Charity guide to partnering with influencers

Partnering with an influencer can be a valuable tool for your organisation. By connecting to their established network, you can expand your audience, raise awareness for a specific campaign and mobilise new supporters to carry out your mission.

Reasons to partner with an influencer
  • Put a face to your name – people like connecting with people. Having an influencer involved can make your organisation more approachable. Bear in mind that influencers don’t have to be huge celebrities. Consider partnering with anyone who has a powerful personality that could elevate your organisation’s mission.
  • Grow your audience – big or small, influencers have people’s attention. If your campaign requires that you raise awareness, an influencer can be a good way to tap in to new and larger audiences.
  • Connect with a specific audience – influencers tend to be popular with particular demographics. If you want to connect with a specific community, identify the influencers for that audience. For example, a teenage fashion blogger may help you connect with a younger audience, while a local news presenter may help you connect with older people in a city.
  • Influencers are eager to work with organisations – many influencers already support specific issues. Turn these influential supporters into advocates for your organisation.
How to identify the right influencers
  • Analyse your existing supporters – start by looking at your existing donor base. Who are your largest donors? The people who have donated the most money to your organisation are likely willing to advocate for your organisation or connect you with someone influential in their network.
  • Use catalogues the world of celebrity giving. Find the causes that your favourite celebrity supports, or browse by cause to find the celebrities already involved in your field.
  • Search – a basic web search can be extremely valuable if you’re looking for an influencer who matches specific criteria. For example, if you’re looking for celebrities who are cancer survivors, start with a web search.
  • Ask people in your target market – identify the community that you want to tap in to, and then ask members of that community who they follow on Facebook and Instagram. For example, if you’re trying to connect to teens, ask them who their favourite Facebook and Instagram celebrities are.
  • Start small and grow– once you’ve identified a few target influencers, you can also find out who they’re friends with. They possibly share similar interest. Use your existing connections to create new connections.
  • Utilise tools – there are many tools available to help you identify influencers. Some include Cision, MuckRack, Traackr, Who Represents, Celebrity Intelligence and IMDB Pro.
  • Evaluate their reach – does the influencer you want to partner with have the reach that you need to create the impact you want? Specific numbers will vary, but to guide your decision-making, you may want to set a required engagement level for an influencer (e.g. at least 20,000 followers on Instagram).
  • See if their followers are highly engaged – a large following isn’t enough on its own. Someone who has 20,000 followers and receives only 100 likes every time they post indicates that their followers aren’t engaged and probably not following their recommendations. Seek out influencers who have at least a 3-6 per cent engagement rate on Instagram or a 1-2 per cent engagement rate on Facebook.
How to approach influences
  • Remember that these are real people – be straightforward and concise to get your request across. Talk to them the way you would want someone to talk to you. If possible, have someone within your network set up a warm introduction.
  • Find their publicist – most people who are famous, even on a local level, have a publicist. The publicist is typically responsible for, or at least in the know about, their philanthropic efforts. They will also be keen on improving the influencer’s reputation as a goodwill advocate.
  • Approach influencers on Facebook and Instagram – most influencers respond to their messages on Facebook and Instagram. You can also check their profile to see if they have any contact information listed. If a celebrity has the blue tick next to their name, that means that the account is official and authentic.
  • If you’re going to contact them, be concise, creative and compelling – when contacting someone you don’t have a personal connection to, try to be creative, concise and compelling. Don’t send a 1,000-word email or explain every nuance of your organisation. Show them the problem, explain why they’re a good fit to help and then present a simple ask. Consider sharing your personal story to show why you care about this cause.
Best practices for influencer partnerships
  • Educate your influencers – this person will become a spokesperson for your organisation. Make sure that they’re comfortable answering questions about the work that you do, and if possible let them participate in work on the ground. Giving them key talking points is crucial.
  • Don’t be transactional – just like you wouldn’t meet a new friend and kick off your relationship by asking for a favour, let influencers get to know and trust you before you begin asking them to speak on behalf of your organisation.
  • Align your goals – when you’re connecting with an influencer, whether directly or through their team, listen carefully to understand what they want to accomplish. If you can align your objectives you can create a meaningful long-term relationship.
  • Start small and easy – be realistic with your initial request, then build up towards larger asks once they are more comfortable working with you. Don’t initiate the conversation by asking for a large donation. Perhaps you can start with an initial share of one of your Facebook posts.
  • Don’t micro-manage – provide templates and samples, but make sure you give your influencer creative freedom. They know their audience better than you do and know how to create content that resonates with their community.
  • Activate your influencers in unison – create a surround sound effect during key campaigns by having multiple influencers and your supporters post at the same time.
  • Say thank you – never forget to say thank you. If possible let them know the quantifiable impact of their support, and even give them some nice swag to wear. You never know where they’ll wear it. For example, Emma Stone wore a Planned Parenthood pin to the Oscars.
  • Be prepared to handle the impact that they create – it’s important to think through the impact that an influencer can make, and whether you’re prepared to handle it. Will you be able to manage increased website visits, product sales or office calls?
  • Track performance – if your goal is to drive specific actions, make sure that you have a way to track them. This will help you know if your efforts are worth it, and if this person’s audience and messaging connect people to your organisation in an impactful way.
Creative ideas
  • Interview your founder or CEO on Facebook Live – ask your influencer to come into the office and interview senior leadership at your organisation. Their fresh perspective can help interpret the work that you’re doing. Make sure to incorporate fan questions to make the experience interactive.
  • Go live to interact with supporters – inspire influencers to get engagement up by having them ask a question, start a conversation, tag a friend or respond to comments for a period of time.
  • Instagram story takeover – invite an influencer to take over your Instagram account for a day by sharing images and thoughts about your organisation. Instagram stories are a good format for this. To partner without sharing your password, get your guest to send you the photos and videos they want to share. This content is especially engaging when the influencer can take fans to places they don’t normally have access to.
    • Verified Instagram accounts also have the ability to add links in stories, so you can turn the attention into action.
    • Learn more about Instagram Stories.
  • Share each other’s posts – if an influencer is posting about your organisation on their Facebook Page or Instagram, share that post on your Page. Making the partnership mutually promotional by sharing this person with your community is an incentive to continue supporting your organisation.
  • Invite them to volunteer in the field – influencers will be excited to give back in active ways. This is also an opportunity for you to record great photos and videos for your Facebook and Instagram accounts.

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