Social Media is not for fundraising

I’m not making this up. This is a direct quote from Elmer Sotto – director of growth for Facebook Canada.

According to a story in Civil Society, Mr. Sotto is quoted at the International Fundraising Congress in the Netherlands as saying (about Facebook): “This is not simply a tool for fundraising. If you think it is you’ve missed the whole thing. It’s a  means to build a relationship.”


Too many nonprofits are jumping into social media without a plan. That doesn’t mean they jump in without expectations. They have plenty of those. They see Facebook – and other social media platforms – as yet another way to increase donations.

Of course, nonprofits are not alone in this. Too many businesses see Facebook and the like as just another way to make the cash register ring.

Buzz (that is not the sound of a cash register)

As Mr. Sotto says: “Facebook allows you to build a relationship over time with a lot of people.”

Over time. Slow growth. Meaningful relations that eventually sprout into contributions or purchases.

The Internet has decreased our attention span to the point that anything short of instant gratification is considered a failure.

That’s fine for your personal social media relationships. If your friend is boring you can ignore him and life goes on. A nonprofit or business doesn’t have that luxury.

Why? Because your friend already has a relationship with you. They are your friend for a reason. A brand has to build before it can bore.

The worst thing a nonprofit or business can do as they build their social media presence is to start by asking about ROI. That is the definition of instant gratification. Set up the Facebook page, start tweeting and watch the dollars to start flowing in. Of course, when a month has passed and there is no discernable increase in donations they call the campaign a failure. This is absurd.

If you are a nonprofit you have a story to tell. You stand for something. Your mission is about making a difference.

THAT is what engages people. The deeper you go in sharing your stories the more likely you are to develop an interested and caring following.

According to Mr. Sotto your goal is to build as many ‘likes’ as you can. That increases your social network (what a concept).

Start thinking of your social media as a way to build a community around your mission. Make them care. Make them feel. Building a relationship involves making an emotional connection. It is personal and meaningful.

Only after you forge the relationship can you leverage that emotion into action.

Your thoughts?

Steve Allan

Social Media Specialist



About Steve Allan

I am a Social Media specialist uniquely focused on the management, messaging and marketing of social media platforms for non-profits and small businesses.
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2 Responses to Social Media is not for fundraising

  1. Karen Thomas says:

    I’d have to disagree. One of my favorite stories of this year was in Social Media Examiner:

    And there are many more like Danny and his 12for12k project. Epic Change, Twestival, Global Patriot – these are just some.

    I always smile when I see statements about social media not being for fundraising. These people are out there silently proving otherwise every day.

    • smthree says:

      Thanks for the comment, Karen. My point is not that you shouldn’t – or can’t – use social media for fundraising. Rather, that fundraising should not be your lead effort on these platforms. Social media is not direct marketing. The examples you cite show the potential social media has for fundraising. However, did any of those organizations launch their social media efforts by starting with the ‘ask’? They must have built some level of involvement before they set up their campaign. Or, am I missing the point entirely?

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