How to use social media for major gifts fundraising: Solicitation and acknowledgement (part 2)

Erin Niimi Longhurst
31 Aug 2017

In the second post of this two-part series, we look at ways in which social media can play a role in soliciting major gifts fundraising, and the stewardship and acknowledgement piece that every good fundraiser knows is crucial to building long-term, meaningful relationships. Missed Part 1? Start here.

Now that you’ve identified and cultivated your prospects using social media (part 1), you should be primed to make the ask – and to use social media to acknowledge and thank your donors for their support.


While you shouldn’t ask for donations through social media from major donors, social can still play an important role at the point you make ‘the ask’. HNWIs, especially those who are used to operating in the business world, are likely to use digital means to research potential investment or donations opportunities.

If you’re at solicitation-point, odds are they will be checking out your online presence, so it’s important to make sure it’s up-to-date, engaging and consistent across platforms. Prioritise engagement on social media, and keep your content fresh by scheduling it in advance. You can check your progress by using your Twitter Analytics Audience page – look at ‘household income’ and ‘net worth’ categories. If they’re looking a little low, consider tailoring your feed to high-level donors a bit more by creating and sharing content that speaks to a business, investment or wealth mind-set.

However, make sure that you are not trying to talk to too many audiences at once, from the same page or profile, as it could undermine the power and consistency of your message. For example, addressing service users and HNWI’s from the same Facebook page might at best confuse and worst lose you fans as they see content which is irrelevant or inappropriate.

In fact, due to the unique nature of the relationship to your organisation, it can be most effective to devise a specific strategies, channels and social spaces for major donors and major donor prospects. Some organisations even form private groups on Facebook and LinkedIn for their high level donors to connect with each other – like the Australian Women Donor’s Network.

One of the most powerful uses of social media can be used to share the impact of your work in a compelling way, through channels people go to for information, inspiration, and connection. You can really bring the impact of a major gift to life by linking the cost of a project to impact. Charity:Water does this incredibly well through their Dollars to Projects initiative. This has the effect of both helping donors easily understand the value of their donation in real terms, deepening their emotional connection to the impact of their action, but it also helps them communicate this to others. Word of mouth recommendation is one of the most powerful ways of engaging new donors.

High profile donors can be fantastic ambassadors for your cause, if engaged in the right way, and social media one of the most efficient and easy channels for them to use. Diversifying your asks, and giving donors of any size new ways to support your cause is an effective donor engagement as well as acquisition strategy!

Endorsement from your major or celebrity donors inspires others to give, too. Getting them involved online is a great way to maximise the reach of the halo effect these donors provide, whilst being incredibly more cost efficient than other channels typically used with celebs such as TV. Consider using platform features like Facebook Live to give immediacy and reality to the story behind your cause. J.K. Rowling did an interview with Lauren Laverne to promote the We Are Lumos campaign, encouraging followers to take part and taking questions from followers online.

Consider using a multi-platform approach to connect with your donors, and their companies or foundations in as many ways as possible – use technology to go beyond the thank you letter. Social media offers many ways to enrich your Major Donor engagement – just make sure not to share information about donor’s gifts, or their amounts, without their permission.


Once a donor has invested in your organisation, social media can also be a great way to show appreciation, and invite them to feel part of the family.

Making use of every appropriate platform (with their permission) to thank for, and celebrate their donation in a creative way encourages future donations, and greater engagement with your work – this is especially the case for membership and higher education organisations.

There are so many innovative ways to acknowledge and steward donors on social. You can create personalised ‘thank you’ videos on Instagram or Vine (like charity:water and Diabetes UK). Creating engaging and shareable content when celebrating the impact that the generosity of your donors have helped achieve also means donors are likely to share, attracting new potential donors to your cause through their networks.

Social media provides you with the means to acknowledge major donations with an invitation to exclusive online communities on platforms like Facebook and LinkedIn, with private groups, as mentioned above. Forming private groups for major donors can provide networking opportunities for these individuals, and is a great place to share exclusive and engaging content unique to their level of investment. You can use this platform to educate about your cause area and the real-world impact their donation is having, while maintaining the level of privacy and exclusivity they require. It can also just be an effective and efficient way of managing logistics for major donors, for example, organising exclusive offline events or opportunities you reserve for this group.

Social media is a great way to share the impact of your work in an easily digestible form, and on a platform they are already likely to be active on, in contrast to a lengthy email or PDF that may never get read. Platforms like LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook are where these individuals will be going to find information, to be inspired or entertained, making it the perfect channel to engage with them in an uninstrusive way, as opposed to other common methods of engagement which tend to interrupt.

We hope to have shown that with carefully tailored strategy, social media can be a powerful tool in your engagement of major donors at each stage from identification to cultivation, solicitation and acknowledgement.

Anna Rickman

and Erin Niimi Longhurst

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