Ashley Smith-Hammond

For the last article in our series looking at digital fundraising, we take a look at the value of social media.

As more and more people are discovering, when it’s done right, social media can be a low-investment, high-reward marketing channel, making it well suited to cultural organisations with a small budget.


There’s a lot to get to grips with on social, but hashtags are the obvious route to take if you need to spread awareness of a fundraising campaign. When they reach critical mass, campaigns can go viral.

In 2014, Cancer Research UK (CRUK) raised £8 million via its #nomakeupselfie hashtag. You might think that such a big total hints at a carefully orchestrated campaign, but #nomakeupselfie actually started organically. When internet users decided to attach cancer to the trend, CRUK saw the opportunity for a big fundraising moment.

The other big fundraising hashtag success came in 2014, the #icebucketchallenge. This hashtag raised millions for ALS Association, but as with #nomakeupselfie, the charity didn’t initiate the trend. What these two examples have in common is that they revolve around visual content. When tapping into social media trends, remember the power a simple 30 second video can have.

Going viral is a great goal, but even on a smaller scale, what you’re tapping into is a collective emotional state represented by a hashtag. Talk to your team and see if you can identify a digital champion in your organisation who can monitor and understand which trends are relevant to your cause. Be ready to act when you find those conversations and hashtags where you can get involved and spread your message.

Finally, when it comes to social media, don’t forget to get your profile pages in order. The big one here is to look at installing Facebook’s donate button. This extremely flexible tool has been around since 2013 and can be linked to a JustGiving page or your main website. Supporters will receive a pop-up notification that they are leaving Facebook when they click on it, but this is a relatively small barrier to conversion.

We’ve covered a lot of ground in a short space during this series. Hopefully, it has raised questions and introduced some exciting new possibilities. If there’s one message we want to leave you with, it’s that in 2017 digital fundraising is for everyone. Give it a try.

Main image credit: Seth Myers ice bucket challenge at the 66th Emmy Awards by VOA News (CC by 1.0)