As I sat in the Amsterdam sunshine, recovering from a week of speaking at the CEEFC in Slovakia and enjoying a moment of calm before IFC Holland, I couldn’t help think that without social media I wouldn’t have had these amazing opportunities.
I’ve written recently for Lightful on how to get started with social media for fundraising relationships, but social media has also played a HUGE part in my professional development too. Without Twitter and LinkedIn I wouldn’t have built a relationship with co-speaker, Viki Hayden-Ward, that led to my first international speaking gig. And without using social media to share fundraising best practice I wouldn’t have been invited to write and speak about my fundraising experience, which led to my involvement at IFC (and I would have definitely missed the Tweet advertising the opportunity!).
Social media enables you to connect and network with those beyond your immediate fundraising circle, be exposed to the brilliant ways of working from other charities and fundraisers, and gives you a platform to promote your charity and yourself to be noticed amongst those who are making big waves.
Interested? Read on…
- I’ve mentioned this before but think about the social media platforms you can add the most value to and focus your energy here. I’d rather do a couple of things absolutely mint (that means ‘awesome’ in Geordie) than be mediocre at everything. Twitter and LinkedIn are the obvious ones for professional development, but with Facebook groups like Fundraising Chat, you may find that Facebook works for you too (I’m back on so be sure to say hi!).
- Be you; perhaps THE most important advice on getting started is to not be afraid to have your personality come out through your posts. I met the lovely Joelle recently and was delighted when she said the person sitting across the table from her was exactly what she’d expected from my online presence. Relationships mean human to human connections, get it started on the right foot.
- Find your tribe; fundraisers and leaders are increasingly active on social media and through their posts you will learn who is doing amazing things in charity, how they’re managing to do it, and what jobs they’ve got going at their organisation that might be your next big role! (thanks Emily for the tip!). Search for fundraisers you’ve heard of and check their posts; following the fundraisers you like the sound of, and going on to check their own posts for more people to follow. To get you started I massively recommend Joe Jenkins and Michael Sheridan (you can follow me too if you aren’t already).
- Connect with new connections; met someone at an event? Follow up on LinkedIn and/or Twitter to keep the conversation going. I 100% recommend personalising your LinkedIn invites or getting involved in online discussions with your new connection within the fortnight to keep you front of mind.
- Bonus tip: your timeline is getting pretty hefty now. Use Twitter’s list function to keep your Twitter users in mini categories so you can find them, and their tweets, easily.
- Post! Much like a conversation, if you don’t engage, ask and contribute you’re not going to attract any attention or response. Be sure to keep your timeline filled with relevant content about you, the work you’re doing with your charity, and get involved in conversations to entice people to follow and connect.
- Ok, you’re posting regularly and building up a bit of a following; go you! Now we can step it up a notch. Photos, and especially videos, are a key to online engagement; they get more preference in the social media platform’s algorithms and statistically users engage with these posts more. Next time you post ask yourself, ‘can I add more value by adding a photo/video?’. The answer is probably, ‘YES!’ – so do it. Not comfortable with video? I run a training session and/or workshop to help you so get in touch.
- As with supporters, the best way to spark a relationship is face to face. If there is someone online that you really admire and you’d love to know more about them, ask to meet them for a cuppa the next time you’re near their office or at a work event together. Show genuine interest, be prepared with the questions you’d love to know the answer to, and be sure to say thank you for their time.
- Stay in touch! Once you’ve built that connection, don’t let it fizzle. Keep in touch with your new fundraising friends through, you guessed it, social media; get involved in conversations, drop them an occasional message when you see something that reminds you of them, and get involved in online conversations when you have something positive to add.
- Celebrate and return the favour; it’s tough sometimes as a fundraiser so a little kindness goes a long way. I love using social media to celebrate my fellow fundraisers and the amazing work they’re doing. And I’m always keen to repay the support shown to me through my career and pass it on to the newer ones starting their own. Pay it back when you can.
- Wow, you’re a social media superstar now! What next? After around two years of tweeting best practice I knew the next step to furthering my career was to start blogging but my gosh, was it terrifying. Would it be well received? Did it make sense? What if they don’t like Prince?! Luckily I had some very supportive friends and an exciting idea, so ten drafts and a New Year’s Eve celebration later, my first piece was up! Blogging is a fantastic way to elaborate on your tweet ideas and reach new audiences. Get in touch if you’d like to guest post on here to get you going.
- Another way to progress and get in front of the right people online is to feature on other fundraisers’ online platforms; sharing relevant content and being retweeted is great, but guest blogs, featuring on podcasts and webinars show that you have something great to say, and that you have the backing of the host.
- Don’t be shy! Once I started working remotely for the BHF I started to use Twitter to shout about my work; partly because I was excited and proud of what I was achieving, but mostly because I knew my bosses were on there and it was a great way to get noticed from so far away. If you have a great fundraising success, share it! It helps other fundraisers do better work and promotes you as a brilliant fundraiser that another charity would love to have as part of their team.
- Take it offline; since starting to speak for national, and then international, fundraising conferences I’ve noticed a big difference in fundraising opportunities. It’s a big step but with practice, preparation and confidence it has a huge impact on what you can do professionally. Couple this with ongoing social media sharing and watch your fundraising networks increase, alongside exposing you to greater and better ways of fundraising to improve the work you’re already doing (and giving you new things to post about!).
Development for fundraisers is a hot topic right now but it can be difficult to get started when looking for added value. I hope these social media tips have a positive impact on your development but it’s important to use alongside traditional progression methods for the best results (networking, secondments, and putting in the hard graft for your work to speak for itself).
Get signed up, get posting, and get moving on up; see you on Twitter!