How Do I Find New Donors with Social Media?

Photo by Geoff Livingston

I work with many nonprofits on social fundraisers, and one of the most common questions I get is, “How do I find new donors with social media?” Finding these new donors can be elusive. More often than not, these organizations and individuals have tried social media-based fundraising unsuccessfully on their own and have doubts.

The first thing is to examine which tactics they tried. Almost always it’s one of these two:

  1. Emailed the donor list and asked them to donate “using social media”
  2. Updated Facebook and Twitter and did not get (new) donors

Notice that both of these approaches involve a similar ask of already established donors, fans, and other members of the extended nonprofit. When you ask the same people for donations, you often get the same donors. What neither of them do is effectively reach new people.

To do develop new donors with social media, a nonprofit has to reach a different group of people. Because social media is a relationship game, fundraisers need to successfully reach new people through their extended network. In essence, the fundraiser must have a grassroots word-of-mouth strategy that engages online ambassadors (who can also be real world ambassadors, too) to go out and fundraise. By empowering others to fundraise for the organization, a nonprofit dramatically increases the likelihood of new donors.


Because friends of friends are probably people the organization is not engaging. They have similar interests as the ambassador, and therefore are more likely inclined to donate to the organization. This is particularly true of causes that address societal matters, like the environment, the arts, or social services.

Almost invariably, whether those ambassadors are staff, board members, or just good old fashioned passionate followers online this approach generates new donors. It’s really not that foreign a concept, as development officers will often ask their best and most passionate donors for help finding new recruits. In some cases, they bring them further into the fold, adding them to the board.

Now, the question is how to select these online fundraising ambassadors. More on that next week.

How do you find new donors using social media?

5 thoughts on “How Do I Find New Donors with Social Media?”

  1. Good post, Geoff, thanks. Change a few words here and there and it applies to the for-profit world as well…

    1. u00a0I find my regular old school marketing skills have a great deal of application to the nonprofit space. You need domain expertise, but with that in hand, the tools and techniques apply.

  2. long distance voter has recently hoped on the meme train by creating a series of hilarious, voting related memes that we’re distributing via facebook. u00a0we’ve raised a bit of money doing this but more importantly, we’ve raised the viral reach of everything we do. u00a0so many people laugh at and reshare the memes (which are branded with our URL) that our fb virality has gone up 400% (that is an actual number). u00a0nnshameless plug: you can see the memes yourself here: u00a0http:/

  3. Awesome blog! You gave great points for finding new people to donate to causes. I think your advice is really helpful because it can be hard to convince people that the cause you are fundraising for is worth their money. nRenee Haynie

  4. stephen ochingah

    hello! i love wat u guys u are doin to empwer the society …i also av a foundation…!

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