Around here, we’re all in agreement that fundraising is a good time. It gets our faces smiling and our feet tapping. “Could anything make fundraising even more fun?” we sometimes ask ourselves. “Surely not!” But at some point in the past decade or three, a new era in fundraising began. “What if you add ‘social’ in front of ‘fundraising’?” whispered a little voice. Whoa. Making anything “social” makes it a) trendy, b) accessible, and c) more fun. And so, social fundraising was born.
Okay, we probably didn’t get the richly complex history of social fundraising right, but the point is, social fundraising is a force for fun and a force for good. And today, we’re going to explore the friendly world of social fundraising sites, including benefits, examples, key elements, and tips.
Sound good? Let’s get social.
What is social fundraising?
Social fundraising is a type of fundraising in which a nonprofit empowers its supporters to fundraise on their behalf using social media platforms. So, what puts the “social” in social fundraising is a) social media and b) the reliance on a supporter’s real-life or online social network.
Social fundraising vs. peer-to-peer fundraising: What’s the big difference?
All told, social fundraising and peer-to-peer fundraising have a lot in common. They’re two peas in a pod, two sides of the same coin, kissing cousins! (Okay, maybe not that last one.) However, there are some subtle differences to keep in mind.
In general, social fundraising:
- Focuses on using social platforms to fundraise on behalf of an organization.
- Relies on a supporter’s extended network, not just close colleagues, friends, and family.
- Puts less of an emphasis on the supporter’s network as fodder for long-term relationships with the nonprofit.
- Aims to achieve a shared financial goal.
On the other hand, peer-to-peer fundraising:
- Is built around supporters’ individual fundraising pages.
- Is all about that base (i.e., your larger network).
- Aims to bring in as many donations as possible—above all else.
Social fundraising sites we love
Before we launch into all the juicy deets (well, we think they’re juicy), let’s check out a few superb social fundraising sites to get in the mood. From P2P campaign sites to Twitch livestreams, these sites connect the digital dots.
Getting Community Back on Their Feet 💙
Back on My Feet is working to end homelessness by driving confidence and self-esteem through fitness, community support, and employment and housing resources. They’ve revolutionized the fundraising game with FundRace, a P2P program that gives fundraisers entry to famous road races and marathons worldwide to raise money for Back on My Feet where they can race alongside the very people that Back on My Feet assists.
How Back on My Feet is Winning Social Fundraising:
- Compelling visual storytelling and inspiring quotes from online fundraisers
- Easy integrations with custom P2P fundraising sites
- Updated data in real-time on the homepage makes for informed donors!
- Optimized for mobile (and lookin’ good while they’re at it)
- Stunning shareable video content through YouTube
- Bringing like-minded folks together to achieve individual and collective goals
Back on My Feet expertly uses quotes from successful fund-racers to inspire and encourage future donors to make an impact by running for the cause.
Back on My Feet has a seamless user experience that allows fundraisers to actively participate in and learn more about the variety of fundraising opportunities they have for donors, including a Fitness Festival, Marathon Majors, galas, and more!
Staying Sober Through Social Fundraising 💙
The Phoenix is bringing bingo back to raise money to maintain active sober communities through their Stronger Together Bingo Fundraising Challenge. That’s right, we said Bingo. So breakout your Bingo cards as we breakdown their top social fundraising practices:
How The Phoenix is Winning Social Fundraising 🏆
- Facebook groups that bring together community and share important information about the fundraising challenge
- Awesome integrations with customizable P2P fundraising sites
- Seamless social syncing across the most popular platforms
- Hashtags like #PhoenixStrongerTogether spread the word and build online community
- Powerful visuals and consistent branding across all assets
- Top-notch mobile optimization so you can donate from anywhere (and feel good about it)
The Phoenix uses simple, bold colors and compelling images that showcase the joy of sober living through visual storytelling.
The Phoenix's Stronger Together Bingo Fundraiser leverages Facebook groups and hashtags to spread the word––and provides a comprehensive overview of the program on their website!
Crowdfunding the Future of Mental Health 💙
Rise Above the Disorder provides equitable access to mental health care through transformative social media fundraising—on Twitch. You heard that right! What started as a successful crowdfunding campaign on World of Warcraft is now a comprehensive livestream fundraising strategy. And it’s RAD.
How RAD is Winning Social Fundraising 🏆
- Unique optimizations for Twitch and Discord (don’t leave them out of your social strategy!)
- P2P livestream fundraising exclusively through Twitch
- Comprehensive impact breakdown with cool graphics
- Compelling data on social fundraising and how social media has contributed to the organization’s bottom line
Simply put, RAD is rad. Okay? They're actively leveraging social platforms (like Twitch), which traditionally aren't used for nonprofit fundraising. They're changing the game, and we love to see it.
Running to Raise for Thorn 💙
Earlier this year, Ashton Kutcher ran the New York City Marathon to raise money for Thorn. He raised over $1,000,000 to defend children against online sexual abuse—and in the process, he innovated the social media fundraising game!
How Ashton and Thorn are Winning Social Fundraising 🏆
- Video messages and fundraising updates from Ashton optimized for mobile viewing
- Fun full-length videos featuring special celebrity guests to help raise money for Thorn—and increase social sharing potential
- A visual breakdown of the critical impact of Thorn’s work
- Progress bars, donor feed, and a top donation scoreboard (what more could you want?)
- Share, share, share with easy social sharing integrations on Facebook and Twitter
Check out how Ashton surpassed his goal by thousands! With the help of his Funraise campaign page, Ashton tells a compelling story about the importance of Thorn's work––and makes a clear connection between running the New York City Marathon and the metaphorical metaphor of the marathon that is the work of defending children against abuse.
Ashton uses his social media savvy to include video messages to his supporters that raise supporters' morale––and increase donations!
The Power of Positive Influence 💙
Latoya Shauntay Snell is an Instagram and TikTok influencer and plus-size marathoner leveraging her online presence to raise money for the PCOS Challenge LA Marathon Race Team. As a multi-sport athlete with a big online presence, Snell is setting her sights on raising money (and awareness) for the PCOS Challenge by running the LA Half Marathon. Idk about you, but we’re empowered just reading about her.
How Latoya and the PCOS Challenge are Winning Social Fundraising 🏆
- An influencer partnership for the ages—Snell is a powerful social media influencer with a niche community that perfectly aligns with the mission and goals of the PCOS Challenge
- Raw, honest storytelling that gives donors an emotional appeal
- Creative calls to action through IG reels and TikTok videos
- Easy donation directly from Instagram and TikTok linktree + fast donation experience
Latoya Snell is leveraging her influencer platform and sharing her powerful story to meet her fundraising goal through a P2P social media fundraiser for the PCOS Challenge!
Social fundraising pages: Key site elements
We have a real soft spot for social fundraising sites, and a big part of that is their flexibility. Facebook integrations, Twitch livestreams, Instagram stories… whatever your social media poison, there’s a social fundraising site that’s perfect for you.
But while social fundraising sites are prime real estate for showcasing each fundraiser’s unique social media superpower, there are several key elements that all successful sites have in common. Check out our essential social fundraising site features below to the ensure your social journey is on the right track.
- Social integrations
- A clear goal
- Awesome images
- Donor experience
- Progress updates
- Mobile compatibility
Customization for your fundraisers.
On social media, we layer on the filters and post the prettiest vacay photos to present the best version of ourselves. So, when your supporters ask their network to support you, their site needs to be a reflection of their most-fabulous virtual selves. That means you need to give them the tools to enter custom text, add personal images, and embed exclusive videos.
Seamless social integrations.
Social fundraising works best when it’s supporter-led, and that means your team can take a beat and take a breath. But if you have to manually enter data and toggle between platforms, all that extra time goes out the window pretty darn fast. By syncing supporters’ social fundraisers with their P2P sites and their data with your fundraising platform, you’ll make your life even easier.
It’s your supporters’ fundraiser, but it’s your organization. As a result, you want to ensure a trustworthy fundraising experience, and that starts with a consistent brand.
A lofty goal.
Or a humble one—the choice is your supporters’! The first thing fundraisers need to know when they agree to fundraise for you is, “How much?” Help your fundraisers choose a number that works for them with the knowledge that they can always increase it later.
Except for LinkedIn and the occasional Facebook rant, we don’t go on social media for the words. So, ensure your supporters have access to strong, authentic visuals that reflect your organization’s work and impact.
A top-notch donor experience.
This is not a case of quantity over quality; you want to a donor experience that’s engaging, user-friendly, and on-brand.
Progress bars, donor feeds, and donation alerts–oh my!
If your social fundraising campaign includes livestream video, you’ll want to keep up with all the latest livestream fundraising tools to encourage donors to keep the giving coming.
Mobile app compatibility.
When it comes to social fundraising, double- and triple-check for mobile compatibility. When someone’s doing an Instagram Live fundraiser for you, you don’t want donors wading through 20 lines of text before they can get to an actual donation form.
Social fundraising brings together a huge network of folks—friends and family, sure, but also chatroom buddies and TikTok followers. They know nada about your org, so you need to tell your story with wit and verve! Or at least with relatability and a focus on impact.
Top tips for social fundraising
Now that you know the social fundraising essentials, it’s time to turn our attention to making your efforts as effective and efficient as possible. Here, we’re dishing on how to craft the best social fundraising experiences for your supporters and their networks.
- Rally your audience
- Provide necessary tools
- Let it go
- Keep it real
- Open your mind
- Infuse urgency
- Share to support
- Collect the data
- Update everyone
1. Rally your audience
Social fundraising is all about that buzz, so the more excited your supporters are, the more excited their supporters will be, etc., etc., etc. Luckily, you have some out-of-the-box ways to rally said supporters. Equip your fundraisers with a suite of creative social tools so they can share their progress and keep the gifts flowing fast. Stuff like...
- Custom donation stickers for Instagram Stories
- Real-time donation alerts for Twitch livestreams
- Sounds on TikTok
- Awards for hitting mini goals
- A solid custom hashtag
- Shoutouts... everyone likes applause
2. Give everyone the tools to succeed
Your supporters are out there pounding the digital pavement to fundraise for you, so you want to equip them with all the info they need to succeed. Before you launch a social fundraising campaign, share the following materials with your fundraisers:
- A communications timeline
- Social and P2P fundraising tips
- Key messaging
- Sample social posts and scripts
- Logos, visuals, and relevant photos and videos
3. Get hands-off
Once you’ve sent your supporters that handy-dandy social fundraising toolkit, take a step back. Social fundraising should be supporter-led; after all, these tech-savvy folks already know how to maximize social engagement across their platform of choice. So sit back and let them do what they do best!
4. Keep things real
Every development team member knows that fundraising can be a high-stress game—but you don’t want to pass that delightful anxiety on to your supporters. To make everything feel a bit less overwhelming, help them set realistic goals. Then, break down stretch goals into per-person amounts. $1,000 feels pretty unattainable, but $50 from 20 people? Not so bad!
5. Be open
As with any new technology, it’s important to keep an open mind. If your supporters have wild and wacky ideas on platforms you’ve never heard, run with it. A Minecraft fundraiser? Heck yes! A Reddit P2P post-a-thon? We don’t know what that would look like, but sure! You never know what’s going to pay off. And, if nothing else, you’ll learn something. More rando ideas from the top of our heads:
- One donor from each US state
- Online filibuster
- A month of outfits in 30 minutes speed changing
- "I wear my sunglasses..." All the Time fundraiser
- Endurance Arts and Crafts Tournament
6. Bring the urgency
Everything on social media is here today, gone tomorrow, so bring a sense of urgency if you want to maximize your fundraising efforts. Emphasize that big deadline, share why fundraising for your cause right now is so vital, and then lay on the progress bars and countdown timers.
7. Share the love
Your supporters are lending a hand to support your organization, but social fundraising is a two-way street. In return for bringing in the big bucks, your supporters want to raise their online profile. Don’t forget to shout out your supporters and let their networks know how supercalifragilisticexpialidocious they are.
8. Connect the dots
All that delicious and accessible data is one of the best parts of social fundraising. Take full advantage of your font of free insights through integrations that reliably collect data on donations and donors in one central location. And BTW, if you work with Funraise, reporting’s a snap!
9. Update everyone
After the dust has settled on your social fundraising campaign (and you’ve slept for approximately 16 hours straight), don’t leave everyone in the dark. Send out campaign updates across all your social media channels and provide your supporters with everything they need to update their social fundraising site and social profiles with the total raised and the impact made.
6 benefits of social fundraising
We’ve heard the protestations: social fundraising is hard to sustain, our team’s too busy, we don’t have a big social following, yada yada yada. We get it, and also, we have faith you can overcome all of that when you realize the many beautiful benefits of social fundraising.
- Social fundraising can sharply cut your nonprofit's costs.
- Social fundraising allows you to strengthen relationships with your current donors.
- Social fundraising campaigns provide an opportunity to build momentum and strength.
- It sounds obvious, but social fundraising is a great way to build your social presence.
- Similarly, social fundraising allows you to build your community.
- Social fundraising is an opportunity to share with your supporters, and vice versa.
1. Cut costs
Social fundraising is fundraising on the cheap. Your supporters do a lot of the work for you, saving your development team valuable time and energy. Plus, you’re working with supporters you already know rather than cultivating new ones.
2. Cultivate current donor relationships
With social fundraising, you empower your supporters to fundraise for you, which makes them feel valued and trusted. That makes those relationships even stronger than before.
3. The momentum builds
Unlike one-and-done fundraising campaigns, social fundraising is the gift that keeps on giving. Once you get started, your online network will grow, making future campaigns easier and more profitable.
4. Up your social presence
With so much online attention, you’re bound to pick up a few extra followers yourself. And, as per the point above, that social presence snowball will keep rolling and rolling, getting bigger and better and brighter. (Snowballs do that, right?)
5. Build community
Social fundraising has a lot of financial benefits, but it’s also really awesome at fostering community with people you’ve never connected with before. Your new donors come from all over the world and have totally different backgrounds and interests from your current donors—what a rare and awesome opportunity!
6. It’s a two-way street
Social fundraising is mutually beneficial. Your supporters fundraise for you, and in turn, you build their social media presence. That sort of mutually beneficial relationship never stops feeling good.
Some days, when we’re measuring our worth based on how many people liked the photo of our dog in his new tartan sweater, the internet can feel like a cold, hard place. But social fundraising is the online world at its best–people connecting over a good cause, using technology to expand their reach and amplify their impact. So when you’re planning your next fundraising move, we hope you’ll make social fundraising a part of your repertoire. And once you have, slide into our DMs and let us know how it’s going. (Yeah, we know all the social media slang.)
Social fundraising key takeaways
- Social fundraising is a type of fundraising in which a nonprofit empowers its supporters to fundraise on their behalf using social media platforms.
- Social fundraising connects social media with your fundraising platform and bank account to ensure a smooth and secure fundraising experience.
- There are a plethora of ways to do social fundraising, from Facebook fundraisers and Twitch livestreams to P2P fundraising sites and Instagram Stories.
- By setting up a social fundraising site, your supporters can ask their network for donations to your organization and spread awareness about your cause.
- Social fundraising lets you connect with more diverse donors than ever before, across time zones and generations.