Are you concerned about the future of your nonprofit’s base of fundraising support? Do you like the idea of adding new donors who are wealthy and well-educated? Then you might consider adding a robust online ambassador program and social media strategy, because simply put, nothing adds more new, wealthy donors more quickly than a well-run online ambassador campaign.
BWF did a quick survey of seven very different higher education institutions who recently conducted mostly online or online-only fundraising campaigns. The sample size was small, but diverse – schools included major public research institutions, small liberal arts schools, an Ivy League member, an internationally-renowned private, a small state school, among others. Of those surveyed, the average percentage of new donors during an online campaign was 40 percent. And the outliers were subtle – the lowest school had 27 percent, the highest 58 percent. And we’re not talking about 40 percent of a few dozen donors – most of the schools counted their donors in the thousands during these campaigns. This is especially impressive considering most of the campaigns were 36 hours or shorter.
Online ambassador campaigns lead to a huge influx of new donors.
Who are these newly acquired online donors? On average, they’re far wealthier than their peers who chose to give through traditional means like direct mail. According to a recent Convio study referenced below, those who give both online and off have the highest household incomes, followed by those who give only online. The distant third and least wealthy group are those who only give via mail.
If you want the wealthiest donors, look online.
To create online campaigns that help your organization or institution leverage the above trends, consider increasing your effort and resources in the following three areas:
- Develop a robust online ambassador program that identifies, engages, stewards, and leverages your most influential online supporters. Your message will go much further when it travels through this group of savvy Internet supporters.
- Invest in infrastructure. Unless you’re the Obama campaign, you can probably improve something about your organization’s online giving experience, Facebook applications, widgets, data recovery and storage, et al. Actually, I’ll bet even the democrats are thinking about how to improve things for 2016.
- Invest in personnel. Ultimately, ambassador programs and social media strategies are about managing relationships. To manage relationships, you need people.
To learn more about BWF’s online and social media fundraising consulting services, click here.
Part of any social media strategy should be an honest look at the resources your organization has available for managing the daily content that is required for increasing engagement. Simply put, you need people with the time to manage relationships online if you want to be successful.
Rebecca Bramlett, Director of Annual Giving for the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, has understood this key tenet of social media for several years. In the video below, Bramlett explains how UNC has assembled a social media committee using a team of existing positions to manage that daily content flow …and how it’s part of a strategy that led to UNC’s position as one of North America’s most successful online fundraising higher ed institutions.
For more info on social media in philanthropy, visit BWF.com.
One of the most exciting recent developments in social media for higher education is the sudden appearance of real-world ROI. Yes, we can now demonstrate how social media can boost fundraising efforts and not just in the less tangible areas of perception and awareness, but in solid dollar figures. The following are three great examples of increased fundraising thanks to smart online, social media strategies:
Middlebury’s MiddSTART Puts Donors in the Driver Seat
Florida State Wins Big with 36-hour Online Fundraising Campaign
Social Media Behind 400% Boost in Online Giving at Thunderbird
Now we’d like to hear from you. Please share with us the best examples of social media ROI you know of in the comments below, on Twitter at @BWF_social, or by email at email@example.com. Whether it’s hard numbers like online fundraising results or more communications-focused goals like awareness building or perception improvement, we want to know and help you share the good news about your success!
As always, follow BWF.com for more news on social media in philanthropy.
In August 2011, BWF had the good fortune of being invited to conduct a social media strategy workshop at The Florida State University. After the workshop, Chad Warren – Director of Annual Giving, set to work applying the principles we established during the workshop. Within a few months, plans were in a place for an online-only giving campaign that would take place over a short period of time – 36 hours, to be exact. Chad and his small team of three, with a budget of less than $10,000, worked hard using social media, email, traditional media (TV, print, radio), and direct mail to promote the 36-hour campaign in the days leading up to and during the event.
The results speak for themselves – $186,000 given by 1,100 different donors during the 36-hour period. Of those 1,100 donors, 380 had never given to FSU before and nearly 90 percent of them had never given online. Chad talks more about how the FSU “Great Give” was conducted in the video below… And about how the successful promotion of the Great Give through digital channels could translate into big savings thanks to no longer having to rely as heavily on traditional, more expensive annual fund tactics like direct mail.
Thanks to the Internet, donors – just like everybody else – have come to expect a certain degree of control when it comes to how they interact with the organizations they support. So, why not give them as much control as you can? When it comes to the annual fund, that’s what Middlebury College has done with their innovative social giving site, MiddSTART. Check out the video below for more on the program…
For more great ideas from fundraising consultants and experts, check out BWF’s philanthropy news site.