This month we sat down with Jessica Bomberg to chat about how Facebook Fundraisers have helped further No Kid Hungry's mission of increasing food access for children.
Jessica Bomberg is the Associate Director of Peer-to-Peer Fundraising for the No Kid Hungry campaign. She has over 10 years of experience running multiple diverse peer-to-peer fundraising programs, building relationships with fundraisers and donors, and managing fundraising technology solutions. Jessica is a self-proclaimed Jersey girl and Disney nerd as well as a wife and mom of 2 daughters. If she’s not working she is either at the Jersey shore or Disney World!
How did you come to work at your nonprofit?
I’ve been with Share Our Strength, the parent company of No Kid Hungry, for 10 years. I first came on board in a support position to help one of our original peer-to-peer fundraising platforms for just six months, but was then hired permanently.
Back then it was mostly bake sales and then our programs expanded into weddings, athletic events, Friendsgiving and other such work. You could say it was the advent of DIY fundraising. Unlike almost everyone else, we only got into rides and runs later on.
What’s the most meaningful thing to you about your nonprofit’s mission?
It’s a really simple concept that no one can argue with. One in six kids lives with hunger. We have an abundance of food in this country so that’s not the issue -- access to that food is the issue. We have great federal programs with millions of dollars dedicated to feeding the community that are underutilized. The goal is to increase access to existing programs.
I love what our founder says: “Solving poverty is hard; feeding children is not.”
It’s a moral obligation. I’ve never struggled with hunger -- and when I first got the job ten years ago, I didn’t fully understand the scope of the issue. In the past ten years, I became a mom and now have two little girls. I can’t imagine having to make those tough choices in order to feed my kids -- living paycheck to paycheck, working multiple jobs, skipping meals so that they can eat.
I understand how fortunate I am -- and I think we have a responsibility to our fellow humans to pay that back.
What’s the most impactful thing you’ve done while working there?
I love being a steward of the mission and the message that NKH is working to spread. It’s been incredible to build relationships with people from all walks of life who choose to support NKH and take action on our behalf. Peer-to-peer fundraising is them doing the work for us, and our way of paying back is by making sure they have the knowledge and resources to best advocate for NKH.
Were you working there when Facebook rolled out Birthday Fundraisers?
Yes. It’s funny -- when we first started getting donations through Facebook Fundraisers, we almost didn’t want it. Checks and wire transfers would just appear with no information about who was raising the money. It didn’t look good on the database side to continually deposit checks with nothing to back them up.
We weren’t really paying too much attention to it, really. But then something happened. One man in early 2017 raised over $6K. That got my attention. I took a closer look and realized just how many people were raising money for us. Immediately, I felt like I wanted to start talking to them. That’s always been a priority for me -- even at big events where I might not be able to connect with everyone, I always do my best to reach out personally.
Facebook didn’t make that easy. There was no simple way to reach out to our fundraisers. Still, I made it my goal to try to talk to everyone raising $250 or more -- otherwise, I’d get bogged down trying to get them all.
But Facebook kept locking me out of our account for sending so many messages. I had to start messaging from my personal account until that was locked down, too. If I posted on their fundraiser wall -- especially if I copied and pasted the same message-- Facebook would block me for spam. The only workaround was to write a completely unique message for each person, which was hugely time-consuming.
Meanwhile, we kept getting more and more fundraisers and I found it impossible to keep up. And that was just the fundraisers -- we weren’t even communicating with donors.
When someone makes a donation, Facebook asks them if they’d like to share their contact information with the nonprofit. Initially we were getting about 5% of donor email addresses from Facebook; that dropped to about 1% but the number of donors has grown exponentially.
As a team, we realized that Facebook Fundraisers weren’t going anywhere. We needed a strategy for what to do with the contact information we were getting. Our first step was reaching out to the social media consulting company we’d worked with for years. They did a great job helping us learn a little bit more about Facebook, but they were still only talking to 17% of people fundraising by manually reaching out to them via the Fundraising tab on Facebook.
We knew we needed more -- that’s when we learned about GoodUnited.
What have Facebook Fundraisers done for your organization?
It’s a huge revenue stream we weren’t expecting; I think we’re still trying to figure out what to do with it. Our programs team will use it to implement new programs, work directly with communities and states, issue grants, etc.
The bottom line is it’ll help us feed more hungry kids. We can roll out best practices, help school districts implement breakfast programs, set up summer meal programs, and help communities test new programs like mobile meal trucks.
What do you see as the most challenging part about Facebook Fundraisers?
By far the biggest challenge is thanking them. Our best month saw 22k new fundraisers -- there’s no way we could reach all of these people. Getting their information, staying in touch, and finding ways of keeping them engaged with NKH are some of the other major challenges.
How has GoodUnited helped you face those challenges?
With GoodUnited, we can scale quicker than we could on our own. Through Messenger, we can automatically communicate and keep conversations going, filling in the data that Facebook isn’t giving us. Once we know more about these people we can decide what their journey with NKH will be.
We still have gaps internally to get the future journey implemented, once our fundraisers are off of Facebook and into our own communications, but GoodUnited has taken a huge amount of that burden off of our plate.
My team and I don’t have to deal with the pressure of thanking every single fundraiser now. 100% of them get a post on their fundraiser page thanking them for their work with 13% opting in to further conversations. People are very engaged, and a high number say they’d be likely to fundraise again in future.