Social Media Giveaways: Thinking Outside the Box to Boost Nonprofit Awareness

Dave Landry
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Social Media Giveaways: Thinking Outside the Box to Boost Nonprofit Awareness

For most fundraisers and nonprofit marketers, there’s only one goal in mind: to raise money for the mission! Nonprofits today have many options to invest in when it comes to increasing brand awareness and site traffic, and many social media platforms serve as a great way for charities to connect with their supporters.

However, for nonprofits, giving away promotional items may not always be an option. So how can a nonprofit organization build the social audience it needs when there aren’t any products to sell? Nonprofits are a unique case. Without coupons, discounts and free samples, it can be difficult to get a good boost to your following. But it’s not impossible!

Distilled down to simplest terms, nonprofit social media campaigns create memorable experiences for everyone involved, in which the brand is an inseparable part of the story. Discover and target your specific demographic that will already have a predisposed interest in the nonprofit’s mission. They will share their experience with a wider audience on social media, and engagement then continues through the larger audience with shares and likes.

Getting Started with Your Campaign

Even with the most recent changes to Facebook’s contest guidelines, this platform still serves as a great way to boost awareness for your nonprofit. Among the most popular types of contests on this social network include sweepstakes and photo or video entries.


While sweepstakes usually have a high participation rate, it usually costs a little bit of funding up front for the promotional items. If material giveaways are out of the question, get creative and offer services instead. For example, the winner can receive a free month of cleaning services provided by your organization’s members. While the prize may not have any monetary value, you’ll still be providing something of value in return for the share, like, comment or follow.

Photo and video entries

These are extremely popular today, especially with the boom in visual content recently. Contestants’ submissions can be displayed in galleries in the Facebook photo album, where other participants may also be able to view and share other entries. While this might require a little more work on the contestant’s end, these kind of contests are excellent for acquiring user-generated content.

Real-Time Can Be Worth Your Time

In addition to Facebook, there are also plenty of nonprofits that have had success running contests and campaigns on Twitter to drive awareness to their mission. Fundraising events create the perfect opportunity to update donors and supporters of what’s going on in your organization. Be sure to keep your followers updated by posting updates before, during and after the event. Include an image or two to grab attention, along with a link to your nonprofit’s donation landing page. And when people donate, make sure to recognize them publicly by tweeting about it! Your donors will be happy to know that they made a difference!

Also, nonprofits aren’t just interested in the sale (i.e. donors). The larger goal may be volunteer enrollment. Prioritization of such goals need to be clarified prior to a campaign.

Thinking Outside the Box

While there may be some secret formula to getting a campaign to go viral, the truth is that you can’t really predict when something will go viral. Take the Water is Life campaign, for example. Taking time into their own hands, they hijacked the hashtag #FirstWorldProblems and turned something that they thought was disturbing into something truly powerful.

There are many other examples from which to find inspiration. Here are two more that are especially creative:

  • Ikea’s photo-tagging promotion on Facebook was very successful. Photos of showrooms were uploaded to its General Manager’s Facebook account. The first person to tag themselves on an item in a photo would win that item.
  • Tony Hawk’s Twitter Hunt used social media to facilitate a scavenger hunt. Clues to the location of hidden items were shared on Twitter, and people were only too excited to get engaged.

However, it’s also important to understand certain risks that come with running a social media campaign, especially if it involves giving away material items. A coffee brand offered free samples for following them on social media. They exhausted their supply of free K-cup packs in two weeks and found themselves in an awkward position. With this in mind, it’s always suggested to analyze the amount of time and resources your nonprofit will need prior to starting any campaign, both online and off.

So What Now?

If you have an idea in mind, but have never run a social media campaign like this before, there are plenty of tools that can help you get you create your campaign from start to finish. Rafflecopter is a popular choice, and it can be integrated into a Facebook or Twitter campaign. Once you register, you can customize how contestants can enter (following, commenting on a post, sharing a post, etc.) and set how long the campaign will run for.

Once a winner is chosen, make sure to announce and promote them on your social channels! Take it a step further and ask the winner to answer a few questions related to your nonprofit such as:

  • What do you like most about our organization?
  • Do you think there is anything we can do to better to achieve our mission?
  • How likely are you to talk about our organization with your friends/family/coworkers?

Social media giveaways will boost non-profit awareness. Consider the experience your contest participants will have what they will respond to best. Sharpen your objectives, research your target audience, and know exactly what you're giving away. Then, put your plan in motion.

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