3 Key Facebook Fundraising Strategy Mistakes to Avoid in 2023
The quickly evolving landscape of digital fundraising is already undergoing changes in 2023. The borderline takeover of headlines thanks to the emergence of tech like AI-assisted copywriting tools has led to a hotbed of debate over what is truly advancing digital fundraising and what is temporary noise.
At the center of fundraising professional’s list of unknowns is the perceived value of Facebook fundraising. Sure, it’s not the gold rush that it was back in 2020 and it’s seen its ups and downs over the years. There’s evidence, though, that recent updates from Meta, a leveling out of Facebook fundraising growth, and direct access to an ever-green source of new supporters and fresh data is proving that Facebook fundraising is as viable a channel as ever in 2023.
With that, here are three key mistakes nonprofits need to avoid when evaluating if there’s a place for Facebook fundraising in their 2023 strategy.
1. Not Understanding the True Value of a Facebook Sustainer
Meta’s Social Impact team has been busy over the past few months, releasing a handful of high-impact features that have really opened the possibilities for engaging supporters in new and exciting ways.
Perhaps the biggest update was the announcement that users are automatically opted into continued messaging via Facebook Messenger. Supporters will need to intentionally opt out if they do not want to see continued messages from the nonprofits they support.
Why is this a big deal for nonprofits?
There’s a growing understanding among nonprofits that looking at a Facebook subscriber as a proxy for a hot lead has fast become a sound strategy on which fundraising teams can focus their efforts. Using the designation of sustainer as the ultimate intent-based signal for mission support, nonprofits are shifting focus to identify, build relationships with, and measure contributions of their recurring donors.
2. Believing Social Media Fundraising on Facebook Is Dead
Facebook launched its giving tools way back in 2015. Like anything new in technology, it took some time to get moving. Nonprofits were riding a wave of what seemed to be limitless revenue, especially as the COVID-19 pandemic hit in early 2020 and disrupted the way we lived and altered the landscape for established fundraising channels, like in-person peer-to-peer events, overnight.
This boost in revenue in the COVID-19 era was great to see, but there was no way things would stay like that forever.
Things started to drop off and, especially in 2022, took a dive across both birthday fundraiser revenue as well as challenges on Facebook overall. There are still outliers, but for the most part there were no macro-economic trends (threat of recession, housing market volatility, world events, like the war in Ukraine, etc.) playing a very real role in how people gave and how much they gave as a whole.
Perhaps the most effective way to visually represent this is with a hype cycle graph — it's meant to show us where Facebook giving tools have been, where they are with wider adoption and where things are heading.
They bottomed out (2022, am I right?) and are now heading into the steadier, wider adoption phase of the Facebook giving tools’ lifecycle. Yes, the Wild West gold rush of 2019 to 2021 or so is probably over for most nonprofit organizations.
That’s OK, though, as Facebook fundraising strategies that are sustainable and predictable are quickly replacing that fast, one-time boost in revenue.
3. Thinking Owned Fundraising Channels Are the Only Way to Go
OK, here is a quick crash course on owned versus rented fundraising channels.
In owned or controlled channels, the nonprofit owns its supporter data in its CRM’s house file from channels like direct mail, peer-to-peer events and email. It's yours until the end of time. Supporter data from owned channels are inherently static and limited in size. The data is a snapshot of the event from which that data came.
Using Facebook and its fundraising giving tools as an example, you can access a continually growing supporter data set — there are roughly 2.9 billion users on Facebook, which is growing daily — with rented or uncontrolled channels.
It's an organic (i.e. free) way to get your brand mission out to a larger audience, but you are subject to rules and regulations that are set by Facebook. However, rented channels typically provide a larger potential reach (again, 2.9-plus billion users on Facebook) with evergreen data points that are constantly updated and expanded.
It's not a "which is better?" conversation, but a "how can we use one to enrich the others?" dialogue.
Even more so, with data decay estimated at nearly 20% every quarter according to Apollo.io, nonprofits need to be open to exploring how to use both owned and rented fundraising strategies to fuel success across the organization.
The preceding blog was provided by an individual unaffiliated with NonProfit PRO. The views expressed within do not directly reflect the thoughts or opinions of NonProfit PRO.
Related story: 2 Arguments for Why Nonprofits Should Stay on Facebook
Adam O’Brien is the director of product and growth marketing at GoodUnited, a messaging automation platform for social media fundraising. With almost 15 years of combined enterprise B2B and nonprofit marketing experience, Adam brings his unique viewpoints on marketing and fundraising strategies through GoodUnited’s Nonprofit Growth Lab series.