6 Takeaways from GivePanel's Facebook Fundraising Benchmarks Report
We’re going to review the Facebook Fundraising Benchmarks Report 2020 by GivePanel. But before we do, let’s talk about an elephant that’s maybe sitting in the corner of your room, eating birthday cake and smearing white icing all over your carpet.
We know there’s a good chance you’re afraid to invest too much in Facebook fundraising because “it might change something,” and then you’ll look like an idiot in front of your boss.
Yes, that could absolutely happen.
This could also happen—your boss asks his or her peers about their organizations’ success in Facebook fundraising. They answer. Then, you look like an idiot.
Or this could happen—you invest in Facebook fundraising as an expansion of your current social fundraising (previously known as “peer-to-peer”) portfolio. You prepare everyone for the possibility that you’ll encounter some eventualities over which you have no control. You explain that they will look like idiots if they don’t support you in taking on this work. Then you go gangbusters after what is hands down the fastest-growing segment of social fundraising.
Feeling better? Did you take a deep breath? Okay, now we can talk about Facebook fundraising.
Let’s clarify what “Facebook fundraising” refers to. It’s probably exactly what you think it is: when someone on Facebook starts a fundraiser to support your nonprofit. But there’s some fine print here. If you are an executive, one thing is crucial to understand—having a fundraising platform that already integrates with Facebook fundraising is NOT making the most of Facebook fundraising opportunity.
This is because the whole point about what makes Facebook fundraising so great is that the audience is already there. Making them leave Facebook to sign up on a separate stand-alone platform defeats the whole point. It means that only a small percentage actually end-up creating a Facebook fundraiser and you lose out on all that social networking power. The real power of Facebook fundraising is getting ALL of your fundraisers to create Facebook fundraising pages because that is where they are already connected with their friends and family (who are their donors). Keeping people on Facebook also lowers acquisition costs from Facebook Ads which is the main way nonprofits are acquiring new fundraisers. Before GivePanel’s tools came along, it wasn’t possible to run events entirely on Facebook and get the fundraiser data. But GivePanel has now made this possible.
In the benchmark study, GivePanel identifies trends that will be (A) terrifying if you’re determined to keep your investment nil or low in Facebook fundraising, or (B) uplifting if you’re already solidly in the game.
This report takes an in-depth look at Facebook fundraisers from 157 GivePanel charities across the UK, Ireland, and the USA.
Throughout 2019 and 2020, these charities have been supported by over 850,000 fundraisers, receiving nearly 4.5 million donations and raising over $100 million (U.S. dollars) for charitable causes.
What are the big takeaways from the study? Here’s what we highlighted in as being exceptional:
- Non-birthday/event fundraisers, so-called “Facebook challenges” more than doubled between 2019 and 2020, up from 13% to 33%.
- Facebook challenges (these virtual event “challenges”) now account for 55% of funds raised, compared with 45% raised by birthday fundraisers.
- The average value of birthday fundraisers grew by 21% between 2019 and 2020, from $81 to $98. Compare that to the average value of non-birthday/event fundraisers, which rose by 120%, from $110 to $244 in 2020.
- A nonprofit’s planned engagement with an individual doing Facebook fundraising on their behalf increased their fundraising amount by 23% on average.
- The number of “likes” your organization has doesn’t matter as much as you might think. The highest average amount raised per fundraiser was among charities with 20,000 to 50,000 followers.
- Nonprofits have greater success capturing contact information for non-birthday/event fundraisers than birthday fundraisers, though a considerable amount comes from each.
The study digs into the above stats, as well as others. So, if the first word that pops into your head when you hear “Facebook fundraiser” is “birthday,” you need to catch up—and like right now, today. We hate to be alarmist, but the Instagram donation button is also showing great promise, which is synced through Facebook. Surely other platforms will follow, like TikTok. This benchmark study is a great place to begin; it’ll be well worth your time and attention.
Otis Fulton, Ph.D., spent most of his career in the education industry, working at the psychometric research and development firm MetaMetrics Inc., Pearson Education and others. Since 2013, he has focused on the nonprofit sector, applying psychology to fundraising and donor behavior at Turnkey. He is the co-author of the 2017 book, ”Dollar Dash: The Behavioral Economics of Peer-to-Peer Fundraising,” and the 2023 book, "Social Fundraising: Mining the New Peer-to-Peer Landscape," and is a frequent speaker at national nonprofit conferences. With Katrina VanHuss, he co-authors a blog at NonProfit PRO, “Peeling the Onion,” on the intersection of psychology and philanthropy.
Otis is a much sought-after copywriter for nonprofit fundraising messages. He has written campaigns for UNICEF, St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital, March of Dimes, Susan G. Komen, the USO and dozens of other organizations. He has a Ph.D. in social psychology from Virginia Commonwealth University and a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Virginia, where he also played on UVA’s first ACC champion basketball team.
Katrina VanHuss has helped national nonprofits raise funds and friends since 1989 when she founded Turnkey. Her client’s successes and her dedication to research have made her a sought-after speaker, presenting at national conferences for Blackbaud, Peer to Peer Professional Forum, Nonprofit PRO, The Need Help Foundation and her clients’ national meetings. The firm’s work is underpinned by the study and application of behavioral economics and social psychology. Turnkey provides project engagements, coaching, counsel and staffing to nonprofits seeking to improve revenue or create new revenue. Her work extends into organizational alignment efforts and executive coaching.
Katrina regularly shares her wit and business experiences on her and Otis Fulton's NonProfit PRO blog “Peeling the Onion.” She and Otis are also co-authors of the books, "Dollar Dash: The Behavioral Economics of Peer-to-Peer Fundraising" and "Social Fundraising: Mining the New Peer-to-Peer Landscape." When not writing or researching, Katrina likes to make things — furniture from reclaimed wood, new gardens, food with no recipe. Katrina’s favorite Saturday is spent cleaning out the garage, mowing the grass, making something new, all while listening to loud music by now-deceased black women, throwing in a few sets on the weight bench off and on, then collapsing on the couch with her husband Otis to gang-watch new Netflix series whilst drinking sauvignon blanc.
Katrina grew up on a Virginia beef cattle and tobacco farm with her three brothers. She is accordingly skilled in hand to hand combat and witty repartee — skills gained at the expense of her brothers. Katrina’s claim to fame is having made it to the “American Gladiator” Richmond competition as a finalist in her late 20s, progressing in the competition until a strangely large blonde woman knocked her off a pedestal with an oversized pain-inducing Q-tip. Katrina’s mantra for life is “Be nice. Do good. Embrace embarrassment.” Clearly she’s got No. 3 down.