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Facebook Fundraisers: The Pros and Cons

fundraising nonprofit Sep 24, 2020

Some great insights came out of the 2020 M+R Benchmark report about Facebook Fundraisers. Year-over-year revenue raised on Facebook grew 6% over the previous year. In addition, Facebook giving generated 3.5% of all online revenue. In a COVID-19 world, I would expect this revenue to increase pretty significantly in 2020 since many nonprofit events will be canceled and more organizations take to peer-to-peer fundraising online.

A huge opportunity exists with nonprofits and Facebook Fundraisers; however, it’s not without some drawbacks. Let’s take a look at some of the pros and cons of Facebook Fundraisers. 

Pros:

  1. Your donors are on FB: The past several years, Facebook has been becoming grayer (as in more older folks are joining). Although there are plenty of younger people on Facebook, younger age groups continue to abandon Facebook for apps like Facebook-owned Instagram, Snapchat, and Tik Tok. For nonprofits, the older audience is not only growing, but they’re sticking around. It’s still a way for them to connect with their kids and grandkids. When my 90+ year-old grandfather joined Facebook before he passed away, I knew things were changing for Facebook. I also knew there were many like him (and younger) that made plenty of donations to nonprofits. Facebook Fundraisers allow you to reach this donor audience.
  2. Capitalizes on social influence: I’ve supported nonprofits that have run Facebook Fundraisers and have seen my friends and colleagues do the same. When I see my friends do it, I may not be aware of the nonprofit, but I know and trust my friends. If it’s important to them, then it’s important to me. I make several donations each year to support my friend’s causes on Facebook, and I’m sure many do the same for me. You’ve probably had a similar experience. This is a way nonprofits can harness social influence in a way that wasn’t previously possible.
  3. Extends the reach of your campaigns: When you’re running a fundraising campaign and utilizing channels like direct mail, email, Facebook Ads, website content, and more….Facebook Fundraisers are another way to extend the reach of that particular campaign. You can encourage your Facebook followers to help you raise money for the campaign by pinning an organic post to the top of your page about the fundraiser.
  4. Everybody has a birthday: Despite my mixed feelings about Facebook Fundraisers, I do love that they encourage you to raise money for a nonprofit on your birthday. Again, this is something I have done but wouldn’t have done it unless Facebook brought it to my attention. Your donors, employees, volunteers, and advocates can do the same. All you have to do is 1) stay on their mind throughout the year and 2) ask them to help you out on their birthday. If you have the sophistication built into your CRM to include donors’ birthdays, you can trigger an email on their birthday and ask them to support you on Facebook. As an alternative, you can send an email to your general email list, maybe twice a year, and ask that they keep you in mind on their birthday and help them raise money for your nonprofit on Facebook. Just ask!
  5. Reach new audiences: A big pro in Facebook Fundraisers is that it helps your nonprofit to reach new donors. Going back to my example where I have given money to causes that my friends support, your nonprofit can do the same. Sometimes, I’ll just make a donation because my friends ask. Other times, I’ll research the organization a little more. Either way, I’ve been reached by that nonprofit, which I had never heard of up to that point. Your Facebook Fundraisers will do the same. The end result may be you not just get a one-time donation, but a lifetime donor that has now become familiar with a cause they are passionate about.
  6. 0% transaction fee: This is a pretty sweet benefit to Facebook Fundraisers. Once you are set-up through Facebook’s Charitable Giving Tools, then you will pay 0% in transaction fees, which is pretty rare when it comes to payment gateways. Many payment providers may offer reduced rates for nonprofits, but it’s more difficult to find ones that do it for no transaction fee. This can save tons of money for nonprofits each year and help make more money available to invest in services and programs. There’s usually a catch though, which brings us to the Cons. 

Cons:

  1. You Don’t Get To Keep Donor Information – This is a pretty big deal. Almost a big enough deal to not use Facebook Fundraisers. Almost, but not quite. Once donors make a gift, they must select a checkbox to opt into sharing their information with the nonprofit in which they just donated. You’d think that if you someone made a donation, then most would opt-in to share their info with the nonprofit. That’s not the case though. Opt-in rates are extremely low, based on discussions I’ve had with nonprofits. If you get even 10% of people to opt-in, then you’re doing pretty good. Along with this con of Facebook Fundraisers, there are several implications. The following are the biggest “sub-cons”:
    1. You can’t market to donors in the future – Typically when someone donates on your nonprofit’s website, you retain an email address and can begin marketing to donors through e-newsletters or fundraising appeals. Since the opt-in rate is so low on Facebook Fundraisers, this stunts your email list’s growth. You may, however, be able to market to these donors with Facebook Ads though that target an Engagement audience. That’s a separate blog post though.
    2. You can’t give the proper affirmation – When donors make a gift through your website, you can automatically send an email to thank donors. You don’t have that level of personal affirmation through Facebook Fundraisers.
    3. Makes it hard to build a relationship – Because you don’t retain the donors’ information, a huge hurdle exists to build a relationship with donors, especially new donors. You know you got a donation, but you can’t continue to communicate with that donor to nurture the relationship for future engagement with your organization.
    4. Can’t track donor lifecycle – If you were able to obtain the donors’ data, then you could add that to your nonprofit’s CRM and monitor the lifecycle and behavior of that donor. This is important because you would know what offers they respond to, how long they’ve been a donor, or if they are about to lapse. Understanding your donors not only allows you to strengthen your relationship with a particular donor, it helps you to better understand the overall effectiveness of your fundraising.
    5. Don’t know if your donors that usually give have made a gift – Your donors that typically give via direct mail or online suddenly become anonymous when they make a gift through Facebook Fundraisers. You may have a donor that typically gives $X each year, but their gift doesn’t show up in your CRM because they made that gift through Facebook Fundraisers. Sure, your organization still received the same amount of money, but it looks as though your donor that has been reliable has now lapsed. In essence, it gives you a false view of your donors’ giving history.

 Your Turn: Is your nonprofit participating in Facebook Fundraisers? If so, what kind of success have you had?

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