Recently, I shared a post entitled “Should You Be Your Donor’s Facebook Friend” where I addressed the dangers of connecting personally with a donor on social media. I wanted to follow up on that blog and tackle a related question: Are there ways to connect professionally on social networks?
Yes, there are. If there is one thing that COVID has forced us to do, it’s to connect with donors digitally. And those connections have also forced us to explore how to navigate the fine line between a personal and professional relationship. So while we believe pretty strongly that you should not connect personally with donors on social media, there are some very good ways you can and should navigate this area.
As you do, there are three operating principles you should have in mind as you consider connecting with donors using social media:
- Keep remembering that your purpose and goal are to create meaningful connections with your donors in a professional environment.
- Then, respect and listen to your donor’s communication preferences. They do have them, and it’s important that you use the media they prefer.
- And while you’re doing all of this, establish firm boundaries around how you’ll connect with donors on the social media platforms you do use with them.
So let’s assume you have donors who are interested in connecting on social media, and you’ve identified some ways to make those interactions meaningful. How do you ensure that you have the right boundaries in place to keep things professional? Here are some ideas we’ve heard from fundraisers we work with, ideas we share in our course Creating Meaningful Connections Using Digital Technology in our Veritus Group Academy.
- Consider a professional account. As I talked about in my last post, we don’t recommend connecting with donors on your personal account. There are just too many things that could go wrong there. But you can consider a professional account (on Facebook for instance) or use professional networks like LinkedIn.
- Create groups. Another way to engage with donors is by creating Facebook or LinkedIn groups that are connected to your organization’s social media page, so they are not created or managed by the fundraiser. In these groups, you can share pertinent information, answer donor questions, and engage with different donors in a social space. You may want to create groups specific to the fundraiser or by donor interests/passions.
As more donors open up to, and truly begin to prefer, making connections online, you need to ensure that you’re maintaining the right balance and boundaries in your relationship with the donor. Don’t be afraid to be clear and up-front about how your interactions will work on these platforms. You’ll be glad you did.
And my thanks to Rebecca Huron, our Director of Content, for her substantial contributions to this post.
If I have a financial partner (donor) who asks to be my friend or connect somehow on social media, I will certainly not say no. But I also won’t initiate the connection. And I assume they reach out to connect this way because they care about me to a degree, and want to see what’s going on in my world. But I will also try to stay in the wings in relating to them.