All fundraising organizations need to have a social media strategy if they want to get the word out about their cause. However, social media savvy isn’t just a necessity for charities and nonprofits! Universities that fundraise should also take the time to build out a smart social media strategy.
Whether your school is raising money for a scholarship fund, an academic trip, or even a capital campaign, if you take a multifaceted approach to your social media marketing, then you’ll start to notice results in no time.
There are a number of methods you can use to increase the effectiveness of your social media efforts. For starters, you could:
- Promote interactive fundraising.
- Link your social media presence to fundraising events.
- Refine your content for maximum reach.
- Set realistic goals for your fundraising.
Let’s get started on looking at all the ways that you can innovate your university’s social media presence to help your school raise more money.
1. Promote interactive fundraising
All too often, there’s a misconception that university fundraising is limited to soliciting large gifts from older, established alumni donors. However, when your school promotes interactive fundraising technology, you can start raising more donations from younger, tech-savvy alumni.
One way to excite younger alumni donors with interactive fundraising technology is to reach out to them via social media channels.
The high level of interactivity on social media platforms makes them a great place to promote fundraising strategies that make your donors feel involved and inspired.
One way to get your alumni donors excited and inspired to give via social media is to promote interactive fundraising strategies like peer-to-peer fundraising. With peer-to-peer fundraising, your supporters share personalized fundraising pages across social media sites like Facebook and Twitter.
Want to learn more about this interactive fundraising strategy? Check out this list of the top peer-to-peer fundraising platforms to see what this unique method can offer your university.
Peer-to-peer fundraising isn’t the only way your alumni givers can get involved with your cause online. Take a look at some of these interactive fundraising strategies your school can leverage on social media sites:
- Leaderboards. Incorporating a donation-based leaderboard that tracks alumni’s giving is a fantastic way to start making your social media presence more engaging. Your alumni will enjoy a sense of healthy competition, and leaderboards help put your university’s fundraising needs in perspective for supporters.
- Custom swag promotions. Give your alumni a reason to check out social media pages by offering merchandise promotions exclusively on your social media profiles. Try giving away merchandise that your supporters will love to use, such as t-shirts or water bottles that are branded with your school’s logo. Alternatively, you could share links to your school’s online storefront to sell these items as another fundraising method.
- Gamification techniques. Gamification tools, like fundraising thermometers and fundraising badges, help energize your supporters by showing them the unique impact their gifts have on your overall goal. Adding this interactive visual element to your social media fundraising efforts can go a long way toward helping your university inspire supporters online.
University fundraising benefits from a more involved alumni engagement strategy, so be sure to incorporate interactive ideas like these when you plan your upcoming social media fundraising strategy.
2. Link your social media presence to fundraising events
Social media and fundraising events aren’t two separate worlds. In fact, the closer you look, the more you’ll realize there’s a lot of overlap between them.
If your university’s alumni outreach program is holding alumni fundraising or networking events, take this opportunity to create clever, eye-catching promotions for those events on your social media platforms.
Synchronize your social media content with your fundraising events by:
- Promoting peer-to-peer fundraising anchor events. Anchor events are fundraising events held at the end of a peer-to-peer campaign in order to spark interest in the campaign and raise more donations. These events, like walkathons or fun runs, help motivate volunteer fundraisers to raise money by establishing a campaign deadline. These events also offer one last opportunity to collect on-site gifts.
- Advertising a networking event series on social media. Hosting networking events for alumni is a great way to engage your university’s community and build stronger alumni relationships. Using social media to promote these events not only taps into your powerful alumni network, but it also allows your university to excite your alumni and create more giving opportunities.
- Live streaming your events online. Social media outreach and event promotion are both effective fundraising strategies. To go even further, you could leverage live streaming technology to bring your social media followers right to your IRL events. If you livestream your events on social media platforms like Facebook, you can include giving page links in the description of your video as a way to encourage viewers to donate.
Social media and fundraising events can be a potent combination when paired together. By paying attention to best practices when engaging your supporters and alumni through social media, you can create new giving opportunities and tap into pre-existing networks that will improve your likelihood of receiving gifts in the future.
3. Refine your content for maximum reach
Ask any marketing expert about social media and they’ll tell you that tailored content should be the center of your strategy.
Social media outreach is all about what kind of content you offer. If you offer content that speaks to your audience, no matter who they are, you’ll find your social media strategies to be more effective across the board.
This strategy can play an especially impactful role in alumni fundraising by allowing your school to make stronger social media connections with a more diverse array of potential alumni givers.
When you’re trying to make positive changes to your content, remember that it’s best to:
- Understand your audience. Different sorts of content will reach different kinds of audience members. Your post promoting an alumni karaoke night might attract one type of donor while your post targeting parents of alumni will attract another. It’s important to have an idea of who is the best audience for each type of content. Targeted content personally appeals to specific segments of your alumni community, which engages them and makes them more likely to donate.
- Tell a meaningful story. Using skillful storytelling is a great method you can use to make your social media content more effective. Everyone loves a good story, and the right story at the right time can even inspire on-the-fence alumni to give. For instance, if you have an alumni-funded scholarship program at your university, create video-based content about the students who benefit from the scholarship so your alumni can see how their gifts affect the lives of students on a day-to-day basis.
- Take advantage of different platforms. Depending on the medium and message of your content, you may want to choose a different social media platform to share your school’s content. Instagram and Facebook might be more accommodating of visual content, while Twitter might be best for up-to-the-minute fundraising updates. Be sure to choose platforms that are popular among your alumni to maximize the reach of your social media efforts.
If you’re looking for more ways to combine clever content with your school’s social media fundraising strategy, Qgiv’s article about school fundraising ideas is a helpful resource that can provide some more insight.
4. Set realistic goals for your fundraising
Your school’s social media goals are a part of your broader fundraising goals. You should plan your social media strategy alongside your fundraising strategy, while also understanding what proportion of your efforts you’re dedicating to social media itself.
Above all, it’s crucial to set realistic fundraising goals to anchor your social media strategy. Your university should think critically about what you want to achieve through your social media efforts and what it will take to reach those goals.
Here are a few key steps your school should take to ensure that your social media fundraising goals are achievable:
- Assess your current social media strategy. How well is your current content engaging your alumni? Are you promoting your events well enough and using the right platforms? Take stock of all your current social media marketing strategies and how effective they are. This sort of investigation will come in handy when you’re trying to design an improved strategy for the future.
- Set social media fundraising goals based on past performance. Aim to set concrete goals that improve upon your past fundraising efforts. For instance, if you raised $5,000 through social media alumni engagement last year, aim to raise $7,000 this year through those same channels. This way you can give yourself firm, actionable objectives that you can get started on right away.
- Try a mix of macro goals and micro goals. These days, fundraising organizations have a wide range of strategies they can use to improve their social media-based outreach and fundraising. Use every method at your disposal to achieve a mix of long-term macro fundraising goals and short-term micro ones. If your school wants to raise 25% more in gifts from peer-to-peer posts on social media (a macro goal), you could also aim to get more views on a particular video you’re livestreaming to inform your alumni about that peer-to-peer campaign (a short term goal).
Establishing the right goals for your social media-based fundraising will help ensure your school has a game plan for fundraising success. When your school is able to pinpoint where you need to grow and how you’ll achieve that growth, you’ll be well on your way to transforming your social media fundraising strategy.
With these suggestions in mind, you can begin to strengthen your social media efforts, grow your alumni donor base, and boost giving to your school. All sorts of alumni are interacting through social media on a daily basis, so use these strategies to your advantage as you take a deeper dive into the world of social media fundraising.
Abby Jarvis is a blogger, marketer, and communications coordinator for Qgiv, an online fundraising service provider. Qgiv offers industry-leading online giving and peer to peer fundraising tools for nonprofit, faith-based, and political organizations of all sizes. When she’s not working at Qgiv, Abby can usually be found writing for local magazines, catching up on her favorite blogs, or binge-watching sci-fi shows on Netflix.