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Social Media Strategies for School Advancement Offices
Connor Gleason

Social media might be the perfect platform for funny cat videos and vacation photos, but for school advancement offices, it's a versatile tool for storytelling and creating donors.

But there's a twist — if your annual fund post is sandwiched right between the upcoming open house and the latest musical performance, how much engagement and success can you really expect?

Social media can showcase your school's impact on the world, one “like” at a time. Therefore, all the likes, comments, shares, and donations often go hand in hand.

According to the Southern Association of Independent Schools, 80% of schools use social media while fundraising. For non-profits in general, one study suggested that 32% of donors are most inspired to give via social media, followed closely by email (30%) and the website (17%).

Of those inspired to give via social media:

  • 56% were most impacted by Facebook posts
  • 21% by Instagram
  • 13% by Twitter
  • 5% by YouTube
  • 4% by LinkedIn.

Raising money is serious business, after all, so how do you build relationships, share impactful stories, and encourage financial support without taking the air out of your school’s social media strategy?

The bottom line is that when people connect with your school's story and mission, they're more likely to invest in your success.

Social Media’s Role in Advancement

Before you start creating content and asking for gifts for your advancement office, we should still lay some groundwork...

1. Define Your Goals: What exactly does your advancement office want to achieve with social media? Is it raising money for a specific project, increasing alumni engagement, or educating your audience about philanthropy? While direct donations might not be your main goal initially, engaging your audience still has value:

  • Awareness: Increase visibility of your school’s fundraising efforts among potential donors, future alumni, and the wider community.
  • Cultivate relationships: Create connections with alumni, current families, and supporters, laying the groundwork for future fundraising efforts.
  • Amplify your message: Use social media to share annual fund news and campaign updates to reach a wider audience than traditional methods.
  • Spark advocacy: Encourage supporters to share your content and become fans of your school.

2. Know Your Audience: Who are you trying to reach on social media? Are you targeting current parents, alumni from specific years, or maybe even potential donors from the local community? Understanding your audience's demographics, interests, and how they use social media will help you tailor your content and choose the right platforms.

Southwest Christian High School posted on Linkedin and partnered with past students to promote their alumni giving challenge—perfect!

3. Pick Your Platforms: Not all social media platforms are created equal. Facebook pages might be great for reaching alumni and parents, while Instagram stories connect with younger audiences. LinkedIn could be perfect for connecting with professional alumni and potential donors.

The power of social media depends on how well you research where your target audience spends their time online, so create different types of content and choose your platforms accordingly.

Here's a breakdown of the main social media channels and the age groups that use them most:

  • 18-29 Years:
    • Most Used: Snapchat (41%), TikTok (35%), Instagram (32%)
  • 30-39 Years:
    • Most Used: LinkedIn (34%), X/Twitter (34%), Snapchat (33%), Instagram (32%)
  • 40-49 Years:
    • Most Used: LinkedIn (25%), Facebook (22%), X/Twitter (21%)
  • 50-59 Years:
    • Most Used: Facebook (29%), LinkedIn (24%), Pinterest (24%)


4. Plan Your Content Calendar: Don't wing it! Having a plan ensures consistent and engaging content. Creating a social media calendar to outline what you'll post, when, and on which platform is a great idea. Include a mix of informative updates, inspiring stories, and fun, lighthearted content that’s on brand with your school's fundraising goals.

Pro Tip: Avoid overposting with admissions content or updates from your school. Don’t post photos and videos promoting your school's giving day and then immediately post about changes to the lunch menu. Your community members and donors will lose their appetite.

Posting Compelling Content

Now that your social media foundation is set, you can start creating content that grabs attention, sparks emotions, and, ultimately, achieves your goals.

1. People Connect with Stories. Share your school's unique stories and highlight how a gift to your school makes a difference. Remember, "real" stories resonate far more than generic statements.

2. Focus on the Feels: Emotions are powerful drivers. Showcase the joy of learning and the impact of giving back. Share quotes from grateful students and the positive change your school creates.

3. The Power of Pictures: Visuals are more likely to stop someone scrolling and engage them with your story. Use high-quality images and videos to bring your content to life, just like West Mark School did with its eye-catching '80s-themed gala posts.

Finding the Right Tone: A Balancing Act for Success

So, you have your goals, your audience, and your content planned. Now comes the crucial part: finding the right tone. It's a fine line between expressing gratitude and inspiring action—without feeling like you're constantly asking for money.

Here's how to leverage social media to strike the perfect balance:

1. Gratitude and Inspiration Go Hand-in-Hand: Express genuine appreciation for every donation, large or small. Showcase how any and every contribution directly impacts students, teachers, and your school community.

2. Respectful Calls to Action: Don't be afraid to ask for support, but do it respectfully and strategically. Clearly explain how donations will be used and their specific impact. Avoid overly pushy language and instead, focus on the positive difference your school makes and how people can be part of that story.

3. Focus on Impact, Not the Need: While your school might have financial needs, avoid focusing on what's lacking. Instead, emphasize the positive outcomes made possible by donations — donors want to feel good about their giving.

5. Celebrate Success and Milestones: Share stories of successful fundraising campaigns, highlight achievements made possible by donors, and express gratitude to your community.

Just as Taipei American School followed up with a campaign update and thanked its donors and community, celebrating milestones shows progress and inspires further support. If a goal wasn’t met, focus on participation percentages or increases compared to preview years.

6. Personalize your approach: Respond to comments and questions promptly and sincerely.

Bonus Tip: Tailor your tone to the specific platform and content type. A Facebook or X (Twitter) post might call for a more casual tone, while a LinkedIn post might require a more formal approach. Remember, consistency is key, but don't be afraid to adapt your tone to fit the situation.

Key Takeaway

Effective social media fundraising involves building relationships, telling your story, and inspiring followers to become part of something bigger—not just collecting gifts. Focus on impact and engagement, and you can turn your social media platforms into powerful tools for connecting with your community and achieving your fundraising goals.

The Complete Social Media Guide for Schools. Download your copy

Connor Gleason Headshot


Connor has spent the last decade within the field of marketing and communications, working with independent schools and colleges throughout New England. As Finalsite’s Senior Content Marketing Manager, Connor plans and executes marketing strategies and digital content across the web. A former photojournalist, he has a passion for digital media, storytelling, coffee, and creating content that connects.

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