For most nonprofits, Facebook Fundraisers won’t go viral and raise millions of dollars. What they can do is raise some money, and what little effort it takes is done not by a charity’s staff but by some of their most enthusiastic supporters.
“Facebook Fundraisers: The Key to Unlocking Donor Generosity” was among the sessions presented during the ANA Nonprofit Conference last month at The Mayflower Hotel in Washington, D.C.
Amy Peyrot, vice president at M+R, said the first question people usually ask about Facebook Fundraisers is: Is my organization normal? The amount raised is “not transformational but for those online, 2 percent is a nice bump without working too hard,” she said. “Sector by sector, it can be truly transformational, especially for health groups,” Peyrot said.
M+R’s most recent Benchmarks report indicated that health organizations raised $30 through Facebook for every $100 raised through their website. At the 75th percentile, those organizations raised $90 through Facebook for every $100 online. What’s causing the variation in the health subsector is just how many people are setting up fundraisers, she said.
Fundraising can vary by group but “if you’re not there, that’s OK,” Peyrot said. “It’s unsurprising we’ve seen this big change. Facebook has made it very easy to raise money,” she said. About 90 percent of fundraisers on Facebook are Birthday Fundraisers.
Facebook Fundraisers, however, are not without their challenges, Peyrot warned. Among them:
Nonprofits don’t get most donors’ email addresses nor can they customize receipts. It’s also hard to track and thank people who set up fundraisers in mass. It’s also difficult to sync with a CRM and reporting tools are lacking, Peyrot said.
Facebook Fundraisers “dramatically changed the landscape of fundraising for us,” Tatum Barbaree, social media manager at American Cancer Society (ACS), said. Facebook’s Fundraising API takes the consumer experience from siloed to seamless, she said. It allows a fundraising website to integrate with Facebook to extend the reach and visibility of fundraising campaigns. At ACS, that connects Blackbaud TeamRaiser to Facebook Fundraising. “It helps participants meet fundraising goals faster by allowing them to easily reach Facebook friends,” Barbaree said. Connecting to the API automatically posts a user’s Fundraiser on Facebook, providing opportunity to drive brand awareness and engagement.
On average, an API-connected Fundraiser raised more than $150 on Facebook. About 6 to 7 percent of funds raised in ACS’ peer-to-peer events, such as Relay for Life, came through the Facebook API.
Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry campaign received about 5 percent of donors emails from transaction reports, according to Jessica Bomberg, associate director, peer-to-peer fundraising. That has since dropped to between 1 and 1.5 percent since it began. “A lot of organizations are seeing that drop but the number of donors has grown,” she said.
Good Mythical Morning (GMM), a daily talk show on YouTube, is a supporter of No Kid Hungry and an example of how Facebook Fundraisers can be “what we always remember peer-to-peer fundraisers,” Bomberg said.
Last year, one of the staff of GMM grew a mustache that fans hated so much that he promised to shave it if viewers could raise $5,000 for No Kid Hungry. They set up a Facebook Fundraiser and promoted it via You Tube. Within five minutes, they raised $5,000. So he revised the goal to $10,000 and promised to shave his head. An hour later, they raised $10,000. Again, the goal was revised to $30,000 and so was the payoff: the host would get an NKH tattoo – on his lower back. The next day, they reached $30,000.
Fundraising via Instagram, which last year added Donate stickers, hasn’t been huge yet. Facebook Fundraisers took several years for the technology to take off even though people use it in their everyday lives, Barbaree said. There were some successful one-offs, like during a crisis or a celebrity with millions of followers. Most importantly, it’s giving customers another place to donate where they are.
Instagram fundraising has been unsubstantial to the point that Bomberg said there isn’t enough data to really go on. But from her conversations with Facebook representatives, some big changes can be expected this year and in 2021.