Facebook Fundraising: What Your Nonprofit Needs to Know

5 min
Image of Facebook page on laptop computer
Ellie Burke
Ellie Burke

For better or for worse, social media is a large part of how we engage and make new connections.

That goes for your nonprofit, too. As you work to build awareness and steward your community of supporters, it’s impossible to ignore platforms like Facebook and its reported 2.13 billion active users.  Just to give you some perspective, that’s roughly a whopping 29 percent of the Earth’s entire population.

To help your organization understand the tools available through Facebook and think through the best ways to weave them into your strategy, we outline the available opportunities to leverage, potential concerns to consider, and how to develop a well-rounded approach.

Facebook’s Giving Tools

In order to meet your supporters in the places they frequent daily, it makes great sense to consider Facebook, especially with the platform’s addition of specific fundraising tools and donation options.

Tools for Users

Facebook gives users the ability to fundraise for a nonprofit organization or for a personal cause. Upon expressing interest, users can search a repository of nonprofits to help them decide who to fundraise for.

List of nonprofits to fundraise for

Once they’ve decided who to fundraise for, users can create their own personal pages and edit items like their “cover photo” and “story.”

Fundraiser's profile page

They can also explore people’s existing personal fundraising pages and see what’s popular with their friends and the greater Facebook community.

Tools for Nonprofits

Nonprofits have specific tools available to them as well.

In December 2013, Facebook unveiled their Donate button. This button is a great opportunity to make your call to action more visible to followers. Organizations can use it to drive potential donors to a landing page of their choice, such as their website. Or, visitors can complete a donation without leaving Facebook if the organization chooses to activate the “Donate through Facebook” account setting.

Organizations can use the button in their page header or in advertisements. They can also collect contributions through their posts or in Facebook live sessions using this button.

As described above, individual users can fundraise on nonprofits’ behalf. This feature became publicly available in May 2017. Fundraisers collect money through Donate buttons in posts, Donate buttons in Facebook live posts, and customized landing pages.

To leverage these tools, nonprofits need to meet specific criteria, undergo a charity verification application process, and have a Facebook page that is categorized as a nonprofit.

Concerns to Consider

While it’s exciting to see these tools appear on a platform so readily available to billions of people, there are a few items to consider when it comes to developing your Facebook fundraising strategy.

Disconnected Donor Data

It’s awesome that these tools allow you to collect additional revenue.

What’s not so awesome is that it can be difficult and cumbersome to connect donor data to your existing cultivation funnel. Without a way to easily connect the dots, your organization lacks the ability to follow up with contributors in a meaningful way and increase the lifetime value of their support.

Nonprofits using Facebook’s tools can view daily transaction reports. Here, they receive the donor’s first name, last name, donation amount, and email if provided. That’s a pretty big buzzkill of an “if.” A one-time donation could likely remain just that—a one time donation, without the opportunity to turn that into an actual relationship.

Moreover, while these reports are regularly updated, they’re not exactly in real time. According to Facebook, “a donation made on January 1, 2017 will appear in a report available for download after January 3, 2017.”

If Facebook’s policy toward donor data were to ever become more limited, a nonprofit solely relying on Facebook would risk the ability to further cultivate their donor community. Using fundraising software alongside Facebook’s tools ensures your nonprofit will always have access to the information they need to nurture donor relationships.

Payment Lags and Conversion Rate Performance

There’s also a lag in payment if the nonprofit receives funds through Facebook Payments, as payouts occur “about two weeks after the end of a donation period.” Donation periods are every two weeks. Alternatively, if a Facebook Fundraiser links directly to a campaign on the nonprofit’s website, “the donation is distributed through the charitable organization’s payment processor.”

It’s also important to consider the effectiveness of these offerings when it comes to dividing up your staff’s limited time and resources.

We don’t see the same conversion rate as we would in email or direct mail.

Jay Hirschton
Executive Director, Full Circle Fund

If, like Jay, you find conversion rates to underperform compared to other channels, that would indicate you should continue to use a diversified approach in your campaign planning. That way, you can take advantage of the reach that Facebook provides, while still executing on your tactics with the highest return on your investment of time.

Algorithm Changes

You should also consider the January 2018 changes to Facebook’s algorithm. In an effort to refocus on the user’s experience and what’s most important to them, Facebook’s News Feed now places greater emphasis on a user’s friends and family. This means that advertisements and organizations such as yourself will get less time in the News Feed limelight.

However, this means that your peer-to-peer fundraisers may now have the opportunity to reach more people than ever before. When an individual shares your organization’s story with their friends and family, it will compete with fewer ads and organizations and perhaps catch attention in an even more organic way.

Facebook groups are an additional thought to consider, according to one strategist. If facilitating dialogue is important to your work, a Facebook group may help to achieve this goal in a way that is more safeguarded from algorithm changes.

Public Perception

A last note to consider is Facebook’s brand reputability and public perception. Facebook’s recent appearance in headline news around the election, fake news, the Cambridge Analytica scandal, and accusations of the misuse of data are cause for pause.

Do your community members trust Facebook with private or sensitive information? Would they be willing to complete a transaction on this platform given recent reports? It’s important to ensure your potential donors feel their transactions are secure and protected.

For example, while you might leverage Facebook’s Donate button to make your call to action more clear, if you feel your visitors would be more apt to convert on your own page, you can opt to connect the Donate button to your own campaign page, instead of having the donor complete the transaction experience within Facebook.

It’s essential to think through how Facebook fits into your overall strategy and to craft a well-rounded approach that’s going to encourage potential donors to give because they feel informed, motivated, and secure.

While Facebook’s fundraising tools present an opportunity to engage with donors that your organization might not ordinarily have access to and allow you to supplement new donor acquisition at the top of your funnel, the platform alone is not a substitute for a strong, well-rounded fundraising strategy. Dedicated technology and a plan for nurturing donors in the long term are essential for today’s modern fundraising efforts.

Build a Well-Rounded Fundraising Strategy

As a champion for social impact, your goal is to create unique and meaningful experiences that in turn create brand evangelists for your organization.

The right fundraising software will allow you to not only provide supporters with their own personal fundraising pages, but also to leverage sophisticated integrations and reporting tools to build recurring engagement. Our data indicates that the lifetime financial value of a recurring donor is 440 percent higher than that of a one-time donor, and 42 percent higher than a fundraiser. With a 360-view of your donors and fundraisers, you can methodically consider their every touch point and interaction and increase their lifetime value.

We also find that only four percent of gifts made to peer-to-peer fundraising campaigns are recurring gifts. This suggests that gifts in these instances are driven by personal relationships versus the relationship between the third-party donor and the organization. Given this information, it’s extremely important to have a plan in place for engaging new donors over time to help develop those relationships and secure repeat and long-term support.

As a best practice in campaign management, your organization might consider leveraging Facebook’s tools like their Donate button and ensuring it connects a visitor to a campaign page built using your fundraising software. This approach would combine the best parts of both worlds: Facebook’s powerful reach, with your fundraising software’s ability to collect and interpret data.

Achieve Maximum Results

Want to better understand how your Facebook campaigns can work alongside your fundraising software as part of a holistic strategy that achieves maximum results? Look out for a follow-up blog post on this topic that digs into the specific experiences of Classy clients.

Review your current allotment of time and resources to develop a plan for how to improve. The assessment below will help you identify gaps and opportunities as you get started.

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Classy’s Fundraising Suite

Here at Classy, we’re always looking to help organizations collect and marry their donor data worlds. To learn more about the platform and what it can do for you, check out our integrations page below.


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