Facebook, Fundraising and the Dawn of a New Age
Five years ago, many of us believed that social media in general, and Facebook in particular, were going to be big — “the future of fundraising” and how we’d acquire many of our new donors. We saw the fundamental desires of people to share things they’re passionate about and their natural inclination to come together in communities as signs that Facebook would soon play a major role in nonprofit fundraising. And … it didn’t happen. Let’s face it: With a few exceptions, Facebook has been a bust from the perspective of fundraising and donor acquisition — and even volunteer recruitment and advocacy. (Just ask Roger Craver, who uses far more flowery language than the editors of FundRaising Success allow in print!)
But are we are finally poised for the real dawn of the Golden Age of Facebook for nonprofit fundraising and donor acquisition? No, we’re not proposing that Facebook (or social media more broadly) will overtake direct mail, or even e-mail, tomorrow. However, we do believe that Facebook now has a much more important role to play in integrated campaigns and even as a stand-alone channel.
What’s changed? As it turns out, a lot — especially on the paid-media side. Facebook has transformed itself from a direct-marketer abyss to haven in little more than a year. Before 2012, marketers had to use Facebook’s native ad function with no ability to do individual-level targeting. (See chart below.)
In March of last year, Facebook Exchange launched, enabling cookie-based, real-time bidding on anonymous user data. In English, this means that we can start remarketing Facebook ads to anonymous people who visit our websites. (Really what this means is that you don’t need to worry about the government tracking your behavior — corporations already are!) Not only that, we also can remarket to individuals who open or click on an e-mail. In other words, we can now follow up with these groups of people already interested in our nonprofit via targeted Facebook ads. And the cost per acquisition (CPA) seen by commercial firms is typically far lower than through display ad campaigns — e.g., we’ve seen data for an insurance company paying almost 80 percent less per quote (i.e., one-fifth the cost).