What Is Social Fundraising and Why You Should Take Advantage of It?

If you are looking to do any kind of fundraising for a non-profit organization, community group, or important cause you support this year, you are likely going to be reaching out to friends and family for their support. But how do you reach beyond your own network of contacts to spread something the viral way? 

You are going to need to incorporate a tactic known as social fundraising to your fundraising effort as a way to expand beyond your own network and reach out to new audiences without going through paid sources. 

Social fundraising can help grow your audience, as well as raise more awareness, more donations, and more involvement from your donor community, and if you hope for your fundraising campaign to reach a sizable goal without tapping out your own friends and family, you’ll need to incorporate social fundraising into your campaign strategy in some way or another.

We’ll review how to use social fundraising to benefit your ongoing or upcoming fundraising campaign, particularly if you are running a portrait fundraising through us, as well as dive deeper into the reasons why you won’t want to miss using social fundraising for all your fundraising needs in the future!

But First, What Is Social Fundraising? 

Social fundraising might seem like a fancy concept, but it actually comes pretty natural to anyone who has ever made a GoFundMe project or backed a Kickstarter campaign. Essentially, it is a term used to describe what happens when you leverage your social network to share your fundraising project with their own community on their own social accounts - not just back it and move on. 

Often referred to as word of mouth or viral marketing, what we’re talking about is how you take an important cause, something like raising awareness and funding to combat amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), and transform it into an entire movement that even Bill Gates can’t help but support by dumping a bucket of ice water on himself to support. 

While the Ice Bucket Challenge was a monumental success for many reasons, one of the best parts about it was how it incorporated the participants getting their own friends and family involved through tagging “nominations” to document and share their own experience on their page and pass it on to three other people they know. 

Of course, it’s a lot easier to convince your followers to share a video of themselves dumping a bucket of water on their head than it is to convince them to share a post asking for others to donate to your cause, but both are equally examples of social fundraising tactics in play. 

When you get your followers to post about their support for your cause on social media, be it your cause supporters, sustaining members, church body, or parents of students in your school district, you are leveraging social fundraising to spread your campaign beyond your original owned network and grow your audience behind just the people who already follow you or your page. 

How Do You Use Social Fundraising In Action? 

Let’s say you have already booked your weekend for a portrait fundraiser with us, and now you have a few weeks to get the word out and get your community to sign up for the fundraiser. You have your traditional marketing outlets, be it email outreach, social outreach, and more traditional over the phone or in person outreach. That will get you the interest of everyone who knows you or follow your cause. 

But you don’t just want to reach people who already know you, especially if you are raising money for events at your school, church, or non-profit all year long. Instead, you’re going to want to reach a wider audience by using social fundraising tactics to spread the word. Here’s what you do: 

In your outreach to your network advertising for your upcoming portrait fundraiser, include a call to action to get them to share their action of signing up with their network. This could be as simple as asking your friends in person to create a post on Facebook or Instagram talking about how excited they are to get their family portraits taken and where they signed up. 

However, it’s also good to get creative with it. Think about how viral the Ice Bucket Challenge went because it was so fresh and different. Instead of the traditional cause-oriented post about the difficulties of having ALS is for individuals and families, the Ice Bucket Challenge attracted much larger groups of people who just wanted to join in because it looked fun - and then later realized what the cause was and wanted to support it after the fact. 

For your portrait fundraiser, you could try something similarly fun, like creating a Facebook or Insta post on your own account with a bad selfie or awkward family photo alongside a caption about how badly you need a new family portrait. Then, make a challenge out of it by tagging your friends to post their own awkward family photo and tell them to tag their own friends who could use a new portrait too! 

While this might not go as viral as the Ice Bucket Challenge, you never know what type of ask will take off with your individual friends - certainly no one thought dumping ice cold water on your head would be a good way to raise awareness for ALS before they went ahead and tried it. 

But if you’re trying to reach your local community, getting the local community involved, not just with your own posts  but encouraging them to make their own, will help reach a wider audience and raise more awareness about your upcoming fundraiser than just posting about signing up.

Why Does Social Fundraising Work? 

Social fundraising works because all fundraising is social - it’s all about who you know and the connections you form, and leveraging those connections to spread the word. Think about how powerful word of mouth can be - you might see an ad for a movie a hundred times on TV or on Instagram and ignore it completely, but if your best friend tells you they just saw it and you have to see it, you probably will! 

Social fundraising works because of the way social media works. In the same way national stories trend online and influence hundreds of thousands of conversations around the internet, so to can actions shared by members of your community. By getting your network to share their own involvement in your cause with their individual network, you are getting your cause shared beyond your own native reach and reaching someone else’s. 

It’s why influencer marketing has become such a buzzword lately - brands use people with lots of followers, i.e. reach, to share their products with. Social fundraising is like micro-influencer marketing with members of your own community. Think about that - that means you too you are a micro-influencer… now where’s the thousands of dollars in branded partnerships at?! 

Social fundraising is also better for sharing word of mouth than any other tactic, be it email marketing, phone calls, or direct mail campaigns. All you need is a compelling testimony from the individual follower and a link to sign up for your portrait fundraiser, and you can reach hundreds of new eyeballs in your follower’s extended networks.

This also creates a constant stream of activity. While there is only so many times you can post, email, or call people about your fundraiser in a day, if you encourage twenty of your followers to post and share their involvement in the fundraiser and encourage others to do the same, that’s 20x more potential for sign-ups than you would have had by simply posting yourself! 

Most important of all though, when you encourage social fundraising tactics, you are encouraging a deeper involvement between you and your network, which results in a deeper sense of purpose and caring for your cause from your followers. 

If they feel like they are making a difference and making your cause their own by sharing their involvement, then your campaign reaching your goal will become more important to them. It’s a simple truth of life - if something directly affects us, or appears to directly affect us, then we care about it more than things that don’t. We as humans are inherently selfish, but we can use our selfishness against us to benefit a good cause!

That’s why encouraging social fundraising results in more awareness for your cause, more donations, and a more passionate community! The whole goal in any cause is getting people to care. 

Are you thinking of booking a weekend to host your own portrait fundraiser to put these clever social fundraising tactics to good use? Hurry and call today if you can! We book weeks in advance and our “Guaranteed Christmas Delivery Dates” for 2019 are almost all gone! 

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