How to get your charity’s supporters doing more

Don’t underestimate your charity’s most valuable asset – your supporters can be heroes for your cause thanks to the rise of easily accessible digital tools.

Chloe Green | 24th Aug 18
Image shows two charity supporters running a marathon dressed as superheros. Your supporters can be heroes for your charity thanks to the rise of easily accessible digital tools.

Far from being passive consumers of the Web, today’s social media-centred digital users are active participants, and they’re creating and sharing far more than ever before.

‘User generated content’ is starting to be recognised as a powerful marketing tool, with today’s users craving deeper, more authentic connections with the brands and organisations they meet online – as these survey results show.

More charities are waking up to the fact that fundraising should be a two-way relationship, with supporters behind the steeling wheel of their own campaigns and stories – whether they are event participants, volunteers, or just advocates. Famous examples such as the ALS ice bucket challenge and #nomakeupselfie have shown that supporters can be a powerful voice to your charity – sometimes with little or no prompting from the charity itself.

Here are some ideas to empower your tribe of supporters and volunteers to do more for your charity, and turn your comumunity into heroes for your cause:


Get your supporters to start their own Facebook fundraisers

Facebook’s been very vocal recently about its change of ‘newsfeed’ algorithm that is supposed to favour users’ content over that of brands. As Lightful’s Vinay Nair points out, what this means in practice is that charities will now have to work harder to get their communities more active on the platform if they want to be seen, instead of simply pushing out fundraising campaigns or advertisements.

Screenshot from Facebook's Charitable Giving Tools

Luckily, Facebook launched its Charitable Giving Tools to the UK last year, which charities can sign up to for free. Charities can now take advantage of a feature where Facebook users can set up and share their own fundraisers and are prompted to start one on their birthday for a charity of their choice. If done right, organic fundraising, where users choose to raise money for their chosen charity of their own accord, can be a strong generator of income for some charities – as Michi MacLennan at the Air Ambulance Service told us.

Here’s a great article from Classy on how you can encourage your supporters to donate their birthdays.


Make the most of Facebook Groups

Another Facebook feature worth exploring is Groups – over on the brilliant JustGiving blog, Emma Humphrey at St Catherine’s Hospice talks about how her charity utilises Groups for their challenge fundraisers.

Once set up, Facebook Groups require little management by the charity and like-minded group members can drum up support, fundraising and donations – all off the back of their own passion for the charity.

“Aside from replying to the odd query and posting any event updates that we need to share from St Catherine’s, we really take a back seat with the groups,” says Humphrey.

“We allow our fundraisers to run the page themselves, swapping ideas and tips and encouraging each other to share fundraising inspiration to motivate the whole group.”


Enable supporters to make their own videos

If you want to make an impact online, video is the medium to do it in: a Tweet with a video in it is six times more likely to be retweeted than just an image, and research on 880 million Facebook posts in 2017 found that video posts have the highest average engagement and twice the level of engagement of other post types on average. YouTube is now the second-largest search engine after its parent Google, with 400 hours of footage uploaded every minute.

And since just about everyone these days carries a HD quality camera in their pocket, it’s easier than ever for supporters to create high quality video of their fundraising challenges and events, and service users and beneficiaries to start telling their stories with film.

Screenshot from YouTube video of Parkinsons UK supporters summiting Mt. Kilimanjaro.
Image Credit: Parkinsons UK

YouTube’s own website features a downloadable toolkit with best practice tips on encouraging supporters to make fundraising videos for your organisation, as well as how registered charities can partner with video creators to add a ‘donation card’ to point viewers straight to their donation page.

Other things you can do around video include coming up with your own viral video challenges, or publishing your own fundraising video toolkit on your website that gives people ideas and instructions on what to film, how to tell their story and what to post on social media when doing events and fundraising challenges – the key is making it as easy as possible for anyone to get stuck in. Speaking of toolkits, UK charity Mind has done a good job of guiding fundraisers to promote their cause online with this well executed social media guidelines page.

Image credit: Anthony Nolan

With some creativity, user-generated material can give great access to compelling real-life stories when it comes to volunteers, those out on the front lines of your charity, and the people that use your charity’s services – there are some great examples here from Magneto Films. Another ingenious campaign was Parkinsons UK’s #UniteForParkinsons, which gathered videos from people around the world with Parkinson’s to give an authetic and powerful insight into their lives.


Get people excited about #GivingTuesday

On 27th November last year, $274 million was raised online in 24 hours from over two million donations through global online movement #GivingTuesday.

Set up by the Charities Aid Foundation, hundreds of charities sign up to take part in the movement each year, which sees users on Twitter and other social media platforms choose to support any charity they want in any way they feel. Its enormous success is due to the fact that it empowers supporters with free reign to take the campaign in any direction they choose.

Image credit: Marie Curie

CAF provides plenty of resources for charities wanting to sign up, get involved and get people supporting their charity, and it’s also worth knowing that Facebook matches up to £200,000 in donations made to UK charities via the platform on Giving Tuesday.


Get people to champion your story on Instagram

If you haven’t taken the leap into Instagram yet, it could be time – the platform hit 1 billion monthly active users this June, making it the fastest growing social network (while Facebook has a far greater number of users, the number of new users has stagnated).

Running Instagram competitions are a great way to get people involved in your cause, as are jumping on charity-related hashtags such as #CharityTuesday or #VolunteersWeek.

As Chris Hosker, Social Media Manager for the Children’s Society, explains in his blog post for JustGiving, the new ‘Stories’ feature can be an eye-catching and creative way of, well, telling a story. Are your supporters or volunteers running an event? Get them to make a Story about it that links to your charity’s website, using photos from the day, just as you might live Tweet from an event. Or you could use the feature to tell a ‘day in the life’ for a service user, similarly to the Parkinsons UK YouTube video mentioned above.

Image credit: @mindcharity, Instagram

UK mental health charity Mind has really embraced Stories by allowing their supporter to takeover the account and post their own content as they undertake a fundraising challenge. It might seem like a brave move, but letting your supporters get in on the action shows real appreciation for the people that make your charity what it is, and bring a new angle to the things they’re already doing for your charity.


Got more ideas to get people evangelising your cause online? Leave your view in the comment section below, or Tweet us @CharityDigiNews