Does Social Media Fundraising Work?

For anyone wondering whether social media is a useful tool to raise ministry funds, a look at ECFA’s recent report, New Frontiers in Nonprofit Fundraising by Warren Bird, should provide a convincing answer. Our survey of more than 700 Christ-centered nonprofits and churches, conducted in early 2021, indicated widespread affirmation that social media works. Among the findings:

  • Social media generates the “most giving” for only 9% of survey participants, ranking behind approaches that focus on face-to-face visits, email, and direct mail. Even so, fundraising by social media is an area that is growing and is also an area of anticipated future growth, according to those polled.

  • When asked where their “highest social media attention” will go in 2021, the overwhelming choice was Facebook at 61%. The most-named for “second-highest social media attention in 2021” was Instagram at 29%. Third choice was Linkedin. Other social media including TikTok, Instagram, and Pinterest each received only a negligible response.

  • Interestingly, on the question of “highest” and “second-highest” social media attention for 2021 fundraising, the options “don’t know” and “none” received a sizable response. For “highest” social media attention in 2021, 24% said “don’t know” or “none,” while for “second highest” social media attention in 2021, 42% said “don’t know” or “none.” Larger-size ministries and churches (with annual income of $10 million or higher) are more likely to have a defined social media plan than are smaller-size ministries and churches (with annual income of less than $1 million).
  • However, ministries and churches that rate their fundraising program as ineffective are 10% more likely to use free social media (i.e, general postings) than those that are effective. By contrast, those that use paid social media (i.e., fee-based postings or placements) are 6% more likely to rate their fundraising program as effective.
  • Ministries and churches are experimenting with both paid social media placement and also free social media usage. Predictably, smaller organizations and churches use a higher percentage of free social media.
  • Many are increasing the role of video on their social media.
  • Ministries and churches reported that not only was social media effective for bringing in dollars, but also in recruiting volunteers.

For more ECFA survey reports, see ECFA.org/surveys.


This text is provided with the understanding that ECFA is not rendering legal, accounting, or other professional advice or service. Professional advice on specific issues should be sought from an accountant, lawyer, or other professional.

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