with those supporters and collect any data and contact information needed for future analysis outreach. The best way to do this is using the conversational messaging tools already built into social networks.

Use conversational messaging to seal the deal.

It’s common knowledge that securing a second donation/volunteer sign-up/event registration/etc. can be more challenging than securing the first. But with one-on-one conversational messaging, you can open the door to that ongoing engagement with your newly engaged social supporters.

Conversational messaging is exactly as it sounds— a representative from your organization chats, one-on-one, with each individual supporter through the chat functionality of the social network you’re using (such as Facebook Messenger).

When chatting in Messenger, you can:

  • Express gratitude. Your social supporters should feel just as appreciated as your in-person volunteers and donors who give through other avenues. Say thank you (more than once!) and discuss the impact of their support.
  • Share fundraising and educational resources. Not every one of your supporters who starts a fundraiser will be familiar with fundraising best practices. Share top tips to raise more— such as sharing the campaign multiple times accompanied by a personal story— to propel those campaigns to success. You can also share general educational resources about your cause and organization.
  • Ask questions and gather data. Social networks provide minimal data about supporters due to the networks’ privacy policies. However, you can collect information about social supporters via Messenger by simply asking questions. Why is the supporter interested in your nonprofit? How would they prefer to engage going forward? What is their preferred communication channel? Gathering this qualitative data will give you the insight to retain supporters over time.

Of course, you first need to connect with supporters on Messenger before you can share these communications. The easiest way to do this is by inviting supporters to start the conversation themselves.

So for example, in your thank-you notes discussed in the first section, invite supporters to connect with your nonprofit on Messenger. Or, drawing back to the second section, make a post in your Challenge group inviting all participants to start chatting with your nonprofit using the messaging tool. Once that door is opened, you can begin chatting and keep the conversation going year-round!

And, if you’re reading this section and wondering how it’s possible to hold one-on-one conversations with all of your social supporters— don’t fret. There are now well-regarded social fundraising solutions that can automate this process for you, allowing you to create custom messaging sequences that adjust depending on your supporters’ responses. These solutions allow you to steward new supporters on social media at scale.

Though the conversation surrounding social media tends to revolve around connecting with supporters you already have, there are still a variety of methods that you can use to discover and engage new ones.

Start by engaging your nonprofit’s “hidden” social supporters before drawing in a new audience using Facebook Challenge. Then seal the deal with conversational messaging to ensure these supporters are retained for the long run. These tips will set you off to a great start. Good luck!

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