Charitable Giving Integrated on Facebook: Revolutionary Tool or Passing Fad?By Pete Wilson
I’ve met with a lot of leaders of non profits and ministries over the years and I’ve heard just about everything there is to hear, so very little surprises me anymore. But you know what I’ve never heard come out of one of these leader’s mouths? Not once have I ever heard anyone say “I wish I could spend more time fundraising.” And while we all wish we could spend more time focused on just leading the good work we’ve been called to lead, the topic of fundraising is an important one.
Fundraising and asking for donations for a non profit, ministry or campaign is a practice that, for a very long time, had an antiquated conversion process. We would have bake sales, car washes or host large events in hopes of tugging at the heartstrings of donors. All of those things are great and do typically give us some results, but when you’re tasked with raising thousands (sometimes hundreds of thousands!) of dollars in this day and age we must rely on the tools that technology has allowed us. And few things in the non profit industry are currently changing faster than how donors are developed and money is raised. Not staying on the forefront of these developments could prove to be extremely costly to the good work you’re trying to accomplish.
The most recent update that could help alleviate that process for you and your cause? Facebook. Yes, the same Facebook that your mom follows you on and your third grade bestie is somehow still connected to you through.
Just last week, Facebook has launched its “Charitable Giving” option for US-based 501(c)(3) non profits. It allows non profits to engage with their pre-established Facebook community to uniquely connect and collect donations directly on Facebook. And although there are several websites and tools utilized to build a following and raise money for a cause, none quite integrate all of the ingredients for a killer recipe for non profit donation success quite like Facebook has.
Your non profit can also add “Fundraisers” to your Facebook Page for general support or for special fundraising campaigns. Facebook’s Fundraisers have progress thermometers, show the number of donors, and also enable Facebook users to invite their friends to join your fundraiser as well. They make great hubs for fundraising campaigns on cause awareness and giving days.
It’s seamless and user friendly—the perfect combination to meet all of your fundraising needs.
But just in case you need further persuading on this whole “Facebook is going to somehow help me raise money” thing, let’s think about what it takes to raise funds. Awareness, first and foremost, is crucial. We spend most of our time and resources communicating the heart and vision for our cause because we believe ultimately, if others could just hear and see what we are doing they would want to be a part. What better way than to use a platform that we are already utilizing for our awareness push! We can now take advantage of the community we’ve already built around our cause and allow them to share, inform and donate to fundraisers they believe in.
Another important element to increasing donor engagement is making the process easy and convenient for someone to give. Reducing the clicks and “digital friction” it takes to donate is key. Alisa Cordesius, who leads Social Good for Facebook, said it best: “[It’s just] two simple clicks from inspiration to donation.” Once donors understand how this new Facebook technology works, there could be a pivotal shift away from donating through a non profit’s actual website.
Still not convinced one way or the other? Here are our perceived pros and cons for Facebook’s Charitable Giving Options:
- This peer to peer model allows you to expand your potential donor base and bring greater awareness to your cause. The power is not so much in your non profit setting up the fundraiser, but in encouraging your Facebook followers to donate and then set up their own fundraiser.
- The new Donate button (different from the Donate Now button) allows Facebook users to easily donate in three taps or less to your non profit using their credit card information saved in their personal Facebook accounts.
These days, inspiration and inspired content is what goes viral. And how does it go viral? Through Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other social media platforms. And then you ask them to get off social media and find your website and enter all their information, only to go back to that social platform post and share it? Hello, whiplash! With this new “Donate” option, you just tag that page in your post and hit one button to give!
Think about the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. In 2014, the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge became arguably the most viral video campaign of all time. Facebook was a huge catalyst to the viral cause. One study showed, “As the national ALS Association collected $115 million in donations—nearly six times its annual budget—440 million viewers on Facebook watched 17 million videos of participants dumping buckets of ice on their heads some 10 billion times.” Those are some impressive figures. However, Facebook executives believe that the social media phenomenon could have collected a much larger sum of money if this was an option.
- One potential downside is that the donor does not actually have to give their email when giving information, which could make follow up or future relationship building difficult. However, there are still marketing techniques that can be utilized to increase the likeliness of receiving that information. For example, those who have given to your cause once can be cultivated to become long term donors. Maintaining that relationship is huge. So offer them something extra like a t-shirt, artwork, etc. Many non profits do this anyway, so why not use it to gain the email addresses that you might otherwise be missing out on?
- It is a bit concerning that Facebook, and really any other social media company, could have so much power over the online donation process. This could potentially impact a lot of other online donation service providers. But I still think the cost of not using this technology far outweighs this particular concern.
Overall, Facebook Fundraisers could be an incredible tool for your church or non profit to use. And now is the time to begin planning on how to incorporate Facebook Fundraisers into your year-end fundraising campaigns. If your non profit is anything like the majority, you receive most of your donations in the fourth quarter. You likely have many committed supporters on Facebook that would be willing to ask their Facebook Friends to donate to your non profit over the holiday season.
All that makes #GivingTuesday the perfect opportunity to launch your first Facebook Fundraiser. I’m not sure how familiar you are with Giving Tuesday, but this year marks its fifth anniversary. #GivingTuesday refers to the Tuesday after Thanksgiving and is a movement to create an international day of giving at the beginning of the Christmas and holiday season. Last year on Giving Tuesday, 116.7 million total dollars were raised in just 24 hours! And that doesn’t even include off-line giving or campaigns that may have launched on #GivingTuesday but lasted longer than one day. Check out these other stats from last year:
- Over 1 million total gifts given
- 698,961 unique donors
- Giving Tuesday has grown in participation by 755% in its 5 years.
So with #GivingTuesday now right around the corner, we want to make sure we resource and equip you to take full advantage of it’s potential power. Today here on The A Group blog, we’re offering you a FREE #GivingTuesday Toolkbox, full of great ideas and content to get you started.
Raising the money you need to fund these God-given visions isn’t easy. But we’re here to partner with you to make it as easy as possible so you can focus on the millions of other things you’ve been tasked with take your non profit or church to the next level.