You can raise funds in many ways, but in recent years social media has become a popular and effective way to share campaigns with friends and family—especially when it’s a crowdfunding campaign for a personal cause.
Even if you use social media every day, you might have some hesitations about sharing a campaign on your own social media accounts. You might have privacy concerns, or you may be uncomfortable sharing the campaign due to its nature.
On the other hand, you might have raised funds exclusively with social media, and now you’d simply like to know about more ways to raise funds. Read on for tips on online fundraising without social media.
Using social media to raise funds—it’s not all or nothing
Before we dive into the many ways to raise funds outside of social media, remember that it isn’t an all-or-nothing situation. There are several ways you can use social media to promote your fundraiser without it being tied to you personally. Consider these options:
Setting up social media profiles
Creating a dedicated Facebook page or Twitter account for your fundraiser allows you to use those platforms much more anonymously. Facebook gives you the option of posting and commenting as the page rather than as yourself. Optionally, you could use this page or account to run paid ad campaigns for your fundraiser or cause.
Use private messages
Even if you choose not to share your campaign on your own personal stream, you can still send the link to select friends and family via private Facebook messages and by tweeting directly to people.
If you’re the beneficiary of the campaign, but want to stay anonymous to maintain your privacy, ignore the advice we normally give about putting the name of the beneficiary in the title of your fundraiser. Come up with a title that doesn’t include your name.
How to share without social media
- Talking to people is very effective. The drawback is how much time it can take to speak to people one at a time. Save time by gathering people together, say, at a party or event, or going to where people are—ideally sympathetic and like minded people.
- If you find the process of asking for donations awkward, take a look at our helpful post How to Ask for Donations.
- Are there any foundations, companies, or wealthy individuals that have a history of supporting related causes? Try setting up a meeting with them or their representatives. Some foundations and businesses will have a designated person who handles such requests. Even if their guidelines prevent them from making a donation to your cause, you can ask them to point you toward other people or organizations who might help.
- When you talk to people, tell them why the cause is so important to you, and why your campaign will make a difference. If it seems appropriate, have photos and a presentation ready to show your audience.
- Practice your in-person pitch or presentation with a friend or family member first. Repeat it until you feel comfortable and your “audience” is convinced that others will make donations.
- We’re all familiar with the forms of in-person fundraising typically aimed at consumers. People raise funds on street corners, door to door, at grocery stores, at events, and more. If any of those methods seem like a good fit for your campaign, consider adding them to your fundraising arsenal. Be sure to follow local regulations that may restrict such activities.
Over the phone
- Working the phone can greatly expand the geography you’re able to reach. For starters, it can be a good way to connect with friends and family who aren’t local.
- A call is less personal than meeting in person, but usually more personal than an email.
- Calling is also a good way to follow up after you’ve sent emails and texts. A call can be the next step toward an in-person meeting, or all you need to secure a donation.
- Some nonprofits rely heavily on telemarketing to raise funds. There’s a “push” approach” that involves both cold calls to random households and “warm” calls to past donors. There’s also a “pull” approach, in which people are directed by other means (such as TV and radio ads) to call and make a donation.
- Apply the above tips for in-person meetings to your phone conversations and other outreach efforts. For example, you’ll need to be able to succinctly explain why your campaign will make a difference.
- The advantage of email is its efficiency and low cost. The disadvantage is how impersonal it is—and therefore, how easy it is for the recipient to dismiss.
- When recipients know it took you no real effort to send out a mass email that reached them, they feel little emotional investment in responding or making a donation.
- Personalize your emails as much as possible. Use a fundraising email template, but customize it to each person in such a way that recipients know you took extra time to speak to them personally.
- Unlike in-person and phone fundraising, email fundraising allows you to very easily track your efforts—keep a master list, track who’s donated and who hasn’t, who’s received the message and who hasn’t, etc. If your campaign is an annual or repeating one, this can come in handy and make each successive campaign more effective.
- Even though it’s technically possible to send group texts, avoid it. All it takes is one out-of-control reply thread to make everyone leave a conversation.
- Send each text message individually to each person, as a one-on-one conversation.
- As with email, use a template for your essential message, but shape it to each individual. It should be clear to recipients that you’re reaching out to them personally.
- Text people only during the hours you would call someone.
- Offer different ways to support you, like sharing your fundraiser over social networks, donating or both. On GoFundMe, each time an organizer shares their campaign, they raise an average of $43.
- Events come in all sizes, from small local gatherings and weekly farmers’ markets to annual events with tens of thousands of attendees. The question is: Which events offer you the best fundraising opportunities?
- It’s hard to beat the effectiveness of meeting people in person. Events give you an opportunity to do that efficiently.
- Another huge advantage of events is the opportunity for exposure of all kinds. The media might be there, which could help your cause score valuable free publicity. Are you prepared to give a newsworthy interview with succinct answers full of soundbites? Practice with friends and family before the event.
- Each person in attendance could photograph or share your campaign—if you give them something fun and shareable. It could be as simple as a fun activity at your table.
- To encourage the spread of your campaign, share your fundraiser URL (and if you are using social media as above, your Facebook page, Twitter handle, or custom hashtag) in your materials.
On bulletin boards
- Old-fashioned bulletin boards (found in cafés, community centers, and other local establishments) can be surprisingly effective—especially if your cause is hyper-local.
- Create a poster with all the key information a potential donor would need to be inspired, take action, and donate.
- If there’s one thing the Internet is great at, it’s bringing together niche communities, which often have their own virtual bulletin boards. Search for communities that might welcome your campaign. Post a link to your fundraising page on the board, or in a comment in a discussion thread. This is key tactic for online fundraising without social media.
Through direct mail
- Direct mail is effective for campaigns reaching out to past supporters, particularly with annual donation drives around the holidays.
- It’s possible to do a small, DIY direct mail campaign. Look at the email recommendations above, and incorporate the relevant tips into your direct mail plan.
- Start by mailing those closest to you, and expanding your circle from there.
- Direct mail is more expensive and less efficient than email, but it can also feel more personal.
- Think about sending a custom postcard using a key image from your campaign, maybe one where you’re in the picture.
- On your postcard or in your letter, give donors the link of your GoFundMe fundraiser, or your mailing address for sending checks.
- See our post How to Write a Fundraising Letter for detailed tips.
With print ads
- Does your neighborhood or town have a local, independent print publication? Call or meet with the publishers. Tell them about your cause and ask if they could possibly donate ad space. They’ll likely be especially open to this idea if your cause benefits the community—for example, with disaster recovery or community improvement projects.
- Another option: If your cause is newsworthy, see if the publication will write an article about it. See the news article tips below.
In a news article
- Local media loves human interest stories. Pitch your story to a local publication, and it might feature an article that directs people to your fundraising page. Make a list of local publications, both online and off, and begin reaching out to them.
- See our post How to Get Local Media to Cover Your Fundraiser for more details.
- Flyers can be posted on bulletin boards (see the bulletin board suggestions above).
- A PDF or other image file of the flyer can also be shared electronically or as an attachment to your emails or texts. Just make sure the design still works (is readable, etc.) on a phone as well as it does in print.
- Approach local businesses to see if they would be willing to leave flyers at the counter or allow you to place them in their windows. Cafés often have areas where flyers can be stacked and made available to customers.
You’re ready to raise funds in a variety of ways
All of these fundraising methods and techniques can be effective with or without social media. Remember, using social media isn’t an all-or-nothing situation—you can still take advantage of social media’s virality without sharing your fundraiser on your own personal stream or account. If you haven’t already, start your free fundraiser on GoFundMe. GoFundMe is a free platform, and we offer a wide range of free resources and tips for successful crowdfunding. Learn about the latest online fundraising trends of 2018.