posted September 15, 2015

Social Media: Is Your Nonprofit Utilizing It to Its Fullest?

by Joshua Jumper, CPA, Audit Manager

In July and August 2014, the ALS Association raised more than $115 million dollars through its “Ice Bucket Challenge.” By utilizing social media and going “viral”, the Association had its donation campaign be more successful than anyone could have ever anticipated. They have set the bar unrealistically high for all other nonprofits. If you are a local nonprofit with one location, a small staff, or limited resources, is replicating that phenomenon realistic? Probably not; however, no matter the size of your organization, you can take some simple steps to increase your donations from social media.

Your nonprofit probably already has some form of social media presence to increase awareness of your organization. Ensuring only specific individuals in your organization have the access to update social media is a cornerstone of any successful online presence. You give trust to that individual to be the “voice” of your organization when a tweet is sent, a Facebook post is made, or a YouTube video is uploaded. It is also important to identify the individuals best equipped to handle this duty, which may mean the younger generation employees instead of those with most experience in your organization.

A critical building block to your online presence is making the online donation process as easy as possible. Facebook and YouTube already allow donations directly through their platform, with rumors that Twitter will be next. This allows a person to donate without having to click a link and go to the nonprofit’s website first. With the nonprofit industry online donation abandonment rate ranging from 50-70%, keeping the online donation process as uninterrupted as possible is key. Various reports also show that for every additional website that must be navigated by a potential donor, the loss rate is approximately 60%.

Keep in mind though that investing significant time and resources into social media should come with an economic benefit. Nonprofits analyze individual fundraising events to ensure they are producing net profit – so why would you not do the same with your investment in social media? Setting up direct donations through social media websites comes with a cost and can be more expensive than donations submitted through your organization’s website. Therefore, it is crucial to understand your potential donor base and the potential effectiveness of this type of donation process.

Overall, fundraising programs going “viral” only happens to a few organizations and should not be relied upon by any nonprofit. Donor funds are not increased simply by monitoring Twitter hashtags. But that does not mean your organization should not be paying attention to what is “trending” on social media to stay on top of the changing landscape, streamline the donation process when possible, and seize any opportunities when they arise.

The content of these pages is for general information purposes only and does not constitute advice. Heinfeld, Meech & Co., P.C. tries to provide content that is true and accurate as of the date of writing; however, we give no assurance or warranty regarding the accuracy, timeliness, or applicability of any of the contents.