Can We Truly Steward Donors on Facebook? | npENGAGE

Can We Truly Steward Donors on Facebook?

By on Jul 28, 2011

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I have been wrestling with this question lately – Can we truly steward donors on Facebook? 

Nothing replaces high touch communications like picking up a phone, writing a hand-written note, or more importantly face-to-face interaction.  But in a world of crazy schedules, both personally and professionally, I think we can safely say that many of our donors, even some of our best donors, are pretty tech savvy and probably pretty busy people.  They want quick and easy ways to find information on the things that matter most to them, which may include your non-profit and how you are utilizing the gifts that they give or may want to give now or in the future.  I wish to focus and think about ways we can utilize Facebook to engage and in a way steward at least our smaller annual donors.  Keep in mind that age may be a factor here, as older donors and constituents very generally speaking don’t spend hours on-line like younger donors might.  And I am not suggesting that you discontinue your other methods of stewardship like mail, email, and phone, but that you can increase your level of stewardship on a mass level within your Facebook page.  I am also hearing more and more that future generations of donors will only know Facebook as their number one way to communicate (not even email will be a tool that they use!), so you cannot dismiss the $25 dollars here and there that they are giving to you now as a young person who just landed their first job, so be mindful that they will want to receive most of their information in this social media mega tool.

Most non-profits these days do have a strong and vital Facebook presence and I do feel that as an essential part of your presence in this tool that your development or advancement office must update, on a daily basis if possible, your Facebook page with information on what is happening within the organization in relation to the gifts your receive from your donors.  This may feel like a tall order, and I’m absolutely not stating you update them on every gift, but keeping your Facebook fans apprised, for example, of your campaign goals – whether they be annual fund drives or major campaigns – is going to be a very important part of your stewardship program if it isn’t already.  Another example is that if a donor makes a significant gift, a great use of Facebook is to announce that gift on Facebook and how you will utilize that gift to help further your organization’s mission and goals.  Specific short stories about how gifts, even small gifts, are helping your non-profit achieve various goals, is truly how your donors relate to your organization.

If a donor sends in a small annual donation on a particular day, asking them in short order either that very same day or the next day to provide a sentence or two as to why they feel it is important to support your organization’s needs, is an effective and fast way to have a daily dialogue with your Facebook constituents on a global basis.  A couple examples here of what you could post on your Wall:

  • A short story about how a smaller gift from a younger alumnus who landed his or her first job and wants to acknowledge their education in the success of landing this position and simply give back to their alma mater as a “thank you”.
  • A sentence or two about a 30-something single mom who wants to help out her local food shelf by giving a gift since her busy professional and personal schedules make it difficult to volunteer.
  • A child gives a portion of his allowance to an animal shelter because he just lost the family dog to cancer and feels for homeless animals.  This gift of a child’s allowance may be a small gift, but if others read this and see that even a child wants to make a difference, maybe they will want to do so too.

The goal is to find messages that evoke emotion, thus using Facebook to provide a way for your non-profit to steward your donors and even cultivate new ones.  Since Facebook is becoming the manner in which current and future generations not only communicate but also state opinions and beliefs, why not put as much of the human factor into our wall postings?  One other quick observation is that I’m noticing a few non-profits posting on their websites short stories, like I mentioned above, and then providing links to their Facebook page related to this same story so that visitors to the website can continue to follow updates on Facebook.

Happy “Facebooking” folks – Not sure if this is a valid word, but the Urban Dictionary acknowledges it, so I do as well.

Carol Belair is a consultant for Target Analytics. You may reach her at carol.belair@blackbaud.com.

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