Best fundraising ideas: How to partner with influencers
If you’re involved in a charitable cause or agency, you likely know how hard it can be to get the word out about your worthy venture. What does it take to get people interested in donating time or money to something you’re already supporting wholeheartedly? How can you share your call-to-action without spending a boatload of cash on advertisements or live events? One of the best fundraising ideas involves partnering with social media and blogging influencers.
Get help promoting your cause
Influencers are people with large numbers of followers on social media. For example, when Oprah supports a cause, so do a good chunk of her millions of followers. An influencer can be the key to getting others outside of your current social and professional networks to back your charitable causes. Influencers are already:
- Connected to a wide variety of consumers
- Usually all over the most popular social media platforms
- Often have a tribe of people that are excited to hear about what they’re up to lately
Some of them even have connections with the media that you can use to your advantage as well. By tapping their communities while continuing to build your own, you’ll get donations of time and resources that much faster.
Launch an influencer campaign in 6 steps
The old adage, “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know” has never been more true. Follow these steps to partner with influencers who can amplify your fundraising efforts.
- Find a hashtag.
- Outline your pitch.
- Identify and contact influencers.
- Field responses.
- Launch your campaign.
- Tally up the results.
You might know a lot of people who are as passionate about your cause as you are; the trick is finding people who have large followings online and care about your cause. Here’s how to find them and enlist their help to generate volunteers, supporters and funds.
1. Find a hashtag
Think of a hashtag you can use to promote your cause on social media. This should be one outside of current hashtags you’re already using so that you will be able to measure the overall success of the campaign. Do a search on the networks you plan to use for your campaign to see if the one you want is already in use. You don’t want to use a hashtag that’s already being used for a completely unrelated purpose.
2. Outline your pitch
Create some shareable documents with all of the verbiage you would like influencers to include in their blog posts and on social media. Include ideas for headlines for blogs posts, facts about your cause, ways people can contribute and all of the relevant links that you want shared. Include deadlines (official kickoff, end date) so they can coordinate their posting schedule with yours.
Influencers will want photos to use with their posts — put a collection of good ones in Dropbox or some other online storage app.
Take care to remember the 280-character limit on Twitter — most people likely won’t want to read anything longer than that on Facebook or Instagram, either. People have short attention spans!
3. Identify and contact influencers
Start with where you currently are. Ask everyone you know to suggest social media influencers and bloggers to you. Post on your own social media profiles that you are looking to partner up with influencers for a cause. They might start to show up in unexpected places when you start looking for them.
Make an announcement on your website that says you’re seeking influencers for a fundraising campaign. You can even publish this as a longer post on Facebook (check out my how-to here). Include in the post how influencers can participate, and where they can reach you if they have questions.
A case study
One of the campaigns I was part of in 2017 was called Bloggers for Mental Health. I partnered up with several other bloggers across the United States with one purpose in mind — to spread awareness for mental health issues. The campaign was created by Brittany Minor from Clumps of Mascara, and it started with this post on her blog:
Mental Health Awareness Month is in May and here’s how you can participate:
- Write and launch a blog on Monday, May 15th. This blog post can discuss your personal experiences around your mental health or you can discuss how you’ve supported friends and family members. If being this vulnerable makes you uncomfortable, know that you won’t be alone. A lot of us will be doing the same thing!
- Provide resources for your readers. If they’re located in a particular area, drop reputable links and phone numbers that can assist them.
- Help normalize the discussion of mental health. By posting this on your blog, you’re letting your readers know that they aren’t alone.
- Promote your blog post across social media using the hashtag #BloggersForMentalHealth or #B4MH
While this post wasn’t written for one specific charity, you can easily use it to design a post for your cause.
Start a list
Once you start finding influencers, compile a list of all the people in your area, and categorize them by type (i.e., blogger, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, etc). Begin collecting emails and handles of all the social media influencers in and beyond your area. You can often get email addresses from the “Contact us” and “About” pages on websites and blogs of social media influencers and bloggers. Many of the more professional people will also include contact information and links to their other accounts in the bio area of their social media profiles.
Reach out to all of the influencers and bloggers on the list you’ve amassed. Let everyone know exactly what you’re up to, and ask whether they would like to help.
It’s a good idea to ask them to spread your request for influencers to their networks as well.
Tell them that you would like as many people involved in the campaign as possible, and that you would sincerely appreciate if they forward this request on to their entire network of bloggers and influencers.
4. Field responses
As with any outreach effort, you’ll likely get a variety of responses. Here’s how to handle each.
Those who respond with a yes
Send them the requirements of what you’re looking for right away. Include links to Dropbox or another online storage folder with photos they can use, and all of the links to the shareable documents, complete with preferred verbiage. Don’t forget to list all deadlines so that everyone knows what you’re expecting from them and when.
Anyone who responds with a no
Send an email that says something to the effect of, “Thank you for getting back to me. I understand that things might be too busy right now, but if you can help us in the future, please consider it. In the meantime, if you know anyone else who might assist us in making a splash with this campaign, please forward their information on to us.”
For the non-responders
Give anyone who doesn’t respond a couple of days, and then try again. Keep in mind that influencers and bloggers sometimes receive dozens of pitches a day, and yours could have just fallen through the cracks. If they don’t respond the second time, you could move on or try one last time before taking their name off your list. Don’t throw the name away completely, however. Add it to a list for a future campaign.
While you’re securing influencers, continue your influencers-wanted promotions. When you feel you have enough willing participants (or when it’s getting close to campaign launch), you can stop promoting. Save any new names for a future campaign.
5. Launch your campaign
The whole idea is amplification — you want as many eyes as possible on your charitable request — so more is better.
Thank everyone both privately and publicly (if you can). To those who post blogs and social media updates, tag them online and thank them for helping out. Often this will lead to additional shares and reposts, drumming up even more interest in your cause.
Then, either send an email or snail mail thank you note with facts and figures of what their helping meant to the campaign. If you have numbers, like how many impressions your hashtags got or the spike you saw in website traffic, share them!
6. Tally up the results
The best fundraising ideas involve follow-up assessment. Look at everything that transpired in your influencer campaign from beginning to end. What worked? What fell flat on its face? How can you make it better next time? Carefully examine everything and begin drafting your plans for the next campaign.
Now take a deep breath, and start again with step one!
The best fundraising ideas require planning
I have seen companies partner with influencers in several different ways. I’m honored to say I’ve been a part of several fun campaigns, including Bloggers for Mental Health, and a few other worthy causes dear to my heart.
Just a few ways you can work with influencers include, but are certainly not limited to:
Write a list of tweets — complete with hashtags — your influencers can simply copy and paste into their own accounts. Be sure to include links back to your website in these posts with calls-to-action. Also, don’t forget to give them a deadline of when to post by!
A 30-minute TweetChat can ignite the Twittersphere with potentially hundreds of thousands — or even millions — of impressions on your event.
Another idea would be to host a TweetChat with all of the influencers you can find, and encourage them to invite their fellow bloggers and friends to participate in it. You can even have a chat-specific hashtag.
Facebook posts and live video
Just like the tweets, you can create a list of possible things for your influencers to post on Facebook. With a simple Google Doc, you can write five to 10 Facebook posts that your influencers can tweak to fit their audiences. Make sure each one includes your website address and call-to-action.
Live videos are all the rage these days (or so social media experts say). You could share live video of your influencers explaining why they are getting involved in your cause. Ditto for YouTube Live, Snapchat and Instagram stories! Speaking of Instagram …
If your cause has visual appeal (i.e., anything with cuddly critters needing to be adopted), have your influencers post images on Instagram with your call-to-action.
These are slightly more involved, but you can still have great results with them. To make things as easy as possible on your bloggers:
- Give them pre-written posts that they can add their own verbiage to, but that won’t require much additional writing.
- Include images they can easily load into their posts as well.
- Tell them if you want them to share the post link on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest ahead of time. Bonus points if you include pre-written posts they can simply add their link to!
The easier you make it for a blogger to add a post to their site on your behalf, the better! This is especially true of the bloggers with large followings. In truth, the bigger bloggers might not be willing to post anything to their audiences without compensation, but if you make it so simple that it will require little to no work, you might just be able to convince them to help you out.
May your charitable campaigns go viral
I know this post was filled with a LOT of information, but I hope it got your wheels spinning on how you can partner with influencers to promote the charitable causes that matter to you.
If I have learned anything in my decade as a writer, it’s that there is power in numbers. The more people who jump on something, the more it will spread. Influencer campaigns are definitely among the best fundraising ideas. I hope you’ll try one, and that it will see a lot of interest and donations in the very near future!