It’s no secret that social media can be a real time suck.

And, if you’re the CEO or sole Fundraiser in an overstretched, underfunded small charity, chances are, social media can sometimes feel like a bit of a luxury you don’t have time for.

How much time could (and should) you spend using social media platforms to raise funds for your charity, non-profit or community organisation?

Charity annual report and accounts

And where should you be focusing your charity’s limited time and financial resources?

If you’re a small charity that is relatively new to social media, here are some tips to help you get started:

1) Decide on the best platform. Not every platform will be right for you. Some, like Vimeo, are great for video, whilst others such as Facebook and Twitter make it easy to repost or share. Instagram is a great visual platform that many charities have used to their advantage, sharing images that inspire, inform and entertain. One of my clients, a charity working with children with Down syndrome, recently raised £25,000 from their summer appeal. And they did this all using social media.

2) Be unique. When it comes to social media fundraising, one of the most important things is sharing copy that supports your cause and feels like it’s unique to you. So, avoid stock photos, generic copy and cliched language. Make it personal and unique and above all, be authentic.

3) Images and videos make all the difference when you’re fundraising through social media. A great photo can excite, inspire or challenge people to give. Your photos don’t have to be taken by a professional photographer. Decent quality photos taken on a mobile phone can be just as powerful and inspiring as those taken by a professional.

4) Be authentic. Your copy needs to sound like you wrote it, rather than some kind of copywriting bot. Ask a friend if it sounds like you before you post. If it’s a no, change it. There is a lot of truth in the old adage of writing as if you were writing to your grandmother.

5) Call to action. Not having a clear call to action is probably one of the biggest mistakes we fundraisers can make. You need to make it clear how people can help. If there isn’t a clear call to action, chances are people will see it as an update and scroll down.

6) Make your posts shareable. If you want to maximise impact, your posts need to be easy to share by your followers so that you reach their networks too. One of the key reasons my Down syndrome charity’s appeal was so successful, was down to their supporters and families sharing posts with their networks.

7) Learn from the best. Lots of charities are doing brilliant social media fundraising and are encouraging their supporters to harness the power of social. The British Heart Foundation for example have a helpful guide for supporters wanting to spread the word about their sponsored event or fundraising activity.

8) Celebs: If your charity is lucky enough to have a willing celebrity on hand, this can be a great boost. My favourite ever celebrity fundraiser was George Clooney’s campaign on Omaze which raised over $100 million for the Clooney Foundation for Justice. Donors were automatically entered into a competition to spend a day with George and his wife at their home in Italy.