Why Twitter is a charity's best friend

Charities that spend time developing creative, varied social media accounts and communicating with potential donors will feel the benefits, writes Javier Buron

Javier Burón
Javier Burón

Social media should be an integral component of every charity’s fundraising strategy. Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and YouTube have all become vital avenues for promoting awareness and engaging with audiences. They are a direct path into the personalized information streams of millions of consumers, and provide a unique opportunity to interact directly with potential donors.

And people are definitely listening. In 2013 The Stanford Social Intervention Review reported that 47 per cent of Americans learn about causes through social media. At the same time, the 2013 Social Charity Index shows that there has been an average increase of 350 per cent in user engagement with charities across all social media platforms.

Fundraisers are becoming increasingly adept at using social media to drive giving and Twitter has emerged as the most powerful of these channels. In January, JustGiving reported that £2.5 million worth of donations made in 2013 could be traced back to Twitter - an increase of 448 per cent since 2011.

Why the big change? Well, remember the 1980s when sending money by post was the most popular donation method? Twitter makes it very simple to connect cause and payment - and it is becoming even more simple through apps such as Chirpify and Soldsie. These make it possible for your PayPal or card details to be connected to your Twitter account. All the donor needs to do is tweet ‘donate’ and a donation will be made. 

This brings us onto the question of a charity’s behaviour on Twitter. How can you communicate powerful messages in 140 characters? Can some viral tactics, such as sharing a popular video, belittle a cause? Is a hashtag trivial? All are difficult questions, and admittedly there is no one-size-fits-all solution - each cause is unique, with its own areas of sensitivity. Yet there are still some obvious things a charity should do: they need to say thank you for donations, show behind-the-scenes footage to bring their work to life, encourage the CEO to be active and deliver relevant and up-to-date content. 

Going the extra mile

Although charities use Twitter to communicate serious messages and provide people with valuable information, developing and showing your organisation’s personality will help keep followers and gain retweets. For example, the RSPB’s Twitter profile (@natures_voice) radiates the charity’s passion for wildlife and is very responsive. Its two tweeters, Emily and Naomi, are on hand from Monday to Friday and post about everything from topical environmental issues to bird sightings and gardening. Remember, variety and a touch of character can go a long way online. 

It is also worth considering that the most successful Twitter campaigns go beyond broadcasting and prioritise two-way conversations, which form the basis for valuable relationship-building.  Macmillan Cancer Support, with 140,000 followers, shows great courtesy to its audience by always stating who is manning its feed and when they will be available. This means the followers know when they can ask for help, and constructs a foundation of trust.

These are just a couple of good examples in a sector that is constantly innovating and evolving. Twitter is here to stay, and those charities that make the decision to invest both time and creativity will feel tangible benefits where it counts: in the funds available to make their work possible.

Javier Buròn, CEO of Twitter management platform SocialBro

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