Attention Nonprofits: Your Fundraising Event Needs a Social Media Strategy

By: Brigid O’Brien
As I stood, scanning my desk for my reading glasses, I said out loud, “Glasses, glasses, Brigid, where are your glasses?”
Did you know that talking to yourself is a good thing? It’s true. Talking to yourself can help you locate items faster. In fact, a university research study found that “…talking out loud helped a ‘visual search’ to such an extent that seemingly ‘invisible’ objects suddenly became ‘visible’.”
social media for non profitsLikewise, my search for my glasses was successful, but because of a slightly different reason. In my situation, my vocalizations interrupted my co-worker’s train of thought and prompted her to look up, exasperated, to tell me, “They’re on your head.”
See? Talking to yourself does help.
There is one case, however, when talking to yourself isn’t going to do much good, and that’s when you’re trying to build a social media audience for your nonprofit organization and your all-important fundraising event. In that case, your goal is to talk to a lot more people than just yourself.

Five Steps to an Increased Attendance at Your Walk-a-thon (Or any type of “thon”)

Step 1: Build Awareness
How many Facebook likes do you have? How many Twitter followers? Those are your baselines. At the very least, you want to increase them.
Step 2: Educate Your Followers
Educate your followers about all your organization does for the community. Do they know about all your programs? What about your upcoming fundraiser? Post information about the event, along with a link on your website, where they can register for it. Use a hashtag that’s unique to your event, and include a few general hashtags that can attract new followers interested in your upcoming event.
Step 3: Drive Engagement with Your Followers
Whereas education is typically one-way communication from you to benefit your followers (and their followers), engagement is often two-way communication. The initial post can come from you or from a follower, and the conversation between the two of you can benefit everyone who reads it.
Do you want to drive engagement about an upcoming fundraiser? Post photos from previous events and invite your followers to share their own. Don’t forget to use your hashtags and monitor mentions of those hashtags.
Step 4: Make Your Call to Action (Donations, and registrations to your fundraising event)
Now that you’ve built awareness of your fundraiser, invite them to register for the event on your website by including a link. Offering an incentive for your social followers, such as a discounted entry fee or a premium event, can entice them to share the incentive with their friends and followers. Include a “How did you hear about our event?” field on your event registration page.
Step 5: Evaluate Your Strategy
After the dust has settled from your successful event, review your social media strategy. The one detail your bosses and board members will ask about first is whether attendance and income were up this year over last. If they are, be sure to point out that your social media engagement increased as well. (They probably won’t be as excited about that as you are, but that’s OK.)
Don’t forget to post event photos right away to start the buzz for next year’s fundraiser!