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Improve Fundraising Results in a Social Media World

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If your development director isn’t delivering on fundraising as you’d hoped, you’re not alone. According to a new national study by CompassPoint and the Evelyn and Walter Haas, Jr. Fund, many nonprofits are not raising the money they need to succeed. For those on top, one of the key factors was “a culture of philanthropy” by an almost two to one margin.

What does a culture of philanthropy mean? According to the study:

  • People across the organization act as ambassadors and engage in relationship building.
  • Everyone promotes philanthropy and can articulate a case for giving.
  • Fund development is viewed and valued as a mission-aligned program of the organization.
  • Organizational systems are established to support donors.
  • The executive director is committed and personally involved in fundraising.

At the heart of many of these success indicators is storytelling. And in today’s world that means harnessing digital media and social networks. Here are some ways to incorporate those tools in your fund raising work.

  1. Mission ambassadors and relationship building -Make sure board members, alumni, and other key supporters and donors use their social networks to promote your story. That means traditional social networks (i.e. speaking to friends about your organization), but also digital networks. Provide these boosters with regular support—like emailing the right hashtag to use when tweeting about an upcoming event, or sending them links to a new video on your web or Youtube page that showcases your mission in action.
  2. Everyone promotes philanthropy and can articulate a case for giving-Provide “elevator pitch” training volunteers, including board members, but also to staff who are not directly involved in fund raising.  Help these natural supporters explain the case for giving by explaining their own passion for the organization and their connection to your mission.
  3. Fund development is mission-aligned-Be sure budget presentations show your outputs (results) in terms of mission accomplishments, not just programs. Video and photos can be a great way to demonstrate this impact (and keeps people from falling asleep in budget meetings)
  4. Organizational systems support donors.- Cultivation systems and databases are critical. But one of the most overlooked “systems” is creating an internal online-accessible library of images, fund raising scripts, and videos that volunteers can use to make the case for support. Once you’ve create this space, be sure to encourage staff to update it regularly, so that new content is always available for the latest stories about your mission success.
  5. Executive Director commitment to fund raising. – Part of fund raising is not just meeting with prospective donors and making the ask, but raising the profile of the organization and its mission. ED’s can often raise their personal profile and reach a wider community efficiently by taking advantage of social media tools: regular blog writing, microblogging on Twitter, or even photos uploaded from events to Instagram.

There’s no magic potion for development success, but digital tools give us more of a boost than we realize.

Amy DeLouise frequently works with nonprofit boards, leaders, and marketing staff to improve their branding impact–in other words, how they tell their mission story.