How Charities Can Engage Effectively With People Online

I’ve worked with many charities, and when it comes to social media, the story is very often the same…

They know that having an effective online presence is a valuable asset, but when their job is to change lives and make a difference in the world, planning tweets hardly makes it to the top of their priority list.

I get it, I really do. Time is limited in any business, and when you don’t even know where to start, possessing effective social media can feel like a distant dream. So, let me walk you through 3 things to consider if you’re a charity looking to grow and develop an effective online presence.

INSTIL PASSION BEFORE PUSHING THE PURPOSE

Regardless of the purpose of your social media, giving somebody a passion for what you do is fundamental. Before people will consider donating or volunteering, you first need to instil within them a heart for your cause.

If there’s one thing which I’ve known to effectively share vision and passion, it’s storytelling, and social media is made for just that. Whether it’s the outcome of a recent project you’ve worked on, or the tale of how your charity came to be, people connect with stories.

Imagine a charity who wants to use social media to increase donations, and all they post is links to their JustGiving page and statistics about where donated money will go. It’s just not going to be effective. Why? Because people are being given an action, before being exposed to any content which educates them on what the charity does or why they do it.

Whatever the action is that you’re willing people to do, e.g.- donate to your charity, sign up as a volunteer etc, first consider how you can use social media to grow their passion for what you do. I can promise that if people are already educated and inspired, the posts which encourage action will be far more effective.

REFINE THE OPTIONS FOR HOW PEOPLE CAN ENGAGE WITH YOU

This one is hopefully going to help you breathe a sigh of relief, because let me tell you this, your social media does not need to simultaneously achieve every target of your charity.

What do I mean here? Well, if you look at your online presence, and feel disappointed because it isn’t ticking all of the boxes of raising awareness, promoting fundraisers, generating donations and inspiring volunteers - you’re looking at it wrong. The more elements you want your social media to incorporate, the more difficult you’re making it for yourself, and also the more confusing you’re making it for potential supporters.

My advice would be to choose one or two elements you'd like your online presence to focus on and re-define what an effective social media would look like.

Not only will this help to save you time, but you’re also going to give people a clearer message of how they can engage with what you do. The reality is, people do want to support charities, but if you’re paralysing them with 5+ options as to how they can get involved, they’re most likely going to walk away.

So take a look at the various objectives you’re incorporating (or attempting to incorporate) into your social media and consider how you could become both more efficient and effective by refining the messages you're promoting.

REMEMBER WHY THEY SUPPORT YOU

I recently sat down with a charity founder and we discussed their problems with using social media. They wanted to use it to increase individual donations, but felt that their content wasn't quite hitting the spot and needed some guidance on the best way to approach content creation.

What I noticed was that the majority of their current donors chose to support them due to a personal connection with their family, but their social media presence was very corporate and didn’t engage with that personal-aspect.

It was then that I realised the common problem that charities continue to come up against when promoting themselves online.

They forget WHY people support them. 

Make sense? It’s simple really.

When using social media to promote and increase support of your charity, consider why your current supporters have chosen to engage with you, and create content to match.

I’ve written a guide which walks you through the process of understanding your ideal client and how to target them online, you may find it helpful! Click here to grab it.

WHERE TO GO FROM HERE

I’m in the process of writing a course covering the fundamentals of effective digital marketing, due to launch January 2018. I’m offering a 25% discount to any charity who books in before the end of this year, so get in touch if you think this might be right for you!