Facebook for Fundraisers
Years ago, if you wanted to fundraise from family and friends for an important cause, you sent letters, made phone calls and pounded the pavement door to door. Then e-mail emerged as the way to efficiently reach more people with your fundraising efforts. Fast-forward to today and Facebook is proving to be a valuable tool for people looking to raise funds for charity events.
Very early on, Facebook was recognized to have big-time fundraising potential. The issue was that people weren't quite sure how to realize that potential. In spring 2007, Facebook announced it was opening its platform for developers to create apps. At the time, I worked for a growing company that focused on person-to-person fundraising. Upon hearing this news, we literally stopped what we were doing and started to develop our app for Facebook, convinced that this was an important frontier.
With hindsight, our instincts were right, but the timing and methodology were a little off. We launched it in July 2007 as one of the early apps. It was cool. It was fun. There was lots of sizzle, and we got a nice press release. But that was it. There was very limited fundraising. Even Causes, the first nonprofit fundraising Facebook app, saw limited funds actually raised online via Facebook (though since then it's grown nicely).
Now, Facebook actually is having an important impact on how individuals are raising funds online. While e-mail still remains the most important and used method of reaching out to family and friends, Artez Interactive is seeing the number of people visiting personal fundraising pages skyrocket. Interestingly, the Facebook feed is what's behind this change, not the apps.
What do we normally do on Facebook? We update our family and friends on interesting things in our everyday lives, and we check our news feeds every day to see what everyone’s up to. So with this pattern of interaction, it's only natural for someone to post about her involvement in a charity fundraising event. Then through natural Facebook use, her friends and family will read the update on their feeds. On top of that, fundraising tool providers are making it increasingly easy for people to "tell" others that they have registered, are fundraising, or just donated to a friend or charity.
Almost three years ago, Facebook had 70 million users. In February 2010, it was reported by Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg that it had more than 350 million users. Now there are more than 500 million users. Not to mention, nearly one in every four Web pages viewed in the U.S. is a Facebook page, so the chances of your supporters’ friends finding out about you and your event are that much more likely.
Going back to the first quarter of 2009, Artez saw a relatively small number of people visiting fundraising pages from Facebook. Today Facebook is the second-greatest source of traffic to personal fundraising pages on Artez behind e-mail. Over this time, the gross number of visits per quarter has grown 100 times and is continuing to grow quickly.
Although e-mail is still an important tool for letting people know about fundraising efforts, we’re now seeing fundraisers use Facebook exclusively (no e-mail) as the way of reaching out to their friends and families. It’s great to see Facebook start to realize its fundraising potential. Even still, it’s just the beginning.
The best thing about this is that the charity doesn't need to do or buy anything. It's all up to the way your supporters choose to connect, communicate and do good!