Social media offers museums the opportunity to ping fundraising appeals directly into the feeds of followers in an instant. Viewing museum appeals next to pictures of your Uncle’s latest holiday to Mallorca normalises philanthropic giving and makes it a part of everyday routines. Social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram have charitable giving tools which makes donating even easier by offering the option for a “donate” button on posts which can be reinforced by the live-streaming features that both platforms now offer.
This article will focus on top tips for digital fundraising with social media focusing on two platforms in particular, Instagram and Facebook. Still new to this whole social media thing? No worries! We’ve got you covered with this MuseumNext article that goes over how to get your museum started with social media. Now, let’s dive in…
Why social media?
According to Hootsuite’s Digital 2021 Global Overview Report, as of January 2021, 420 billion active social media users are Facebooking, Tweeting, Instagramming and interacting with one another on social media.[i] Any digital fundraising that takes place without the use of social media just isn’t working to full capacity and taking advantage of these incredibly prosperous numbers. That same report indicates a 13.2% growth from 2020 to 2021 in active social media users which goes to show that this method of digital interaction is being more widely adopted worldwide opening up doors for museums to engage with new audiences despite geographical borders.
The 1 in 20 Rule
If you’ve been reading our other articles on digital fundraising, you’ll be familiar with the “Rule of Seven” which indicates that people need to see/hear something 7 times before it will really resonate with them enough to take action. This principle is used consistently within marketing campaigns and can also be applied to digital fundraising via social media, but with a caveat. It’s important not to tire your audience out when it comes to asking for money as that can quickly cause people to tune out. Rather than focus on the “Rule of Seven”, it’s more important with fundraising via social media posts to focus on the “1 in 20 Rule” which says that every one in twenty posts should be about digital fundraising aka asking directly for financial support. Be sure that your museum peppers in other content between fundraising posts to keep audiences engaged with your mission, vision and programming.
Giving audiences an eyeful
Caught your attention with that cheeky heading didn’t we? It’s important to captivate audiences in the fast-paced world of social media by adding a graphic, image or video to posts especially those focused on digital fundraising. Statistics from Twitter Business back this theory up by stating that tweets with video get 10x more engagement than those without.[ii]
Don’t quite know where to start with graphics? Check out this MuseumNext article on creating eye-catching marketing graphics and video.
This visually based platform is perfect for supporting your existing digital fundraising campaigns and testing out some new techniques to reach potential supporters. In 2016, Instagram released “Instagram Stories”, a feature that allows users to upload creative text, images and/or video within a special section of their profile for 24 hours only. 500 million people are now using Instagram stories with many museums hopping aboard the popular bandwagon.[iii]
If a picture is worth a thousand words, then a video is worth a million. The Instagram Stories features allows museums to take quick videos of: volunteers talking about their favourite object or visitor stories, curators speaking about collection history, learning programme participants about what new things they are discovering and more… Using Instagram to tell a visual story can really compliment a fundraising campaign by reinforcing that appeal with imagery.
Instagram also has a “live” feature that allows you to broadcast to followers across the globe in real time. Not only is this feature useful for humanising your museum and making your mission, vision and collections relatable to followers, but since the introduction of live donations in 2020, it’s now perfect for digital fundraising as well.[iv] Organisations can now use the live function to link in with eligible charities and encourage donations in real time. We would highly recommend supporting your digital fundraising initiatives with Instagram, especially for its connection with the next generation of supporters being that users aged 18-34 make up 62.8% of the Instagram advertising population.[v]
The “OG” of social media platforms has expanded its fundraising capabilities over the past few years with the introduction of a “Donate” button on pages and posts in 2015 to US audiences which became available to users in the UK and Europe in 2017.[vi] Eligible charities can now register their organisation to receive donations via Facebook and then add that iconic blue button that sits at the top of page as a constant reminder for followers to consider offering their financial support.
Just as Instagram offers live streaming and a temporary stories functionality, Facebook has introduced similar options to help users connect more directly with audiences. For the purposes of digital fundraising, these are great options to show behind the scenes content and tell a visual story that can strengthen an appeal campaign. Many organisations have used the live streaming functionality on Facebook complemented by a “donate now” button to raise money quickly and draw attention to existing campaigns.
In 2020, the Old Barracks Museum located in the garden state of New Jersey in the United States held a Virtual Telethon on both Zoom and Facebook Live to fundraise, celebrate the history of the museum and raise awareness about their new virtual field trips. They utilised the donations feature on Facebook Live to accept financial support and did a brilliant job of using their social media channels to widely circulate their fundraising appeal. Driving people towards social channels to tune into events like this can only pay off in the long run with increased platform awareness and a higher chance of onboarding new followers to support future campaigns and initiatives. Check out more information about their campaign here to gain some social media fundraising inspo!
Curious about how else museums are using Facebook Live? Check out this article by MuseumNext Founder Jim Richardson on the topic.
If you take one thing away from this article, let it be this: quality over quantity. Social media can be a wonderful tool to support digital fundraising campaigns acting as extra limbs to reach diverse audiences and attract new donors. However, it’s important not to overstretch your museum’s capacity and get carried away by having a presence on every platform. Work with your museum colleagues to determine which platform best supports your particular fundraising goal and message and funnel your time and energy into making the most of one or two platforms instead of stretching yourself too thin making your messaging appear scattered and less impactful.
If you’re itching to use Facebook or Instagram Live to host a virtual fundraising event after reading this article, take a look at our recent piece on using virtual events for digital fundraising.
Now, go forth and “get social” with your digital fundraising campaigns!
[i] Hootsuite, 2021, Digital 2021 Global Overview Report, https://hootsuite.widen.net/s/zcdrtxwczn/digital2021_globalreport_en
[ii] Twitter Business, 2019, Agency Playbook, https://cdn.cms-twdigitalassets.com/content/dam/business-twitter/resources/agency-playbook-2019/Twitter_Agency_Playbook_2019.pdf
[iii] Instagram for Business, 2021,
[iv] Instagram, 2020, Introducing Live Donations to Help Support Causes You Care About, https://about.instagram.com/blog/announcements/introducing-live-donations-to-help-support-causes-you-care-about
[v] Hootsuite, 2021, Digital 2021 Global Overview Report, https://hootsuite.widen.net/s/zcdrtxwczn/digital2021_globalreport_en
[vi] The Guardian, 2017, Facebook to roll out donate buttons to UK and European users, https://www.theguardian.com/voluntary-sector-network/2017/sep/12/facebook-donate-buttons-uk-charities
About the author – Devon Turner
Devon Turner is an Arts & Culture Writer. She has worked extensively in arts marketing for both the visual arts and performing arts in the US and UK. Now living in London, Devon works in the arts and culture sector and enjoys traveling to visit museums.