September 28th, 2017

Social media has become a powerful tool when disaster hits and humanitarian needs arise.

People in affected areas can use platforms such as Twitter and Facebook to let loved ones know they’re alright, stay abreast of response efforts and prepare for escalation. But for businesses and individuals outside afflicted areas, these networks provide another invaluable use: fundraising for charitable giving.

Brands such as Subaru, Coca-Cola, Kellogg Company, and Disney have used social media to raise funds for disaster relief and other worthy causes, from Make-A-Wish Foundation to Meals on Wheels to the National Parks Foundation. Individuals have created impressive results as well: perhaps the most recognized effort, by J.J. Watt of the Houston Texans, raised over $37M through more than 209,000 donations by its September 15 deadline.

Today, social users have a growing desire to play an active role in deciding where their donations go and who stewards those funds. This – combined with the ability for users to instantaneously donate and engage when they see a campaign – puts organizations in a unique position.

Once you identify a worthwhile cause you’d like to fundraise for – whether it’s disaster relief for incidents like hurricane relief or a dollar-for-dollar drive for a nonprofit – take these steps to ensure your efforts impact your audience and community.

  1. Identify a multi-channel approach to reach your audience and to motivate them to act. This can take the form of Facebook advertising, sponsored posts and organic audience engagement on your social channels.
  2. Establish a deadline for giving and a short, clear call to action. This motivates the audience to take more immediate steps by giving them a clear cause-and-effect.
  3. Make it worthwhile to act. Ensure that matching donations or action from your organization will also have an impact so users feel that they’re joining an effort, not just financially supporting it.
  4. Make it easy to act. Don’t ask your audience to donate and then make it too difficult for them to actually do so. With nearly 17 percent of online donations made on a mobile device last year, it’s important to ensure that the donation process is quick and easy by making donation pages mobile friendly. Additionally, embed a clear, large “Donate” button on related pages and emails.
  5. Engage your audience and follow-up. Once you receive donations and reach your goal, don’t leave donors high and dry. Capitalize on the participation – especially if users submitted photos or videos to trigger a company donation – by aggregating it all. Also, make sure to send a follow-up communication that highlights the success of the campaign.

Whether you take advantage of trending tags such as #GivingTuesday or jump in to raise funds for a more timely event, leveraging the engagement power of social media can benefit both your brand and your community.