Getting Board Buy-In for Social Fundraising

As a fundraising director, you’re familiar with the process of getting board buy-in on your multi-year campaigns, one-off fundraisers, and overall development calendar. Board members typically approve any significant funding or strategy changes that can impact your organization’s ability to accomplish its mission.

There are a variety of obstacles that can pop up when trying to secure this buy-in, from technical challenges in virtual meetings to board members who didn’t review the proposal beforehand. However, the biggest obstacle to securing buy-in is a board that doesn’t quite understand or even trust the fundraising idea you’re proposing— and unfortunately, that’s pretty common when diving into the world of social fundraising.

There are a variety of reasons why your board or organizational leadership may distrust social fundraising. It could be their own unfamiliarity with social fundraising, the low amount of data available on social supporters, suspicions about it being an impersonal fundraising method, or even confusion about what works and what doesn’t on the platforms. You should also be cautious of unrealistic expectations setting in.

However, the possibilities are endless if you can secure your board’s investment. It’s up to you to make the argument for social fundraising and alleviate your board’s concerns. In this guide, we’ll cover the following four arguments in favor of investing money, staff time, and other resources in social fundraising:

When proposing a new fundraising channel to your board members with the goal of securing funding and other resources to support it, you’ll want to follow general board meeting best practices. For example, ensure the proposal is added to the board meeting agenda and shared with members well in advance of the meeting itself, and leave ample time for questions.

But you’ll need to back these best practices up with a solid argument for investing in social fundraising. Your board can be your biggest cheerleader, so spend the time to build the best case! Let’s dive in.

Social fundraising is an additive fundraising method.

Board members are charged with overseeing your organization’s finances. Therefore, any risks to your organization’s financial stability will throw up a major red flag in your board members’ eyes. Social fundraising can raise this red flag. Your board may worry that this fundraising method— which generally raises smaller donations when compared to other fundraising methods such as events or donation appeals— will draw supporters away from your other campaigns throughout the year.

However, we’ve found that in practice, social fundraising functions as an additive fundraising channel rather than a replacement. Here’s why:

  1. Social fundraising can take place year-round, alongside your main fundraising efforts. You don’t need to cancel any major campaigns or move fundraisers around in your schedule to fit in a social fundraiser. You can simply share the steps of how to create a Facebook fundraiser with your supporters, and they’ll take the reins from there! In fact, you may already have some supporters conducting their own Facebook birthday fundraisers throughout the year without any intervention from your team.
  2. Most of your social fundraising supporters are likely to be new to your organization. The American Cancer Society chose to incorporate Facebook Challenges into its fundraising calendar, and was able to acquire 443,078 leads for future engagement. Even more impressive was that over 95% of those leads were new to the nonprofit— as in, entirely new supporters to engage with! This means that rather than drawing current supporters away from its other fundraising efforts. ACS was simply bringing an entirely new audience into the fold.

The biggest challenge to securing these benefits is a lack of awareness in your community. This is why we recommend fully opting into social fundraising and investing in tools to spread the word across your supporter base.

It can take a minimal initial investment of time and financial resources when compared to other strategies.

There are two sides to your organization’s finances— incoming revenue and outgoing costs. We discussed how board members want to protect incoming revenue in the last section, so let’s cover the cost aspect now.

Board members are going to be apprehensive about investing significant funds into social fundraising, which can come with the following costs:

  1. Staff Time: This includes the time it takes to formulate a social media strategy, create marketing collateral (graphics, post language, etc.), make any posts, and engage with your supporters on the platforms (i.e. responding to comments and conducting one-on-one conversational messaging).
  2. Advertisements: To connect with current and prospective supporters, you’ll likely want to use paid social ads to spread the word about your social fundraising campaigns. The cost of the ads will depend on a number of factors, such as how long you want the campaigns to run for, how far-reaching you want the ads to be, and how often you want them shown to supporters.

While these can be significant costs for your organization, social fundraising often ends up being less costly than other fundraising efforts such as events. With an event, you’ll still be spending money on advertisements and dedicating staff time to the effort. However, you’ll also have additional costs such as:

  • Venue space
  • Physical marketing collateral (mailers, signs, etc.)
  • Software fees (purchasing event registration software, auction management software, online donation software, etc.)

Social fundraising doesn’t involve any of these costs. In fact, according to GoodUnited’s guide to Facebook fundraiser fees, there are zero processing fees for charitable fundraisers held on the platform. Check out the graphic below to see the comparison between Facebook fees and other popular online fundraising software:

Here's a comparison chart of Facebook's fundraising fees and other platforms' fees.

The lack of processing or administrative fees makes social fundraising on Facebook a risk-free endeavor for your organization. You can experiment with the channel on a small scale and test the waters before investing any capital into it.

Additionally, there are ways that you can reduce the costs of social fundraising. For example, you can partner with a provider of mission-driven social fundraising solutions to automate some of your efforts on the platforms— including running ad campaigns, thanking supporters who start fundraisers on your behalf, and holding two-way conversations with supporters.

The public perception of social fundraising is on the rise.

Acting as the “face” of your organization, board members are frequently asked to speak at events and maintain your organization’s positive public perception. In light of this, your members will understandably be hesitant to invest in any endeavors that can put that reputation at risk. For some organizations, it may seem like social fundraising falls into that category.

When social fundraising first appeared, so did criticisms of the channel. The main concerns revolved around:

  • The lack of access to supporter and donor data due to the social media network’s privacy policies.
  • A worry that it’s a “shallow” method of connecting with supporters that doesn’t result in relationships that last.
  • General concern and confusion around how donations are collected and transferred to the organization.

It’s always valid when organizations and supporters alike have concerns about new methods of fundraising. However, social fundraising is becoming more and more normalized by the day. In fact, the team at re:Charity listed Facebook as one of the top livestreaming fundraising tools for mission-driven organizations in its comprehensive listing!

The public perception of social fundraising is improving, with the following observations becoming clear:

  1. Supporters like the ability to raise funds publicly and ask their peers for support. The desire to be publicly philanthropic is a strong motivating factor for many donors, and social fundraising makes it easier than ever.
  2. There are a variety of ways to build strong relationships with social supporters. For example, with Facebook Messenger, you can chat one-on-one with supporters. And, with Facebook groups, you can create online communities for supporters to engage with one another.

Additionally, major organizations such as the American Cancer Society, Susan G. Komen, and Stop Soldier Suicide have all actively incorporated social fundraising into their efforts. It shouldn’t be surprising when small and mid-sized organizations soon follow suit.

Social fundraising has endless potential.

Last but certainly not least— social fundraising is neither time- nor place-bound. With virtual P2P fundraisers such as Facebook Challenges, social fundraising is redefining “community” to extend well beyond geographic boundaries.

When you don’t place boundaries on where or when your supporters can give, they’ll be eager to do so much more readily. Not only will you see an increase in support from those located near your headquarters, but you will have the potential to connect with individuals around the world.

As we discussed in the past section, these around-the-world connections can be rewarding in the long term for both your supporters and your organization alike. You can use Facebook groups to empower geographically-spread supporters to connect with one another and bond over their shared interest in your cause. And you can use Messenger to have a one-on-one conversation with individuals that you’d never be able to “speak” with otherwise.

With these four arguments, you’ll both address board members’ greatest concerns (funding, costs, and public perception) while appealing to what interests them most (elevating your organization). Once you’ve made your case, you just need to wait for the vote!

When preparing for these conversations, we recommend researching social fundraising solutions providers that can help your organization scale up operations efficiently. That way, once board members have agreed that social fundraising is a strong investment, you’ll already have the next steps in place to dive in. Good luck!

Cassie Losquadro is a Solutions Executive at GoodUnited. Author: Cassie Losquadro

Solutions Executive at GoodUnited

Cassie Losquadro is a sales leader at GoodUnited, the social giving solution. Cassie has spent the last 5 years in the fundraising technology space. Cassie is energized by working with nonprofit leaders and changemakers who are to a person, saving the world through their initiatives. Hailing from Rhode Island, Cassie lives and works from Charleston, SC with her husband, two children, and a rescue pup Bella. Connect with Cassie on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/cassiefaella/