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Joanne Fritz

Facebook and Fundraising: A Match or Not?

By March 25, 2013

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14% of a charity's traffic is driven by Facebook.

Recently a reader asked me how his nonprofit could raise money through Facebook.

My immediate thought was the usual, "Facebook is for engagement, not fundraising."

And, in many ways, that statement is still true.

However, Facebook is becoming much more of a fundraising tool, especially if you think of it as a funnel that guides potential donors to your website or donation page.

A recent white paper from Artez Interactive, a marketing company that specializes in nonprofit work, goes into the details of how this is done.

Here are a few eye-popping details from Fundraising With Facebook that might get you thinking about Facebook a little differently.

  • Where do your website visitors come from? Well, first they come from some direct referral such as finding a link to you at another trusted source. The second way they get there is through search. But after that, Facebook is the top source (in North America) of those visitors. Some 14% of your potential donors are coming from Facebook according to the Artez report.

  • Many of those are coming as a result of peer-to-peer fundraising, not because they just stumbled on your Facebook page. Artez's own research suggested that in peer-to-peer fundraising campaigns, as much as 15-18% of the donations came via Facebook.

    This happens if one of your supporters is actively trying to raise money through their friends as a result of participating in one of your events (race, walk, etc), or raising money for their birthday (do you have a way for supporters to do that?), or just shared that they had given a donation to your cause. Social media sharing is huge for peer-to-peer fundraising.

  • You might also find referrals from Facebook in your website statistics because people have signed into your website using Facebook. For instance, if your charity is running a campaign using one of the crowdsourcing sites (such as Razoo or Crowdrise), visitors have an option of signing in using their Facebook login information rather than inventing new IDs and passwords. You can do this right on your own site too.

    Sign Ins are becoming hugely important so it is worthwhile to allow them and to make them prominent on your website. Then there are various applications, created to work right with Facebook, such as Artez's own Friendship Powered Fundraising App. Sign ins and apps are a powerful combination. Artez found that 16% of peer-to-peer fundraisers signed on to its app using Facebook. And that they raised 40% more.

  • The Artez research found that the average size of donations from Facebook (as opposed to those arriving directly to a charity's website) is smaller...$45 vs $67. That might be due to demographics - Facebook users are typically younger; or that donations become smaller as the connections between the askers and the donors become weaker.

  • Despite smaller donations through Facebook, of all the social networks, Facebook "converts" much, much better. For instance, the Artez research found that potential donors coming by way of FB do donate about 23% of the time. In contrast, traffic from Twitter converts only 1% of the time.

    Facebook is simply the gorilla in the room when it comes to fundraising. And no wonder, since it is the most popular of all the social networking sites, with 74% of online Americans having a Facebook account. It seems natural many of those users would turn to FB when they are promoting or raising money for their causes.

There is much more in this whitepaper about the rewards of funneling potential donors through Facebook, but I think the main take-aways are that:

  1. a charity can't just throw up a Facebook brand page and expect much to happen;
  2. providing lots of ways for supporters to help raise money is essential;
  3. it pays to use website stats to get a handle on the paths website and donation page visitors follow; and
  4. becoming multichannel is essential.

All of that said, it is also true that online fundraising, although growing rapidly, is still small compared to other methods, such as direct mail. And, of that online fundraising, only a small fraction comes through social media channels (about 15% according to Network for Good's Digital Giving Index 2011).

Nevertheless, the future is not that far away. And that future is online and social.

For some other ideas about how to fundraise with social media, check out a recent blog post by Kivi Leroux Miller, How Social Media and Fundraising Fit Together.

For the latest in multichannel and online ways to advocate for your cause, raise money for it, and to engage supporters, get your hands on Allyson Kapin and Amy Sample Ward's new book, Social Change Anytime Everywhere (Jossey-Bass, 2013).

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Image: From Artez Interactive's white paper.

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