Using Twitter and Facebook in your year-end fundraising letter strategy

Last time, we looked at creating a year-end strategy for fundraising letters. But in today's world, it's wise to consider complementing these appeals with tools like Facebook and Twitter.

According to FundRaising Success Magazine:

Between 35 percent to 42 percent of online giving happens in November and December each year, and the average gift during the final quarter of the year is significantly higher — $84.51, compared to the average of $67.47 for the other three quarters. -Abny Santicola

It's now November, time to get cracking.

Since you've already designed and implemented your year-end direct mail effort, here are some pointers for integrating it with social media:

  • Use same theme as the letter
    You've already done the hard work of figuring out what is most compelling for driving donations. So repurpose that as much as you can in your digital efforts.

  • Create a web page to drive traffic to
    Web links should be included in any fundraising letter, but few donors actually use them. People that respond to fundraising letters typically still write checks.

    To get even more sophisticated, you might want separate pages for each type of media you use: one you'll promote on Facebook, one you'll promote on Twitter, one you'll promote with email, etc. This will help you track your results and see which audience was most responsive to your call to action.

    But all digital efforts, email, social media, or other tools, must have a web link that leads to a donation page. The page should be:

    1. Easy to include in an email (The URL shouldn't be overly long or confusing.)
    2. Should be easily accessible from your website's home page
      Some people will find it by surfing to your homepage. Make the link easy to find. Studies consistantly how that bigger buttons get more click throughs than smaller buttons or text links.

      I'd encourage you to even add a link in your website navigation, whether in the header, footer, or side navigation. That may every page will have a way for people to get to the donation page.

      Your home page is no longer the first place people go on your site. Thanks to search engines like Google, people will enter your site wherever the content seems most inline with their search terms. So it's a good idea to have some sort of link to your online campaign available on every page.

Now are some ideas on how to integrate Facebook Causes, Facebook Pages, and Twitter with your year-end fundraising.

Facebook Ideas

Facebook Causes

Causes is an application within Facebook designed for fundraising. It's of limited value but here are some things you can do with it:

  1. You could try to get your fans competing on fundraising.
    The cause application allows you to see who's the top recruiter, as well as who are the top givers and fundraisers.
  2. You could also use a matching challenge to get more gifts.
    Studies regularly show that matching challenges do motivate us to give.
  3. You might want to consider creating a specific goal for the cause itself.
    The cause app allows you to set a dollar goal. You may want to set up a specific amount for this group alone.

Facebook Pages

Facebook pages are superior to causes for a number of reasons. Most importantly, Facebook pages show up in the "search" results making them much easier to find. You can also learn alot from the built in analytics that FB pages offer.

You can even create widget to get people visiting your website to join the cause on Facebook. An example of that is available on my site http://inlandfoundation.org. It's the box with the happy faces.

If you're tying your Facebook Page in to a direct mail appeal:

  1. You could update fans of your page with status updates.
    Set a reminder on your calendar so you remember to keep people informed with how the entire year-end appeal is going.

  2. You can communicate with your fans
    Your communication will show up on their news feeds and allow their friends to see your cause as well. Please, only add meaningful communication to people's walls.

  3. You can multi-task by updating Twitter from Facebook pages
    Facebook now offers a handy feature that lets you feed those updates to Twitter stream. This increases efficiency, allowing you to communicate over both platforms with only one status update.

  4. Use "boxes" to encourage people to subscribe to your organization's email list
    It's best when you can interact with people on social media platforms and other platforms, like their inbox. So make sure to leverage the functionality of a page to help encourage people to explore your cause on other places on the web.

  5. Use a special web URL to track responsiveness of Facebook users
    If you have a special Facebook fundraising goal, you could track this by creating a specific web page for people coming from Facebook. As mentioned above, this will help you try to figure out the ROI on your efforts.

Twitter ideas

Twitter can be a great way to generate buzz about a year end campaign. But it's much more compelling if individual people are doing it rather than just the organization's Twitter account.

  1. Harness the enthusiasm of your followers
    Use tools like Klout to find out who your organization might be influencing. Then invite them to a special inner-circle group for this year-end project. You could even create a competition using a tool like TweetMeme to track who is doing the most retweets and who's retweets are being retweeted the most.

  2. Experiment with micro-donations
    It seems Twitter users respond well to micro-donation challenges of amounts like $2, $5, and $10 dollars. There are some services for this you might try, like Twollars and Tweet4Good. You could also use good ol' PayPal!

  3. Tweet your campaign's progress
    At the very least, I'd encourage you to tweet your progress. If your Twitter response is particularly good, create a goal for Twitter related gifts and keep people up-to-date on that specific goal's progress too. These could be directed to a specific page.

Year-end can be the perfect time to experiment with social media. People on these platforms tend to like "projects"--events with specific end dates.

Also, these platforms do cross-pollinate so be sure to use Facebook to remind people of your Twitter updates and vice-versa.

These are only two social media sites. You might want to create a video for YouTube. Or you might want to Qik or UStream a speech by your president.

There are so many social media platforms, it would be smart to ask your donors and donor evangelists what platforms they're using. If they're passionate about other platforms, ask them for their help. They may even volunteer to run the project on that platform for you.

The possibilities are pretty much endless! Let me know which ones you experiment with!

About Marc Pitman

Marc A. Pitman is the author of Ask Without Fear!, director of The Nonprofit Academy, and founder of FundraisingCoach.com. A coach to leaders around the world, Marc's expertise and enthusiasm engages audiences and has caught the attention of media organizations as diverse as Al Jazeera and Fox News. Marc’s experience also includes pastoring a Vineyard church, managing a gubernatorial campaign, and teaching internet marketing and fundraising at colleges and universities. He is the husband to his best friend and the father of three amazing kids. And if you drive by him on the road, he’ll be singing 80’s tunes loud enough to embarrass his family!

Follow him on Google+, on Twitter @marcapitman, and like "Ask Without Fear!" on Facebook.

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