5 Ways to Use Social Media to Raise Money for Your Cause

Using social media to do social good isn’t a new concept. It’s a great way to get the word out about your cause. It uses what charities
usually have more of (volunteers’ time) while spending little what they usually have the least of (money). But, can you do more than raise awareness with social media? Can you raise actual funds? And more importantly, how? Here are 5 ways some causes have used social media to raise money.

1. Use “Likes,” “Posts” and “Mentions” to earn money. Sure, it’s simple and it may seem like we’ve moved beyond campaigns built around asking people to like, mention, retweet or other simple social media actions, but the fact of the matter is, they still work. 

 Second Harvest Food Bank in California raised $15,000 by asking people to like them on Facebook, mention them in a tweet, post on their page, etc.  Each action had a dollar amount attached to it that would be paid by Massage Envy, who put up the money and challenged people to “earn” it for the charity. Of course, this means you have to find a willing corporate sponsor and convince them that all those social actions will benefit them as well.

2. Create a downloadable product for people to buy. One of the local charities that we work with at The Yaffe Group is the Capuchin Soup Kitchen. For their annual fund raiser dinner, we enlisted the help of a local music studio and a whole bunch of local musicians to create and record a special version of Carol King’s hit song “You’ve Got A Friend.” [youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yhfUVKkQWco&w=560&h=349]

 Copies of the song and video were available for sale, both in CD/CD-ROM version or as a downloadable mp3. You could do this right on the Capuchin website. The video was uploaded to YouTube and various social media tools were used to create a buzz about it locally. They also created a Christmas package to sell online with the CD and a packet of Christmas cards, among other things. 

3. Tap into social media influencers. Whether you are a small local cause or a large international one, tapping into influencers to help spread your word is always a good idea. If you’re a one market cause, figure out who are the local influencers and how they feel about your cause. Start conversations with them to see if the cause is a fit with them. If it is, enlist their help.

The United Nations Office of the Malaria Envoy did this on a large scale in 2010, creating Social Media Envoys. They got influencers such as Arianna Huffington, Anderson Cooper, Alyssa Milano, Guy Kawasaki, Ryan Seacrest, Larry King and others to take a social action (tweet or FB update) once a month. Their combined social reach exceeded 200 million people and resulted in raising over $200 million for purchasing mosquito bed nets. 

4. Microfunding and mobile. Social Media has always been a way to drive a lot of people to donate small amounts. Microfunding has been used very well by Lemonade Detroit, a documentary being funded by offering producer credit to anyone purchasing one frame or more of the film for $1 a frame (there are 24 frames in a second). This effort has spread almost entirely through social media channels – a trailer on YouTube, Twitter & Facebook mentions, sharing via social influencers, speaking at social media events and more. Already they are in the world record books for having the most producers for a single film.

In the last year, disaster relief and the Red Cross have taken microfunding to a whole new level. When the earthquake hit Haiti, the Red Cross set up a number where all you had to do was text to it and you donated $10, which was just added to your phone bill. They raised over $5 Million for the relief effort. It was so successful; they used this ploy again when the Tsunami hit Japan earlier this year. 

5. Crowd funding websites. You don’t have to create your own way of getting funding like the Lemonade movie did. There are actually a good number of sites that exist that are specifically designed to help you raise capital. A combination of these and your social media skills can really help your fund raising efforts. In his blog, Tim Brookes discusses five different crowd funding websites including Kickstarter, JustGiving and PledgeBank. Maybe one of these would be a good fit for your cause.

These are just a few ways you can use social media to raise money for your cause. There are plenty of others out there. What has worked for you? What amazingly fresh ideas have you seen? Please share you stories and experiences using social media for fund raising with us in the comments section below. I’d love to hear your story.


Image Credit: Dominic’s Pics