Since the dawn of the social-media era, fundraisers have been looking for ways to solicit donations on the medium. Facebook Causes is one way for them to do just that.
In a Common Knowledge webinar last month, Facebook Causes Case Study: World Wildlife Fund, President Jeff Patrick and Sarah Desilets, online marketing associate at World Wildlife Fund, discussed the fundraising capabilities of Facebook Causes and tips on how to use the application for your organization.
Facebook Causes statistics
Patrick kicked off the presentation by displaying the scope and reach of Causes. Causes has:
- 100 million installed users;
- 400,000 user-created causes;
- 13,000 official nonprofit partners;
- $22 million donated in 2.5 years;
- 1 million media views per day;
- distribution to 400 million active users on Facebook; and
- donations supported to all 1.5 million-plus U.S. nonprofits.
Furthermore, the statistics show that Causes is actually able to raise money, Patrick said. After a slow start in 2007 and 2008, fundraising via Causes took off in 2009, raising more than $14 million. That number is expected to be even larger once the final 2010 tallies are totaled.
Any individual or organization can create a cause. For organizations, the cause is branded as coming directly from the nonprofit's Causes page, while individuals can set up their own causes that then have proceeds donated to a nonprofit of their choosing. This allows individuals to raise money for a cause all on their own.
"Individuals interested in my organizations that want to support us can use Causes to raise some money for us without coming to us. That's pretty cool," Patrick said. "It's called intermediation — donors can be in control and in doing so still benefit the nonprofit."
Also, nonprofits can affiliate with individual causes that support their organizations.
Patrick gave a few examples of Causes. Camfed's Educate Girls in Africa. Fight Poverty and HIV. cause hit several best practices: branding of the organization with the logo, several different tabs to display its information and a donation thermometer to highlight donating. The University of California San Francisco Foundation had a challenge to raise $100,000. The donation page looked just like any online giving form, with choices of $10, $25, $50, $100, $500 and other along with the choice to make the donation once or monthly.
The Humane Society affiliated itself with more than 2,000 causes that individuals created and listed the Humane Society as the beneficiary. It also has more than 11.8 million members that are part of its own causes, raising nearly $300,000 from nearly 11,000 donors.
"Causes only exists inside Facebook, intended to take advantage of the social graph," Patrick said. "Within Causes, there are tools for individuals to create a cause and tools for nonprofits to be able to connect to folks who might be out there raising money or outreach on your behalf."
World Wildlife Fund
One of the biggest concerns with social media is a lack of time and resources to devote to it, especially for smaller fundraising organizations. "Only about 25 percent of my job is social media," said Desilets, "so I like to say if I can use Causes, so can you with your small resources. You simply need to find the tools. They're all right there, and it's very easy to navigate and work through."
World Wildlife Fund has 4 million supporters and 1,600 individuals with causes that benefit the organization. In WWF's view, it's even better if those individual causes become affiliate causes because "affiliating with causes gives you permission to directly message and push your campaigns to their members," Desilets said.
Causes allows you to see the individual causes that benefit your organization in the nonprofit, listing the administrators who have chosen your cause. There, you can see those who asked you to affiliate with them. All you have to do is simply press "Yes," and that cause will be affiliated with your organization. You can also add affiliates by looking at the independent causes that link to your organization and ask them.
You can sort through the list by different criteria — total members to get a larger audience or money raised to see the ones most effective at fundraising. Once you ask a cause to be affiliated with your organization's cause, administrators have 30 days to accept or reject it. At worst, they reject it and your organization still benefits with donations but lacks communication with those members. If there is no response, after 30 days Causes automatically affiliates those causes with your organization's.
"It's a great way to keep people engaged and make sure there's no dead causes," Desilets said. "Ninety-four percent of all our supporters and causes that benefit us are part of affiliate causes, so we're able to message millions of people."
World Wildlife Fund then creates categories and segments its causes and supporters. Patrick pointed out that Causes doesn't require you to sort out different categories, but that WWF does so to have a logical way to segment its affiliate causes and supporters. This allows WWF to target communications and make the most of its Causes supporters.
"You already know they have a passion for something, such as tigers, with their cause, so start your conversation with that," Desilets said. "Before we started our climate change cause, our new panda and Amazon causes, a lot of people hadn't donated a cent, but now they have and thanked us for starting those causes. Once you speak their language they are more apt to respond."
One of the big benefits of Causes is the analytics it lets you track. By managing the fundraising projects, you can see how many people donated, how many promoted your cause, etc., on the edit page.
"We can see people interested in us with their own networks. We can find out if they're sharing the messages we pass along to them. Pretty exciting stuff," Patrick said. "It gives you information that wasn't there before … It gives you an idea how word-of-mouth messaging gets out there, which is really unique to Causes."
The other great thing about Causes, according to Desilets, is you can send bulletins within Causes as well as via e-mail to four groups:
- Administrators of affiliate causes: recommended for starting a project.
- Any supporter in an affiliate cause: not recommended if you have time to segment.
- Supporters of a fundraising project: highly recommended.
- A custom set: using categories and segmentation of your choosing.
"Don't make messages too long, and don't send them outside Facebook Causes to donate," Desilets said about messaging via Causes.
"First you make a cause where people meet you and find out more about you. Secondly there's the individual causes that benefit us. Then you have millions of supporters to whom you can message in a segmented, targeted way through Facebook and e-mail, almost as if you're doing e-mail marketing using a normal e-mail house list," Patrick said. "You really have a cool opportunity with several channels involved."
WWF had raised more than $102,000 via Causes to date.
To wrap up the webinar, Desilets shared some tips provided by Causes on how to use the tool effectively:
- Get help from Causes admins when you start.
- Add photos to your project so members see your work.
- Add donation levels (example: $25 equipment for a tiger camera trap).
- Create a messaging schedule.
- Send out a message once a week per fundraising project.
- Thank donors individually.
- Promote your cause in all channels.