These days it’s not just enterprises, global brands, and small businesses leveraging the power of social media – non-profit organizations are getting involved, too. Social media has indeed sparked new ways of giving: take Twitter, for example. The massively popular microblogging site has been used time and again to raise funds and support charities and other worthy causes. Not only is Twitter an innovative avenue for fundraising; it’s also a pretty effective one, too, provided you follow these great tips.

Engage with people who can help

The key to fundraising on Twitter is connecting with people who can help and keeping them upbeat throughout your whole fundraising campaign. You may be able to get a random group of people to read your tweets, but if they’re all twelve-, thirteen-year-olds who’d rather buy the new Justin Bieber CD than make a donation, you might not be able to hit your targets. So start by using the Find People or Twitter Search tools and get to know those whom you may be able to strike a chord with. You might also want to connect with several bloggers, journalists, personalities, and socially conscious organizations in your area. As you spread the word about your campaign, make sure you involve these people – as well as their friends – every step of the way.

Come up with a unique, unified message

Let’s say you’re raising money for cancer patients or an impoverished community. Given that there are already thousands of charities for the sick and the poor, ask yourself the question: what is it about your campaign that will make people donate? To answer this, take the time to craft an interest-provoking statement that captures how and why Twitter users should support the cause. Make sure you also highlight how support can be expressed. Tell people how they can help. Is it by re-tweeting and telling friends? Is it by donating money? Is it by monitoring and spreading the hashtag? State this clearly enough and you get a better chance of getting a positive response to your campaign.

Introduce something new and exciting

Non-profit organizations have been raising funds for a variety of causes since who knows how long – but if you find a way to introduce into your campaign something people have never seen before, they’re more likely to click, read, and help. So show off your creativity and stand out. Create a hashtag that would tickle Twitter users’ curiosity (and help you monitor their activity). Add a background photo and, perhaps, a unique “twibbon” as your profile picture. Hold contests, organize tweet-ups, or come up with cool incentives for donating.

Set up analytics

We wouldn’t say it’s a war, but a fundraising campaign is won by how the “attacks” are planned. By creating hashtags and setting up analytics, you can track, monitor, test, adjust, and plan accordingly. Recommended tools include, Google Analytics (especially if it’s long-term), PayPal, and Clicky (for real-time monitoring). You might also want to try out several other Twitter tools for tracking sentiment and response.

Answer questions

Fundraisers are tricky because you get lots of people asking questions. If you’re not able to respond satisfactorily, or in a timely manner, you might lose a potential donor. (Hey, it’s an information-hungry world.) Don’t let that happen. Have someone perform the task of just answering all inquiries through Twitter. Better yet, set up an FAQ page in the campaign website and direct all those who have questions to the information on that page.

Make it easy for donors

The advantage of setting up your own fundraising system is that it allows you to come up with various methods for contributions. Donors would be more than glad to see that your campaign can collect via credit card, PayPal, electronic transfer, electronic check, etc. It’s easier for them. With a few clicks they’d be able to support your cause and answer your call.

Go offline

Twitter is great for spreading the word – once you’ve done that, however, you might want to go offline and involve the community in a grassroots level. Old-fashioned, sure, but it’s still a great way of sustaining any campaign momentum that’s been built online. As we’ve mentioned above, you can organize tweet-ups, or even concerts, festivals, fairs, or even just casual gatherings where you can talk about the charity or cause you’re supporting.

Thank people

There’s such a thing as Twitter etiquette, and if you ask and ask without ever thanking anyone, then you may create the impression that you’re not really personally involved in the cause you’re campaigning for. Worse, people may think that you don’t really appreciate their help. So be profuse in giving thanks. If you want to compose a thank you note for each individual, make sure you do it via private message – as opposed to @ replies – as there are donors that don’t want the attention. Of course, a tool that helps them track their contributions also promotes greater transparency.