How The Humane Society Fundraises With Social Media
Puppies. Discarded pets gazing through the bars of animal shelters. Heartwrenching music in the background.
The Humane Society, dedicated to helping and protecting animals in need, are masters of evoking emotions in people. Their powerful television and direct mail campaigns are renowned for encouraging people to donate to their cause.
In 2006, the Society incorporated social media into its campaigns, and now generates five percent of all online donations through social media. We interviewed Carie Lewis Carlson, HSUS’s Deputy Director of Online Communications, to ask how they do it.
“This is not normal,” says Carie of the Society’s social media fundraising success. “Many organizations are struggling to fundraise on social media.
“Our advantage is that we were an early adopter, built up a loyal base first by listening and responding to feedback and putting our audience first.”
Every single person that comes to HSUS on one of their networks gets an answer, which is astounding. In order to facilitate donations through social, HSUS puts donation forms inside of custom Facebook tabs with lower gift amounts to encourage giving.
Social media tactics
When it comes to social media tactics, giving people every option available to give based on their comfort level is key.
“For example, when we fundraise we send them to a Facebook donation form,” says Carie, “but there’s a line on it that asks if they’d prefer to give on our website.
“People have different trust levels when it comes to donating online. At year end, we even give people the option to mail in a check or donate over the phone.
Text to give works very well for HSUS on Facebook as well, especially in disaster response situations. Its success is attributed to short attention spans on Facebook, and texting being a primary smartphone use. Carie also notes that “making donation forms shareable helps too because people can recruit like-minded friends at the peak of their engagement with us. After they donate, they are asked to share on the thank you page.”
With 1.8 million Facebook fans and over 200,000 Twitter followers, HSUS Society has five people working in the social media trenches.
“We have a main strategist, a day-to-day manager, a community manager, community specialist who focuses on helping the 100+ additional Facebook pages we operate for our campaigns, and social communications specialist who focuses on analytics, reporting and acting as our PR liason,” says Carie.
When it comes to justifying the salary spend for those five social employees, HSUS started out with one person, and was able to raise enough money to cover the salary and benefits of a second person. Carie says that this is why it was so important to find a way to successfully raise money on Facebook, even though HSUS is so community/customer service-focused.
Other than the number of donors and amount of donations, the other KPIs The Humane Society measures are the number of actions taken, the number of new contacts added, customer service turnarounds, sentiment percentage, growth rate, most popular content, number of mentions, and notable mentions.
But social doesn’t stand alone within the organization. According to Carie, integration is one of the keys to The Humane Society’s digital success.
“We have a filter which all of our communications requests come into, and then each channel decides if/how to promote. We also have a daily communications meeting to talk about what each channel is putting out that day so that we can coordinate. Even though we have a social editorial calendar, it’s important to be flexible.”
The proof is in the dollars
The Humane Society’s social strategy has resulted in tremendous ROI to the tune of $200,000 raised on Facebook per year for a grand total of over $1 million dollars. Who says social doesn’t translate to sales?
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