Tag Archives: social media

3 Ways to Use Social Media for Smarter Fundraising

Guest post by Kanwei Li, Double the Donation
social media iconsHow often does your phone light up with a social media alert? Whether someone liked your picture on Instagram, retweeted that funny joke on Twitter, or commented on your latest Facebook status, you’re likely getting notifications of some kind.
While social media is a powerful tool at the individual level, it’s also useful for organizations who are trying to raise more money.

Gone are the days when all of your donors mailed in checks once a month. Many more are using technology like mobile giving and online donation forms to give to their favorite causes.

Check out the top three strategies for harnessing social media to fundraise more effectively.

And for more guidance on fundraising, check out Double the Donation’s Ultimate Guide!

1. Start asking for donations on Facebook.

Social media, and Facebook in particular, can be a great avenue to ask for and receive donations.

While you are likely already posting statuses to remind donors of how they can give to your organization, you can now receive contributions with a donation tab right on your Facebook page.

Of course, you won’t want to constantly be asking your followers for donations.

You should also use Facebook to:

  • Promote your events.
  • Let donors know about other ways to donate (like text-to-give).
  • Advertise for your upcoming fundraisers.
  • Praise your donors and volunteers.
  • Give updates about projects.
Asking for donations on Facebook is a great way to meet donors where they are. If you know that a majority of your donors use Facebook, encourage them to like your nonprofit’s page and interact with them on a regular basis.
According to a recent study, 84% of social media users share content on social media sites to show their support for a cause.
With numbers like that, your nonprofit can’t afford to ignore Facebook and other social media sites as a way to ask for donations!

2. Use social media to stay in touch.

It’s vital that you use social media as a way to stay in touch with your advocates, donors, volunteers, and prospects.

It’s important to remember that social media is a dialogue, not a monologue. You aren’t just posting, tweeting, and commenting into a void.

Your supporters are interacting and talking to each other on these different platforms, and if your nonprofit wants to be part of the conversation, it’s crucial to be aware of what you’re posting.

  • You should be responding to donor messages on social media in a timely manner.
  • You should be liking or commenting on donors’ statuses that mention your organization.
  • You should be posting pictures of your volunteers and donors during events.
There are endless ways to connect with your supporters on social media. Find what works best for your organization, and get to work!

3. Promote corporate giving programs on social media.

Some of your biggest supporters may work for companies that will reward their gifts of money and time with matching gift programs and volunteer grant initiatives.

But your donors and volunteers might not know these programs exist at their jobs!

Your nonprofit can help by promoting corporate giving programs within your social media posts.

However, just like you don’t want to bombard donors with donation appeals on Facebook 24/7, keep your promotions of corporate giving programs to once or twice a week. The more saturated the information becomes, the more likely it will be tuned out.

Social Media Affects Everyone

Social media isn’t just for teenagers and millennials anymore. More and more people of all ages are looking to sites like Facebook and Twitter to interact with each other as well as nonprofits. Make sure that your organization is optimizing its fundraising potential with social media!

About the Author


Kanwei Li is the CTO of Double the Donation. He has over 10 years of software development experience. He holds a master’s degree in Computer Science from Emory University and resides in Atlanta.

He is passionate about developing software to solve everyday problems.

3 Steps To Social Media Major Gift Prowess

Were you aware that social media is a competitive edge in major gift fundraising? You must have heard by now how organizations are leveraging giving days and crowdfunding as well as incorporating social media into annual fund drives – but what about major gifts?

As a fundraiser who asks wealthy individuals to make gifts to your organization, deliberate and professional use of social media will not only separate you from the pack, it could put you in league with your prospects. It’s time to own your participation in social media!

Start with Prospect Research

If you have a prospect research professional on staff, it’s time to have a talk about social media. Agree on the social media sites you want to know about and ask your researcher if channel participation and user ID can be added to the profile, or better yet, put into a database field that can be pulled into a report.



To get on the same page with your colleagues, you could order copies of the Prospect Research Perspectives: On Social Media and have informal discussions about articles over lunch or coffee.


Every organization has a unique constituency. Global and national statistics on social media use may or may not apply to your donors. As your prospects get researched, you will begin to see which social media channels are preferred.

Audit Your Personal Social Media Presence

You are probably on social media already. It’s time to audit your presence. Accept that there is no privacy online, no matter how diligent you are with your privacy settings. Decide how you want to be perceived – what your personal brand is – and make that uniform across every platform from LinkedIn to Facebook and beyond. Don’t underestimate the power of a professional head shot.

Consider what would happen if a seven-figure prospect invited you to connect on Facebook. What will your Facebook presence communicate to the prospect? You should also expect that prospects will explore your work history in places like LinkedIn.

You can get ahead of the requests and craft an action plan that will best demonstrate your personal brand and interests and your organization’s brand and giving priorities.

What does that mean? Take one channel at a time. Following are two easily accomplished examples that demonstrate channel-appropriate activity:

  • LinkedIn: Liz picks two days a week when she catches up on industry reading, posts about something she has read, and links to the article or commentary. Whenever she learns new information about a giving priority, she shares the related press release, video, or other content. She decides to write a short article this year about integrity in major gift fundraising to post on Pulse and have it show on her profile page.
  • Facebook: Liz uses Facebook to connect with friends and family, but colleagues and donors have requested to friend her. She’s a foodie and a country music fan so she decides that each time she goes out to eat or hear music she will find something unusual about the experience to share on Facebook. She also shares related articles, videos, and pictures on those topics. She still shares things like family and vacation items, but she’s careful not to share deeply personal information, saving that for offline. She posts occasional pictures from work events and office fun, too.

Now Get Your Edge On!

Once you know which social media channels have a critical mass of your prospects and donors, make sure you have an account on those social media sites. You can’t be everywhere, so choose carefully based on the data.

Now you are poised to use social media for cultivation. Many fundraisers successfully reach prospects through LinkedIn, but you could do much more.

When you discover a prospect is very active on one or more social media channels, connect with him or her there and regularly post content that is of interest to the prospect, as well as engage the prospect by sharing his or her content and making comments. This builds trust and rapport through genuine interactions – and all from your laptop, tablet, or smart phone.

Social media isn’t the way to reach out to every prospect, but if you polish your online brand and use prospect research to guide your social media activity you can sharpen your major gift edge.

Researcher Sued for Scraping!

Can you imagine if that headline was about you? How would that impact your organization and your fundraising career? Would it be fatal or a blip in the radar?

I’m an emotional person. Because of this I could easily spend hours chatting about the law and ethics. But when I talk with a highly analytical, logical person, the conversation is usually quite short. Is it legal? Is it public? What’s the problem? Emotions! That’s what!

No matter what your personality type, the only thing that really matters is what your donors and the community believe. Because if they perceive that you have done something unethical and possibly illegal it can be very damaging to your fundraising revenue, not to mention the organization as a whole.

Sarah Bernstein did a very good job of examining the APRA Social Media Ethics Statement so I won’t go over that here. Instead I’d like to have a very specific conversation evaluating a specific situation – scraping on LinkedIn.

Scraping LinkedIn

I’m not starting this conversation. That already happened on the PRSPCT-L list-serv. You can search the archives for these threads:

  • Using Scraper with LinkedIn
  • Experience with ProspectVisual’s LinkedIn Alumni Employment Info?
  • INFO: LinkedIn.com and permitted uses

As a prospect research professional I would love to have a way to get all that wonderful LinkedIn data in a format that I could use for analysis!

According to Wikipedia, Web Scraping is a software technique that simulates human exploration of the web and transforms unstructured data on the web, typically in HTML format, into structured data that can be stored and analyzed in a central local database or spreadsheet. Because it is automated the software can process large amounts of information.

An example of successful scraping we take for granted are the giving databases we subscribe to. We know that the vendor scours the web for giving recognition reports and other public information about giving. The vendor indexes the information and we merrily search the resulting database.

LinkedIn Public Profiles

The first question in the LinkedIn Scraping discussion is whether the information being scraped is from the outside of the service – the public-facing side – or whether it is being scraped from behind the login – the private-facing side.

ProspectVisual, a relationship mapping software, scrapes LinkedIn data from the public-facing side. ProspectVisual never logs in to the software. It doesn’t have to. For example, my LinkedIn profile is almost 100% public. You can find my LinkedIn profile on a Google search and never login.

At the very beginning of the LinkedIn User Agreement in Section 1.2 it states:

You agree that by clicking “Join Now” “Join LinkedIn”, “Sign Up” or similar, registering, accessing or using our services…you are entering into a legally binding agreement.





ProspectVisual never enters into the agreement. That’s quite clear and simple from a legal perspective. And given the prospect research field’s warm embrace of many other vendors who scrape the web, it would seem it passes the ethical test too.

LinkedIn Private Profiles

Once you login to LinkedIn you are now bound by the LinkedIn User Agreement.  A search in the agreement for the word “scrape” brings up this line under Section 8.2, the things you promise NOT to do:

Scrape or copy profiles and information of others through any means (including crawlers, browser plugins and add-ons, and any other technology or manual work);





The question on the list-serv was whether it was okay to login and scrape small amounts of data for the purpose of identifying new prospects for the nonprofit organization.


It could easily be argued that this scraping is illegal and violates the user agreement because scraping, automated or manual, implies taking a bulk of data from LinkedIn and transferring it for another purpose.


But how much data or at what frequency crosses the line into scraping territory? And if you are not scraping information to re-sell it, but instead to further your fundraising, is that a use that is either appropriate or unlikely to be prosecuted?

Ethical or Unethical?

If it is unclear whether our scraping data when bound by the user agreement is illegal or not, is it ethical to continue scraping? How would our donors and network feel about the way we are accessing the data they have placed behind the LinkedIn login?

Healthy Conversation

Ethics stirs emotions. But that doesn’t mean we can’t engage in healthy conversation. I was delighted that the most recent thread had all the hallmarks of a mature debate:

  • Asking lots of questions
  • Making statements based on found information, not pure emotion
  • Not disagreeing quickly, but working to be sure you understood the other person
  • Recognizing that others may disagree in part or in whole and that’s okay

Now at your next staff meeting you have a juicy topic to bring up under “New Business”. And if you are a blogger, maybe there’s a piece of this conversation you’d like to take on?

More Articles You Might Like

About Those Millennial Donors

By Kate Rapoport, Aspire Research Group, Prospect Research Trainee

Researchers and historians have given a name to the generation born after 1981, the Millennial generation. The first generation to come of age in the new millennium, this group has become the focus of a great deal of research. How does the Millennial generation think, shop, live, give? A great deal of early work on this generation assumed that the most important thing about the age group was their experience with and immersion in all sorts of technology and social media. However, further research is bringing to light a truth that shouldn’t be so shocking. Despite all the technology the Millennial generation is surrounded with, interpersonal relationships and face-to-face meetings are still crucial to the decisions that this group makes.

A point that 2010 Achieve and Johnson, Grossnickle and Associates’ study, Millennial Donors: A Study of Millennial Giving and Engagement Habits found is that while giving via mobile/text and social networks is an up and coming way of soliciting gifts, 91% of Millennial donors are at least somewhat likely to respond to a face-to-face request, but only 8% are likely to respond to an email request. The personal touch and a specific project are still the best way to reach the Millennial generation.

So where does this information leave professionals at non-profit organizations? Research into Millennials’ habits gives us some suggestions about ways to focus an ask. In 2008, The Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University for Campbell’s & Company conducted a study called Generational Differences in Charitable Giving and in Motivations for Giving. One finding from this study stands out: the Millennial generation gives their money when they feel that it will help make the world a better place. They care less about what influence they will have on an organization and more about making a difference.

This finding is supported by the 2010 Millennial Donors study, referenced above, which found that over 55% of Millennial donors are likely or highly likely to respond to being asked to give more to a specific project, while the same 55% are unlikely to give to a general, non-specific request. These studies indicate that when approaching a Millennial donor, one needs to have a specific project that the donor would be interested in. If what you need are unrestricted operating funds, make the request sound like a project – limited time-frame, measurable objectives and a dollar goal.

If you want to identify Millennial donors for a targeted campaign, contact us at Aspire Research Group and we can help you add ages to your donor records. And be sure to check out our expert Resource Partners too!

You can reach us at (800) 494-4132 or (727) 231-0516 in Florida, or jen at aspireresearchgroup.com.

A Call to Donors Who Can Appreciate the Mission

“The worst thing for artists is not to have the money available to carry out the ideas they have in their heads,” says Mark Bradford, explaining the thought that went into his $100,000 donation to create the Artists2Artists Fund.

Bradford would know. An article in the Wall Street Journal describes him as once being a financially struggling artist himself; one who was greatly helped by the award of a $50,000 fellowship grant from nonprofit organization United States Artists (USA). It’s important to him now to make available monetary grants for other artists who are in the same spot he once was.

An artist born and raised in Los Angeles with two degrees from California Institute of the Arts according to art21, Bradford is the lead donor to the Artists2Artists Fund of USA, which is designed in an innovative way as to best use social networking for community fundraising.

According to the Wall Street Journal, the  Artists2Artists Fund will be financed by established artists, and will match funds received through USA Projects, which is a social-network fundraising website. Artists can create their own pages on the website, where their works and ideas for future works will be displayed. People donate money for a specific artist to USA, which matches their gift. Of the funds raised, 81% goes to the artist and the other 19% covers program and website expenses.

So how does a nonprofit come by a donor as valuable as Mark Bradford? Look to his story. He is someone who appreciates the value of USA’s mission because his success, at least in part, grew from it. Bradford was the recipient of aid, and is now the leading donor to USA’s budding project. And his donation goes beyond just money– along with the $100,000 major gift he provided, he is also helping USA blaze a new trail for arts philanthropy by starting up a social-network fundraising website and encouraging successful artists to give back.

It is interesting that no gift from Mark Bradley could be found to the California Institute of the Arts where he received two degrees. One of Mr. Bradley’s primary motivations to give to USA was giving back. Why didn’t he want to give back to his alma mater? Did the Institute ask? Do they just not publicly recognize their alumni gifts? After a visit to their website I couldn’t even find a place to make a gift. From appearances, it would seem that the Institute missed a golden opportunity with Mark Bradley.

Mr. Bradley’s primary giving motivation appears to be to give back, but he also gave back in a way that mirrors his art and expressed values. In his art he re-purposes paper, twine and other materials he finds out in the world. He makes art possible from various discarded materials. The Artists2Artists Fund takes small gifts from many people and pulls them together to create a matching grant to an artist. Technology makes it possible to turn small gifts into a real opportunity for a struggling artist.

USA recognized that one of its previous aid recipients was now a successful artist. They took the time to listen to his interests and created a gift opportunity that matched Mark Bradley’s needs as well as their mission. Do you have a way to identify those who receive your services and move on to financial and other success? Once you identify the person, do you have a way to find out how to best connect?

Aspire Research Group helps organizations across the country find better ways to connect with donors. By preparing comprehensive, in-depth profiles on donor prospects we have helped clients just like USA learn enough about their prospects to reach out in a meaningful way by identifying board memberships, peers who could solicit, past giving history, wealth and so much more. You can bet that USA did their research before asking Mark Bradley for a gift. Have you done yours?

To learn more about donor prospect profiles, visit www.AspireResearchGroup.com or call (800) 494.4132.

Content creators-are they throwing rules out the window?

YouTube just launched a $5 million grant program. They want to fund amateur video creators and help them drive visitors to their YouTube pages. Hmmm. I get that they want to fund people who will give them more eyeballs – that’s like paying someone for business development services. But there is more and I’ve heard it before.

The article states that many of these amateurs have been able to “generate substantial revenues and command an audience that rivals those of the broadcast networks”. The grants will help these amateurs get more professional. Because these underdogs have leaped higher with less the conclusion is that “the game has changed” and people are “throwing the rules out the window”.

You’ve probably heard it before too. Social media has broken so many rules that content, organized information, will never be the same. George Strompolos at YouTube tells the New York Times that “these people [are] the next content creators”.

Is it just me or does this appear to be silly rhetoric? If YouTube and others like it provide the capital for these upstarts to get professional, then have they simply shaped them in the same mold as the broadcast networks? The business model changes from broadcast to on-demand, but we’re even using the same television set. Well, I am. Plug the cord into my laptop and TV and presto! I’ve got a big screen.

And so it is that prospect researchers have gotten caught up in some silliness. At first it was panic about prospects’ self-reported information on blogs, Facebook and Twitter. Could we trust that it was correct? Were we invading our prospects’ privacy by looking at the information they post so freely?

LinkedIn is not Who’s Who. After all it isn’t exclusive, edited, printed and you don’t have to pay for it. But they are both self-reported with the awareness that anyone can read the information. And the information is a veritable GOLD MINE of biographical data we could not get elsewhere.

But even for all the silliness that happens when something new gets digested, I do think George got it right about the new “content creators”. I don’t believe that we’ve thrown the rules out the window, but the Cool Data Blog by Kevin MacDonell, a researcher at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, is a fabulous example of how the road to content creation has been re-directed. If he had tried to write a book and get it published the old fashioned way we might not benefit, if at all, until long after his techniques were showing some age. Technology is changing everything rapidly right down to the data we collect about our donors.

Instead we get the benefit of Kevin’s expertise for free and as he works through it. This makes it more fun and he’s good at including visuals. After a year he might think about turning his blog into a book. He could do this himself and sell it on Amazon or maybe even get a publisher to jump in. More than a blog he could develop an email format, video demonstrations and more.

Whatever he does, he could probably use some cash to do it better. So I hope to discover that the WordPress Foundation wins the donor lottery, jumps on the bandwagon and announces this kind of “professionalizing the amateurs” grant funding soon!