Social Media fundraising case study: The perfect storm

Just giving flashFundraising using social media can be like nailing jelly to the wall – even organisations like the Red Cross, with a huge online following, only leverage a tiny percentage of their overall donations via the web.

There are success stories though, and they tend to follow a very set formula:

  • Single, issue or individual-based appeals
  • A good back story
  • A clear picture of what the money will achieve
  • A realistic target
  • A deadline
  • Supported through traditional fundraising and PR channels

When all these things come together, you get the “perfect storm” for online fundraising.

Putting it together

I got a good first-hand example of this recently when one of our clients, horse rescue charity HorseWorld suffered a break-in the night after their annual fund-raising Christmas Carol concert.

The £5000 they had raised was stolen – a huge blow after one of their most important fundraising events of the year.

We’d recently been working with HorseWorld on strategising for social media, and – despite some initial reluctance – they decided this setback was an opportunity to dip their toes into the world of fundraising through social media.

Through their JustGiving page, and promoted via Facebook and Twitter – as well as in the press and through their other fundraising channels, they quickly met the target and at the last count were over £10,ooo to the good – 200% of the original money that was taken.

HorseWorld succeeded because they had – and created – the perfect social media storm:

Single issue: They were only looking to  replace money that was stolen, a very clear aim and a manageable scale.

A good back story: The burglary, especially at Christmas, was an emotive story. They followed up with some great update stories on individual givers to keep the story alive.

A clear picture of what the money will achieve: They equated the money to what it would it would have done for the horses in their care – paid for winter feed

A realistic target: It’s the oldest fundraising trick in the book, set a target that individual givers can see their small donation impacting- the “church roof appeal thermometer” technique.

A deadline: When people feel like they’d like to help, they can still need a sense of urgency to make them act. Setting a target, and  a time to reach it, can do that.

Supported through traditional fundraising routes: One of the key things I always say to fundraisers stepping into social media for the first time is to remember that it is simply a tool to help you do your traditional fundraising job, it’s not a different discipline. HorseWorld were extremely effective in leveraging local media, their supporters and existing donors to promote this campaign.

  1. Very sensible and helpful stuff. Thanks. Do you have any other examples you can share? It’s hard to beat real life examples with this kind of subject matter.

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