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Should Nonprofits Utilize Social Media to Generate Donations?

Published on by Brad Chaffin in Not-for-Profit

Should Nonprofits Utilize Social Media to Generate Donations?

Soliciting online donations is emerging as the preferred fundraising method for many nonprofits, and it’s easy to understand why. Donors have discovered that online gifts are quick and easy to make, and nonprofits are happy that donation receipts can get generated instantly, making record-keeping a breeze. According to a recent survey by M+R, an independent organization that provides public relations services for nonprofits, online giving has been steadily rising in the past four years. Since 2014, nonprofits have seen a 77% increase in online revenue, and many experts anticipate this number will skyrocket as social media plays an ever more important role in our communities. When it’s time to plan for next year’s donation, it would be wise to consider social media as part of a highly diversified and extensive fundraising strategy.

Social Media: the Good and the Bad

While social media fundraising is growing, it still cannot compete with other online fundraising methods. Nonprofits are receiving more Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter followers than ever before, but they are not seeing an equivalent increase in donations. According to the M+R survey, a whopping 80% of a nonprofit’s supporters follow their organization on Facebook, but the social media platform is responsible for only 2% of online revenues.

Does this mean that social media is an ineffective fundraising strategy? Not necessarily. In 2018, only 2.4% of all nonprofit Facebook posts were boosted, which means that, at the moment, most nonprofits are choosing to forego paid social media advertising. If paid advertising increases and algorithms shift so that nonprofits have a stronger voice, social media may have more of an impact than it does today.

Most importantly, all the surveys in the world cannot capture how social media can affect a person’s mindset. From 2017 to 2018, nonprofits grew their Instagram followers by 34% and their Twitter followers by 26%. This new reach will help keep a nonprofit’s mission in the minds of its supporters so that when the time comes to donate, their supporters will be excited and prepared to do so.

In the Meantime

Although social media engagement does not – at the moment – directly correlate to increased donations, it can still play an important part in your marketing strategy. They key is to diversify. By diversifying your fundraising methods, you can ensure you have all your bases covered. Traditional fundraising approaches like direct mail, commercials, benefits, and personal phone calls are still very effective. When looking at online methods, e-mail fundraising is holding its own; in 2018, e-mail fundraising accounted for up to 20% of all online revenues, which is a percentage we cannot ignore.

No matter what methods you choose, whether you emphasize traditional or online fundraising, your organization should focus on retention. On average, 37% of donors who made an online gift in 2017 made another online gift to that nonprofit in 2018. When you drill down even further and look only at supporters who have donated for three or more consecutive years, this retention rate bumps up to 59%. In other words, it pays to make your existing donors happy. Keep them engaged with your organization and continue to reach out asking for donations. Your hard work will pay off.


Social media may not be the golden ticket to fundraising efforts just yet, but it may be soon. We will have to wait and see. As you wait, stay on top of social media trends, but utilize other online methods to solicit donations. Even small donations will be worth the effort. In 2018, more than 40% of all revenues were made by donors contributing less than $250 per year. If you have any questions about nonprofit fundraising or need assistance with a nonprofit audit or tax issue, Barnes Dennig can help. For additional information call us at 513-241-8313 or click here to contact us. We look forward to speaking with you soon.



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