Billionaires have had a pretty good pandemic. There are more of them than there were a year ago, even as the crisis has exacerbated inequality. But scrutiny has followed these ballooning fortunes. Policymakers are debating new taxes on corporations and wealthy individuals. Even their philanthropy has come under increasing criticism as an exercise of power as much as generosity.
One arena in which the billionaires can still win plaudits as civic-minded saviors is buying the metropolitan daily newspaper.
The local business leader might not have seemed like such a salvation a quarter century ago, before Craigslist, Google and Facebook began divvying up newspapers’ fat ad revenues. Generally, the neighborhood billionaires are considered worth a careful look by the paper’s investigative unit. But a lot of papers don’t even have an investigative unit anymore, and the priority is survival.
This media landscape nudged newspaper ownership from the vanity column toward the philanthropy side of the ledger. Paying for a few more reporters and to fix the coffee machine can earn you acclaim for a lot less effort than, say, spending two decades building the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
$680 million bid by Hansjörg Wyss, a little-known Swiss billionaire, and Stewart W. Bainum Jr., a Maryland hotel magnate, for Tribune Publishing and its roster of storied broadsheets and tabloids like The Chicago Tribune, The Daily News and The Baltimore Sun.
Should Mr. Wyss and Mr. Bainum succeed in snatching Tribune away from Alden Global Capital, whose bid for the company had already won the backing of Tribune’s board, the purchase will represent the latest example of a more than decade-long quest by some of America’s ultrawealthy to prop up a crumbling pillar of democracy.
If there was a signal year in this development, it came in 2013. That is when Amazon founder Jeff Bezos bought The Washington Post and the Red Sox’ owner, John Henry, bought The Boston Globe.
“I invested in The Globe because I believe deeply in the future of this great community, and The Globe should play a vital role in determining that future,” Mr. Henry wrote at the time.
led a revival of the paper to its former glory. And after a somewhat rockier start, experts said that Mr. Henry and his wife, Linda Pizzuti Henry, the chief executive officer of Boston Globe Media Partners, have gone a long way toward restoring that paper as well.
Norman Pearlstine, who served as executive editor for two years after Dr. Soon-Shiong’s purchase and still serves as a senior adviser. “I don’t think that’s open to debate or dispute.”
From Utah to Minnesota and from Long Island to the Berkshires, local grandees have decided that a newspaper is an essential part of the civic fabric. Their track records as owners are somewhat mixed, but mixed in this case is better than the alternative.
Researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill released a report last year showing that in the previous 15 years, more than a quarter of American newspapers disappeared, leaving behind what they called “news deserts.” The 2020 report was an update of a similar one from 2018, but just in those two years another 300 newspapers died, taking 6,000 journalism jobs with them.
“I don’t think anybody in the news business even has rose colored glasses anymore,” said Tom Rosenstiel, executive director of the American Press Institute, a nonprofit journalism advocacy group. “They took them off a few years ago, and they don’t know where they are.”
“The advantage of a local owner who cares about the community is that they in theory can give you runway and also say, ‘Operate at break-even on a cash-flow basis and you’re good,’” said Mr. Rosenstiel.
won a prestigious Polk Award for its coverage of the killing of George Floyd and the aftermath.
“The communities that have papers owned by very wealthy people in general have fared much better because they stayed the course with large newsrooms,” said Ken Doctor, on hiatus as a media industry analyst to work as C.E.O. and founder of Lookout Local, which is trying to revive the local news business in smaller markets, starting in Santa Cruz, Calif. Hedge funds, by contrast, have expected as much as 20 percent of revenue a year from their properties, which can often be achieved only by stripping papers of reporters and editors for short-term gain.
Alden has made deep cuts at many of its MediaNews Group publications, including The Denver Post and The San Jose Mercury News. Alden argues that it is rescuing papers that might otherwise have gone out of business in the past two decades.
And a billionaire buyer is far from a panacea for the industry’s ills. “It’s not just, go find yourself a rich guy. It’s the right rich person. There are lots of people with lots of money. A lot of them shouldn’t run newspaper companies,” said Ann Marie Lipinski, curator of the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard and the former editor of The Chicago Tribune. “Sam Zell is Exhibit A. So be careful who you ask.”
beaten a retreat from the industry. And there have even been reports that Dr. Soon-Shiong has explored a sale of The Los Angeles Times (which he has denied).
“The great fear of every billionaire is that by owning a newspaper they will become a millionaire,” said Mr. Rosenstiel.
Elizabeth Green, co-founder and chief executive at Chalkbeat, a nonprofit education news organization with 30 reporters in eight cities around the country, said that rescuing a dozen metro dailies that are “obviously shells of their former selves” was never going to be enough to turn around the local news business.
“Even these attempts are still preserving institutions that were always flawed and not leaning into the new information economy and how we all consume and learn and pay for things,” said Ms. Green, who also co-founded the American Journalism Project, which is working to create a network of nonprofit outlets.
Ms. Green is not alone in her belief that the future of American journalism lies in new forms of journalism, often as nonprofits. The American Journalism Project received funding from the Houston philanthropists Laura and John Arnold, the Craigslist founder Craig Newmark and Laurene Powell Jobs’s Emerson Collective, which also bought The Atlantic. Herbert and Marion Sandler, who built one of the country’s largest savings and loans, gave money to start ProPublica.
“We’re seeing a lot of growth of relatively small nonprofits that are now part of what I would call the philanthropic journalistic complex,” said Mr. Doctor. “The question really isn’t corporate structure, nonprofit or profit, the question is money and time.”
operating as a nonprofit.
After the cable television entrepreneur H.F. (Gerry) Lenfest bought The Philadelphia Inquirer, he set up a hybrid structure. The paper is run as a for-profit, public benefit corporation, but it belongs to a nonprofit called the Lenfest Institute. The complex structure is meant to maintain editorial independence and maximum flexibility to run as a business while also encouraging philanthropic support.
Of the $7 million that Lenfest gave to supplement The Inquirer’s revenue from subscribers and advertisers in 2020, only $2 million of it came from the institute, while the remaining $5 million came from a broad array of national, local, institutional and independent donors, said Jim Friedlich, executive director and chief executive of Lenfest.
“I think philosophically, we’ve long accepted that we have no museums or opera houses without philanthropic support,” said Ms. Lipinski. “I think journalism deserves the same consideration.”
Mr. Bainum has said he plans to establish a nonprofit group that would buy The Sun and two other Tribune-owned Maryland newspapers if he and Mr. Wyss succeed in their bid.
“These buyers range across the political spectrum, and on the surface have little in common except their wealth,” said Mr. Friedlich. “Each seems to feel that American democracy is sailing through choppy waters, and they’ve decided to buy a newspaper instead of a yacht.”
Bill Barber saw an ad on Facebook last year for American Diesel Training Centers, a school in Ohio that prepares people for careers as diesel mechanics. It came with an unusual pitch: He would pay for the schooling only if it landed him a job, thanks to a nonprofit called Social Finance.
After making sure it wasn’t a scam, he signed up. After going through the immersive five-week program, he got a job with starting pay of $39,000 a year — about $10,000 more than he made before as a cable TV installer.
“I figured this was my best opportunity to succeed,” Mr. Barber, 23, said.
American Diesel Training is part of a new model of work force training — one that bases pay for training programs partly on whether students get hired. Early results are promising, and experts say the approach makes far more economic sense than the traditional method, in which programs are paid based on how many people enroll.
Right now, there are only a relative handful of these pay-for-success programs that train low-income Americans for better-paying careers. The challenge has been to align funding and incentives so that students, training programs and employers all benefit.
Social Finance, founded a decade ago to develop new ways to finance results-focused social programs, is showing how the idea could grow quickly just as the pandemic made job-training programs more important than ever. The coronavirus put millions of people out of work, upended industries and accelerated automation.
billions for work force development with an emphasis on “next-generation training programs” that embrace “evidence-based approaches.”
The Social Finance effort is powered by a fund of more than $40 million raised from philanthropic investors. The money goes toward paying for low-income students, as well as minority candidates and veterans, to enter the training programs. The group is not related to the online lender SoFi.
It has supported four job training programs, including American Diesel Training, in the past year. It has plans to have double that number a year from now.
Year Up, Per Scholas and Project Quest. Their training is tightly focused on specific skills and occupations, they work closely with employers, and they teach soft skills like communication and teamwork. But there are too few of them, and they struggle for sustainable financing.
Social Finance is seeking, designing and supporting new programs — for-profit or nonprofit — that follow that training formula but then apply a different funding model.
“There is emerging evidence that these kinds of programs are a very effective and exciting part of work force development,” said Lawrence Katz, a labor economist at Harvard. “Social Finance is targeting and nurturing new programs, and it brings a financing mechanism that allows them to expand.”
The social venture’s more than $40 million fund is seed money for demonstration projects that show its model could be widely used, whether backed by government or by investors in social programs, across a range of occupations including skilled trades.
Blue Meridian Partners, whose donor partners include the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Ballmer Group and the Sergey Brin Family Foundation.
Others contributing to the fund are the Michael and Susan Dell Foundation and Schmidt Futures, led by Eric Schmidt, former chief executive of Google.
For Social Finance and its backers, the career impact bonds are not traditional investments. For them, breaking even or a small return would be winning — proof the concept is working, which should attract more public and private money.
“We need to move toward evidence-based funding,” said Jim Shelton, chief investment and impact officer for Blue Meridian Partners and a deputy secretary of education in the Obama administration. “And Social Finance is supporting programs that show it can be done.”
The Social Finance income-share agreement with students ranges from about 5 percent to 9 percent depending on their earnings — less from $30,000 to $40,000, and generally more above $40,000. The monthly payments last four years. If you lose your job, the payment obligation stops.
“Our investors aren’t after high returns. They’re primarily after social impact,” Ms. Palandjian said.
When screening programs, Social Finance looks for those that offer training for specific skills linked to local demand, and have data to show that its students graduate and get good-paying jobs. In selecting a skilled-trade school, Social Finance, working with Burning Glass Technologies, which analyzes job-market data, sought a program for an occupation in demand with potential for the worker to move up the career ladder.
American Diesel Training, based in Columbus, Ohio, met the requirements. The for-profit company’s program is designed as a short, intensive course to train entry-level diesel technicians, mostly for trucking companies and dealerships.
Demand for diesel technicians is robust as more goods are shipped by truck, often delivering products ordered online, and baby-boom mechanics are retiring. There is an accessible career path to become a senior mechanic or into administration as a service, distribution or shop manager.
American Diesel Training, founded in 2017, succeeded in placing students in jobs in its first few years, but remained small.
Before Social Finance arrived, Tim Spurlock, co-founder and chief executive of American Diesel Training, looked into financing through income-share agreements offered by venture-backed start-ups. The terms, he said, were far less favorable for students.
“Social Finance comes at it from a completely different angle,” he said.
The first group of Social Finance-funded students started the five-week course last September. There are now about 70 students in each course. That is about four times as many as a year ago.
Social Finance pays American Diesel Training just over 60 percent of its fee initially. The rest comes later, after a student lands and keeps a job.
“I’m fine with that,” Mr. Spurlock said. “We’ve completely proven our educational model. The problem was the funding mechanism.”
A total of 229 students supported by Social Finance have been enrolled. The graduation rate is nearly 100 percent, and 89 percent have jobs. Their average annual income is $36,500, and the average gain from income before the program is $12,400.
Today, Mr. Barber, who saw an ad for the program on Facebook, works in Ohio for U.S. Xpress, a national freight-hauling trucker. As an entry-level diesel technician, he is mostly doing preventive maintenance on trucks. With diesel mechanics in demand, the company paid him a $2,000 signing bonus and a relocation fee.
Jordan Battle earns about $43,000 a year as a diesel mechanic for a large trucking company in Atlanta, far more than she did as a contractor for a civic education organization.
That job ended with the pandemic, so she decided to go for “something essential and to have a real skill others don’t.” She was accepted in the American Diesel Training program, and she was offered a job after three weeks, before she graduated. Practice interviews, résumé building and introductions to employers were part of the curriculum.
“That’s where the program really stands out,” she said. “They fight for you.”
As a fire tore through a Rohingya refugee camp in Bangladesh, Dildar Begum ran, terrified, from her family’s shanty to her brother’s home. “It looked like hellfire,” she said.
The fire that destroyed her home killed at least 15 people and left about 400 missing, the United Nations’ refugee agency said. Nonprofit organizations that operate there warn of deteriorating conditions in the camp that is home to more than 720,000 Rohingya who fled a 2017 military offensive in neighboring Myanmar.
The fire began on Monday afternoon and burned through the night, displacing an estimated 45,000 people and injuring more than 560, a spokeswoman for the U.N. agency said Tuesday.
Once the fire was finally out, Ms. Begum, who is 48, walked back to her family’s camp bloc, passing burned cows and human corpses. Her family’s shanty had been reduced to ash, along with their possessions. “We are in turmoil now. It seems it would be better if we die, as we lost everything,” she said.
Anowar Azim, 25, said he tried to beat back the fire as it approached his home but couldn’t. His wife emerged from their dwelling with his 1-year-old daughter, as thick smoke and fire engulfed the area. They rushed to safety and are now staying with relatives.
LAGOS, Nigeria — During the biggest demonstrations in Nigeria’s recent history, 13 women came together to support their fellow citizens risking their lives to march against police brutality.
The women were all in their 20s and 30s. All at the top of their fields. Many had never met in person. They found one another through social media months before, and named their group the Feminist Coalition. They jokingly called themselves “The Avengers.”
“We decided that if we don’t step in, the people who suffer the greatest will end up being women,” said Odunayo Eweniyi, a 27-year-old tech entrepreneur and a founding member of the Feminist Coalition.
repeatedly been voted down by Nigeria’s male-dominated Senate.
And then there’s the matter of being proud feminists, in a country where the word feminist is commonly used as an insult.
For years, identifying as a feminist in Nigeria has been fraught. The coalition’s decision to use the word in the organization’s name, and the female symbol in their yellow logo, was pointed. Many of the protesters benefiting from their assistance were men — and not all of them had been supportive of women’s rights.
Ms. Ovia, 27, co-founded a company with friends in 2016 that aims to try to make sure that health care across Africa is driven by data and technology. The company, Helium Health, has helped hospitals and clinics set up electronic medical records and hospital management systems.
She said she hadn’t expected the work of the Feminist Coalition to be so serious, supporting protesters as they risked their lives to try to change a police system that brutalized young people.
“I thought it was going to be a lot more fun than this, let me not lie,” she said, laughing. “I thought we’d meet up, we’d drink, we’d bitch about men. We’d do some work. I didn’t know that lives would be threatened.”
a 2019 interview about Wine and Whine.
“Oh!” replied the host, sounding taken aback by her use of the word.
“We’re very feminist,” she responded, laughing. “Your reaction tells me that feminism is perceived as this bad thing.”
history of feminist movements, identifying as a feminist is seen as radical.
Ms. Eweniyi recently got tattoos of her favorite equations: Schroëdinger’s equation, the golden ratio, and the uncertainty principle.
She’s working to reduce uncertainty in Nigerian women’s lives.
The savings app start-up that Ms. Eweniyi launched in 2017, called Piggyvest, tackles one of the main problems the Feminist Coalition has identified — financial equality for women. The idea is that people should be able to save and invest even small amounts of money. It has more than 1 million customers — men and women.
tweeted Fakhrriyyah Hashim in February 2019. “You are done getting away with monstrosities against women.”
Her tweet kicked off northern Nigeria’s #MeToo movement. In it, Ms. Hashim coined the hashtag #ArewaMeToo — Arewa means “north” in Hausa, a West African language spoken by most northern Nigerians.
In a highly conservative region with what Ms. Hashim, 28, has called a “culture of silence,” #ArewaMeToo unleashed a deluge of testimonies about sexual violence. When it spilled off social media and into street protests, the Sultan of Sokoto, the highest Islamic authority in Nigeria, banned it.
Another campaign Ms. Hashim launched, #NorthNormal, pushed for Nigerian states to apply laws that criminalize violence and broaden the definition of sexual violence.
Her women’s rights activism has brought her death threats and abuse. Now, she’s put some distance between herself and the people behind those threats, having taken up a fellowship at the African Leadership Centre in London.
An estimated two-thirds of Nigerian girls and women do not have access to sanitary pads. They can’t afford them.
Karo Omu, 29, has been fighting to get pads and other sanitary products to Nigerian girls for the past four years. She focuses on girls in public schools who come from low-income families, and girls who have had to flee their homes and are living in camps.
There are 2.7 million internally displaced people in northeastern Nigeria as a result of the violent and uncontrolled insurgency waged by the Islamist group Boko Haram and its offshoots. And for many women and girls living in the camps, it is a struggle to get enough food and clothing, let alone expensive sanitary pads.
Her organization, Sanitary Aid for Nigerian Girls, hands out reusable pads, bought with money crowdfunded by Ms. Omu and her colleagues, so that girls have one less thing to worry about. Some of the girls they’ve helped had never had a pad before.
The Detroit Institute of Arts is taking steps to improve its workplace culture following a critical review by outside investigators who said they had fielded employee complaints of retaliation by the director whose autocratic leadership style, they said, had fostered an environment that led a disproportionate number of women on staff to leave.
The findings of the review by the law firm Crowell and Moring, which was hired by the museum, were presented to members of its board in November but were not made public.
The investigators, from the Washington, D.C., office of the law firm, also said that current and former staff members they had spoken to complained that the director, Salvador Salort-Pons, demonstrated a “lack of facility with race-related issues,” according to an audio recording of the board meeting at which the investigators presented their findings.
The museum said Monday that it had taken a number of steps in response to the findings, including establishing a new board position to be a liaison between staff members and the board of directors. It has also set up a confidential hotline for reporting discrimination, retaliation or other workplace issues.
Whistleblower Aid, a nonprofit law firm in Washington that represents some museum staff members, and was reviewed by The New York Times.
infusion of nearly a billion dollars from foundations, private donors and the State of Michigan. The investigators said employees they spoke to said they respected his efforts in this regard.
He has retained the support of the board, and last year the institute persuaded three surrounding counties to agree to continue a property tax surcharge that helps support the museum.
But morale was so low in 2017 that nearly half of museum staff said in a survey that they did not believe the institute provided a work culture where they could thrive, citing disrespect and a sense that their opinions were ignored. The review by Crowell and Moring found those problems had not been addressed in a meaningful way.
Last year, just as issues of culture and diversity roiled museums across the country, current and former employees came forward publicly with complaints, particularly about the institute’s treatment of its Black employees.
In September, the institute hired a Chicago-based diversity and inclusion consultancy. The consultancy, Kaleidoscope, has carried out a survey of employees and is organizing staff focus groups on issues such as equity and diversity. “The Board is fully committed to addressing these concerns and shared that commitment with our staff in December,” Christine Kloostra, a spokeswoman, said of the review’s findings. “At all levels of our organization, we’re working hard together to make the D.I.A. a better place for all of our team members.”
Reviewing employment data, the investigators found that a greater number of women in managerial and professional positions than men had left the museum in recent years. In 2018, for example, it found that 27 percent of women employed by the museum in managerial and professional positions had departed that year, compared to 2 percent of men. In some cases, Ellen Moran Dwyer, one of the investigating lawyers told the board, women said they had left even though they had no other job “because they were unhappy with the environment.”
Whistleblower Aid said the outside review’s findings showed there is a need for more substantial change to address serious problems their own clients brought forward several months ago.
“It’s got to the point where people are so desperate for accountability and change that they are taking this kind of step” to leak the recording of the board meeting, said John N. Tye, the founder and chief executive of Whistleblower Aid.
Some staff said they would wait to see whether the steps the institute is taking would make a difference in addressing the challenges.
“There is a glimmer of hope that something is being done,” said Margaret Thomas, house manager of the Detroit Film Theater, which is part of the institute. “This whole situation should not be swept under the rug.”
She added, “I want to believe that something is going to be done about this.”
Amidst the Covid-19 crisis, nonprofit organizations have faced onerous financial burdens. There has been a high demand for their services, which taxes their resources, yet their ability to bring in volunteers and host in-person fundraising events has been limited.
Nonprofits rely on donations in order to survive, and during the pandemic, fundraising has become even more challenging. As a case in point, The Salvation Army reported in December that fundraising was down 18% compared to prior years.
However, thanks to the power of social media, there are strategies nonprofits can use to achieve their fundraising and marketing goals. As people become more comfortable with their digital devices during the pandemic, they provide nonprofits with a captive audience for engagement.
If you run a nonprofit, here is how to take advantage of the unique opportunities offered by social media to increase the success of your organization.
Benefits of social media marketing for nonprofit organizations
Social media is an effective marketing tool for a nonprofit organization. Some of the key benefits include:
Social media significantly increases an organization’s reach (billions of people use social media).
Social media spreads the word about an organization’s mission.
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Social media postings are free.
Social media attracts new donors and keeps existing donors engaged.
Social media assists in growing a network of volunteers.
Each social media posting can include a link to the organization’s donor page.
Interactive content posted to social media allows the audience to participate and feel more engaged.
Many well-known nonprofit organizations, have employed social media tactics in successful marketing campaigns:
World Wide Fund for Nature: The World Wide Fund for Nature created a successful interactive content campaign called Earth Hour. The annual Earth Hour campaign requests that people turn off their lights for one hour and uses the #EarthHour hashtag (among others) to invigorate followers. In 2020, 90 countries and territories took part in the event and it generated over 4.7 billion global social media impressions.
Make-A-Wish Foundation: The Make-A-Wish Foundation has granted wishes to a myriad of children since 1980. Reportedly, the Foundation’s efforts fulfill a child’s desire every 40 minutes in the United States. Make-A-Wish shares all its video wishes on its YouTube channel. Videos of the children receiving their wishes are also published on the foundation’s website as well as its Facebook and Twitter accounts. This strategy has increased Make-A-Wish’s interaction. You can view the success of their efforts here.
Save the Children: The goal of Save the Children is to improve the lives of children around the world. Notably, the organization targets children living in war zones. Save the Children created a video where a Western child was shown in a situation that a child living in a war zone would face. The footage helped donors better understand and empathize with these children and was responsible for a multitude of donations and video shares:
Amnesty International: Amnesty International uses Twitter to raise awareness of ongoing campaigns and current social issues. Its Twitter profile has 4.2 million followers and has posted nearly 33,000 tweets.
Wings of Rescue: Pet rescue organization Wings of Rescue transports at-risk shelter pets from disaster areas and overcrowded shelters to shelters with empty kennel space. The organization has done a great job posting videos on YouTube, images on Instagram, and posts on Facebook to bring in donations.
Most popular social media platforms for nonprofits
While there are many social media platforms out there, here are the most popular ones used by nonprofits:
With over 2.8 billion monthly active users, Facebook continues to be the most popular social media channel.
Facebook success strategies:
Most successful posts on Facebook are short because people generally do not like to read lengthy paragraphs. If you write a long post and the action link is at the end, there is a chance the viewer may never see the donation link. Ideally put the donation link at the beginning of your posts, followed by brief copy.
Including hashtags on Facebook posts helps popularize your nonprofit’s content and helps you gain more followers. If you utilize the hashtags that potential donors typically use, this will improve the page’s visibility and hopefully generate more donations.
Another way to gain more followers on a Facebook page or Facebook group is to run ads on Facebook. The Facebook Lookalike Audience tool helps you target people similar to your supporters and donors to increase engagement.
Share live events on Facebook. Live events allow supporters to see real-time updates of a fundraising event and inspires them to donate within the moment.
Consider generating a Facebook survey to boost engagement and followers.
Ask followers to share their connection to your organization by posting on their status section with a tag to your nonprofit.
With over 2 billion monthly active users, the online video-sharing platform owned by Google is extremely popular. Many businesses, nonprofits, and influencers use YouTube to market their products and services.
Video content is more expensive and time-consuming to create than articles or images, but this type of content has the biggest engagement among audiences. With your nonprofit, you can set simple, yet stylized ways to shoot content, even from your office (or home office).
YouTube success strategies:
A YouTube channel is an essential component of a social media marketing program. Your nonprofit should have an established, central channel that is search engine optimized. You might even make money from your YouTube channel if it becomes popular.
Educational videos and content create awareness of the issues of importance to your nonprofit and are good ways to make your brand visible on YouTube.
Sign up for a free Google for Nonprofits account at google.com/nonprofits and click on the “Get Started” button. To create a channel and find an ID, click here. With a Google for Nonprofits account, you can raise money via YouTube without requiring donors to go to outside sources. YouTube has also implemented various features to help nonprofits raise money, such as:
Fundraisers, which resemble Facebook fundraisers. They display a donate button next to the video or livestream.
Community Fundraisers are when multiple YouTubers target the same cause to raise money on various channels.
Campaign matching is when other businesses or YouTubers show their matching pledges during fundraisers or community fundraisers.
Super Chat allows users to pay to have their messages emphasized during a live chat with numerous participants. Super chats are popular forms of advertising during fundraisers and community fundraisers.
Additionally, Google covers all of the starter fees, so that nonprofits will receive the maximum funds raised.
With over one billion monthly active users, Instagram is a video and photo-sharing app owned by Facebook. It is popular among 18 to 34-year-olds.
Instagram success strategies:
Hashtags are vital on Instagram and use them liberally when publishing content. Hashtags help build a following because people search for content and accounts by searching hashtags related to their interests.
Instagram offers the option to host a live event. Nonprofits can specifically use Instagram live events to share fundraising events, allowing followers to participate actively in donating.
Gain more followers by hosting interactive question and answer sessions through your Instagram stories.
Stories, in general, are viewed more than regular Instagram posts. People are more likely to look at stories rather than scroll through an entire Instagram feed. Highlighting your best stories will increase followers and inspire donations.
You can easily add donation stickers to your Instagram stories to inspire others to donate. In addition, by sharing your Instagram stories on Facebook, you allow Facebook followers to take advantage of the donation sticker too.
In your stories and posts, you can increase engagement and visibility by tagging other organizations or individuals whom you work with. Also when you create a story or post, Instagram has a feature that allows you to post your location, which gives your content a broader reach and further establishes your credibility. There are also ways to apply these same features to Facebook stories and posts, and you can publish the same content shared on Instagram to linked social media channels, such as Facebook and Twitter.
Reach out to influencers who may be interested in supporting your nonprofit, asking if they would be kind enough to include a mention of your organization in their content.
With over 330 million monthly active users, Twitter is a site where users post and interact with other users via mini-messages called “tweets.” Many businesses have used Twitter to increase their visibility and engagement with consumers.
Twitter success strategies:
It is vital that your message/bio in the “About” section of your Twitter profile contains a cohesive and clear message for people learning about you for the first time. Donors need to understand and care about your organization if they are going to donate.
A simple way to gain more followers on Twitter is to advertise your Twitter account on other social media channels. Connecting other channels in some form draws more followers and helps grow an account.
Always be concise in your wording, and if possible, support your tweets with images or videos.
Post often or daily to Twitter. Frequent posting with hashtags offers a greater opportunity for people to discover your organization’s content and account and provides more opportunities for engagement.
Increase your number of followers by engaging with other Twitter accounts. Social media is primarily about instantaneous communication. Vital social media thrives on reciprocity and interacting in the moment; engaging with related accounts inspires reciprocal engagement. When you interact with other users on Twitter, there’s a chance that those accounts will share your nonprofit’s account and content with their followers, which can lead to even more followers for you.
Live tweeting allows supporters to watch real-time updates of a fundraising event, increasing followers and donations. Similar to Facebook Live events, this could inspire people to donate instantly.
The Twitter Poll is an excellent tool to use. It allows you to create your own poll and immediately see the results. A poll inspires more engagement because it requires more effort than reading text or watching a video. Also, if people enjoy voting, there is a high likelihood they will share the poll amongst their followers, hopefully helping your charity gain more followers and boost engagement.
With over 469 million active monthly users, Pinterest is a platform for promoting, saving, and finding information via visual content, and has evolved as a way to showcase a brand, a business, or a nonprofit. It provides an optimal outlet to showcase strong visual content and can serve as an additional engagement tool to drive traffic to a nonprofit’s website.
According to Lisa Sherman, president and CEO of the Ad Council, “Pinterest is a place where people get inspired and then take action. Leveraging the platform gives nonprofits a unique, impactful way to share their causes and encourage people to support them.”
Pinterest success strategies:
Infographics perform well on Pinterest. Posting infographics that share relevant and vital data about your organization eliminates the need for users to click on your website.
Pinterest is effective for collecting donations and even selling goods. You can use Pinterest to sell items related to your work, even if you already have a store on your website. Link your donation page to Pinterest images.
Archive donation landing pages from previous fundraisers. “Pin captions” can showcase past fundraising events. If a user is impressed with a pin that advertises the cause’s past success, the Pin could refer them to future, pertinent fundraising occasions.
Utilize Pinterest for networking purposes by following related accounts who may be interested in donating or following your organization. You can also connect with influencers who are passionate about your cause; influencers can promote the charity on their personal Pinterest accounts.
Promoting pins, especially donation-focused ones, is also crucial. Boosting such pins around important gift-giving-oriented holidays when people are more cheerful and generous is wise, especially since people browse Pinterest for gift inspiration.
With over 310 million active monthly users and 740+ million registered professionals, LinkedIn is the leading employment networking platform.
Nonprofits can use LinkedIn to contact professionals involved in social responsibility or philanthropy. Large corporations have senior employees coordinating donations and partnerships with nonprofits, and these employees all have a presence on LinkedIn. You can use the platform to network with these individuals and develop advocates for your cause.
LinkedIn success strategies:
Business professionals use LinkedIn for networking; thus, connecting with a donor, especially during the pandemic, is the best virtual alternative to an in-person meeting.
Many nonprofits have had success using LinkedIn to acquire talent. LinkedIn can help you discover new team members, board members, and volunteers.
LinkedIn also has a “status” feature. Use the status update line to push relevant facts and ask supporters for donations.
Take advantage of the “groups” feature to join several groups closely related to your mission. Try to frequently post in these groups to create more visibility and gain more connections.
Post articles to LinkedIn.
With over 1.1 billion active monthly users, TikTok is a video-sharing social platform for short-form videos. It has become enormously popular with Generation Z.
With TikTok, you can create videos tied to emotional music, and intertwine the video with a trending hashtag. Inputting emotion and having a trending hashtag has helped TikTok videos go viral and garner more followers.
TikTok success strategies:
When the Oregon Zoo posted a video of an adorable elephant swimming to a heartwarming song and affiliated it with an Earth Day hashtag, the video received 4.7 million views, 861,000 likes, and 2,561 comments.
Oregon Zoo TikTok campaign video
Dance challenges are popular on TikTok and a great way to inspire donations. The American Heart Association conducted a “Keep the Beat Challenge.” Supporters created videos of themselves dancing to “Keep their Beat.” The challenge promoted the American Heart Association while raising money and awareness for American Heart Month.
American Heart Association TikTok campaign video
Use TikTok to inspire involvement and donating through storytelling. The Save the Music Foundation shared videos of young, ambitious musicians playing their music, and used text overlays in the video to tell viewers their inspiring life stories as the video played. This allowed viewers to listen to each musician perform while being able to read how Save the Music impacted the person’s life.
Save the Music Foundation TikTok campaign video
Charities can take advantage of informative content as a means to spread awareness. For their National Walking Day Campaign, United Way produced a short video of two people walking while highlighting the health statistics of walking frequently and the safety measures to consider during Covid-19.
National Walking Day TikTok campaign video
More social media tips for nonprofits
Here are some general tips to keep in mind no matter what platform you use:
Postings should be regular and continuous. Organizations that are successful with social media will post once a day or more. An occasional posting does not successfully build an engaged audience.
Optimize your organization’s profile on each social media site with a clear mission statement, bio, and image.
Use relevant hashtags, such as #dogrescue or #cancercure. People on social media use hashtags to find content and accounts pertaining to their interests. Be careful not to overuse hashtags because this makes the content of the post less relevant or visible than the hashtags themselves.
Consider scheduling regular postings with software tools such as Hootsuite or Buffer.
Monitoring the analytics of your postings is important to enhance your marketing strategy. For example, you can monitor the number of follows, likes, comments, and the traffic to your website from your social media postings.
Use interesting visual content.
Ensure that each post links to your organization’s website and particularly to the donor page.
Use call-to-action words in postings, such as “please help,” “please like,” “please retweet,” and other such phrasing.
Invest in videos—videos can result in 12 times more “shares” than text and images.
Make sure that your website promotes social media icons on every page.
Use humor and funny images when appropriate.
Tread lightly on controversial subjects.
Be prompt when engaging with your audience, answering questions, replying to comments, and responding to messages.
Additional marketing strategies for nonprofits
Consider the following marketing strategies to supplement your social media program:
Crowdfunding. Your nonprofit can fundraise virtually via crowdfunding. Crowdfunding is an excellent way to attract a large group of people to donate small quantities in unison, and there are many ways to share crowdfunding goals on social media channels.
For example, GoFundMe.com reported that a five-year-old boy wanted to help less fortunate children during the holidays. He led a 20-minute meditation session and then asked his attendees to donate to the Coalition for the Homeless in his name; he raised $30,000.
Email newsletters. Consider emailing a weekly newsletter to subscribers. This is a great way to keep your nonprofit at the forefront of people’s minds. Newsletters can include news updates, new images, new videos, references to the nonprofit on social media, links to donation pages, information about upcoming events, and much more.
You can then build up your newsletter subscriber list, which becomes a valuable asset to maintain engagement with clients or donors.
Content marketing. Employ content marketing strategies by creating articles for your website and other business sites. Stories should have links back to your website and especially to your donation page. These posts can help drive traffic and Google ranking. Nonprofits should employ content marketing strategies by creating articles for their website and other sites such as Medium.com or AllBusiness.com.
Social media—a cost-effective strategy
A nonprofit organization can use social media to increase donations and improve its visibility by successfully employing a comprehensive social media marketing strategy. Starting and implementing a coherent strategy may take a lot of time and effort, but it has been shown to be an extremely cost-effective marketing method for many organizations.
RELATED: 7 Rules for More Effective Social Media Marketing
About the Author
Jacqueline Tabas is a content marketer and social media manager based in San Francisco. Jacqueline has extensive experience in content marketing, content development, blogging, copywriting, posting, and conducting analytics for Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Twitter, and other social media sites. She has been an advisor on social media marketing to many organizations, including nonprofits, technology companies, retail companies, and fashion brands. Connect with Jacqueline on LinkedIn.
“What I would really like to do is make people more aware of what heart disease is and how easy it is to begin to change it,” Ms. Soter said. “I want people to realize it is the No. 1 killer of women, and the younger you are to learn this the better.”
Certain organizations support women’s needs generally, but it is still better to lay out your wishes.
“If you’re giving money to food pantries — the hungry, the poor, the working poor — it’s primarily women and children who benefit,” Ms. Searing of Deloitte Tax said. “In the arts, if you want to fund women artists, you’re going to have to designate that.”
Some donors may need to look more closely to find where a large organization is spending its money, said Julie Neitzel, partner and adviser at WE Family Offices, which advises wealthy families. She pointed to the Miami Foundation, which makes grants in the community to organizations that support equity, including initiatives targeted at women, and the National Association of Corporate Directors, which is helping to add more women to corporate boards.
“It’s all about raising awareness and understanding in allocating resources to women and girls — on the individual, community and national level,” Ms. Neitzel said. “It makes us better communities and corporate organizations.”
Jennifer Buczek Ezring of New Canaan, Conn., a partner at the law firm Cahill Gordon & Reindel, had been supporting her alma mater and Multiplying Good, a nonprofit organization that promotes community service.
When her daughter, now 12, was entering middle school, Ms. Ezring reached out to LiveGirl to learn more and ended up becoming a donor and sitting on its board.