Implementing a social communication strategy online can be difficult when faced with a limited amount of funds in the piggy bank. So we’re offering a helping hand and providing a short guide that preserves our wallets, and at the same time improves communication strategy visibility, engagement and fundraising efforts.

Know Your Audience – Step #1

It’s important to know every detail about the community we’re addressing. Where do they live? How old are they? What are their hobbies? Where do they shop for their Sunday roast ingredients? Profiling is essential when tailoring content for the communication strategy.

For example, WWF understood that the younger generation need to be educated on wildlife and environmental concerns now as they are the face of the future. They knew this audience’s habits and preferred social platform and consequently used SnapChat as inspiration to form and distribute their message, which illustrated how quickly endangered species can vanish from existence.

Build strategic partnerships – Step #2

Friends help each other out, so it’s a good idea to make industry friends. Contact bloggers, journalists and other influencers with a similar audience and encourage them to spread the message.

Why not ask celebrities to lend their influential voices? PETA is a pro at celeb endorsement. They have featured the likes of Naomi Campbell and Alexandra Burke in their birthday suits stating “I’d rather go naked than wear fur”.

Larger companies are keen to give back to society through Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) efforts, which often involves charitable partnerships. This is a win win situation for both sides. We can piggyback on their social following and rake in the benefits of their influence, and they can build an image of community spirit around their brand.

When building a strategic partnership, we must make sure the company/ celebrity’s personality and values are aligned with our brand. That way we know their audience are attracted to similar causes’ we embody and thus represent warm fundraising leads. Online monitoring tools can also be very efficient in improving visibility of our communication strategy as they allow us to find these kind of influencers so we can effectively insert ourselves into the conversation.

Create buzz around your cause –  Step #3

We don’t always need to have deep pockets to shake up the social sphere and create buzz around campaigns. Unique, inventive and untraditional ideas go a long way (remember the Ice Bucket Challenge?). Messages with funny or shocking content are often shared at a much higher rate as they have caused emotional reactions amongst the audience.

Unicef Sweden shocked the world in 2013 by launching its ‘Likes Do Not Save Lives’ campaign, emphasising that whilst social media is a great way to raise awareness it’s essential that involvement doesn’t stop at the thumbs up button. This highlights the importance of explicit calls to action within communication strategy.

It goes without saying that the more (targeted) platforms we use to promote the cause, the larger buzz we can create. Research by Blackbaud found that integrating social media tools increased fundraising by as much as 40%. We must plan our communication strategy around the benefits of each channel and the different impact they can have on fundraising. For example, they say a picture is worth a thousand words; in that case a YouTube video is worth millions! Video is a great medium to tell a story, allowing us to better describe our mission.

Reward Commitment – Step #4

It’s important to recognise the longed-for reactions that arouse the audience’s commitment! People often donate to make themselves feel better, whether it’s knowing we’re helping to find a cure or minimising suffering, donating gives us a warm fuzzy feeling. Allowing people to easily share the fact they have donated is a great way to selflessly let their friends know that they are a good person. It also creates a ‘social giving loop.’ JustGiving reported an extra £30,000 was donated during the #nomakeupselfie trend, purely from people clicking JustGiving’s share buttons.

And finally, everybody likes to be thanked for a good deed they have done, so that’s reason enough.  Thanking the audience for donations helps to personify our brand, and it’s just good manners.