Social Media for Charity Fundraising

Twitter is a free microblogging social network that enables users to post short messages viewed by other subscribers. “Tweets” of 140 characters or less are sent and received from computers and other mobile devices. Facebook is the most popular social networking service. Facebook gets most of its revenue from advertising, and firms use the site to promote their products and services. In 2011, Facebook launched a new portal for marketers and creative agencies to help them develop brand promotions. Hi5.com is giving Facebook a run for its money. The social networking site has become the world’s third most trafficked, thanks to a focus on Spanish-speaking countries.

Social media have evolved through Web 2.0, a term that describes a new wave of Internet innovation that enables users to publish and exchange content. More consumers are using social media to obtain information that influences their buying decisions. By creating brand presence in social media, marketers boost people’s tendency to imbue products r activities with “personality” or other characteristics they can identify with.

Social media are making a particularly big impact in charitable fundraising, a field that benefits enormously from international marketing. For example, the British charity Oxfam expanded its social media to better engage audiences online. Oxfam recruited a digital specialist to lead the expansion. Video content is preferred because of its emotional impact, moving people to donate at levels that reading a blog or Twitter message cannot. Oxfam is ramping up its Facebook sites and launching a web TV channel. To date, it has 716,000 followers on Twitter, its Facebook site has 253,000 likes and it has over 6,000 subscribers on YouTube.

Charities used social media to conduct fundraising for the Haiti earthquake in 2010. Twitter, Facebook, and other sites made it easier for charities to communicate. The Red Cross uses such media to augment traditional fundraising methods, such as direct mail, email, and telephone. Social media are less effective for contacting older donors, so it makes sense to use a variety of communications methods. Orphan charity SOS Children’s Villages prefers social media because of its cost effectiveness over more traditional methods. The charity posts videos on YouTube and makes ample use of Facebook, Hi5, and Twitter. For many charitable organizations, social media are the most effective approach for maximizing returns for the amount of time and money spent on fundraising.

Though email and websites are still considered the most important communication tool for non-profits, a recent study reports that social media is growing 3x faster than email. Additionally, Hubspot’s survey of small to medium non-profits in the US cite the top following social networks used by non-profits:

  1. Facebook (98%)
  2. Twitter (~70%)
  3. LinkedIn (~55%)
  4. YouTube (~45%)

Social media has given us new opportunities to engage donors and raise funds. Charities and non-profits should take advantage of this.

This is an excerpt from the book by: Michael R. Czinkota, Ilkka A. Ronkainen. International Marketing 10th Ed (USA: Cengage, 2013), pg 563.

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