Using Social Media to Boost your Fundraising Efforts

Social media has matured substantially over the past 14 years, with most users now accepting, and being more likely to trust, social networking as an effective way to communicate. This has led to it becoming easier to use social media to assist with fundraising efforts, both for well planned projects as well as more immediate needs such as disaster relief.

Rapid Response Disaster Relief

In January 2011, we had terrible flooding which affected most of the state of Queensland in Australia. Rotaractors tweeted and used their Facebook statuses to spread news that District 9830 in the state of Tasmania was getting donations made through them matched dollar for dollar through the local state government, up to a maximum of $250,000.

I saw the news on Facebook and helped spread that news through my own accounts, including my business Twitter accounts, and through the Rotary Facebook pages that I administer.

I announced it at my club meeting on Wednesday that week, two days later, along with news that Shelterbox already had personnel on the ground assessing needs; I had seen that news on Facebook as I follow the Shelterbox Australia page. At a district function on the Friday evening, I heard a fellow club member repeat the information to a Rotarian in another club, who asked how I had heard the news so quickly. It took my district a month to decide how to respond to the disaster and communicate that to the clubs; in the mean time, many of us had donated funds through the district in Tasmania.

District 9830 raised AUS$911,000, which is double the combined total raised by three other service clubs in Tasmania. That speaks volumes about the benefit of using social media to rapidly spread the word about how to help at a time when people are eager to help out and are looking for how best to help. The money was used to build a replacement community centre at Murphys Creek in the Lockyer Valley.

Photo courtesy Rotary District 9830

Fundraising Events

Another fundraising success story is the Rotary Global Swimarathon, coordinated by the Rotary Club of Grantham, UK. Contacts made by reaching out to clubs via Facebook and Twitter and regular promotion and updates saw 5,244 swimmers from 104 clubs in 23 countries setting a new world record for the highest number of simultaneous swimmers at on 23 February 2012, raising over US$100,000 for polio eradication in the process.

Again, they used multiple channels: Rotarian Paul Wilson from the Grantham club made heavy use of his personal profile to reach out to Rotarians and clubs on a personal level. He also used his club’s Facebook page, a dedicated Facebook page for the Swimarathon, a twitter account, a website, and a blog, to provide regular updates and communications with stakeholders. It has now become an annual event, with more and more clubs coming on board every year. In 2013, participation rose to 6103 swimmers from 186 clubs in 36 countries, with a total of US$111,081 raised, and this year a total of $116,700 was raised from 210 clubs.

Photo courtesy Balasubramaniam Sokalimgam

But it’s not all about you…

As easy as it is to reach out via social media, it is important to strike a balance between getting your message out to as many people as possible and spamming them with too many updates or filling their newsfeed with your stuff. People will tune you out if you are in their face with what you want to blurt out rather than taking time to build engaging relationships within your channels first.

If you would like assistance with using social media to boost your fundraising activities, we’re here to help – with ideas, or practical support on how to build up relationships with key stakeholders and make effective use of various channels available.

How have you used social media for fundraising?

Taking ROSNF from Sydney to São Paulo: How Can We Replicate the Magic?

Two ROSNF members with our pull-up banner at the ROSNF Sydney Convention booth
Having fun at the ROSNF booth!

ROSNF is growing rapidly, with more than 2000 members, a booming Facebook page and a real buzz happening in our community. It’s all looking good!

At least some of this success comes off the back of a very successful Sydney Convention, where our booth was alive with member interactions and our social media breakout was particularly well attended. As ROSNF Chair and Convention Director for 2013-14, I experienced the thrill of a very active participation in our Sydney Convention presence. It was a great experience. With three Board directors and many members joining in, the fun was infectious over five exciting days.

Realistically though, we had every reason to succeed in Sydney. The Board of ROSNF includes four Australian directors and we have an engaged local membership, so our capacity to field a strong team in Sydney Convention was only to be expected. We were in our own back yard.

Contrast that with 12 months earlier in Lisbon, where we only had a small team available to work on our booth and there were no local Board directors. Despite the terrific efforts of our volunteers, we simply did not have the numbers to keep our booth operating and as a result it was unattended for lengthy periods. Not a good look and one which drew criticism from members.

Now look forward to São Paulo. In an eerie similarity, Convention will again be held in a Portuguese-speaking country where ROSNF has no local Board members.

We will face decision time soon, as the time draws near for us to decide whether to reserve a booth at Convention ’15. To have another successful ROSNF presence, we will need ROSNF leaders and sufficient helpers committed to work on our booth. We cannot in good conscience expect a few stalwarts to forego the other great experiences at Convention just to staff our stall. That’s simply not fair.

The things that have worked in the past and could work again in preparing for Convention ’15 are:

  • Recruit more local ROSNF members to our Board group. That approach can work. By way of example, Sydney-based Kate McKenzie joined our Board less than 12 months before Convention ’14 and made a brilliant contribution to ROSNF and at Convention.
  • Encourage all our members to promote our proposed ROSNF presence at Sao Paulo. Ask them to help identify people who plan attend Convention ’15 and might be prepared to help out.
  • Equip our convention team with a new banner and all the consumables they’ll need to do the job.
  • Hold our AGM on day 1 of Convention, so that we can help promote our presence, recruit more volunteers and build enthusiasm again.

If we’re all really committed to a great ROSNF presence at Convention ’15, we do need to start planning and organising now. Can you help?

Kero O’Shea
Membership Director & Social Networking Adviser District 9465
& Past ROSNF Chair 2013-14

The Power of LinkedIn – Why We Should Recommend High Achievers in Rotary

Our Rotary new year has just begun and we’re in the thick of changeover season.  That’s when the Family of Rotary celebrates the past year, welcomes new leadership to office and recognizes the fine efforts of those who’ve gone the extra yard in the past Rotary year.

Our recognition of Rotary achievers is made on the basis of some extraordinary performance by the recipients.  Many of the presentations have been shared on social media, newsletters, websites and elsewhere.   Whilst the images of these presentations tell part of the story, what is often lacking is an explanation of what the recognition is for. The inclusion of a meaningful citation is essential to convey the true meaning of an award. Often that can be achieved within a couple of sentences, but for a major award, more detail is appropriate if others are to understand the relevance of the contribution.

We should also consider the broader opportunities associated with the recognition of fine performance by our members.   Rotary is an organisation of professionals and community leaders, many of whom are in the process of developing or redeveloping careers.  A lot of those members share their abilities and aspirations via social media, with LinkedIn being a very popular option.

LinkedIn provides the opportunity to recommend the skills and abilities of others. One can quickly endorse a listed skill, or provide a brief recommendation.   It’s this opportunity to provide a recommendation that we should use to share the achievements of our members more widely.

By providing a recommendation to a professional member, we achieve two things:

  • By recommending our Rotary achievers publicly, we define the recipient as a skilled and motivated person who gives back to our community.
  • We also help define our Rotary as an organisation that provides opportunities for community service and to develop relevant skills and connections.  A real win-win!

I’ve provided a several recommendations on LinkedIn, most recently for the four Rotarians on Social Networks Fellowship Board members to whom I awarded presidential citations in June 2014.

By providing these recommendations, we strengthen the connections within our own great Rotary network.  That’s really important in a time-poor society where people often have to prioritize the causes they want to commit to.    Think member retention!

Kero O’Shea
Membership Director Rotary District 9465
& Past Chair 2013-14
Rotarians on Social Networks Fellowship