Your agency can use Twitter to engage donors and supporters

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By Rose Reinert
Guest blogger
rose1I think the morning after the “big game” is a great time to unwrap the impact of utilizing Twitter. It was hard to watch the game without seeing a ton of hashtags encouraging viewers to follow the excitement or learn more about a company or product by following it on Twitter. Lon Safko, author of The Social Media writes about “microblogging” in chapter 13, which begs the question: “What is microblogging and what does it have to do with Twitter?
Simply stated, microblogging can be described as the act of sending a text message or sharing videos, photos, or  audio. It allows you to make friends, give and receive advice, and most of all, get up to the minute news. Of course, the most familiar microblogging tool is Twitter, which is something your non-profit should be using.
There are many benefits to Twitter, but to maximize those benefits it is important to first cultivate a strong community of supporters, and even more importantly, remain relevant. Twitter is not meant to set and forget. You need to provide real-time updates (e.g.  photos, videos and engaging questions are all great ways to attract attention).
Another way to utilize Twitter is as a fundraising tool. There are countless stories of successful fundraising through the power of Twitter. In my local community, Community Crisis Center, a domestic violence shelter raised over $150,000 in two weeks using Twitter and social media. This was unheard of in our community, but is possible with the right formula.
As I took a deeper dive into other organizations that have successfully raised funds utilizing Twitter, I stumbled on Twestival. Twestival describes themselves as, “The largest grassroots social media fundraising initiative in the world.
twestivalHow does Twestival work?
Twestival is a movement that uses social media for social good by connecting communities offline on a single day to highlight a great cause. All local events are organized 100% by volunteers and 100% of the ticket sales and donations go directly to local non-profits who organizers identified as having an incredible impact.
What I loved about this group was that: 1) a volunteer had to register an organization . . .  a non-profit could not register themselves and 2) you receive a mentor to help make your “event” a success. This is a great way to gather support for your organization, but you need to  be careful. More likely than not, supporters will not be sustainable for the long term (e.g. donor turnover is very high among people who contribute to your twestival). However, it is possible these individuals might continue to follow you on Twitter or Facebook and become loyal investors if you work hard at engaging them.
If you plan on adding Twitter as one of your agency’s fundraising strategies, like any effort, it must be intentional, strategic and consistent. Maximize your efforts by highlighting volunteers, special events, and educating about your mission and how you are meeting your mission.
How have you used Twitter to engage donors or share your mission? Please share your experiences with raising money utilizing social media or specifically Twitter.
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