Social Fundraising Is About Them, Not You


There’s plenty of proof that social fundraising platforms and social tools can work to increase fundraising significantly. Earlier this week here, Alexandra Bornkessel examined Blackbaud’s recently released infographic on social fundraising that showed, among other things, adding social tools to your campaigns increases fundraising results by 40% on average. That’s a lot!

It reported that the top online campaigns for 2010 were:

$416.5 million   Relay For Life – American Cancer Society

$121.9 million   Race For The Cure – Susan G. Komen For The Cure

$102.3 million   March For Babies – March of Dimes

$97.0 million    Team In Training – Leukemia & Lymphoma Society

$90.3 million    Start! Heart Walk – American Heart Association

Those are huge numbers – and every single one of those top five integrated multiple social tools for sharing into their campaigns. Whether you’re trying to raise millions of dollars or just looking to increase your campaign revenues by a few thousand, you can’t expect results just from adding social tools alone. You have to understand why social fundraising works – and it’s not because it’s an easy way for your supporters to share your story. It’s because social tools give them a way to share their story.

Just look at that list of top five online campaigns again. All are campaigns where donors can make personal fundraising pages. They can email their friends and family straight from their personal or team donation page, they can share their efforts on facebook and twitter – in some cases can also add YouTube videos to their personal page and use widgets to share their progress on their blog or facebook page. Their efforts, not yours.

Social fundraising works when people are encouraged to talk about their story and how it relates to your organization, not when you encourage them to share your story and how it relates to them. When a donor sends and email asking their friends to donate to their Relay for Life page, or shares their personal fundraising page for March For Babies on facebook, it looks something like this:

“Many of you know I’m a 6-year cancer survivor. Help me celebrate life and a future to other women diagnoses with breast cancer”


“My daughter died from a rare birth defect. In honor of her short life I’m walking in March For Babies. Can you help?”

Personal is what makes social work. The increase in giving doesn’t come from more people hearing about your organization and thinking “Wow! They’re doing really great work I want to get behind”. The increase comes because more people who know a donor get to hear something personal about them that they can connect to. The action comes from their emotion for their friend/colleague/family member/etc and not from their emotion for XYZ foundation.

So how do you make social fundraising about them, not you?

Encourage personal storytelling in your campaigns. Let supporters know that their personal story is what counts – they’re already naturals at sharing themselves!

Make it easy for your supporters to share how they’re helping you, not just what you’re doing. Like I said, they’re already naturals at sharing themselves, and besides why it’s personal, what they most want to share is what they’ve done to help you.

What do you think? What else is key to keep your social fundraising efforts all about your supporters?