In the last of our series of social media and fundraising posts, we’re looking at Facebook.
OK, so most people have a Facebook account for their own personal use and more businesses and charities are setting up Facebook pages to spread their message, promote their organisation and create a buzz around their work. But can it really help organisations to fundraise?
As John Haydon points out, while email accounts for 33% of online fundraising donations, Facebook only accounts for around 7% so perhaps it isn’t the big daddy of social media fundraising after all. Or is it just early days? The most recent statistics available on Facebook fundraising from JustGiving which were presented at the July Institute of Fundraising Conference show that over one million donors giving over £22 million were driven to the JustGiving website from Facebook. Now, presumably, these figures will include individuals who are running marathons or taking part in events to fundraise and have asked their friends to sponsor them via Facebook but still, one million donors and £22 million are rather impressive figures that shouldn’t be ignored. And when you consider that, in the UK alone, there are over 31 million Facebook users, that’s a big audience that you can reach.
I have written about the hugely successful Soi Dog Foundation’s Facebook campaign before – but it doesn’t do any harm to refer to it again. In 2011, this Australian foundation, which cares for abandoned dogs in Thailand, recruited 500 ongoing monthly donors contributing around $20 per month (or over $100,000 each year which accounts for over one third of the Foundation’s annual income). Impressive stuff. So what are the golden rules when using Facebook to fundraise that could see your organisation being as successful as the Soi Dog Foundation in recruiting (and retaining) donors?
1. Engagement is Key
Facebook helps organisations to engage people by creating a conversation around what it is that you do. Don’t just relay messages and blast out your own PR all the time. Tell people what you’re doing, encourage them to comment, ask them what they think. Then listen to what they have to say.
2. Be Clever with Your Content
Facebook also gives you a chance to present your organisation more creatively. The beauty of Facebook is that you can add in photographs and video content – which can then be shared by your ‘likers’. So why not use Facebook to leverage your events, for example? Have an event that not all your likers will be attending? (Actually, that’s very likely). So why not take photographs at the event or video footage and upload it along with your key fundraising message for the event (and a link to your donate page) to help increase engagement by those who couldn’t be there – make them feel a part of it too.
3. Be Consistent
I feel sure that this ‘rule’ has been included in the entire social media series so far but you do need to make sure that you don’t just create a Facebook page and then sit back and do nothing. It goes without saying that it’s crucial that you use your page, update it and, most importantly, use it to listen to and converse with your audience. Fill in as much detail as possible when you set your page up, use images that demonstrate what it is that you do and continue to promote key messages.
4. Remember to Do Everything Else Too
As with every fundraising platform or activity, remember that Facebook is just part of the overall fundraising mix. It’s not the be all and end all and it won’t bring in more money than anything else you’ve ever done (well, it might but it’s unlikely to do that overnight). As the Soi Dog Foundation example shows, Facebook is a fabulous way to start a relationship with donors.
5. Use it Effectively
Don’t just push out the same messages on Facebook as you do on every other social media platform. You’re not restricted to 140 characters and you can be more quirky than you would be on LinkedIn – so try to use all the functionality that it has. Use widgets on pages to match your branding on your website with your Facebook page and to include donate buttons that link to your website donations page. You can also integrate your email marketing service to include an option for your Facebook likers to sign up to your email list and that way you can engage with them even more. And, Facebook regularly provides you with statistics on your pages that will give you an idea of what content gains the most interest and is shared or commented on most so you can adapt your messages accordingly.
6. Don’t Just Think Fundraising
Try to balance what you are posting about in your status updates to make sure that you’re not constantly asking for money but that you balance out your donation requests with updates on your projects, fundraising updates, asking for feedback from your fans and so on. Try to encourage discussion rather than just constantly blasting out your message by posting questions around your topic or encouraging your audience to ask you questions too.
For further reading I’ve included a few websites here – and of course, if you’d like to ‘Like’ Activate we’re here. Let us know how you get on with your Facebook fundraising…