Intelligence
Social Media Being Used for Fundraising & Stewardship, Survey Tells Us

Intelligence

Social Media Being Used for Fundraising & Stewardship, Survey Tells Us

Apr 16, 2013By Michael Stoner

Schools, colleges and universities worldwide are increasingly using social media in campaigns to raise funds and steward current and potential donors, and to connect more often with current students, prospective students, parents, and faculty and staff.

The fourth annual CASE/Huron Education/mStoner social media survey, conducted in February and March of 2013, asked advancement professionals at education institutions about their use of social media.  More than 1,000 respondents provided feedback on the tools they are using, how they use them, challenges they face and what they expect as return on investment. Cheryl Slover-Linett and I will present detailed results of the survey  at the CASE conference on social media and community on Wednesday, April 17. We’ll post the report on topline results and a handout from the presentation here on Thursday morning. And look for a white paper later this summer.

Facebook continues to be the most popular platform, with 96 percent of respondents using it versus 82 percent on Twitter and 75 percent on both YouTube and LinkedIn. However, the use of platforms other than Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube, has decreased as compared with results from the 2012 survey–the use of blogs and Flickr have both declined by 13 percent. The decrease in use of other platforms is due to an increased focus on strategy and an intentional approach to the investment of resources in new channels.

Institutions have moved beyond just wanting to have a presence on social media to thinking more strategically about the value of each platform to their institution as part of an overarching strategy,” said Cheryl Slover-Linett, a consultant at Huron Education. “They do however recognize the need to act quickly when a new platform, such as Instagram, emerges that will allow them to engage with a specific audience.”

Respondents continue to feel stretched in terms of staffing, with just 33 percent of institutions having one or more people dedicated to social media. Seventy-two percent, as compared with 61 percent in 2012, believe that a champion is essential to the successful implementation of social media.

There is also an increased interest in quantifying return on investment for time spent on social media and a correlation between robust tracking and perceived success.

The majority of survey participants feel that measuring return on investment of social media efforts is still a challenge — 38 percent as compared with 33 percent 2012 — but those who believe their social media efforts are effective also reported using robust tracking mechanisms,” said Rae Goldsmith, vice president of advancement resources at CASE. This year’s survey delved into the use of social media for fundraising —35 percent of institutions use social media to raise private donations and 41 percent are using social media for stewardship or donor communication.

While the number of institutions that use social media for fundraising has increased, only 33 percent have raised more than $10,000 directly through social media,” said Michael Stoner, president of mStoner, Inc. “Although we hear reports of institutions that have raised substantial amounts by focusing on a fundraising goal and using Facebook and other social channels to spread the word and encourage giving, I also know that many people view social media as a way to engage constituents, not as a fundraising channel. I suspect we’ll see both an increase in gifts over time and continuing efforts to focus on the value of social channels for engagement.”

Survey participants’ indicated the importance of:

  • Engaging alumni and strengthen the institution’s brand on the platforms that their audiences use most
  • Looking at social media from a bigger picture perspective
  • Focusing on showing return on investment and succes

The detailed results of the survey will be presented at the CASE conference on social media and community on Wednesday, April 17. We’ll post the report on topline results and a handout from the presentation here on Thursday morning. And look for a white paper later this summer.


  • Michael Stoner Co-Founder and Co-Owner Was I born a skeptic or did I become one as I watched the hypestorm gather during the dotcom years, recede, and congeal once more as we come to terms with our online, social, mobile world? Whatever. I'm not much interested in cutting edge but what actually works for real people in the real world. Does that make me a bad person?