Could social media depress fundraising results?

Most fundraisers believe something like this: The more a person engages with an organization in a non-monetary way, the more likely that person is to make a financial gift.

This might not be true, or it might be true for some forms of engagement but not others. In fact, there may be some forms of engagement that actually reduce the chance of later giving.

Like social media.

Perhaps getting someone to like you on Facebook, retweet you on Twitter, or do any number of soft-touch forms of involvement on social media satisfies the “get involved” need and removes the inward pressure to get involved by donating.

That’s the finding of a recent study: The Nature of Slacktivism: How the Social Observability of an Initial Act of Token Support Affects Subsequent Prosocial Action.

In the study, people who interacted with a charity on social media were less likely to give subsequently.

Don’t take this as gospel! Studies of this type don’t necessarily have any relevance to your donors’ behavior.

But think about it. Are your social media efforts inadvertently short-circuiting actual philanthropy? Watch it and test it.

One of the most important qualities a professional fundraiser should cultivate is curiosity and open-mindedness.


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The future of fundraising is not about social media, online video, or SEM. It’s not about any technology, medium, or technique. It’s about donors. If you need to raise funds from donors, you need to study them, respect them, and build everything you do around them. And the future? It’s already here. More.

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Jeff BrooksJeff Brooks has been serving the nonprofit community for more than 35 years and blogging about it since 2005. He considers fundraising the most noble of pursuits and hopes you’ll join him in that opinion. You can reach him at jeff [at] jeff-brooks [dot] com. More.


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The future of fundraising is not about social media, online video, or SEM. It’s not about any technology, medium, or technique. It’s about donors. If you need to raise funds from donors, you need to study them, respect them, and build everything you do around them. And the future? It’s already here. More.

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About the blogger

Jeff Brooks has been serving the nonprofit community for more than 30 years and blogging about it since 2005. He considers fundraising the most noble of pursuits and hopes you’ll join him in that opinion. You can reach him at jeff [at] jeff-brooks [dot] com.

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