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Meme-ing Your Way to Better Fundraising

Following social media trends like memes can increase engagement on your nonprofit’s posts and help boost fundraising.


Spend enough time on social media, and you’re bound to start seeing memes. Memes are shared bits of content that are often altered and shared again by others. They can be humorous and quick diversions while scrolling through your feed. There are websites, Facebook groups, and YouTube channels dedicated to sharing and/or explaining memes. And they’ve become so ubiquitous to the online experience, that commercial brands are using memes to increase engagement and awareness of their brands and products. Heinz received over 4 million impressions and 80,000 total engagements across Facebook and Instagram when they posted a meme asking if a tomato was a fruit or a vegetable.

While Heinz is just trying to get people to buy their ketchup, memes can also help with fundraising. Your organization is trying to spread awareness about your mission and the work you do, and compel people to donate. Engaging people through memes can help do that when sprinkled among the other content you’re posting. Think of memes as an occasional seasoning to add in. Millennials and Generation Z are particularly responsive to memes, so if you’ve been looking for a way to skew your messaging younger, you should consider experimenting with some meme creation.

Don’t worry, we’ll walk you through it!

Hold On, Just What is a Meme Anyway?

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If you made it this far and aren’t sure what exactly we’re talking about, let’s take a step back. Memes show up all over, so you’ve probably seen them without realizing. I like to think of them as small games. Think of the game Two Truths and a Lie. While there are many variations on the game, it typically is played by one person telling a group two truths and one lie about themself without identifying which is which. The group then guesses which is the lie. Each person takes a turn giving their two truths and a lie. With each turn, each person keeps the basic format (two truths and one lie) while making it their own with the information they choose to give.

Memes share this format as well. A basic structure is followed while some of the specifics may evolve.

How to Make Memes

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Meme creation is surprisingly easy, especially since part of the stylistic charm of some of the most popular memes is intentionally unsophisticated. Even so, there are some design conventions that have become expected. Fortunately, most of the free meme generators available online take care of this for you.

Canva has a free online Meme generator. We mentioned Canva when we talked about Free Social Media Tools so if you signed up for an account then, this is a free bonus feature. They have templates pre-built and a library of popular images used for memes. Or if you’re feeling ambitious, you can create a brand new meme on your own. However, if you’re just getting started, I would recommend adapting a pre-existing meme, as these have an advantage on being recognized.

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What Should Memes from Nonprofits Say?

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So now you know how to make a meme, but what should it actually say? Earlier this year, when talking about how to boost your nonprofit’s social media reach, we explored determining your nonprofit’s personality or voice. By their nature, memes are more casual. This is the office equivalent of a quick joke by the water cooler. Even so, it should always connect back to your mission and the work you do. At the least, someone is amused by what you posted, at best, they are moved to learn more about your organization and ultimately make a donation.

United Way follows popular Twitter meme to drive engagement to their tweet and links back to their website for donations.

The United Way of Monmouth and Ocean Counties is very good at this. The “red flags” meme going around Twitter was about something someone said that registered as a “red flag” to you. Meaning, if someone says this, you should probably avoid that person. They tweeted a quote of someone who doesn’t know what United Way does, and then tweeted a reply with a link to their website so someone wouldn’t be that person.

Comic strips are a great option for nonprofits to share to Instagram to connect with donors of all ages.

Even the folks who organize #GivingTuesday understand how memes can be a fun way to get a message across. The 4-panel comic strip of a ghost who isn’t scary until they share a not-so-fun fact is a fun Halloween-themed meme, but geared towards #GivingTuesday.

CARE shares popular image to raise awareness for their cause on their Instagram page.

CARE uses memes as a way to educate and raise awareness about their causes. Placing statistics on memes is an eye-catching way to get the word out about a problem they might not have known about. In their Instagram post, their take on the “do you know what’s really scary” meme was to have a stat about the wage gap for women. Then in the caption of the image, they gave more information that laid out the work ahead.

Using gifs on your nonprofit’s Tweets will help make them more eye-catching and fun.

You can also use memes to accompany calls-to-action for events or campaigns. The United Way of South Mississippi used an Oprah Winfrey gif with a variation on her “You get a car! You get a car!” giveaway moment to promote door prizes for their raffle.

For more ideas, use your personal social media to follow fun accounts when you see someone share a meme you like. The more you see them, the more comfortable you’ll get with them. Try posting them once a week or every other week and give your followers something to smile about while reminding them of the work you’re doing. Happy memeing!

Corey Blake
Digital Fundraising Strategist


Our goal at MobileCause is to help nonprofit organizations create and manage successful digital fundraising campaigns, raise more money and retain donors longer. Request a free demo with one of our fundraising experts to learn, step by step, how MobileCause can simply help set up your campaigns while transforming your results.

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Download Our Free Workbook Nonprofit Social Media Strategies: A Roadmap to Boost Fundraising Success
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