Does your charity ever tweet general donations asks? Should your organisation capitalise on it’s healthy social community by reminding them to donate or would formally asking this way alienate them? Here’s some food for thought to help you work out whether tweeting asks is right for you.
Strategically not asking?
This morning’s Social Brands 100 report listed Dog’s Trust as top charity. This tweet appeared as part of the launch event (text: From the beginning @dogstrust decided not to fundraise through social media but to build their community).
Dog’s Trust are masters of using the right content on their social media to grow and engage their community. To date, they have 82,400 followers on Twitter and 517,000 Facebook likes. They generally tweet / post about events, pictures of cute dogs as well as passing on messages from people fundraising for Dog’s Trust. But no direct appeals for donations.
A very quick straw poll of five random charities on Twitter found that in the last four days, none sent a please donate tweet. The only fundraising-related tweets were one justgiving request and one promo for a raffle. These were charities with significant numbers of followers (from 6000 – 719,000).
Asking as part of appeals
Generally, direct asks tend to relate to an appeal and invite a donation via text such as these two examples (from the British Heart Foundation and Epilepsy Action).
The only general, out of the blue ask I found was from Providence Row (again for text giving). Lovely language: “If you’re feeling generous today, please consider donating…. Sending good vibes your way”
Reasons for not tweeting asks
So, tweeting an ask is not common practice, but why? I asked this question on UKFundraising’s LinkedIn group recently and got some interesting thoughts about why it wasn’t done:
- Organisations don’t have a large donor following on Twitter so they believe it wouldn’t generate much income or response.
- They ask their donors/supporters so much by other channels that they don’t want to over ask and ‘switch’ them off
- Other departments other than fundraising control the charities tweets and prefer to use them only for non fundraising uses
- Twitter feels more like a friendly chat over the garden fence and not really the place to make a direct ask. However, it’s a great place to let people know about charities or even a particular appeal (with a link) and they can then decide for themselves if they want to get more involved.
One person said “its important to firstly build up and engage with followers by tweeting on issues of interest to them rather than using it solely for fundraising requests. A constant stream of straight donation requests is likely to lead to people un-following.”
So other than practical internal control of social media, concerns were about turning people off. Is this realistic? Surely people who follow charities through social media know that they rely on donations to survive and will tolerate and could even act on the odd request for money? Are we just being embarrassed about asking? Are we missing a trick by not tapping into this warm audience?
How do YOU feel as a follower?
As a consumer of charity tweets, do you ever see general ‘Please make a donation’ tweets amongst all the others? How do you feel about these? Do they make you want to give? Would you un-follow?
Think about your twitter / social media strategy (if you have one):
- Is your policy based on when you were growing the community rather than now it is established?
- How do you know what your followers want and don’t want?
- Have you asked them what they want? (See this twitter survey from English Heritage)
- Have you tried asking for a donation? (See what happens and use tracking to count donations / page hits / unfollows etc)
- What does success or failure look like? If 1% of your followers donated £5 and 1% un-followed would this be ok?
I wrote this KnowHow NonProfit guide: How to use Twitter for fundraising which has some tips about writing, timing and technical giving ideas.
What do you do?
Do you tweet asks? Does it just not work? What frequency is ok (once a month / once a week?) Please share your views and experiences here.