By: Karrie Wozniak, SVP of Marketing, OneCause
The power of social connections and peer influence has greatly impacted the landscape of nonprofit fundraising. Not only are many of today’s donors first introduced to a cause through a friend, family member, or colleague, but peer influence is also a direct motivator to giving. At a time when nonprofit organizations are forced to evaluate their fundraising and engagement plans in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s more important than ever to embrace the power of social connections and their impact on giving.
What motivates social giving?
Over the last five years we’ve seen a steady shift as individual donors have become more socially connected to nonprofits. This rise in “social giving” represents donations happening both online and in-person as donors give at fundraising events, sponsor a peer in a fundraising event (like a run/walk/ride), or donate to a peer’s occasion (i.e. birthday or memorial/tribute) or challenge campaign (i.e. No Shave Movember).
At OneCause, we were really interested in diving into the mindset of these socially connected donors and what drives their giving. In partnership with Edge Research, we conducted a study of 1,000 “Social Donors,” who donated through fundraising events and peer-to-peer campaigns. The goal of the study was to better understand their motivators, preferences, and giving behavior.
What we found was that Social Donors are primarily motivated by an easy giving experience, affinity to the mission, and a clear understanding of the impact of their donation. The majority of these donors hear about a social giving opportunity from their friends, family, and colleagues and aren’t very familiar with a cause before giving. This represents a huge potential for nonprofits looking to expand their reach and connect to a new donor segment that’s estimated to be more than 58 million people in the U.S.
First-time donors consider ease and social connection (i.e. supporting the person who asked you to donate) especially important, while Social Donors are least likely to be motivated by incentives, gifts, or tax deductions.
With donors and supporters now engaging with your cause and fundraising in a virtual world, it’s important to keep these motivators in mind as you find new find ways to connect online and bring your mission to life. How can you keep your mission and impact at the center, while trying to recreate an easy giving experience to engage and inspire supporters?
Driving social giving through virtual events and campaigns
While you may be temporarily limited from in-person gatherings and on-the-ground fundraising opportunities, there’s immense opportunity to tap into social connections with virtual fundraising. Whether you’re moving an in-person event virtual or launching an online giving campaign, the new power of philanthropy lies in your ability to fully harness supporters’ social networks and amplify your efforts through connected fundraising.
Socially connected fundraising starts with promotion and campaign messaging.
- Identify ambassadors, your most loyal supporters, volunteers, donors and staff, to help spread the word about your virtual event or campaign.
- Arm ambassadors with social media toolkits and message templates.
- Motivate supporters to share their personal story and connection to the mission.
Once you have your ambassadors on board, it’s time to unleash the power of virtual and online fundraising through social networks. Your online fundraising event or campaign site should create opportunities for community building and peer-to-peer social engagement. How that exactly looks should be influenced by your supporter community and mission. That could mean creating a gallery of photos and videos from supporters to bring your mission and impact to life or taking it a step further to create a virtual opportunity for community interaction.
PS 150 (a NYC district school) in Manhattan did just that, when they made the quick decision to move to a virtual gala inviting parents, students, and staff to join a Zoom video stream. Families participated in the virtual fundraiser together—emphasizing community, fundraising, and authentic collective impact that helped raise more than 105 percent of their original fundraising goal.
There are some great opportunities to get creative and find new ways to fundraise and leverage social connections. Take the time to reexamine your fundraising channel to incorporate online and virtual campaigns that are a necessity during this time of social distancing.
The key is to remember the unique motivators for Social Donors when building these virtual giving experiences: creating a positive and easy donation process, keeping the mission and impact at the center, and infusing some fun!