Explode Year-End Fundraising With an Army of Social Media Ambassadors

The social media ambassadors page at a food bank.
If this Food Bank can recruit an army of social media ambassadors, so can your nonprofit. Check out how this organization caters to its social media stars. Food Bank of Central & Eastern North Carolina

It’s never too early to think about year-end fundraising season! And what better way to increase your fundraising than by recruiting an energetic group of Social Media Ambassadors to help you? 

If you are like the majority of nonprofits, you use some form of online or mobile fundraising platform to spread the word about your cause and to energize supporters.

The NTEN 2015 Digital Outlook Report found that nearly 60% of nonprofits use digital content marketing platforms to raise awareness.

Kivi Leroux Miller’s 2015 Nonprofit Communications Trends Report found that 62% of nonprofits say that social media the most important communications platform.  Also, online fundraising is set to skyrocket this year – primarily based on the power of social networks.

How to Enlist an Army of Social Media Ambassadors

Here are nine ways that your nonprofit can recruit, motivate and coordinate an informed and enthusiastic army of Social Media Ambassadors to support a stellar year-end fundraising season.

1. Get buy-in and support from staff and Board members.

First things first - get the influential and powerful people in your organization on board with your campaign.  Success in year-end fundraising requires eliminating departmental silos. To get results, a year-end fundraising plan cannot be conducted by one person! Staff and volunteers (especially your board) must embrace their parts in the year-end fundraising plan if it is to succeed.

 

Hold a joint staff and Board meeting to explain the importance of planning for year-end fundraising early. Let them know that you need their help to create an energetic, informed army of online ambassadors that will be used to raise money for the organization. You will need staff and Board stories, their photos, and their input to create great materials to that can be shared across social media.

2. Create the strategy.

Before jumping in and posting to Facebook, you need to determine the strategy for your year-end fundraising. Take some time to work on the goals for your campaign – ideally, measurable SMART goals

Not all goals need to have dollar signs attached to them! Of course, you want to have an overall objective for the amount of money you need to raise. However, other goals for the year-end fundraising campaign could be – getting more email newsletter sign-ups; increasing mobile donations; higher attendance at the kick-off event; attracting Facebook shares and Twitter retweets, etc. 

3. Develop the timeline.

The timeline should be a simple spreadsheet with the following headers:

  • What is the task? Sample tasks for a year-end fundraising campaign could be creating social media visuals with Canva; cleaning up the online donation page on the website; writing the first Social Media Ambassador email; sending out first year-end appeal letter
  • When will the task be started?
  • When will the work be completed?
  • Who will be responsible?
  • What is the cost?
  • Special notes and considerations

Ideally this will be the work of a small committee, but there should be one person accountable for the results and the coordination of the effort.

 Make sure all tasks tie back to the goals and your strategy.

4. Develop the materials.

Visuals are essential in any social media campaign. You cannot recruit your army of social media ambassadors without providing them with colorful, interesting and compelling materials to share!

Create an Online Ambassador Tool Kit with graphics, visuals, videos, sample tweets and Facebook posts, sample Pinterest pins and Instagram photos. Provide as many options as you can to ensure that your ambassadors have a broad range of communication options.

Examples:

National nonprofit #GivingTuesday provides Social Media Tool Kits, graphics, logos, quotes and other resources to anyone wanting to be a “partner.” In the weeks leading up to #GivingTuesday, the group sends out notifications and suggested social media postings to their Partners, encourage them to share far and wide with their networks.

The Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina enlists the support of its online community through a Social Media Ambassadors Program. They feature the Ambassadors’ names and profiles on their SMA Partners Page and call them “Hunger Heroes.” The steps to get involved are laid out on a specific page on their website.

5. Start recruiting!

You need to directly ask people to join your Social Media Ambassador group. Come up with a fun name like Childhood Cancer Champions or Pet Protectors. Use every communications channel that you have to invite people to participate.

Email continues to be the most reliable way to communicate with supporters. Even though you may call them Social Media Ambassadors, you cannot be sure that they will see every tweet and Facebook post. You will need to segment your email list and create a separate one for Social Media Ambassadors – they will be receiving more emails than your average supporter or donor.

  • Send an email inviting your entire network to join this select group. Explain the impact that they will have – dollars raised = more people served.
  • Ask them to forward to their networks.
  • Ask them to share your request on social media.
  • Offer incentives, raffle prizes, etc. if appropriate.
  • Tell people exactly what is required of a Social Media Ambassador – make a special page on your website and link to this page.  
     

6. Acknowledge, acknowledge, acknowledge!

Be sure to recognize the work of your Social Media Ambassadors. Every share, like and retweet counts! Budget some of your time every single day to follow relevant hashtags and topics, listen to their conversations and thank them profusely for their support.

Just because someone is retweeting your link and not donating money doesn’t make them a “slacktivist”. They may not have the money to give at this time, or they may be taking the temperature of your organization in preparation for a donation. Treat everyone with respect and appreciation, no matter how seemingly small the task.

7. Keep in touch regularly with new tasks.

When year-end fundraising season is in full swing, send out a weekly email to the Ambassadors with their priority task.  The task can be sending out a pre-written tweet, sharing one of your page’s Facebook posts, or sharing or commenting on a recent blog post.

If you want the Ambassadors to promote something specific, like a blog post link or an event invitation, make sure to provide them with all the details. Do not just send them a generic message saying “Help us promote this on Facebook!” and make them do the work of finding the relevant link.  

Write the actual Facebook post that you want them to share. Compose the tweet in 140 characters including hashtags and mentions. Provide your Ambassadors with unique graphics and eye-catching photos to include, and include a link back to your organization's website or blog.

This way your Ambassadors can easily cut, paste and share, or they can adapt the language to make it more personal to their networks. The key is to make it simple and easy - something they could easily do while waiting to pick up their kids at school or watching a TV show in the evening.

8. Show them the impact.

It is important to show consistently the results of your ambassadors’ efforts. Explain the value of the work. “If we are successful in using social media to tell great stories and raise money, this will result in more people served and an ability to create more summer programs.”

As much as possible, show your Ambassadors that their tweets, posts, Instagram photos and blog comments have helped push the needle on your cause. If you can demonstrate a direct increase in online donations, that’s fantastic! Requests for information, email sign-ups, increased website traffic are all significant results of a social media campaign. Share these accomplishments!

Show them that sharing the stories and the work of the organization online has increased community and connections – that it’s not simply about tweeting for the sake of tweeting. 

9. Share your fundraising accomplishments and wins frequently! Celebrate and have fun!

Have a good time, celebrate and don’t take yourself too seriously. The work is serious but the social media posts do not have to be. Positivity and humor work best on social networks, so keep that in mind.

Also, remember that sharing is caring! Your Facebook fans, Twitter followers and blog subscribers are under no obligation to read every post, or to comment, like or share. Your audience makes split-second decisions (unconsciously) every minute about what information they will read, discuss and share with their networks. The ball is forever in their court.

The reality is, no one owes your organization money - no matter how worthy the cause. It is your job to break down the barriers to giving, and the way to do that is through thought-provoking stories shared widely, using social media and other tools.