How to Coordinate an Army of Nonprofit Social Media Ambassadors on #GivingTuesday (and beyond)

It’s hard to believe, but #GivingTuesday, the international day of giving back, is just 22 days away!

If you are planning on leveraging the social media power of that day to ask for donations, you probably know that you can’t do it alone.

Sending out solicitations and appeals from your own organization won’t work.

Carrying out an online fundraising campaign that needs social media to spread requires more than just your nonprofit’s Facebook Page or Twitter account.

You need a critical mass of passionate people spreading the word about your campaign and raising money from their networks.

Social Media Ambassadors have the potential to elevate your results, if you know where to find them, how to recruit them, and how to coordinate and energize them.

Get a free download of the Essential Nonprofit Guide to Recruiting and Coordinating Social Media Ambassadors by clicking here.

People Trust Their Peers

According to a recent Nielsen study on which types of advertising or promotion people trust most, the top five in North America are:

The real golden ticket is sharing.

Getting people who are sharing on social media anyway to share their affinity for your cause = more awareness and money raised.

Social Media Ambassadors are a group of passionate and inspiring people who want to spread the word about your cause and want to raise money for you — they are your greatest asset!

Where Are Your Brand Ambassadors?

So, where you can start to look for these wonderful people?


Determine who is opening your email newsletters and communications, who is sharing the content, and who is forwarding the emails to their networks.



Use LinkedIn Groups strategically to find people who care about your cause and who are vocal online.

You can now search LinkedIn profiles for Volunteering History and Causes.


You can see who your Fans are, but (depending on their privacy settings) you probably cannot see much about them other than their name.

However, you can see who is liking, commenting on and sharing your content — thank them profusely! Try installing a “Top Fans” app on your page.


Twitter is a perfect place to engage with supporters. See who is following you and how active they are on the site.

Do they ReTweet your content? Do they give you a #FF (FollowFriday) mention?

Create a Twitter list of all the Twitterers who have shared your content and mentioned you.


See who is following you and who is re-pinning, commenting on and liking your pins.

To get Pinterest Analytics, go to the name on your profile, and choose Analytics in the drop down menu.


Who always shares information about your organization?

Who was the top fundraiser last year?

Which community members have held fundraisers or awareness events for your organization?

Get a free download of the Essential Nonprofit Guide to Recruiting and Coordinating Social Media Ambassadors by clicking here.

Cross reference with your database.

Make sure to cross reference your online supporters your donor and volunteer database.

Are they there? Have they given money? Have they attended an event?

You will get to know them and see where their interests lie and where they have yet to connect.

NOTE: You have to be actively using these tools to find your supporters — this requires an investment in staff capacity and resources.

What Do You Do With Them?

LISTEN first.

  • Listen first — Follow your online supporters on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest.
  • What are they sharing? What motivates them? What moves them to comment on a blog, to like a Facebook post, to retweet a link, to share a photo?
  • Listen to their conversations, figure out what moves them and tailor a strategy using this information.

Create content that people want to share.

  • Much easier said than done, but necessary for success!
  • Social Media Ambassadors have their reputations on the line — they are not going to share spammy, uninteresting info.

The Customer Insight Group (CIG) at the New York Times[i] published a study exploring why people share content online. People share to:

  • Bring valuable and entertaining content to others
  • Define themselves to others
  • Grow and nourish relationships
  • Give self-fulfillment
  • Market causes or brands

How can you help your Social Media Ambassadors do these things?

  • Spend some time and dedicate some resources to creating content that is well-written, original, compelling, timely, relevant and interesting.
  • This may seem like a tall order, but that’s what it takes to stand-out in the noise of social media.

Make it extremely easy to share.

  • Encourage commenting and other interaction by disabling strict privacy settings on your social media sites.
  • Add social share buttons to all blog posts and email newsletters.
  • Social share buttons are those buttons on the side or at the bottom/top of articles and blog posts with the social media icons.

Write the updates for them.

  • Send out emails, Facebook posts, Tweets, etc. with suggested updates that the online supporter can simply cut, paste and share.
  • Example: “Tweet this! The @waterforlife campaign for fresh water is well underway — can you donate $1 to help a child now? #waterforall” vs. “Tweet about our fresh water campaign today!”

Let them determine how they want to share the information.

  • Provide updates in several social media formats to let the online supporter choose where they want to share.
  • It’s not about where you want them to share the information (although you can suggest it) it’s about where they are going to want to post it!
  • They are in control of the where, when and you are in control of the why.

Example: MA Conf for Women Social Media Street Team

  • They send out weekly emails with tweets, Facebook and LinkedIn posts, Pinterest pins and Instagram ready photos.
  • Graphics provided, hashtags provided, all speakers and relevant people tagged! Super easy to cut and paste and share.

Make it timely, relevant and interesting.

  • Don’t say “Help our organization raise money!” (That isn’t very interesting, compelling or timely.)
  • Make it about the impact that donors and supporters will have if they help you.
  • How many kids do you help every day? How many animals are you saving?
  • What would happen if your organization disappeared?
  • What difference are you making?

Target online supporters based on their sphere of influence.

  • Craft a personal solicitation to online supporters that wield a lot of clout to support you where they are most influential. them to share on Twitter (if they have lots of followers), post to Facebook (lots of friends/fans) or pin on Pinterest (many followers).

Don’t ignore other social networks!

  • Don’t ignore influencers and supporters on LinkedIn, Google+ and YouTube. (MySpace is coming back too!)

Give frequent updates on your progress.

  • If you are looking to get a specific number of signatures on a petition, update your online supporters on your progress!
  • Celebrate milestones in fundraising — “We’ve raised $5,000 — only $5,000 more to go!” People love to be part of success.

Use hashtags to build community and monitor the conversation.

  • Hashtags can be used on Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram.
  • The best hashtags are original, memorable, easy to spell and short. Think #yesallwomen, #stopcancer, #water4all etc.
  • Go to to research.

Celebrate successes.

  • Show your online supporters how they helped get you there!
  • “We had 348 retweets and an increase in Facebook Reach of 567%!”
  • You will need to monitor your social media insights and analytics to get this information.

Give them what they want!

  • Social Media Ambassadors are online and always looking for content to share with their networks.
  • They support you and your cause already.
  • They are most likely looking for easy ways to get more involved.
  • Give them easy instructions and compelling content and see your online reach explode!

How Do You Keep Them?

The power of Thank You

  • The 2012 AFP Fundraising Effectiveness Report found that for every $100 gained by nonprofits in 2011, another $100 was lost through gift attrition.
  • Donor attrition was 59% — meaning that 59% of donors did not give again to the nonprofit!

Acknowledge, thank, celebrate, rinse, repeat!

  • Identify and acknowledge the special people.
  • You know, the ones who always comment on your blog (genuinely and with value) and share your Facebook posts.
  • They might only have 45 LinkedIn connections, but their passion and interest is authentic and real — and often contagious!

Organize a “Thank You” campaign!

Pick a Facebook Fan of the Week.

  • This is a simple, easy-to-use Facebook application to add to your business or nonprofit’s Page.
  • It automatically highlights the person who interacts with your Page the most within a given week.
  • Offer to highlight that Fan’s business or favorite cause for one week on your page
  • Create a gallery of Fans of the Week on your website
  • Make a special phone call to the Fan of the Week (if you have their information) to thank them for their engagement.
  • You can also send them items such as a t-shirt, pen, coffee mug or other memento (with your logo on it of course)!

Give them something special.

  • “Something special” includes exclusive access to events, reports, celebrities, thought leaders, discounts and offers.
  • As a part of the Massachusetts Conference for Women Social Media Street Team, I am awarded a free ticket to the Conference and other enticing rewards.

Show the impact!

  • This is the most important step.
  • Your online supporters want to know that all their tweeting, Facebook posting and blogging has actually helped your organization.
  • Otherwise, why waste their time?

Get a free download of the Essential Nonprofit Guide to Recruiting and Coordinating Social Media Ambassadors by clicking here.


National Oesteoporis Foundation

They use their Brand Ambassadors to:

  • Advocate on behalf of their cause to congressional leaders.
  • Direct people to the NOF website to download advocacy tools and resources
  • Pass along key research and updates
  • Respond to community conversations about industry news and events

St Baldrick’s Foundation

  • They are volunteer-driven.
  • “Content is designed to give our volunteers a voice, and provide them with information to share with their friends and family.”
  • They analyzed what worked and what didn’t work and did more of the stuff that worked.

Keeping Momentum

  • Be open-minded and don’t get discouraged. Not everyone will be an Social Media Ambassador (no matter how much you want them to).
  • Don’t go by Klout score alone.
  • Just because someone is influential does not mean that your cause will resonate with them.
  • Actively look everywhere for people who are passionate about your cause.
  • Cultivate your current online advocates and thoughtfully create others.
  • Identify and acknowledge the special people.
  • See what you can do to find your offline community and entice them to join you online.

In Conclusion

Too many nonprofits online today seem to have a race-to-the-top mentality — who can get the most fans, the most followers, the most likes.

However, it’s been found that just 1% of an organization’s online fan base drives 20% of the traffic to the website and 75% of the interaction on the social networking sites.

Focus your social media efforts on cultivating, engaging and celebrating your biggest online supporters and reap the rewards!



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Julia C. Campbell

Nonprofit digital do-gooder. Social media evangelist. International speaker. Author. Get my Digital Storytelling Workbook: