The Washington Post

How to raise funds through social media channels

Every other week, On Small Business reaches out to a panel of young entrepreneurs for answers to some of the most pressing social media questions facing small business owners. The following responses are provided by the Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only nonprofit organization comprised of young entrepreneurs.


Slava Rubin, founder and chief executive of Indiegogo in New York:

People want to fund people — and the stories behind them. Having a great, authentic pitch video that tells your story is the first step. Keep your campaign to less than two months and offer at least three perks (especially in the $25 and $100 levels). Keep your audience engaged by posting updates every few days and link to other pages to provide social proof. Our data on Indiegogo show that campaigns that follow these tips raise eight times more money than campaigns that don’t. Remember, be proactive and find an audience that cares about your project.

Karen Moon, co-founder and chief executive of StyleMusée in New York:

Successful social fundraising campaigns should educate, empathize with the impacted community, provide donors with gratification and recruit influencers for their committees. Nonprofit organization charity: water does a great job of social fundraising.

To elaborate, creating awareness about a social cause and the impact to society and particular communities is critical. This is just as important as the funds raised in a particular campaign because the awareness developed around a cause has a longer term impact and will create a longer ‘lifetime value’ of a particular donor. Use empathetic storytelling to help potential donors emotionally connect with impacted communities. This will foster advocates and ambassadors of the cause.

Then, illustrate how donations are being used and the social impact of every dollar. Attract influencers to a cause to increase exposure and the longevity of social fundraising campaigns. Many of the foundations that are supported by celebrities and influencers tend to have annual events and provide additional fundraising opportunities.

Joe Cassara, founder and chief executive of You Need My Guy in Rochester:

The best campaigns add value to the partner company and to the cause or organization, not one or the other. There are so many campaigns that fail because they are based on the idea of giving without any return to the donor. People can be incredibly generous when asked to give to a cause, but don’t underestimate how far value for the donor can go.

You Need My Guy is partnering with Royal Family KIDS, an international organization giving hope to children who are victims of abuse through camps, clubs and mentorships. Royal Family KIDS has an enormous supporter base, but they always have the need to raise funds to make their mission possible. Through a partnership with You Need My Guy, they’ll leverage their volunteers, staff and donors to create recurring revenue when premium users of You Need My Guy tie their account to Royal Family KIDS, which will cue funds to be directed back to local camps. It’s a win-win for both parties, which will keep us both coming back to more.

Follow J.D. Harrison and On Small Business on Twitter.

J.D. Harrison covers startups, small business and entrepreneurship, with a focus on public policy, and he runs the On Small Business blog.


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