4 Ground Rules of Facebook Fundraising
(The following is based on the Derrick Feldmann's session, "4 Ground Rules of Facebook Fundraising — Hint: Fundraising is Not the Primary Goal," which he presented yesterday afternoon at the AFP TechKnow Conference in Orlando, Fla.)
"The Facebook product is a sharing tool. One component of what you're sharing is the content, but the other component is the audience."
— Chris Cox, VP of product, Facebook
The intent of Facebook is to connect, share and converse. The power of Facebook is the conversational environment that allows others to share thoughts, ideas, feelings and interests — all crucial elements of a great nonprofit story.
You should never start Facebook with the goal of fundraising. Your first goal should always be to develop relationships through conversation. Because of those relationships and conversations, you get an opportunity to ask your Facebook community for support.
As you develop your Facebook fundraising efforts, remember the following ground rules:
Rule 1: Facebook is conversation engagement
The social-media environment is conversational. It requires conversation to lead peers and other followers to listen, internalize and respond. If you do a poor job at being a conversationalist, your Facebook page will suffer. This is true in the offline world. If you can't carry a conversation with a constituent, he or she probably won't become a donor. In social-media environments, conversations are sparked by:
- Being human — the people who make a story
- Imagery — the people who make an image come to life and tear at our human side
- Being authentic — honest and real relationships between users and organizations
- Being present — talking and being available to listen and respond
Raising money in an online conversational environment is not possible if you can't converse effectively with your Facebook community.
Rule 2: Fundraising should be in the background
Campaigns on Facebook fail when organizations blast fundraising messages to the community. Instead, focus on creating conversations on the cause, issue or organization in order to discuss how support can help ensure the organization addresses the critical need. Be sure to use this strategy wisely — not every conversation needs to end with you asking for money or directing people to the donate page. This should only be used when the Facebook conversation moves to an actionable step where the community wants and seeks ways to make an impact based on what is being discussed.
Rule 3: Use impulse when necessary
Social media at times is an impulsive environment. There will be occasions when you need to ask the Facebook community to step up and help right now. Make sure you help people understand why you need them to act and respond quickly. This approach should be used when you can articulate the tangible nature of support, and be transparent about how the funds will be used.
Rule 4: An image has a story of impact
Every image has a story of involvement and connection to the organization. Your Facebook community does not experience the work that you do on a daily basis. Share the images that make the community want to respond. For example, help your fans understand the story behind the image of people waiting in line for food or the story behind the image of the five students who don't have a mentor. Then through questions and discussion, ask fans to support the individuals they see.
Remember the ground rules above as you create a fundraising approach for your Facebook page. Keep in mind that you must listen and engage in conversation before you get permission to ask for money.