In this webinar, Julia Campbell will show you how to use social media and other free online tools to create your very own donor gratitude campaign, on a shoestring budget!

Full Transcript:

Steven: All right, Julia. Is it okay if I go ahead and get this party started?

Julia: Yes. Sounds good to me.

Steven: All right. Awesome. Good afternoon, everyone. Good afternoon if you’re on the East Coast, good morning if you’re out on the West Coast. Thanks for being here for today’s Bloomerang webinar, “10 ways to Improve Donor Retention with Social Media.” I love that. I love both those topics. We’re going to talk about both of them. Thanks for being here.

My name is Steven. I’m the Chief Engagement Officer over here at Bloomerang. And I’ll be moderating today’s discussion as always. And just a couple of housekeeping items before we get going here, just want to let you all know that we are recording this session. And we’ll be sending you the recording as well as the slides later on this afternoon. So don’t worry, we’ll get all that good stuff in your hands. If you have to leave early or maybe you get interrupted later on, we’ll get you that recording. Don’t worry.

Most importantly, though as you’re listening, please feel free to use that chat box right there on your webinar screen. We’re going to try to save some time at the end for Q&A. So don’t be shy. Julia and I will see those questions throughout the hour. And we’d love to answer as many as we can before 2:00.

One last bit of housekeeping if you are listening to this webinar through your computer speakers, if you have any trouble with that audio if it cuts out or if it starts to sound a little weird, we find that the audio by phone is usually of better quality. So if you’ve got a phone nearby and you don’t mind calling into that, if that will be comfortable for you, give that a try before you totally give up on the computer audio. Just check your email for the ready top confirmation email. It’s got a phone number in there for you that you can use.

If it’s your first Bloomerang webinar, just want to say an extra special welcome to all you first-timers. We do these webinars just about every week throughout the year. We literally only miss three or four weeks. One of our favorite things we do here at Bloomerang, but what we’re most known for is our donor management software. So if you are interested in that or maybe thinking of switching sometime soon, check us out. You can go to our website, download a quick video demo and see the software in action. Don’t even have to talk to a salesperson if you don’t want to. Who wants to do that after all?

Don’t do that right now. We can least an hour because we got one of my favorites. My buddy Julia Campbell joining us from beautiful normally Boston but Julia you’re on the road right now. She’s a dynamo doing all kinds of conference speaking. Where are you exactly, Julia, right now? Somewhere on the East Coast but not Massachusetts, is that right?

Julia: I was in Connecticut yesterday. I’m in Washington DC right now.

Steven: Oh, my gosh. Okay, so we owe Julia not only a debt of gratitude for doing this webinar in general, but also fitting it into her very, very busy schedule. She is a highly sought after speaker.

Julia: I love it.

Steven: Yeah, well, folks are going to know why you do so much speaking. It’s because you’re awesome and you got a lot of great advice. And if you are if all of you are not already following Julia on the website, follow her on Twitter. You got to do it because awesome advice. She kind of I go to for social media. She’s working on . . . you’re working on a book right now, right? Is the digital book, the new book, Julia?

Julia: Yes.

Steven: Okay. I want to make sure.

Julia: A new book is coming out. It looks like it’s in the very . . .

Steven: Early.

Julia: . . . final stages of publishing.

Steven: Cool.

Julia: So it’s going to come out . . . I don’t . . .

Steven: Okay.

Julia: . . . hopefully come out this year, I’m hoping.

Steven: Cool. So it’ll be soon. So keep in touch with Julia, you’re going to want to buy that book after you hear this presentation. And I want to take any more time away, Julia, because you’re awesome. And you’ve got a lot of great advice. So the floor is yours, my friend, talk all about social media. So take it away.

Julia: Thank you. Thanks, Steven. I should say something about that photo if people don’t know. The photo was taken at Cause Camp this past year and they had a photo booth and I honestly think I spent more time at the photo booth than anywhere else at the conference even though we both spoke at the conference.

Steven: Yeah.

Julia: It was fantastic.

Steven: It was good one.

Julia: That was so much fun if you don’t know where that photo is, or you could just think we dress like that normally when we see each other, either way. Did you dress as a banana for Halloween, Steven? No.

Steven: I didn’t. I wish I had that costume because my kids are obsessed with bananas. We go through like two bunches of bananas a week, so it would have gone over very well.

Julia: That’s hilarious. Okay. Well, I’m really excited to be here today. We just talked about me. Most of you looking at the participants, a lot of you do know who I am. If you don’t, I just want to reassure you that I come from the nonprofit sector. I have been a development director, a development/marketing/kitchen sink. I’ve worked at small shops, and all of the information I give you is based on research and data, experience. And things I’ve worked through either with my clients or things that I just have seen online that really, really work.

So let’s get right into it. We’re going to go a little bit through the social media landscape entering 2020. Because I know that nonprofits are really struggling with where to place their time, where to focus, how to make the best decisions for their small organizations. And what I want you to do is take a look at this infographic, and then completely ignore it and delete it.

So we’re surrounded by infographics like this. How many people are on Facebook? How many people are on Instagram stories? How many people are using TikTok? Or whatever the latest thing is? And what I want to impart to you is that while this data is important, it really has nothing to do with you and your donors.

So we’re going to talk today about ways that we can engage and retain our donors. Your donors are very specific, to your organization, your audience is very specific. So when you see graphics like this, I think it forms a lot of stress and overwhelm, because we think we need to be everywhere. But we actually don’t we just need to be more strategic and consistent and thoughtful in the kind of content we’re putting out there. So you can’t beat the internet on quantity, but you can beat it on quality.

Two other things to know, or a few other things to know. People are still on Facebook, love it or hate it. People are still on YouTube, love it or hate it and they don’t show any signs of stopping. Generations across the board, millennials, boomers, Gen X, Gen Z are still using social media. So don’t fall into the trap, where your board says, “Our donors are not on social media because they’re too young or our donors are not in social media because they’re too old.” You can get this research at Pew Internet that’s P-E-W And if you’re looking for specific demographic data, also is one of my favorite websites for a lot of this data.

The truth remains that the average time spent on social media is down just by a handful of seconds. But still, it’s pretty significant. Except for Instagram, and we will talk about Instagram today. Instagram seems to be the only social media site that’s actually growing and not plateauing. So that’s something for you to think about.

Another research report that I turned to is the Global Trends in Giving, because this data proves that social media can push the needle with donors. So almost 30% of donors do say that social media is the tool that inspires them to give. So take a look at the Global Trends in Giving survey to go a little bit deeper. But I do want you to know that it has been shown to work and we’re going to talk about how to make it work.

Of course, the other thing that we can’t deny is the power of social media, fundraise and donors actually giving and be becoming more comfortable giving through these channels. So, you know, on Facebook, people have raised I was going to say Facebook raised, but Facebook didn’t raise any of it. But people raised over $2 billion since charitable giving tools have been introduced. And the reason I like to share this statistic is just to show you that people are getting really comfortable donating and interacting with charities and causes that they care about on social media across social media sites. And we know that you know, Facebook fundraisers are super popular, but also the Instagram donation sticker, the Instagram Donate button. All of these tools in my mind are helping us reach more donors, reach new donors, and just give donors a way to reach us where and when they want to.

So that’s all kind of the good news and the rosy side of things that people are still using social media. People are using it across generations people are getting more comfortable with social media philanthropy and fundraising. The problem that remains in the sector is that donors are disappearing. So charitable giving may have increased, but total number of donors across the board has dropped and new donors have dropped.

And probably, to me, one of the most distressing statistics that I saw come out of the Fundraising Effectiveness Project was that small dollar donors are disappearing. This means people are opting out, and people are deciding not to give again. Now, donor retention. I mean, Steven Shattuck is actually one of the experts on donor retention, but donor retention every year keeps dropping. It’s at an all-time low.

So if you’ve never had the fortune of seeing Penelope Burk speak, Penelope Burk wrote a fantastic book called “Donor-Centered Fundraising.” She just released it with an update. I saw her speak recently. And she talks a lot about donor motivation. And I think donor motivation, we have to understand it because its intrinsic to how we create our content calendars. We are so focused on our agenda, what we want to push out, the marketing messages, what we think donors need to know. We are not nearly focused enough on what donors actually want to hear from us. So the data what she found, is that 46% of donors stop giving that are connected to us a failure to communicate. So obviously, there are reasons like, could not afford, there are reasons like death, you know, they’re moving. There are all sorts of reasons why donors stop giving. But I want to focus today on the reasons that we can control with our communications or that we can influence a little bit.

So feels charity is not fulfilling its mandate. How can we create content around that? You know, loses interest. Believes that charity no longer needs donor support, that one breaks my heart. Because we’re so afraid to inundate donors with any kind of communication, that oftentimes they forget that we even need their help. So how can we use social media to increase that? And I will show you some specific examples. Believes charity has not kept in touch, that’s on us. Feels there are more compelling causes out there, that is on us.

Okay, this is a fantastic little Venn diagram from Mark Phillips. And it’s all about the things that we want to tell a donor and the things that the donor actually wants to hear from us. And as you can see, we spend most of our time on the left-hand side on the blue. This is what most of our social media is about, when we should be focusing most of our attention on the purple side, what you achieved with my money, why I made the right decision to support you, you know that you know why I give and what I care about. And then, of course, how have you helped solve the problem?

So just to wrap up my little tirade on donor retention and why it’s so important. I believe that any time we communicate with our donors, we should be trying to create a shared identity with them. And actually, Steven wrote a fantastic blog post on the Bloomerang blog about bumper stickers and we talk about that all the time. Would your donor put a bumper sticker on their car? Would they wear a T-shirt? Would they put a sticker on their laptop? Would they put a Facebook frame? Would they change their cover photo on Facebook? Think about ways that you can create that shared identity. That’s what the goal of social media, I think, really is. Because if you have that shared identity, then they’re much more likely to stick around and give again and give more and become a legacy donor.

So all of this is well and good, Julia, great, awesome. We’re on board. How do we do it? How do we do it? So I’m going to give you 10 ways, with some examples from real organizations, and some mostly small and mid-sized organizations. And we’re going to go through it. All right, let’s get started here.

Number one, give donors information on how their gift was used. So a lot of this might seem sort of like yeah, you know, no [doe 00:13:52]. I almost said no joy. Do people say that anymore? It’s a very ’80s thing to say. You might be saying, obviously, we’re going to give information on how their gift was used. I mean, if you can get very specific into how their gift was used. If they gave because they came from a specific campaign, if they gave because they came from Facebook, if they gave because they came from an event, as much information as you can give them, not just to say, “This is our annual report.”

You might be thinking, “Oh, we give them information at the end of the year in the form of our 20 page annual report that we mail out and that no one probably reads.” You know, just too hard to hear that. But how can you give them information specifically on their donation? Like Charity Water always does this. They give specific numbers, the number of people that supported a particular campaign, number of wells built, all of that kind of great stuff.

So as specific as you can be. That doesn’t mean you have to use numbers and data with every social media post. If we go back to that slide that Penelope Burk discovered, now I should have told you about Penelope Burk. She calls donors on the phone, meets with them, send out surveys, she interviews thousands of donors, thousands of donors every single year. So these are real donors telling her why they stopped giving. And I know that some of those reasons are hard to hear as nonprofit communicators, but it’s really important to understand.

So I think the best thing to do is to talk to your own donors. But look at the research because we know that donors want these stories, these little mission moments. These photos from the field that I understand are so, so challenging to get sometimes especially for marketing departments and fundraising departments that are siloed but this is what donors want. They want to be reminded about why they gave in the first place. They want to see evidence of how their donation was used. buildOn does a great job of this, “Because of your support, we built more than 1,500 schools around the world, including 247 schools in Nepal.”

So this can be targeted at a specific group of donors if it’s on Facebook, or you can just create this general thank you post, “because of your support.” Think about the language that you’re using, as well. So I’m going to give you some other ideas for how to frame your Facebook posts, what kind of content to post on Facebook.

Within the same framework, the donor wants information on how their gift was used, be as specific as possible. I love what Rosie’s Place does there frequently and they provide direct services. It’s hard to put $1 amount on direct services when you’re providing so many different kinds of programs and services but they do a great job.

They’re a small organization where I live in Boston, and they have one marketing development person creating these great little graphics and sharing them out and promoting them to your donors, because donors love to see that.

All right number to show that you’re creating change. This is different than . . . this is sort of like impact, but it’s a little bit different. So show people where the money went is different than showing that you’re moving the needle on a problem that I care about. Change is bigger than your organization. But I don’t remember who said this, but, “Donors give through you and not to you.” I would love to take credit for that statement, but I did not invent that. I think it’s completely the most accurate statement. They give through you. They want to solve a problem, and they want to know that you have the solution. They also want to know that you’re creating impact. They want to hear your accomplishments, but they care about the problem.

So I want to go back to this. This is an Instagram story. I’ve seen some fantastic Instagram and Facebook stories done by nonprofit organizations really showing how the needle is being moved on this issue that I care about refugee resettlement, you know, immigration, the strike for climate action. This is how this group joined the strike. This is what they did. So bringing me in, you know, sort of lifting the veil and showing me that yes, cause is slow. Something like climate change, cause is slow. And this is a marathon and not a sprint. But every single day we are working on this problem that you care about. We are working to achieve this solution that you care about, because that’s what donors want to hear about.

If you can’t get a donor on board with the why, you’re never going to get them on board with the what and the how. So if you can’t get them on board with your vision and what you’re trying to accomplish in the world, they’re never going to care about the how and the how many people you housed and how many people were in your support group and how many people came to your food bank. If they’re not on board with the fact that food inequality is a problem, they’re never going to be on board with the fact that your food bank served 100 people this year.

So we have to focus more on the why and really emphasize that we’re solving big problems. Because that’s also going to tackle that issue where donors think that we don’t need their support anymore. They think the problem is solved. Have you ever come across that? Where a donor says, “Well, I thought we solved that problem.” And you look at them like “No, no, we did not solve the, you know, issue of homelessness in our area. We didn’t solve it. I’m really, you know, I don’t know why you thought that way.” So showing them there’s still a problem demonstrating that there’s a problem and that you need support. That’s another way to keep donors involved.

All right, so number three is humanize your organization. Show me that there are humans behind your organization. And you know that if it’s a webinar with me, I’m going to show you Amirah Incorporated, one of my favorite nonprofits, a really small organization serving New England. They combat sex trafficking, and they take women, and men, and children out of sex trafficking situations and rehabilitate them and return them to their families, return them into society.

So what they do because they can’t share stories from the front lines, they can’t share the stories of the people that are actually in their program is the development director, the program director, usually the executive director, they go live very frequently, and they just show that there are humans behind this organization. They answer these questions, how do traffickers find victims? How do I talk to my kids about trafficking? What’s it like to live with PTSD? These are questions that real people are asking and real people are answering these questions.

So I feel like if I met this executive director, her name is Elizabeth, if I met her, I would know her, because I see her so often in these videos. Doing something like a virtual tour, let me click on this.

If you go to Rosie’s Place, and you go to, it’s not virtual reality. It’s a tour walking you through what it’s like to be a staff member, or a volunteer at Rosie’s Place. It’s walking you through all the different programs and services and they offer a myriad of programs and services to the women that come through their doors but a virtual tour kind of opens the door and invites you in. It’s almost like taking a virtual tour of someone’s house. And it really makes it feel like a welcoming place.

So it makes the donor feel much more connected. And we are so desperate to connect with human beings online. We don’t want any more brands or logos. We can smell marketing a mile away. But we’re much more likely to connect . . . excuse me, we’re much more likely to connect with organizations where we see the human beings behind it. And where we feel that kind of affinity for actual people.

Okay, so where are we number four? Let them know what to expect. Donors like consistency. So one of the ways you can do this is to post around theme. And actually I literally just did a training this morning. And this is what came out of it for this organization that I’m working with that has so many moving pieces, and so much content. We developed a calendar where every Monday is like Member Monday, and every Tuesday is like Helpful Tip Tuesday and every Wednesday. So donors kind of know what to expect. You don’t have to do this. But it makes things easier on you. And then eventually donors will if you don’t post, they’ll start saying, “Oh, I missed your Member Monday. I haven’t seen in a while, whatever happened to that?” People like consistency. And they like to know what’s going to happen next.

So what I don’t want you to do is start posting on Facebook, three times a week, and then a month later leave or just don’t post for two months and then come back because you’d be surprised. Not every single one of your fans is going to see every single one of your posts. But the more consistent that you can be, the more trust and affinity you’re going to build up and the more engagement, and the more reach, and the more people that are actually going are going to see your content.

St. Jude, with their email, they send out a weekly patient story. So they’ve actually changed their headline. It’s now called Weekly Patient Story. I know immediately what to expect. I’m going to get a weekly patient story that’s going to remind me why I supported St. Jude. It’s very short, very sweet. I can read it on my phone. I don’t read every single one every week. I don’t have the time. But once in a while I do. And what’s great about this is that when it comes to year end, and they ask me for a donation or they do a Mother’s Day camping, I say “Oh, yeah, I’ve been reading those great stories all year. I know what to expect.”

Another example from Amirah, they do Milestone Monday where they share a milestone of a person in their shelter. And the reason why I like to show Amirah a lot and I also I think I have a Plummer Youth Promise, a foster care agency that I work with, because I know a lot of you struggle with confidentiality and not being able to share identifying details about the people that you work with, about the populations that you serve. So I think using this creative photography, using different perspectives, maybe the story is told from your executive directors’ perspective, or your development director or your perspective.

But there’s no excuse to not be sharing stories. There is no excuse. And I’m not going to let you find one either. I’ve heard all the excuses in the book. There’s no excuse not to tell a good story, especially on social media.

Okay, now we’re at number five, make them feel part of something important. So it might be a small, local cause. It might be that you’re a local museum. And you know, like, where I live. I live in Wenham. It’s technically probably a village. It is 4000 people. And we have a little museum here as the Wenham Museum. And the Wenham Museum really struggled because there’s not a huge pool of people to pull from to become members and donors. But they do a great job of making the community feel like the Wenham Museum is preserving regional history. It’s doing all sorts of fantastic programming around regional history, and that it’s a part of something bigger. It’s a part of like cultural heritage. It’s a part of where we live.

So make people feel part of something important, something bigger than them. And that might mean talking about current events that everybody’s talking about, or linking what you do somehow to something that’s in the news.

So the Boston Area Rape Crisis Center does a fantastic job of this. They post articles about sexual violence and statistics. They post our articles about Me Too. They post articles because they’re focused entirely on their audience. Their audience is interested in these kinds of issues, and what they can do and how they can prevent it and how they can work on it, and how they can be a part of like the global solution to sexual violence.

So think about your bigger picture. We have to stop thinking just in terms of our own backyard, even if you are a very, very, very small organization. What’s the bigger issue? What are the bigger ramifications for what you’re working on? And a great example is Greta Thunberg, one of my favorite people. Love her or hate her . She’s very polarizing. She you probably have an opinion about her either way, which I think is great, because the worst thing you can do is be born. But if you don’t know Greta Thunberg, she’s a 15-year-old Swedish climate change activist and she started the school climate strike.

This was her in 2018. This is her. This is her after she shared her story over, and over, and over, and over, and over again, in the same way, started getting people were really feeling like this was something bigger than themselves. She got so many people inspired. This is one of the thousands of student climate strikes that happened this year. She knew how to speak to younger people who want to join causes where they feel like it’s something bigger than themselves. This is especially true for younger generations, they want to be a part of a bigger movement that has bigger ramifications. So think about how you could tie some of your messaging to some of these bigger, larger causes. You just have to get more creative in the ways that we communicate with donors.

All right. So number six, remind people why they supported you. And the way I take this. So there’s several ways you can do this. One is that you can address, like miss and misconceptions and stereotypes about the population that you serve, because I’m willing to bet, for instance, like with Goodwill, if you support Goodwill, you’re probably really, you’re probably concerned about the problem of poverty, but also the problem of people with developmental disabilities and physical disabilities not having adequate training programs, not having adequate support in the community. That’s probably an issue that you care about.

And I’m willing to bet that the stereotype around people with disabilities drives you mad or they really get you angry. So think about how you can remind your donors, “This is what we’re working for, we’re working to combat this. We’re working to show people that people with disabilities are so much more and they’re underestimated. And they’re underutilized. And this is what we do. And this is why we work for it.”

Also, another way you can do it is to really, you know, to create these little graphics that are specific to a program. So this is a social worker, which I love this graphic, One Can Help, by the way, is a tiny organization with two full time staff. And they work with people in juvenile court, who are struggling to get assistance for certain families, because the family may have made . . . you know, maybe they just moved into a house but then their car broke down. Or maybe the woman, you know, the mom just got a new job and then there’s a medical diagnosis or some kind of emergency. So they work really hard with the juvenile court. People in the juvenile court to get assistance to these families.

So it’s really important. I mean, that’s such a specific thing. But it’s really important to remind people why they support this cause. You know, her two kids are currently in foster care. There’s a plan to reunite them soon. She’s going to be evicted. And the way I like to teach storytelling is you need to have stakes. There has to be stakes involved. What are the stakes, it can’t just be a simple recounting of things that happened. You can’t just say, “This woman came to us, now she’s fine, this and that, blah, blah, blah.” There has to it has to be what is at stake if this solution is not realized. What’s at stake if this problem is allowed to go unchecked, all of that?

Another way to do it is just be very specific. You know, remind them why they gave to you or remind them why they supported you. They might have supported a specific campaign, simply reminding them of that. Talking to them like you actually know when, and where, and why they gave.

So I love this. “Thank you to everyone who celebrated Giving Tuesday. We still need XYZ patients.” So you can do a thank you. I don’t really like doing thank yous and asks, but on something like Giving Tuesday, you don’t have very much bandwidth. You don’t have very much time. But I think this is great. You know, “thank you to everyone who supported patients like Marco. This is what you gave to. If you gave to us on Giving Tuesday, here’s why you gave. Here the results of what you gave to.”

All right, number seven, let them share their views. Let them interact with you. Let them engage with you. We really do a terrible job on this, a lot of organizations do. We were sold a bill of goods when social media really started to take off, because we were told, all you do is set up a bunch of accounts and post a bunch of stuff and then donations are going to roll in. That’s sort of what we were told. And as we know, that’s not the case. It’s because people don’t go on social media as a billboard. They don’t go on social media to read promotions. They go on social media to interact with friends and family, to, you know, to express themselves and their worldviews and their values, and interact with the content that’s on there.

I love this post from the Charter Public School Association, because first of all, first of all, I love so many things about this. It’s colorful, it grabs your attention. It encourages you to take a stand, like draw a line in the sand, like where do you stand, so not only you’re getting really good data on people and where they stand, when you go to the website, you’re directed to sign something or fill out a form so they capture information, but it’s interactive.

It’s what social media is supposed to be. It’s not a one-way billboard. Asking a question. How will you stand up to cancer today? You know, share your story. Tell us your story. That’s Komen Florida with the Share Your Story campaign, and they’re asking a very specific question. How did you react when you were told one of your loved ones was diagnosed? So never go on there and say, “Share your story with us.” That’s very intimidating to people. They don’t know where to start. And they feel like they don’t have important stories to share. Asking specific questions like that. How did you react when you were told one of your loved ones was diagnosed? That’s a very, very specific question that people can really generally get behind.

The Dear Future Mom Campaign. This is a campaign or an organization took the most frequently asked question that they receive via email and they created a video campaign around it. So the most frequently asked question that they get is, “I’ve just been diagnosed and told by my doctor, I’m having a child with Down syndrome. What do I do first?” And they created this wonderful series of videos that resonated with not just the moms and the parents, but also donors. Because they see, first of all, they feel like they’re part of a bigger cause. They have probably experienced this themselves.

And then they see fantastic stories of the teens and young adults that are being helped by this wonderful program. So it’s a win-win for everyone. So think about your frequently asked questions. Can you answer them in a post? Can you answer them in a video? Is it a question that you can ask your audience? People love to be heard. People love to share information.

And another thing that I want to say about let your donors be heard be accessible? Don’t send your email newsletter from no [email protected] Have your phone on with your email and your website, answer your direct messages on social media, answer your comments and your questions. We have to do it. If we’re going to open the social media can of worms, we have to participate. It has to be a two-way street, or donors are going to think it’s all automated. And there’s no human behind it and they’re going to get very, very turned off.

Okay, I think we’re on number eight. Timely, sincere thank yous. You could never annoy your donors if you thank them all day long. I get the question all the time. How many emails are too many emails? How many posts are too many posts? And it’s the wrong question. It’s what do you need? Like are you saying? Do you have something to say? If you have something to say that your donors are going to want to hear, then you could thank them like on Giving Tuesday. You could thank them five times. That’s not going to turn anybody off. If you’re asking them to do something five times, that might but giving timely, sincere thank yous, updating them on your progress.

And this is Steven and my friend Josh. Josh Hirsch works at Susan G. Komen Florida. And what he did that I thought was really cool is he ran a Facebook fundraiser and Steven, you got one of these videos too. He ran a Facebook fundraiser for Susan G. Komen on his birthday. And for everyone that donated to his fundraiser, he sent them a personalized video. And I was thinking, how can we do this via direct message on social media? Or even if it doesn’t say, this video says, “Hi, Julia. Thank you for your donation. This is going to help fund mammograms in West Palm Beach.” How could you create a more general video that just says, “Hi everyone, I can’t believe the outpouring of support. Thank you so much. Your donation will help fund 40 mammograms in West Palm Beach.”

Let’s start using video. Let’s start incorporating and baking thank yous into absolutely everything that we do. So Josh used a company called CauseVid to do this. And there’s a lot of alternatives out there. But the personalization and just the impact of a video, a thank you video, Josh said his reaction to this was completely off the charts. People thanked him for his thank you. So we want to do something unexpected when we’re doing thank yous and of course, video, works best. It’s the best type of content to post on social.

Tell people what happened during a campaign, even if you didn’t reach your goal. If you’re having a fundraising campaign or any kind of campaign for Giving Tuesday, if you’re doing any kind of campaign around year end or specific event or cause and awareness day, tell people and thank them, tell them and thank them. They want to know this.

And then this will just help keep you top of mind for donors. And it’s something better to post than simply a promotion or a link to sign up or a link to donate. How about talking to donors and using their own language to thank them. I love this. So this is To Write Love On Her Arms, which is one of my favorite organizations. They create these great little graphics every time they do a campaign. Donor quotes, people that write in, people that post on their Facebook page. “I hope that my donation will help other people struggling with finding their way in this world.” Using the actual language of your donors is incredibly impactful and really works well.

Okay, demonstrating need. Demonstrating need. Now what we like to do is we like to tell stories that wrap everything up in a nice bow because we think that’s what donors want to hear and see. So there’s certainly a time and a place for that. But also, “Tell me that there’s a problem. Tell me that you there is a need. One in three women have experienced some form of physical violence by an intimate partner. Wow, that demonstrates need, what are you doing about it? Do you need help? Is this something that I could work with you to solve? Is this a problem that actually needs resources?”

And when I say demonstrate need, I don’t mean give people so much data that they get overwhelmed and think, “Oh my god, I could never actually, you know, push the needle on this problem.” Make it seem a little bit more tangible, make things a little more specific and easy to grasp. I love this. I mean, I don’t when I say I love this. I obviously don’t love that one in kids are struggling with hunger. But I like the way they phrased this. They have a quote. They have a great visual. They have a graphic, and then they tell me, “What are the stakes? You know, we need you, you can help, you can help.” And that’s such a great way to demonstrate need. Just look at how you can tweak some of your posts, and make them a little bit more donor friendly.

Sharing data and statistics and articles that prove your point. Invisible people, they do it all the time, they share a ton of information about homelessness, because they’re saying this is a real problem and you can help. Think about your calls to action. You know, you’ve got this great visual, you’ve got this great quote, you showed me the stakes, you told me a great story. And then how can I help? Feed America could have easily just posted this and not asked for help and not asked for support. So you have to demonstrate that need in order for me to really know that you still need donations. A lot of us struggle with the fact that there’s a misconception that we’re funded either by grants or by the government. And that kills me, oh my gosh, that kills me.

When I work with a client, that tells me, “Our donors thought that we were completely government funded, or completely grant funded.” It’s up to us to ask and to tell people, we could not do this without you. We could not do this without your support. We need individual donors and the next tier of people.

All right, and my final tip, share stories. You know how I love stories, but share stories, specifically, of transformation. This is really what donors want to hear and what they want to see. So what are the stakes? What’s involved? Whose life was changed? How was it changed? It’s really not just, “Joe came to us got some food and left. And now everything is great.” That’s what I’m talking about. What’s the transformation?

Also, when you’re telling stories talk about how people felt. That’s what grabbed donors. It made me feel so good to move in. This is the Pine Street Inn in Boston, a homeless shelter. Focus on feelings. How did it feel when someone arrived? How did it feel when they went through the transformation? How do they feel now? What are their hopes? What are their dream. And if you cannot share identifying details, you can still tell these stories, tell it through artwork, tell it through music. Just tell it to a third party. But you have to tell the stories of the transformation. We like to think that we’re rational creatures. We love to think that we make decisions in a 100% rational way. But we know this, we don’t. We are emotional beings. And we all want to connect to something bigger than ourselves.

Think about using animation. This is Mary. She has diabetes and is uninsured, much more compelling than simply throwing a statistic at me and telling me how many people are uninsured. So think about a way that you can take the impact of what you do and put it in a story even if you cannot use identifying details.

Okay, well, no, thanks. We’re too busy. Okay, great. This is something that we see a lot. So what I want to impart to you is that just simple little tweaks will go a long way in connecting with your donors. If you’re too busy. Changing the words that you use. Join us join the movement, you are part of a movement. Let’s work together. We can do this. Tweaking your call to action. Tweaking your language on social media can work wonders for actually bringing your donors in deeper and drawing them deeper to you.

You can also repurpose across channels. So we didn’t talk about specifically Facebook, Twitter, Instagram. We kind of touched on all of them. But if you have a great piece of content, it doesn’t just have to be a story. If it’s a great infographic, if it’s a great article, and maybe your executive director was interviewed, if it’s a video clip, please, you don’t have to reinvent the wheel. You also don’t have to be on every single one of these channels. But repurpose, recycle.

Tell it again. Tell me what happened to that wonderful person that you spoke with five months ago if you’re still in touch with them. Give me an update. Tell me what happened. The story doesn’t have to stop just because the person left the program as long as you can keep in touch with them. But we need to figure out how we can stop being on the content creation hamster wheel and really do more with the 10 kinds of content that donors want across more channels.

So I can’t leave you without sharing some battle-tested tools that I personally love. I love Canva. If you use Canva, you are jumping up and down and saying I love Canva. WordSwag is a mobile app that I really like. Or you can just use your own photos, buy stock photography, put some text over it and there you’ve got a graphic. Same with Adobe Spark.

In terms of DIY bootstrapping video, I love Animoto and Typito. Typito only thing I don’t like about Typito is that the free version has their little watermark on it. But other than that, it’s so easy to use and intuitive. You can use your own content that you have right now. You can use photos from your conference or your event. Put them on Animoto and create a little moving montage with some music over it. There you go. You got your annual thank you video. So we have to stop thinking that only Charity Water and only Greenpeace and only the Red Cross can create these kinds of great visuals and these great videos. We can do it. We can do it. We just have to bake it into everything that we do.

All right. So I want to leave you with this and then I definitely want to take questions. I see so many questions coming in. The main piece of the equation, where social media fits in to your overall communications and marketing plan. Social media connects the dots for your donors. Social media is a piece of the overall puzzle. Your organization is a series of a million different dots, programs, services, accomplishment, audiences, all of that. Social media connects the dots.

Not one single social media post is going to cover every single thing that you do every single way that you’re impacting the world. But if you look at it as this big connect the dots, it gets a little bit less stressful, and then you sort of think about how donors are seeing it. They don’t expect you to answer all the world’s questions in one social media post. They do expect you to show them the impact, to show them the problem being solved, and to show them your unique solution. And also to show them the way to stay involved.

All right, those are my slides. I would love to take some questions. I’d love to also see you all in my Facebook group, which is a really probably . . . hopefully a lot of you came from that group.

Social media managers, fundraisers, marketers, answering questions, asking questions, all sorts of great stuff going on there. So, Steven, I’d love to take some questions.

Steven: Yeah, let’s do it. But first, thank you, Julia. We really owe you a ton of gratitude, but not only for fitting this in your schedule. But all the great advice. I was just sitting here all hour long, just like nodding my head like, “Yes, this is good, this is good. Why don’t more people to do these things?” I was actually looking on Facebook while you were talking and just kind of noticing organizations, you know, posting press releases and boring articles and like they need you. They need you, Julia. So this is awesome.

Julia: A press release is an advertisement.

Steven: Yeah, we got probably eight, or five, or six minutes. Yes. And definitely.

Julia: Okay, a press release is an ad. It is an advertisement. Don’t think its content. It’s not.

Steven: Yeah. That’s right. Go with the content, and be social. I love it. And folks should join that Facebook group too. By the way, I peek my head in there every once in a while there’s always good discussions. So definitely join that one. Okay, we got some questions. So here’s a good one from Alicia.

Julia: Great.

Steven: How do you handle posts when a majority of your social followers are those you serve? So they’re the actual maybe service recipients rather than the donors themselves? How should you maybe tailor your content for those people? Or what do you think there, Julia?

Julia: Well, it depends on your goal. So why are you using this platform in the first place? So you have to think about each platform as its own country and its own unique, have your own unique goals, and audience, and language, and etiquette, and all that. So say you have a Facebook page. Okay. What do you hope to accomplish from the Facebook page? Is it giving information to clients? Is it trying to get people to come to your support group? Is it trying to get people to use your food bank, then? Yes, that should be that should be your focus. Or is it more community based, you’re trying to get more people involved, you’re trying to get more donations? Then tailor the content to the type of audience that you want to attract. There’s going to be threads running through everything.

So I think a good example, is like a local YMCA. They have to tailor people that want to go to the Y and be members and like join and work out. And then they have to target people that want to donate and volunteer. So what is the thread that runs through all of this, they all care about x, y, z. So try to think about the thread. And think about how you can become really a go-to resource and just showcase the behind the scenes of what you’re doing and the impact that you’re making, because that will help clients make a decision to call you and that will also help donors make decisions for you.

Steven: That make sense. Here’s one from Nora. Nora, I hope I’m pronouncing your name right forgive me if I’m not. But asking if you have any advice, Julia, on how to handle negative comments that are sent maybe in those Facebook posts or maybe some negative replies on Twitter. How do you deal with those folks? Do you engage with them? Should you ignore them? What do you think there?

Julia: This is my favorite question. Well, I’ve got a lot favorite questions and this is one of them. I am working on an epic blog post about this because this is so important. So I have so many opinions on this, I’m just going to share a couple. One is that you should absolutely have a policy in place about what is accepted on your social media sites, you can post it on your website, or you can post it in your about section, you can link to it in your bio, or whatever. If someone violates your policy, delete them and block them or give them a warning and delete them and block them. If they are bullying, whatever your policy is bullying, harassment, racism, whatever it is. That way, it’s not seeming arbitrary. It doesn’t seem arbitrary.

If it’s a comment that you just don’t like, you do need to address it. I wouldn’t delete and block that person because it really looks bad. It just looks like you’re avoiding the topic and you have something to hide. So take it offline, say to that person, I’m really sorry to hear that you feel this way. If they’re trolling you, it’s totally different if they say something that you just don’t like, or you disagree with, take it offline, and say, “I’m sorry, you feel this way. Email me here.”

If it’s someone trying to troll you, or if you are working for like, you know, you’re promoting vaccines and someone’s yelling about vaccines are evil. You can also put that in your policy, which you can also address it and say, “I’m really sorry feel that way. Here’s some evidence that we found on the contrary.” So engaging, not engaging trolls. But if someone has a question or even if they just say “I really had a bad experience at your food shelter, because I came in and the receptionist was mean.” You can’t just delete that, you have to address it, but I am always trying to take things offline and not continuing like a Twitter war because we’ve been involved in those Twitter wars.

And even if you go back and delete the tweets, it’s still not a good look to get involved in that. So do as much as you can to take it offline, have a policy in place for how you’re going to address negative comments and have a policy in place for when you’re going to delete and block people.

Steven: Okay, so there’s two policies. So there’s kind of a policy of what’s acceptable content, and then you’ve got a policy for your employees on how it’s going to be handled that makes sense. Am I reading that right, Julia? That’s what you’re saying? Okay.

Julia: Yes. And I see for the man who says do you have written policy examples. Idealware, that’s the word ideal and W-A-R-E, they have sample media policies for free.

Steven: Oh, yeah. I’m seeing that now. I’m going to I’m going to put a link in the chat. That’s cool. I didn’t know about that one. That’s awesome. Okay, so you people can get a starting point there. Wow, that’s cool. Okay. Well, Julia, I know you’ve got a plane to catch, and we’re coming up on the hour. Any parting thoughts? What should people do today as an action item? What do you think?

Julia: I would say get your thank you posts in place, record a thank you video, even if it’s from your phone, or from your laptop that says thank you so much and talk about maybe two things you accomplish this year. And aim to put that across all of your social media channels, just bite size, but I do think a thank you video. Sending people especially before you start blasting them with the year-end asks, is going to be much more effective to you. So one thing you do today, pick up your phone say thank you to your donors, post it on your social media channel.

Steven: I love it. This is awesome, Julia. Where could people get in touch with you to keep the conversation going?

Julia: My website, the Facebook group. I’m on Twitter you’ll see at the bottom of the slides @juliacsocial. I’m always active on all three places, and I’m going to send out the slides. So if people want to just hit reply and ask me a question, that’s fine, too.

Steven: Sweet. Yeah, definitely keep in touch because she’s a wealth of information and you’re going to want to follow her. Because always good stuff coming from JC social marketing. This is awesome, Julia. Thanks for being here. I really appreciate it.

Julia: Thank you, Steven. I’m so excited. Thank you. And I can’t wait so we can dress up next year at Cause Camp.

Steven: It won’t be long. Yeah, we’ll see each other a couple of months,

Julia: It won’t be along.

Steven: Have a safe trip back home. And hopefully all of you listening today have a good rest of your week. Come back next week. We’ve got a great webinar next week. This is the one webinar of the year that we repeat every year. Our buddies from Harbor Compliance are going to come on and share all those rules and regulations. I know it sounds boring, but if you are an organization that is maybe new to compliance and you’re not sure if you’re registered to fundraise in certain states or what’s going on there. Do you attend this one, an important topic and they basically give away all the information for free that then you need to do to stay compliant.

It’s a good time to do this, especially with the year-end giving coming up, Giving Tuesday, all that good stuff. So next week, Thursday afternoon, 2 p.m. And we’ve got lots of other webinars scheduled through the beginning of next year already, I can hardly believe it. So hopefully, we will see you again on another session. So we’ll call it a day there. Look for emails from Julia and I with all of the recordings, and slides and goodies. We’ll get all that stuff to you today. And hopefully, we’ll talk to you again next week. So have a good rest of your Thursday. Have a safe weekend. We’ll talk to you again soon.

Kristen Hay

Kristen Hay

Marketing Manager at Bloomerang
Kristen Hay is the Marketing Manager at Bloomerang. From 2018 - 2020, she served as the Director of Communications for the Public Relations Society of America's local Hoosier chapter. Prior to that she served on several different committees and in committee chair roles.