Ideas for Using Digital Marketing to Jump Start Your Capital Campaign

Ideas for Using Digital Marketing to Jump Start Your Capital Campaign

Your non-profit needs funds to keep operating. You’ve watched the ALS Association’s Ice Bucket Challenge go viral and you’re wondering how you can inspire random people to dump ice water over their heads and raise money for your charity. We’ve dug into some of the most successful non-profit social advocacy campaigns and have some ideas on how you can use these to inspire your capital campaign’s social marketing.

Use Social Media Stars. You’ve crossed JayZ off your list for celebrity endorsements. Afterall, your non-profit would have to stretch to match the $20 million he’s rumored to have made from his Samsung deal. If you’re looking to capture the millennial audience, start with a search of popular YouTube stars and online bloggers. partnered with YouTube sensation Smosh (Anthony Padilla and Ian Hecox) for a campaign to deter teen pregnancy. The video garnered over 2 million views and led over 155,000 people to participate in’s “Text Baby” campaign

Whether you are looking for volunteers or donors, find out who they are following online. Is it a popular blogger? A YouTube sensation? Or maybe a top-notch Pinterest pinner? Do a little research on that celeb’s background. Does his or her style, mission and ideals match up with your organization? Just because your donors are tuned into someone online, it doesn’t mean they are a good fit for your organization. You don’t want them to promote your brand and then alienate your followers with their tone, language or actions. Reach out to them via their website or social media. Some online celebs will have publicity managers who will have any guidelines you’ll need to follow.

Make it easy to give. When people see your giving “asks” online, they are more likely to give through your non profit websites than by mailing a check. Create easy ways to give like using PayPal or another source that stores their information so they don’t have to go find their debit or credit card to make the donation. Offer a text-to-donate option like the Red Cross did after the earthquakes in Haiti. Keep your ask small and direct. Most people won’t give large amounts on impulse, but they will give $5 or $10 if they’ve had an emotional reaction to your cause.


Use YouTube as a jumping off point for social media. While you may promote your YouTube videos on Facebook (videos now generate more reach and engagement than other types of status updates), you can gain organic search growth by posting your video with great keywords on YouTube. As important as the keywords is the content of the video. Make it powerful. What is it you want your followers to know about your organization? Why is it so important for them to give?

Water is Life created a series of videos where they hijacked a hashtag (or in their words created a hashtag killer) with the popular hashtag #firstworldproblems. They were genuinely concerned about the way people complained about issues that seemed insignificant compared to the greater needs in 3rd world countries. They were able to raise funds to provide a million days of clean water to those in need.

Think outside Facebook and Twitter. The majority of donors are women. And the majority of people on Pinterest are women. Not a hard leap to make to see Pinterest as a viable fundraising option. UnicefUK took to Pinterest with their story about Ami Musa. While the rest of the pinning world was racking boards with luxury vacations, meals for supper and dream homes, Ami pinned just six items she’d really love to have.


Can you make a statement about the needs of the people your organization supports through Pinterest? Can you be creative enough to pin make a statement on Pinterest for your organization?

Make your ask shareable. Create an eye-catching graphic that encourages people to share your message. Make sure to include your organization’s logo and a website where they give so if your status update with the graphic gets lost along the way, anyone who sees the graphic still knows how to give. If your goal is to get people involved through social media, make sure you give clear, simple instructions using a graphic that’s easy to share. The World Wildlife Fund took what some might consider a term with a negative connotation and turned it into a positive campaign with their #hugatree campaign. As you can see from the graphic, it’s super simple (you can create something like this using PowerPoint, no major graphics software needed), it give clear instructions and it’s sharable.


Follow up. It’s easy to get caught up the fervor of gathering donations, but don’t forget to follow up. You can always automate thank you emails to go out as soon as a person gives. For gifts like $5 or $10, that’s a great option. For larger gifts of hundreds or thousands of dollars, consider sending something a little more personal like a handwritten thank you note from one of your staff, a volunteer or someone who will receive help from the funds given. Create an email list just for these campaigns so donors receive monthly updates about how their giving is helping the cause. If you’ve created a campaign like the #HugATree one above, send out an email with pictures of the most liked, shared or unique pictures shared to your email list. For the largest donors, consider creating a private Facebook group where they can receive specific updates or hold an event in their honor when you open your new facility or celebrate the start of your new services.

Social media opens a lot of doors from fundraising to education to raising awareness for your cause. The key to success is the same for any media advertising, marketing or public service announcements: know your audience, have a goal, be creative and follow-up.

Is your non profit organization looking for ways to use social media for your capital campaign or social advocacy program? As an inbound marketing agency, we’ve had a lot of success supporting non-profit marketing campaigns online and offline. We’d love chat with you about your goals and how we could help.