Facebook to Partner with GoodUnited for Challenges
Social media challenges for charity may not be new (remember the Ice Bucket Challenge?), but they definitely made a comeback during the pandemic when nonprofits had no other choice but to shift their in-person peer-to-peer events to virtual events, like Challenges on Facebook.
To further grow that concept, Meta, Facebook’s parent company, announced today that it will enter a co-development deal with GoodUnited, a social giving solution with a focus on Facebook fundraising.
Along with becoming a Meta Business Partner, GoodUnited will work with the Meta’s Social Impact Partnerships team to simplify fundraising on Facebook, particularly for small- and medium-sized organizations — an effort that could eventually expand to other platforms, like Instagram. Currently GoodUnited helps large nonprofits, such as Susan G. Komen, American Cancer Society, and No Kid Hungry, create one-to-one relationships with their Facebook fundraisers and donors via Messenger. To date, GoodUnited believes its clients account for $1 of every $6 raised via Facebook fundraising.
“I think one of the coolest elements of the bots that they run is asking people how likely they would be to fundraise again,” Kendra Sinclair, social impact partnerships manager for Meta, told NonProfit PRO. “And that’s really important information for a nonprofit to take a moment to reflect on, ‘Was this a successful peer fundraising campaign?’ ‘What made it different from the last one that maybe had a higher or lower percentage of people raising their hands, saying ‘I want to participate again.’ So that learning opportunity just allows us to address what are the greatest opportunities for us to think about — what we need to bring to the table so that nonprofits can be more successful in leveraging the power of community.”
GoodUnited launched in 2015 when Nick Black, now the company’s co-founder and CEO, saw a need to improve the donor experience in order to win those elusive second gifts for Stop Soldier Suicide, the nonprofit he founded with two fellow Army veterans. However, it was three years ago — around the time birthday fundraisers began to take off on Facebook — when the social giving company realized the power of conversational messaging for donor retention. It turns out that those engaged donors were not only raising more money, but also returning to Facebook to give again.
When the pandemic hit and nonprofits craved a replacement to their lucrative, in-person peer-to-peer fundraising events that were halted by COVID-19, GoodUnited evolved its offerings to include what came to be known as Challenges on Facebook. The company’s technology engages with fundraisers and donors, which allows them to provide additional data, like their tie to the cause or email address. Now GoodUnited will power the fundraising actively directly for the platform.
“Some of the conversations we’re having right now are what features can Facebook add to challenges on Facebook to help unlock even more giving opportunities,” Jeremy Berman, GoodUnited’s co-founder and president, told NonProfit PRO. “And one of the problem sets that we’re discussing is how we get more people into Messenger because what we’ve proven is that as people get into Messenger, they’re able to perform better in the challenges and, of course, drive more revenue in the long term for these organizations. That’s an example problem set that we’re exploring together. And it’s not just GoodUnited’s problem to solve anymore. Facebook is coming to the table with some ideas of their own on how to make this possible.”
Berman cited birthday fundraising testing potentially starting as early as Q2, with Challenges on Facebook to scale after that. First, GoodUnited needs to reconfigure its model, in which clients have in-house customer success and optimization managers, to be automated for the Facebook partnership. Berman’s team has already grown from eight to 50 members in the past 18 months and he expects his workforce to double in size to support the Facebook initiative.
“As we are thinking about unlocking the small- to medium-sized nonprofit market, we need that opportunity to create more self-service tools so that nonprofits that don’t have the funds to be able to hire people on our team to do the work can still expect to be able to drive that recurring revenue,” Berman said. “So, by working with Facebook, we’re getting access to people who process technology to help really shape what we are building to make it more self-serve and to be able to get it into the hands of all of these nonprofits that are really looking to engage a new donor base through these social channels.”
An initial fear for nonprofits was that Challenges on Facebook would permanently move in-person event participants to social media giving. Berman described a new shift in giving every decade or two — direct mail to online giving to social media giving. The organization has found that 98% of those who give on social media are new to the organization, meaning this approach is not taking donors away from other channels
“They’re not going to be the same people that go back to in-person. They never did it in the first place,” Berman said. “[On social media] is how they choose to engage, and our data shows us now that we have done challenges for multiple years in a row, they’re coming back to do them again because of the great experience they had the first time.”
Aside from making fundraising more accessible for nonprofits, winning back trust among some organizations in the sector is critical for Facebook as it has been criticized for platform controversies, its handling of donor data and decreased engagement that has caused some organizations to abandon the platform.
“I’d say we’re understandably in a bit of a trust deficit right now and we have a lot of work to build back trust with our communities, but we’re doing the work,” Sinclair said. “And we’re continuing to dive deep with all of our partners, which include civil rights groups and nonprofit industry experts — both in-house at nonprofits and other technology providers that enable fundraising, volunteering [and] other solutions for nonprofits to participate in. And it helps us to build the right products and tools and experiences to best serve both nonprofits and the people that they serve.”
Part of that work is improving onboarding and education around Facebook fundraising tools to make each aspect less difficult and frustrating for organizations to utilize. Ultimately, Sinclair hopes smaller nonprofits with little time for social media fundraising can maximize their resources to make the most of what Facebook will offer to help them reach and steward new supporters. After all, 1.5 million nonprofits are eligible to fundraise on Facebook, and the American Indian College Fund found success netting 11,000 new supporters in its initial Challenge on Facebook.
“We hope that for other nonprofits who say, ‘Well, we’re not one of the top 100 fundraising organizations in the U.S., how could we possibly think about interacting with a Messenger bot, or working to scope and build community on Facebook?’ — that they see other organizations who are, in a more exploratory way, beginning to wrap their arms around building community, and sustaining and stewarding supporters through the platform,” Sinclair said.
Amanda L. Cole is the editor-in-chief of NonProfit PRO. She was formerly editor-in-chief of special projects for NonProfit PRO's sister publication, Promo Marketing. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.