Did you know that successful Facebook fundraising programs and Facebook Challenges can net your organization millions in donations? Just ask Stop Soldier Suicide, which has raised $2 million+ through Facebook fundraising. Or, St. Jude, who has raised $100 million+ in the same way.
With statistics like that, it’s hard to understand why there are arguments against Facebook fundraising. In fact, some organizations go so far as to ask donors to instead give directly— via their website instead of Facebook— in a specific message on their nonprofit’s Facebook page.
We believe the main reason that there’s apprehension surrounding Facebook fundraising is related to a lack of understanding in the process. Rather than seeing Facebook shares as a way to express genuine support for a cause and highlight issues close to the heart (something that 84% of social media users relate to), it’s seen as a vapid method of hollow engagement. That couldn’t be further from the truth!
We encourage you to look on the bright side of Facebook Challenges— that which draws on the human desire to give in community and can result in millions of dollars in funding that would otherwise go unclaimed. However, simply not discouraging Facebook fundraisers isn’t enough to experience the full benefits of the practice.
With that in mind, we’re going to break down one of the two types of Facebook Challenges for nonprofits: Facebook Birthday Fundraisers. While doing so, we’re going to cover the basics and key tips for your organization to optimize the practice.
Continue reading to explore the full guide, or use the below links to jump down to the section that most piques your interest:
Your supporters are already on Facebook, ready to raise on behalf of your organization. So, what are you waiting for? Let’s get started.
Facebook birthday fundraisers are a specific type of Facebook Challenge in which supporters “donate” their birthday by asking friends to give to a specific nonprofit in lieu of gifts.
Birthdays are big occasions in the world of Facebook, with friends and family rushing to timelines and stories to send well-wishes on the day of. In fact, Facebook projects that about 45 million of these salutations are made per day. Capitalizing on this trend in the name of philanthropy, Facebook contacts users with recorded birthday information about two weeks before the event, encouraging the user to donate their birthday to their favorite cause.
There are many informational resources available for donors looking to create Facebook birthday fundraisers, so that’s not our purpose here. However, we believe that it’s important for nonprofit professionals such as yourself to understand the steps to create a birthday fundraiser to market the opportunity to your own supporters and be prepared just in case any questions arise.
With that, let’s quickly walk through the steps your supporters would take to create a birthday fundraiser:
After the fundraiser is complete, your nonprofit can collect the donations you’ve received in one of two ways:
Your organization will receive funding raised on your behalf whether or not you take an active role in the process by registering for Facebook Payments. However, the biggest change will be the timeline and the level of certainty you can have with the process.
For an even more in-depth look at creating and receiving donations from a fundraiser, check out our comprehensive guide to Facebook fundraising for nonprofits.
Of course, we can’t discuss the basics of Facebook fundraising without covering the potential fees associated with the practice.
As of 2017, Facebook fundraisers, including birthday fundraisers and Challenges, have no associated administrative or payment processing fees. This means that 100% of donations go directly to your nonprofit.
This is a major selling point for Facebook fundraising as there are very few “no fee” fundraising methods of raising money. Whether you’re accepting direct online donations through a donation page on your website or even collecting them on-site at fundraising events, there are almost always payment processing fees taken from the gift itself.
Now that we’ve covered the mechanics of Facebook fundraising, let’s explore the arguments for and against the practice.
Whenever a new fundraising channel comes into the limelight, questions about the legitimacy of the practice are inevitable. After all, nonprofits like yours rely on a steady stream of donations to make a difference in the community— there’s simply not time to invest in a practice that’s not guaranteed to yield results.
Because Facebook fundraising has been around for a while now, we can view data proving this channel is legitimate. For example:
Not only is Facebook fundraising a major force for giving, but the birthday iteration is a powerhouse when it comes to fueling nonprofits. So, why are some nonprofits so adverse to this funding source?
We opened this piece with two contrasting realities: some nonprofits have massive success with Facebook and some nonprofits are ardently against the method.
Let’s explore the second perspective here— nonprofits that are against Facebook birthday fundraisers. What could possibly be wrong with a guaranteed, no-fee fundraising channel fueled by supporters’ efforts?
Well, here are some of the arguments we’ve found cited by Forbes:
These two arguments against Facebook fundraisers combine into one main argument:
People should be giving to organizations for the right reason, and this “right reason” is that the nonprofit in question will be able to have the greatest impact on the cause in mind. According to adversaries, Facebook Challenges fail to fulfill this reasoning.
The arguments against Facebook fundraising rely on the idea that it’s an unmotivating fundraising channel that fails to legitimize the benefitting nonprofit’s effectiveness. As you’ll see, that couldn’t be farther from the truth.
Now that we’ve covered the arguments against Facebook birthday fundraisers, let’s dive into the arguments for them. Spoiler alert— the positives drastically outnumber the negatives.
Here are a few common arguments advocating for Facebook birthday fundraisers:
With regards to contradicting the arguments against Facebook Challenges that we highlighted earlier in this guide, these two benefits stand out in particular:
Now that we’ve covered the many arguments for Facebook fundraising, you’re likely eager to dive into the process. Continue reading to explore four top tips to optimize Facebook fundraising on behalf of your nonprofit.
Nonprofits like yours can sit back and choose not to engage with Facebook birthday fundraisers, but they’ll still happen and supporters will raise funds on behalf of your organization. However, to raise millions (as many organizations have), you’re going to want to put a bit of effort into the fundraising process to optimize it.
The following four tips will empower your organization to make the most of Facebook Challenges.
When it comes to Facebook birthday fundraisers, one point of contention that frequently comes up with nonprofits is the lack of brand control. When users can choose their own cover photo and accompanying description, there is some risk that they may choose to include unflattering (or unprofessional looking) information.
That’s why our first tip is to reclaim some of this brand control by creating a strong foundation with pre-set information.
When a donor sees a birthday fundraiser, they see the following:
Your nonprofit can play a role in dictating two out of those three aspects. Choosing an engaging cover photo for your nonprofit’s Facebook page and writing an effective mission statement will go a long way.
The default image for the fundraiser will be the image set as the backdrop for your nonprofit’s Facebook page. While donors can change the photo if they so choose, many opt to go with the pre-set cover photo. This probability increases if you choose a truly engaging photo that illustrates the impact of your nonprofit. Even better, you can include your organization’s name or logo in that image itself, to ensure your familiar branding is provided as the default setting.
Regarding your mission statement, write a blurb that provides an overview of your organization as well as details surrounding your impact. Not only does this help secure your branding, but it also combats the anti-Facebook fundraiser argument that there’s no way for donors to assess whether they’re giving to an effective organization.
Finally, if you want to take things a step further, you can offer ideas and suggestions to guide supporters to create an effective personal statement. This is great information to include on your website, which you can read more about in the next section.
Few nonprofits actually spread the word about Facebook Challenges and encourage their supporters to partake, but it’s one of the best ways to make the most of the channel. Just think about it— you wouldn’t set up an online donation page, never market it, and expect donors to find it on their own to give!
First, we recommend acknowledging Facebook birthday challenges directly on your nonprofit’s social profile. For example, include a quick blurb asking supporters to “donate their birthday” on your behalf, and publicly acknowledge those that do by tagging them with a thank you note on your timeline. Beyond that, however, we also recommend sharing information about Facebook fundraising across channels.
For example, consider Stop Soldier Suicide, the organization cited in the introduction for raising $2 million+ via Facebook Fundraising. This organization directly mentions Facebook fundraising on its website, informing potential donors that they’re proud to participate in the program. Further, they legitimize these fundraisers by sharing information with donors— such as how 100% of the gift goes directly to their organization.
In addition to your website, consider spreading the word about Facebook birthday challenges across:
Plus, you can set up ads in Facebook that target people with a birthday 14 days out to remind them of the opportunity to donate their birthday. The list can go on!
Data has paved the way for the optimization of a variety of nonprofit activities. Whether data-driven marketing or even prospect research, nonprofits draw on data to increase their fundraising success in particular.
While Facebook protects much of your fundraisers’ data, meaning you’re unable to access key details, there are a few important metrics to pay attention to:
This information can all be collected and analyzed when you view ongoing challenges on your nonprofit’s administrator page on Facebook. Further, Facebook now allows you to filter the fundraisers conducted on behalf of your nonprofit by:
With this information, you can catch challenges in-progress and encourage users with tips to elevate their effort to the next level. This allows you to interact with each fundraiser and ensure they don’t fall through the cracks.
Beyond that, you can also access key information via the Facebook Daily Transaction Report. After downloading this report in .csv format, you can view information such as the names of donors, the email addresses if they’ve opted in to share it, and with a bit of spreadsheet wizardry, which fundraisers raised the most on your behalf. Learn more about accessing and using data in this ultimate guide to Facebook challenges.
Last, but most certainly not least, one of the most effective ways to make the most of Facebook birthday fundraisers is to employ Facebook Messenger as a marketing platform to connect with fundraisers.
One of the biggest challenges with Facebook fundraising is that users aren’t fundraising professionals— there’s no reason why they’d have the knowledge acquired to raise a significant amount of funding. With Messenger, you can follow up with users that have started fundraisers, give them tips to raise more, and encourage them throughout the process.
At GoodUnited, we’ve optimized the process of using Messenger to connect with supporters. We’ve seen that this can be the difference between your challenges not reaching their fundraising goal, or surpassing it with ease.
Working with nonprofits across all sectors, we’ve built best practices powered by data from 50+ million fundraisers. These practices include:
With GoodUnited, you not only empower fundraisers to raise more but also begin building lasting connections with those supporters for years to come. For more information, contact the GoodUnited team today.
Facebook birthday challenges are one of the most powerful, no-fee fundraising efforts your nonprofit can partake in. Drawing on your supporters’ desire to make an impact and using Facebook’s tools to optimize the process, you can raise more for your nonprofit than ever before.
To learn more about Facebook fundraising, check out the following additional resources: