Facebook Fundraisers: The Best and Worst First Date You Ever Had
Turnkey’s peer-to-peer clients describe Facebook fundraisers as a blessing and a curse.
The money is great. It just shows up, which is both amazing and, well, great. Last year, Facebook fundraisers put over $300 million into the pockets of 750,000 nonprofit organizations.
But the problems are myriad:
- Your boss thinks you can sustain it and wants to build a budget with it included. You have no idea if it will be around tomorrow.
- Your constituents fundraising on Facebook think you are rude; you didn’t even say thank you! (That’s because it is incredibly hard to do so unless you’re rife with people willing to manually reach out on Facebook pages to those fundraisers via a post on their wall.)
- Event fundraisers want to know why the heck their thermometer isn’t rising when they are collecting all this money on Facebook! They call your office. You reallocate. Rinse and repeat. A lot. Customer service dollars skyrocket.
- Your donors from Facebook think you are uncaring; you didn’t say thank you nor did you follow-up in any way. And you never will, because they are invisible to you.
Let’s get the playing field built out. First, there are a few kinds of Facebook fundraisers (FBFs). There are birthday FBFs, which is the majority of what’s happening, around 85 percent of all Facebook fundraising. There are a few non-birthday FBFs. A few. Then, for any nonprofit with a TeamRaiser/Facebook integration, there are 15 percent coming through the Blackbaud TeamRaiser application; which is great—but doesn’t help you with the 85 percent.
The 85 percent are important because studies have shown they are typically new fundraisers. They went out there and acquired themselves, when acquiring fundraisers is so darned hard! They did something spontaneously that we work hard to get them to do. Why? It was frictionless, easy, a low lift. The opportunity to do good lived where they already were—on Facebook.
Forget the money for a moment. Here is what is more important… they showed all their friends they are supporting you. If you can get to them close to the time when they do that, their own internal pressure will get them to say yes to your next, appropriately incremental, ask for action. And that is the biggest opportunity around Facebook fundraising. It gets people to align with you, publicly.
So again—and we know it may be difficult—forget about the money you get from Facebook. That’s just short-term thinking. What it’s really all about is the lifetime value of the fundraiser after you acquire their contact information. The lifetime value of Facebook fundraising adoption alone is $694 per fundraiser, according to Blackbaud. But what is the lifetime value of a constituent in your organization? That is the number we care about, if only we could find out who these people are, so we can communicate with them.
Now there are new technologies to help us get the names and contact information from Facebook fundraisers. Turnkey uses them every day. But even with those technologies, there are issues to work through. Here are some of the conversations we are having with our clients:
- Who is in charge anyway? It’s peer-to-peer, but the digital team owns Facebook.
- Whose budget does the revenue go in?
- Who gets the collected data?
- Whose budget does the spend come out of?
- For “cannibalized” peer-to-peer event monies, (people who thought they were fundraising for an event) who pays for the significant customer service to re-allocate funds? Shouldn’t the walk manager have directed the walkers to the right place anyway? Doesn’t that mean the digital team gets the revenue?
Oh… it gets ugly. Believe us when we say that it is worse than the ethical dilemmas around frozen embryos. No one has had to deal with this before. It is the Wild, Wild West. All we can say is, “Ride ‘em cowboy!”
So, finally, Facebook—bring it on. You are helping people connect with nonprofits that are saving the world. We will meet you where you are. Let’s get out and play together.
Katrina VanHuss and Otis Fulton have written a book, Dollar Dash, on the psychology of peer-to-peer fundraising. Click here to download the first chapter, courtesy of NonProfit PRO!
Katrina VanHuss is the CEO of Turnkey, a U.S.-based strategy and execution firm for nonprofit fundraising campaigns. Katrina has been instilling passion in volunteer fundraisers since 1989 when she founded the company. Turnkey’s clients include most of the top thirty U.S. peer-to-peer campaigns — Susan G. Komen, the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, the ALS Association, the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, as well as some international organizations, like UNICEF.
Otis Fulton is a psychologist who joined Turnkey in 2013 as its consumer behavior expert. He works with clients to apply psychological principles to fundraising. He is a much-sought-after copywriter for nonprofit messaging. He has written campaigns for St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital, The March of Dimes, the USO and dozens of other organizations.
Now as a married couple, Katrina and Otis almost never stop talking about fundraising, volunteerism, and human decision-making – much to the chagrin of most dinner companions.
Katrina and Otis present regularly at clients’ national conferences, as well as at BBCon, NonProfit Pro P2P, Peer to Peer Forum, and others. They write a weekly column for NonProfit PRO and are the co-authors of the 2017 book, "Dollar Dash: The Behavioral Economics of Peer-to-Peer Fundraising." They live in Richmond, Virginia, USA.