Facebook wasn’t high on the Union Settlement Association’s list of priorities. Not that the 117-year-old organization was behind the times – nearly 2,000 people follow the association on Twitter.

But Facebook was another story.

“We felt like our efforts with Facebook were awful, and our audience didn’t even want to see what we posted,” director of development and communication Sara Stuart explains. “We felt that our engagement was so low that it wasn’t worth focusing energy on it.”

The Union Settlement Association had a lot of other initiatives to think about, too – with a teen and senior center to run, job training programs to host, and after school programs to organize, there wasn’t too much time to think about the finer points of social media marketing.

But, with the help of an anonymous donor’s generous offer, the Union Settlement Association used February to grow the Facebook Page’s fan count by 170% and raise $570 in donations. Here’s how they did it.

A February to remember

February is traditionally the slowest month of the year for the Union Settlement Association. The organization decided to take the opportunity to experiment with Facebook.

While there had been a Union Settlement Association Facebook Page for several years, it only had 338 fans.

“Other organizations had really set the standard for social media, and we had to play catch-up,” development associate Ari Briski says.

That’s when the team decided to create a fundraiser campaign that encouraged engagement and promoted awareness about the organization’s mission.

To kickstart things, an anonymous donor pledged to match each new Like with $1 in donations.

Promoting social media by being social

In addition to emailing the 2,100 subscribers on the Union Settlement Association’s contact list, the organization tweeted about the fundraiser and reached out to bloggers and local businesses that would lend their support.

“We had tremendous success with the campaign,” Ari reports. “We went from 338 fans to 908 in a month.”

The campaign, along with the promise that each Like would net the organization a dollar, greatly boosted traffic, Likes, and donations.

“This has changed how we talk about Facebook,” Ari says.

A community organization, creating a community online

The Union Settlement Association is planning another social campaign for the near future. “We are thinking about partnering with an East Harlem business to run a raffle or sweepstakes,” Ari explains.

The bonus is that, with almost 1,000 fans, the Facebook Page is becoming a real resource to connect with the community of East Harlem. That makes it easier for the Union Settlement Association to communicate events and initiatives than ever before.

“We’re now invested in our Facebook marketing and we want it to become a major part of our outreach,” Sarah says. “We think it can really become a source of pride within the community.”

The takeaways

The big lesson from the Union Settlement Association is that small businesses and organizations shouldn’t stop experimenting with different social media strategies.

Even though Facebook hadn’t been a priority for the organization in the past, one partnership helped create a snowball effect of both fans and donations.

All that the association had to do was find that valuable chunk of time. As we’ve discussed before, just setting aside 15 minutes a day to market on Facebook can do wonders.

Have you tried fundraising on Facebook? What did you find? Let us know in the comments section below!