A conversation with Julia Campbell, digital fundraising expert
Recently named one of the 25 most influential nonprofit thought leaders and one of the seven nonprofit thought leaders to follow on Twitter during the coronavirus crisis, Julia Campbell is on a mission to make the digital world a better place. She is the author of two books, a mom of two kids, and a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer. Her passion is to get organizations and change makers to stop spinning their wheels and start getting real results using digital tools. You can check out her thoughts and ideas at www.jcsocialmarketing.com/blog.
In this Spotlight on our Spool, Julia offers action-oriented insights into how fundraisers can and should reimagine their relationship to social and digital media.
Nonprofits still think of digital tools as primarily transactional. Send an email with a donate button, get money. Post on social media, get likes or clicks. They don’t see it for what it is – a powerful way to build a community around your cause, not your organization.
Thread: Though most of us regularly participate in social media personally, many fundraisers find it daunting when it comes to using it professionally. What first drew you to these channels and how did you overcome initial learning curves?
Julia: I first started using social media when I worked as the Development and Marketing Director at a domestic violence shelter. We created a Facebook Page, a Twitter account, and didn’t really know where to go from there! In the beginning, social media was touted as this plug-and-play tool – sign up for free accounts! Grow your audience immediately! Instant gratification! But as we know now, building up a following, growing a community, and most of all – getting people to take ACTION – is harder than it looks.
Thread: What do you think are some of the biggest sticking points when it comes to utilizing social media channels to support fundraising strategies?
Julia: Nonprofits still think of digital tools as primarily transactional. Send an email with a donate button, get money. Post on social media, get likes or clicks. They don’t see it for what it is – a powerful way to build a community around your cause, not your organization.
Thread: What’s an example of a small and specific first step that fundraisers who aren’t as familiar with social media strategies can take to get started?
Julia: Sign up, listen, look, and take notes. I remember when the Instagram Stories feature first came out, I spent a week just watching them. Figuring out how others were using them. What did I like, what did I not like, how could this fit in with my marketing and fundraising strategy? Don’t get overwhelmed and think you have to be on all the platforms, because you don’t. Pick, choose, and be strategic.
Thread: How do you recommend fundraisers stay educated on emerging social and digital trends? What are some of your favorite sources for professional development in this area?
Julia: My blog is focused on nonprofits, digital trends, and social media, so I recommend checking that out. Nonprofit Tech for Good is another great resource. For general, cutting edge and how-to social media instruction, follow Social Media Examiner. However, I caution you on following too many experts, “procrasti-learning” but not putting any of what you learn into action.
Thread: How can a busy nonprofit fundraiser manage social media channels alongside everything else they have to do?
Julia: The problem lies in this question. If you look at social media as something to cross off the To Do List, something that is an afterthought, and if you don’t create a plan and strategy, it won’t work. Once Instagram comes on to your plate, something else has to come off, if you want to use the platform to its maximum potential.