How social media tools can increase charitable giving and take your campaigns to the next level.

fundraising social media

The power of social media is being able to test, evaluate and tweak your campaigns to increase the likelihood of successfully reaching your goals.

With the rise of cashless payment tools such as lay-by alternative Afterpay, or sci-fi-esque facial recognition payments through ApplePay, it’s easier than ever to buy online. Within two clicks those shoes are yours. Even the humble toilet paper roll is no longer immune from the charms of online shopping (hello Who Gives a Crap).

So why aren’t more charities taking advantage?  An increasingly frictionless purchasing experience online has translated to healthier financial returns for retail, and there are huge opportunities for Australians NFPs looking to drive donations.

Leveraging digital technologies and social media to enhance fundraising efforts

A lack of resources, funding and time are common challenges felt by many NFPs, as is coming up with creative ideas to capture the attention of potential donors.

Using social media well enables charities to promote their campaigns and link with likeminded people who support their mission.

Social media is about more than just racking up likes and followers. It isn’t just about broadcasting your campaign message and generating one-off donations.  The platforms provide the opportunities to connect to new supporters and cultivate a movement of impassioned people, well beyond just a transactional relationship.

Like most digital innovations, the barrier to entry is low. You are able to reach the same audience as larger NGOs for the same cost – if you know what you’re doing.  While Facebook advertising has been dominated by nimble small businesses in recent years, the opportunities for success for all are plentiful.  They have enormous reach, and many of the fundraising tools are free or low budget without compromising on impact.

The ease of giving

The growing number of social media donation tools now available are easy to use and most importantly, measurable. Facebook has been leading the way with its new suite of Social Good tools.

From blood donation critical response to emergency tagging, their social good offering has been an area of focus. Last October, Facebook announced that $1 billion has been raised on the platform for nonprofits and personal causes since launch – demonstrating a huge opportunity for Australian NFPs. The fundraising products reveal a deep understanding of people’s online behaviour, where convenience and shareability take precedence.

There are a range of powerful giving tools now across the channel that make mobilising people around a cause even simpler. Facebook also fortunately do not charge any payment fees for nonprofits collecting funds through the platform.

Donate stickers within Instagram Stories When users click the ‘donate’ sticker on a person’s Instagram Story they are taken directly to the charity’s donation form.

facebook fundraisingBirthday fundraisers Thanks to a partnership with Paypal, Facebook users can celebrate their birthday by asking their friends to donate to their chosen cause (from charities with a Facebook presence). A tally of the amount of money they’d like to raise will be shown to their friends. Within a few taps, friends are able to donate without even leaving the application. Once they donate, they are promoted to share and invite others to do the same. Each of these shares contain a ‘donate’ call-to-action button to encourage action, which makes it simple for their networks to get involved and share with their communities – a flow-on effect with huge potential.  Fostering a strong sense of community on your organisation’s Page will help ensure your cause is top-of-mind for users looking to start their own fundraiser.



‘Support non-profit’ status In a similar vein to birthday fundraisers, there is a ‘support non-profit’ status option for users wanting to share their favourite causes with their community.  When writing on their wall, a number of status options will appear – like ‘check-in’ or ‘ask for recommendations’. This feature is not broadly known, so making your community aware and encouraging participation will help increase its use.

Fundraiser matching Nonprofits on Facebook can also pledge to match donations to their cause as a way to motivate more people to donate. This feature is unfortunately still yet to be rolled out in Australia.

These tools, alongside the gamut of fundraising options on Facebook’s giving hub at are changing the game for charities; reaching new audiences quickly and cheaply, as well as significantly shrinking fundraising overheads. 

While Australians NFPs are not able to collect donations through Facebook directly yet, individuals on the platform can fundraise on your behalf – so a strong brand presence for top-of-mind recall on the channel cannot be emphasised enough. Learning the tools now by exploring what’s worked in the US will pay dividends once all of these tools are released in Australia.

Using Facebook advertising for effective fundraising

Door-knocking and cold calls have been conventional donor tactics, but can prove enormously costly and time consuming. Understanding a few key Facebook advertising fundamentals can mean significantly increasing your return on investment.

Whatever your cause, social media platforms provide abundant opportunities to reach new donors and bolster your cause.

Three years ago, it was possible for businesses and organisations to reach the majority of their Page followers through a single post. In recent years Facebook has prioritised the posts of our family and friends in our News Feeds. This means that unpaid visibility of posts from organisations is a very, very low. For better or worse, if you want to be seen, you have to pay.

As a result, more and more businesses and organisations are investing in Facebook advertising to reach and engage with their followers and build a bigger, more diverse following. The good news is, though, that there’s no minimum cost to launching an ad.

While boosting a post is easy and may mean reaching a few more Australians, it rarely results in achieving any long-term business goals.  Investing in setting up advertisements through Facebook’s Ads Manager tool may take a little more effort, but the capabilities and results are demonstratively better.

Before creating a campaign, it’s important to identify your marketing goal for the project. This should include the audience you’re hoping to reach and engage with and the action you would like this group of people to take. It’s important to remember that focusing on a single goal per campaign helps to ensure stronger returns. Breaking apart each campaign and finding a primary purpose is the key to success. For example, if you want to reach new audiences, focus on an Awareness or Reach Facebook campaign objective when creating a campaign. For donation-based objectives, it is recommended to select Traffic or Conversions. You are then able to select a ‘Donate Now’ call-to-action button for your ad to further encourage people to click through and donate.

The Facebook objective you select is in essence what you are paying for. For example, if you have selected ‘Reach’ your campaign will pay for each person reached, but if you select ‘Traffic’ you’ll pay each time someone clicks through to your website. It’s important to remember that the cost of each of these varies – it’s one thing to pay for people to see your ad, but it’s another to get them to click through and donate.

Taking the time to understand your supporters and who they are will play an important role in the success of your campaigns. If you do have a strong Facebook or Instagram Page following, there is the possibility of a creating a lookalike target audience based on the people who already follow your Page.  This basically means that Facebook finds people who share similar attributes to your existing followers so similar motivations and outlooks are likely.  Facebook will create this audience and all anonymity of these users is preserved.

For awareness-building objectives, it is important to keep the audience broader so that Facebook can reach lots of new people, whereas for traffic or conversion-based goals, it is recommended to create a narrow audience to ensure the ads reach those who are most likely to engage.

One of the greatest benefits of social media advertising is the flexibility and testing. Start with small budgets and keep a close eye on what is resonating with your audience and take these learnings into future, larger campaigns. This eliminates the risk of investing money with little impact on your audience.  Facebook recommends running multiple ads in one campaign – so test different word orders, calls to action or images to find out what works.

The power of social media is being able to test, evaluate and tweak your campaigns to increase the likelihood of successfully reaching your goals.  This might be adapting your target audience choices, or the image used in your campaign.

There is no minimum investment needed to begin, so organisations of all sizes are able to reap the benefits that Facebook has to offer.

It pays to be an early adopter so test the waters now, and don’t just broadcast; engage, foster and inspire. A huge network of supporters is out there – you just need to find them.

Louisa Moy is a digital marketing strategist at Think HQ with extensive social media experience running campaigns across government, retail and NFP sectors in both Australia and Europe. 

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