When Do Bird Chirps Equal Fundraising?

Bird feeding

First comes care and feeding

When they turn into a sweetly warbled tune.

If you want birds to visit your window ledge on a daily basis you must woo them patiently and feed them. Only after you’ve satisfied their needs will they return on a regular basis and, on occasion, reward your persistence by trilling a sweet song.

It’s the same with donors and social media.

In my post yesterday for Maximize Social Business, When Does $ocial Media Translate to Non Profit Donations?, I said this happens “later, much later.” I noted there’s no ‘$’ in social media. Just a plain old letter ‘s.’

The ‘s’ stands for many things, but not for dollars. In fact, John Haydon hit the nail on the head when he proclaimed “social media stinks for fundraising.”  That’s not to say you can’t raise a dime or two, especially in a tsunami, but for most nonprofits that’s not what social media is going to be best for.

For those who want to succeed with social media – and not waste precious time and resources –‘s’ stands not for dollars but for:

  • Sharing to open eyes; not broadcasting to open wallets.
  • Searching for what’s out there; not ignoring potential new audiences.
  • Supporting your constituents; not interrupting them.
  • Stewarding; not fundraising.

Social media is nothing more than marketing using digital networks.

Just as marketing is not sales, it’s also not fundraising. Is it designed to persuade? Yes, absolutely. Persuasion is the art of transformation… of bringing someone along from point B to point A. It’s not the art of the solitary transaction.   That comes after persuasion (and hopefully also before more persuasion so your donor becomes your supporter for life).

Where should your nonprofit start with social media?

Bird chirp alert!

When Twitter began, it was about sharing short bursts of inconsequential bits of information. Chirps from birds. That’s certainly not about fundraising. So begin with an understanding that social media is relational, not transactional.  People go there to connect with their friends (and maybe make new ones).

Your nonprofit can use this. You can have real time conversations with folks. You can show them you’re interested in them. That you care about them. Not to make them do something for you. But to do something useful for them.  And to do it for them at their convenience.  In fact, these are the first and second rules of social media:

1. Be useful.

2. Be where your constituents are.

Read the full post on Maximize Social Business here. Then tell me how your nonprofit is using social media to build a fan and follower base that translates into transformative actions that move your mission forward.

You can get my downloadable 8-page ‘Hop on Board’ Social Media Resource Guide for just 99 cents! It’s filled with more than 100 tips, resources and tools to help you with your resolve to fully embrace social media as a potent weapon in your marketing arsenal. To your success!

Photo: Flickr, gynti_46

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About Claire

I’m Claire and I want to help you raise more money, reach more people and build long-lasting relationships with your supporters. Take a look in the archives.


  1. Claire, I enjoyed this post. I especially liked your line: “Just as marketing is not sales, it’s also not fundraising.” Unfortunately, I fear, a great many folks don’t understand the difference between marketing and sales/fundraising. That might be a good subject for a future post.

    I also want to make a suggestion. Most charities do not follow back the users that follow them. By not doing so, they are ignoring the law of reciprocity. Why should I listen to you if you’re not going to listen to me? On Twitter, nonprofits can use lists to prioritize followers so the organization won’t be overwhelmed. Facebook is about to offer a new feature that will allow users to nix friends from their News Feed without un-friending them.

    When a charity follows me, I feel like they care what I think, even if just a tiny bit. When they occasionally interact with me, I’m generally impressed.

    Organizations that expect folks to follow them but who don’t follow back are just using the technology to broadcast a message. Unfortunately, that’s just scratching the surface of what the technology can do.
    Michael J. Rosen, CFRE recently posted…Two Surprising Philanthropists InspireMy Profile

    • Thanks for the comment. Absolutely agree with your suggestion. In fact, in the full post on Maximize Social Business, to which I refer in this post, I added:

      Interact with your people. Once you’ve discovered the right people on social media – the ones you hope to bring into your community –it’s important to engage with them. If they retweet, thank them. Sometimes respond to their tweets with comments. Sometimes tweet their tweets. Then measure the impact of your interactions. There are plenty of tools out there for this (e.g. Hootsuite; Hubspot’s Social Inbox; Twitter Analytics); what’s important is learning which things you’re putting out there are more useful than others.

      Also, under the part where I say that one of the things “S” stands for is SUPPORT, I add:

      SUPPORT – Respond to folks who engage with you. Support their point of view. Offer additional helpful information. Show them you care about them and what they care about. Don’t make it seem like you only want them to support you.

      Appreciate your highlighting this very important part of building relationships with your constituents. Inside/out marketing; not outside/in.
      claire Axelrad recently posted…When Do Bird Chirps Equal Fundraising?My Profile

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