Why Can’t I Raise Any Money Using Social Media?

Why does it seem that raising money with social media is almost impossible?

We all know that retweets can travel faster than an earthquake and Facebook is basically word-of-mouth on steroids.

But why do most social media fundraisers fall flat? Is it because their Mobile strategy is poor? Do folks not understand Facebook and Twitter? Are nonprofits just asking for money over an over? What is it?

The answer lies in understanding exactly how people use social media, and why these tools even exist in the first place.

Four Ways You Use Social Media

If you think about your own behavior, you’ll realize that you use social media in at least three different ways:

  • Connect – Facebook is a friend network. The reason you visit your Facebook newsfeed is to see what’s up with your friends. Updates from brands are mostly interruptions.
  • Discover – Twitter is where you discover interesting pictures, videos, and blog posts. You’ll also make new friends who might eventually become Facebook friends. YouTube is where you discover awesome videos – either by searching or browsing categories and trending videos.
  • Sharing – Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest, and in fact all social media is about sharing. On Facebook will share with friends, on Twitter and Pinterest you’ll share with the world, and on linked in you’ll share with professional connections.
  • Organizing – You use Facebook Groups and Google Hangouts to get things done. You share common goals – no matter how formal or informal – with the other members.

What these three uses have in common is that they’re all relational. You and your relationship with a person, or you and your relationship with content or a goal.

Facebook is not Amazon.com and Pinterest is not eBay

This isn’t to say that people don’t buy stuff as a result of using social media. If I find an awesome musician on Google Plus, I’ll buy their music. And when I saw a Facebook ad about the tsunami in Japan, I donated money by clicking on the ad.

But I never use social media with the goal of buying something or donating to a nonprofit.

The Ladder of Engagement

If you look at the ladder of engagement Beth and Katie talk about in Measuring the Networked Nonprofit, you’ll learn that you need to take someone’s hand on Facebook or twitter and walk them down a specific path where eventually pull out their credit card.

It means inviting those who naturally have a passion for your cause to join your e-mail list, where they are much more likely to donate to your cause.