Matthew Rayburn

QUICK SHOT: 3 Pro-Tips to Being Authentic on Social Media

Authenticity sells. But authenticity online can be a tightrope as a nonprofit.

You need to raise funds to support your programs, services and outreach. But at the same time, you don’t want your donors to feel you’re using any tricks on social media in order to get their money. And in our marketing-saturated modern life, they know when they’re being manipulated.

So how can your organization be authentic on social media? Authenticity might be a little like humility: as soon as you feel you’re humble, you’re probably not anymore. However, there are several best practices that will show your online supporters that you’re the honest, worthy and authentic organization that you are.

Pro-Tip #1: Don’t always “ask”… but do ask!

Some organizations I follow on social media ONLY post requests for donations. Others post almost everything they do, but never ask for money. Neither of these extreme strategies is very effective.

A best practice I recommend is to post 20 organic non-donation posts for every monetary ask. I know many Development Directors feel like this is excessive. It also might not feel authentic when you have this “formula” of 20:1 in mind.

But your supporters will soon get tired of you if every post asks them for money. They’ll also drift away if they don’t have a way to take part in helping others by supporting your work. And remember: only a small percentage of posts are actually seen in donors’ feeds. Your donors want to feel like they are a partner with you. So don’t hesitate to post.

Pro-Tip #2: Celebrate your victories, but acknowledge your losses

Everyone loves to celebrate when things go right. However, your donors know that things aren’t always perfect. Being authentic means it’s not just OK, but necessary to share your needs and show some vulnerability in your social media posts.

When appropriate, invite your supporters into your struggles and frustration. It might be scary to be open, but it is impossible to be authentic if you are not. Share your wins and losses with your donors – being honest is a great way to create deeper connections and gives your donors another opportunity to partner with your work.

Pro-Tip #3: Keep the focus on your mission

Too often, a nonprofit’s feed is all about the “what” and never about the “why.” But your organization isn’t just a group of random good events linked together. It’s built around a purpose and a specific mission.

Every social media post should link your supporters back to that mission. For example, it’s great that the Boy Scouts volunteered, but how does their work fulfill their mission? It’s great that your local Rotary club made a donation, but how does that lead to changed lives? While you may know it, you need to state it explicitly in your post copy so your donors make that connection too!

Bottom line: When you’re intentional and smart, you can build strong online relationships with your donors over social media that can sustain your organization for years to come.

Check out last week’s Quick Shot: “What’s in a Name?” >>

  • Matthew Rayburn

    Matthew Rayburn, Strategist/Senior Account Director

    For 20 years, Matthew’s work on both the agency and nonprofit side to bring faith-based solutions to issues of homelessness, poverty and addiction. Prior to joining BDI, he was an Account Manager at an agency serving nonprofits and provided leadership at Christian nonprofits, including as Executive Director of Family Promise of San Gabriel Valley, Director of People Assisting the Homeless and Development Director at The Jonah Project. In these roles, Matthew spearheaded fundraising efforts to increase housing, as well as coordinated a highly-successful shelter network of faith communities in the greater Los Angeles area.

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