Believe it or not, social media is fundamentally shifting the way that charities raise money. Facebook and Twitter are now tools used by non-profits to tug at the heartstrings of the general consumer and get them to open their wallets for causes.
Remember how the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge took social media by storm two years ago? My colleague Alison wrote about it here. The internet was filled with videos of people dumping buckets of ice on their heads to help raise awareness of and funds for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, more commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. If they were nominated and didn’t post to social media, they were encouraged to donate to ALS Association. The result? More than $115 million dollars fundraised for the ALS Association. A few weeks ago, the Association announced that those funds helped scientists discover a new gene tied to the disease called NEK1.
Another example is #GivingTuesday, an annual day around the holiday season that has grown into a movement to celebrate and support giving and philanthropy. As part of this effort, social media users are encouraged to make a donation to an organization of their choice and post about it on their personal channels using #GivingTuesday, encouraging friends and family to do the same. And it’s working. In 2015, more than $116 million dollars were raised surrounding the movement.
As communicators, it’s important that we follow these trends and keep a pulse on what’s working and what’s not. Following are some things to keep in mind to help create a meaningful donation/social campaign:
- Partner with an advocacy organization to enhance credibility and increase reach
- Execute surrounding event or awareness day/week/month to leverage existing milestone and promotions (ex: hashtags)
- Share examples of physician/patient/caregiver stories to illustrate real-world impact of donations
- Communicate ongoing results to demonstrate the power of a community
- Engage colleagues internally to generate excitement
- Promote with paid media to extend awareness
No matter the cause, it continues to remain clear that authentic stories with a powerful message are what win people over.