Leveraging Social Media to Raise Funds and Awareness

By Craig Styles, Philanthropic Advisor

Whether you’re on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or any other social media site, the use of social media has become near ubiquitous.  In the US, 73% of adults use YouTube and 68% are on Facebook, with a whopping 74% of those on Facebook accessing the social media site at least once daily.  Social media usage is even more pronounced among young adults with 94% of 18-24 year olds on YouTube, 80% on Facebook, 78% on Snapchat and 71% on Instagram.1  Given how pervasive social media has become in our lives, how can we harness this connectivity for good?

Raising Funds

Once you have gone through the process of identifying the charitable causes you care about, a simple and time efficient way to help support your favorite nonprofits is to help them raise money via social media.  The two most common options are promoting causes via existing campaigns or starting your own fundraising campaign for the benefit of a nonprofit. 

If you choose to support an existing campaign, conduct research on the goals of the campaign and whether or not the organization has pre-existing content you can leverage across your social media accounts.  For example, many organizations provide social media toolkits for supporters to leverage during large annual campaigns like #GivingTuesday.

Setting up your own campaign can take a variety of forms.  You can arrange social events such as a happy hour where a portion of the profits are donated or host a party where guests bring items like canned goods or clothes for collection and donation.  You can also leverage times of the year like holidays as a way to raise money.  For example, this January I’ll be leveraging Facebook’s donate your birthday feature to raise money for cancer research.  It’s as easy as selecting a nonprofit to support, setting a fundraising goal, and then promoting your fundraiser to friends as they wish you a happy birthday.  It’s so simple and effective that Facebook’s donate your birthday tool raised $300 million for charities during its first year after launch.2

Rallying Networks to the Cause

Another way to support your favorite causes is by following, promoting, and posting about their work via social media.  While this may sound relatively straight forward, it’s important to be mindful of a few do’s and don’ts when using your social media accounts to post about causes you are passionate about.  A few specific examples are below:


DO: Follow your favorite charitable organizations, like their content, and share posts relating to events or projects sponsored by those organizations so that your friends can learn more and become involved

DON’T: Post publically that you are on a mission trip abroad by yourself, thereby opening yourself up to potential con artists, scammers, and other potentially dangerous individuals


DO: Promote causes, organizations, and events that you are interested in and support so your followers can learn more about your philanthropic endeavors on a more regular basis and in a more casual space

DON’T: Dilute messaging about you philanthropic work by posting trivial tweets on charitable topics or retweet something from an organization you don’t know anything about; be focused and deliberate


DO: Post photos related to your charitable work so people can see the fruits of your labor (e.g. before and after photos of a construction or rehabilitation project)

DON’T: Post photos that would present your work in a negative light (e.g. picture of you with your hand bandaged after accidentally hammering it at a work site)

Whether raising money or awareness, social media can be a seamless yet powerful way to share your philanthropic passions with family, friends, and the rest of your networks while doing a little good.  


1.       http://www.pewinternet.org/2018/03/01/social-media-use-in-2018/

2.       https://www.philanthropy.com/article/Facebook-s-Birthday/244275


Important Information:

The article is provided for informational purposes only. The information and data in the article has been obtained from sources outside of Morgan Stanley Smith Barney LLC ("Morgan Stanley") and Morgan Stanley makes no representations or guarantees as to the accuracy or completeness of information or data from sources outside of Morgan Stanley.

This material has been prepared for informational purposes only and is not an offer to buy or sell or a solicitation of any offer to buy or sell any security or instrument, or to participate in any trading strategy.

It is important to note that Morgan Stanley has conducted no review or diligence of the organizations which are the subject of the article. Further, the article should in no way be considered to be a solicitation or endorsement by the Morgan Stanley on behalf of organizations named or described. If you choose to support the subject organization, or any other organization that you separately identify, we recommend that you evaluate the organization or philanthropic endeavor, and make your own independent decision as to its legitimacy and merits.

Information contained herein is based on data from multiple sources considered to be reliable and Morgan Stanley Smith Barney LLC (“Morgan Stanley”) makes no representation as to the accuracy or completeness of data from sources outside of Morgan Stanley.

Morgan Stanley Smith Barney LLC, its affiliates and Morgan Stanley Financial Advisors do not provide legal or tax advice. Each client should always consult his/her personal tax and/or legal advisor for information concerning his/her individual situation and to learn about any potential tax or other implications that may result from acting on a particular recommendation including but not limited to matters involving taxation and tax planning, trust and estate planning, charitable giving, philanthropic planning, and other legal matters.


Morgan Stanley Smith Barney LLC is a registered Broker/Dealer, Member SIPC, and not a bank. Where appropriate, Morgan Stanley Smith Barney LLC has entered into arrangements with banks and other third parties to assist in offering certain banking related products and services.

© 2019 Morgan Stanley Smith Barney LLC. Member SIPC.


CRC 2384539   (01/2019)