What I Learned About Fundraising Using Social Media This Week- Part 1

This week I attended a Synagogue Council/Jvillage Meet up (read: workshop) focused on fundraising using social media. I want to stay current when it comes to how nonprofits can expand their reach – in this case – the use of Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter and the like. Obviously, I am not alone – it was well attended– so I thought I would share what I learned during the overview of fundraising and the social media focus of JVillage’s presentation.

What I knew before I went:

  • Social Media is not going away so it should be embraced.
  • This is harder for people who entered the workforce prior to 1993 or so (*I will explain this theory in Part 2 of this article)
  • Many people who work in nonprofits have graduated high school before 1993.
  • When short on time, we stay inside our comfort zone and away from embracing new technologies.
  • Twitter is the easiest platform for nonprofits to implement – in fewer than 140 characters (and potentially an image) you can describe an idea or event and link users to your website.
  • Many nonprofits have Facebook pages but have trouble getting “friends” to respond to their posts.
  • There are so many aspects to social media that it feels overwhelming to many mid and small nonprofits.

What I learned:

  • Facebook ideas
    • Consider the type of posts you are putting up. If you write a status update with a relevant article you may receive “likes” and a few “shares” but that is not generating the interaction that everyone seems to be coveting. Instead, pose questions, offer quizzes or try to create group excitement and you might just get it.
    • Ask your core supporters to share their answers or thoughts about you on their personal pages. And ask them to share your questions and quizzes encouraging their friends to join the conversation.
  • Pinterest can be surprisingly useful for nonprofits. I like Pinterest, I post recipes and design ideas. It helped my renovation project in a way that I never would have imagined, but I couldn’t figure out how that would translate to a house of worship.
    • If you want a good example for Pinterest, look up Temple Shalom of Newton. (Full disclosure: they are a client and hosted this event.) They have set up sections for groups within their community (i.e. Families with Young Children, Sisterhood, and Social Action, to Jewish items of a personal interest (e.g., Holidays, Jewish Soul Food (recipes) and Judaica, to Jews around the world (e.g., Cool Jews and Beautiful Temples and Synagogues). It occurred to me that you could use this in incredibly creative ways to help promote a capital campaign. And that a few of your board members are probably on Pinterest already linking to similar items. They might be willing to help you post new ideas.
  • Instagram may be the up and coming social network but many nonprofits are unsure how to use it. Especially synagogues. The truth is that Instagram can be used in ways that are very similar to Pinterest – post a picture of that amazing Passover Kugel with a link to the recipe on your site (or on another site) and people will respond but unless your audience is already using this site – hold off and focus on where your constituency currently is. And revisit it in six months.

What does this all mean? I think the rule of one hour, once a week to schedule your social media for the week is doable for most nonprofits and will keep you current enough to encourage followers. I also think you should get everyone on your team thinking about this and thinking of ways to excite your audience.

Did you notice the major concept missing from what I learned? It is the idea of how to improve fundraising. There was some talk about which platforms your constituents are using and why your nonprofit will NOT be the next water bucket challenge but very little on how to use it to fundraise. As this article is already too long for a quick read which is what I try to provide every week, I have decided to continue it next week with my own thoughts on the subject.


Want to read some of our other articles on similar topics? Here are a couple from the past year:

Should You Be Following Fundraising Trends?

Finding and Keeping Millennial Donors