How To Engage New Audiences on Facebook Using Messenger
There’s no denying that 2020 brought unprecedented hardship for nonprofit fundraising. The economic challenges brought about by the pandemic aren’t unheard of, but the combination of economic barriers with the lack of in-person interactions was certainly a new obstacle.
This was especially evident for nonprofits that regularly use peer-to-peer fundraising. However, some organizations were able to recoup this revenue and engagement thanks to one tool that’s probably available on each of your supporters’ smartphones: Facebook fundraising.
Let’s walk through how you can use Facebook — specifically, Facebook Challenges and Messenger — as a tool to engage new audiences and raise your relationships (and revenue!) in 2021 and beyond. Facebook Challenges open the door for engagement with new supporters and Messenger seals the deal. Let’s dive in to explore both.
Step 1: Connect With New Supporters Via Facebook Challenges
In 2020, many nonprofit organizations anticipated a dip in revenue — both due to peer-to-peer fundraisers moving to the virtual sphere and the decreased giving capacity for many donors. While the world is slowly reopening in 2021, that doesn’t mean that peer-to-peer fundraising has fully bounced back to pre-pandemic levels.
You can combat any decreases in both revenue and supporter engagement using Facebook Challenges, which offer a low barrier to entry for your supporters to gather digitally, raise peer-to-peer funds and experience community with one another. Facebook Challenges are time-bound tasks, such as walking 10,000 steps per day over the course of a month, that your supporters complete while raising peer-to-peer funds via a Facebook fundraiser.
Planning and executing a Facebook Challenge includes the following steps:
- Your team formulates a simple virtual fundraising Challenge idea for supporters. This could be a steps, reading or even volunteer hours Challenge.
- You create a Facebook Group for Challenge participants and use paid Facebook ads to spread the word about the opportunity. The ads would direct users to join the group and create their own Facebook fundraiser.
- Users join the group and create a fundraiser. For the duration of the Challenge, they check in with one another, share tips and encouragement, and raise peer-to-peer funds from their friends in support of their participation.
During and after the Challenge, you access an online community of supporters who are united for your cause and a supplemental fundraising source. This process can be replicated going forward — in new regions and with new Challenge tasks — to continue growing your social fundraising community and stewarding current participants.
But, does this really work in practice? Susan G. Komen, the world’s leading breast cancer organization, partnered with GoodUnited, a company that specializes in helping nonprofits connect with social supporters, to host a Facebook Challenge to connect with supporters during the pandemic. For their initial Challenge, the goal was to join 6,000 people together in a group to fundraise together. By the end of the Challenge, they had built a community of 13,000 individuals and raised more than double the amount of donations they’d initially anticipated.
Susan G. Komen is now planning four more Facebook Challenges for fiscal year 2021, and supporters can easily start a fundraiser on Facebook.
Step 2: Build Relationships with supporters using Messenger.
So, why are we discussing Facebook Challenges in an article about engaging new audiences using Facebook Messenger? Because Facebook Challenges are the conduit to getting supporters to connect with your nonprofit through the instant messaging tool.
While Facebook Fundraiser Challenges are a great supplemental fundraising source, where they really shine is through opening the door for thousands of new supporters to the organization itself.
From within your Facebook Challenge groups — and even using comments on each individual users’ fundraising pages — you can post comments thanking the user for participating and inviting them to connect with your nonprofit on Messenger.
From within Facebook Messenger, you can then share any (or all) of the following communications:
- Acknowledgment and gratitude. Thank the users personally for their participation in your Facebook Challenge and acknowledge the impact that the funds they raise will have on your mission.
- Encouragement and fundraising tips. Few participants will be fundraising experts. Share tips to help them reach their fundraising goals, such as posting regular updates about their progress.
- One-off questions and links to external surveys. You can collect information about the supporter that Facebook wouldn’t provide, such as contact details and more personal information. What is their motivation for fundraising for your nonprofit? Who inspired them to support your cause? How do they want to continue engaging?
- Follow-ups. You can continue to check in with that supporter throughout the year, long after the Challenge has ended, and share upcoming opportunities to get involved. This could mean encouraging them to host a birthday fundraiser or even to join your next Facebook Challenge event.
Research shows that 39.5% of people discover the nonprofits that they support via Facebook. Taking that a step further, GoodUnited has found that approximately 90% of users who participate in a Facebook Challenge are new to the nonprofit itself. For Susan G. Komen, with 13,000 supporters joining the Facebook Challenge, this meant that approximately 10,000 net new supporters were available to connect with. With Facebook Messenger, Susan G. Komen was then able to converse with each of those individual supporters and build lasting relationships.
These are individual, one-on-one communications with each individual supporter. Of course, it’s nearly impossible to hold personalized communications with supporters when you’re communicating with thousands of people — as was the case with Susan G. Komen’s Facebook Challenge.
This is another area where Komen partnered with GoodUnited, which allowed them to create customized automated messaging sequences. The conversations could still be personalized to each individual — but, the combination of human judgment and data science provided by GoodUnited meant that these personalized conversations could be scaled up and managed in a sustainable manner.
Why It Works: The Power of In-Channel Communications
Research shows that 87% of people who give through social media will donate using that platform again. While this statistic has implications for digital fundraising more generally, it also tells us something about the behavior of social supporters — when people choose to interact with a nonprofit through social media, they’ll likely want to interact through that same channel again.
So, when new supporters choose to interact with your nonprofit through social media — we’ve seen that 90% of participants in Facebook Challenges are new to the nonprofit— they’re looking to continue those interactions through the platform that they’re already comfortable with. When you use conversational messaging via Messenger, you’re continuing to steward new supporters through the platform of their choice.
For Susan G. Komen, Challenges represented a new way to build community digitally, especially when it came to reaching new donors within the breast cancer community across the U.S. This was especially impactful when it came to areas unreached by in-person events. From there, the organization could bring these relationships to fruition and add thousands of supporters to their mission using Messenger.
“This was a way to build a meaningful community in the digital world among people touched by a cause or a diagnosis, during a time when we were living apart and unable to connect in person,” Michelle Strong, vice president of marketing strategy at Susan G. Komen, said.
Facebook Challenges and Messenger are the perfect pair when it comes to connecting with a new audience of social supporters and building relationships that last. Challenges inspire supporters to give back and Messenger helps you to understand those supporters and grow your relationships with them over time.
Using these strategies, Susan G. Komen was able to both raise revenue and raise their relationships with an entirely new community of supporters impacted by breast cancer across the U.S., even during a global pandemic. And, your nonprofit can too.
Josh Hirsch is a social marketing manager at Susan G. Komen. He has worked in the nonprofit sector since 2006 with a focus on educational philanthropy for both public charter and independent private schools. He has an extensive background in social media, digital communications, and marketing along with experience in grant research and writing, individual giving, special event planning, stewardship, and cultivation of donors.
He is the membership chair for the Association of Fundraising Professionals First Coast Chapter and past-president of the Palm Beach County Chapter. Josh is also a member of the AFPeeps, the social media vanguard for the AFP International Conference and other AFP initiatives. He has spoken nationally on digital communications and has had numerous articles published in professional journals. Josh received a Master of Science in family, youth and community sciences and a Bachelor of Science in advertising from the University of Florida. He has a certificate in strategic fundraising and philanthropy from Bay Path University and is a certified social media strategist by the National Institute for Social Media.