When her mother-in-law was diagnosed with breast cancer, Christa DiSerio was lucky to be an employee at Susan G. Komen, the largest breast cancer organization in the US. Both through her personal experiences and her work as Komen's social media manager, she has a unique understanding of what matters most to her nonprofit's supporters.
We sat down with Christa this month to discuss how Facebook Fundraisers have turned Komen's biggest supporters into its best fundraisers.
Christa DiSerio is the Social Marketing Manager at Susan G. Komen and has served the organization since March 2015. In her role, she oversees the development and implementation of a comprehensive social marketing strategy, with a focus on driving engagement, fundraising and relationship building.
How did you come to work at your nonprofit?
I’ve always been in public service positions. I started my career on Capitol Hill, moved back to Texas to be close to family, and then got a communications job at a small education nonprofit in Dallas.
A friend was working at Komen at the time and told me they had an open social media position.
It was still vague back then. There wasn’t a revenue drive per se. Not knowing much about where social media was headed, I was hesitant, but I wanted to do something different.
So I applied for the job and got it. I’ve been here a little over 4 years.
What’s the most meaningful thing to you about your nonprofit’s mission?
We serve those who need us the most. Our mission isn’t single-pronged. We not only invest in research—which is huge as we want to find cures for breast cancer—but we’re also funding ways for people to get access to the treatment they need and much more.
Sometimes people have issues putting food on the table if bills for cancer treatment are eating up their whole paycheck.
Komen helps them with those concerns, funding access to treatment and care but also electricity bills, putting food on the table, paying for medication, etc.
We also connect people to the resources they need. Many times patients and survivors get PTSD and require support, which Komen provides for them.
How is your nonprofit’s mission significant to you personally?
When I started at Komen my dad was living with stage 4 prostate cancer, so there was that connection even though Komen addresses breast cancer. I also had a friend in high school whose mother passed away from breast cancer.
After a few years of working at Komen, I went on maternity leave. It was such a happy time. A month after my daughter was born, my mother-in-law was diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer in her lymph nodes.
Komen was there for me—I was able to get info about her diagnosis, put her in touch with the best doctors and facilities in her area, and help prepare her to ask informed questions.
It was a scary time, but I’m glad I could be there for her.
What’s the most impactful thing you’ve done while working there?
Being on the frontline on social media, which makes up our biggest touchpoints with survivors and patients, has allowed me to build relationships with and turn them into some of our biggest supporters.
I’ve gotten to work closely with men and women -- some of whom we’ve lost. For me, that’s a great reminder of why I do this work: to end breast cancer forever so that we no longer lose people to this devastating disease.
Were you working there when Facebook rolled out Birthday Fundraisers?
What’s been your experience with Facebook Fundraisers?
When I first got to Komen, no one thought social media could be a revenue driver—it was all about brand awareness.
But when I came across an article about Facebook Fundraisers, I decided we should become an early adopter. Everyone was skeptical because of how much information was required. They were afraid it wouldn’t work.
I suggested that while it might not get us leads or donor information, it could get us money.
What’s it done for your organization?
It’s a huge source of digital revenue we never imagined was possible and has opened up a whole new way of getting people involved. We figured the growth would level out over time, but so far it’s only kept growing.
What are the most meaningful insights you’ve gotten from Facebook Fundraisers?
The rapport you build with fundraisers goes a long way. We didn’t realize how huge their lifetime value is. In the beginning, when FB fundraisers launched, we weren’t focused on finding anything about it until GoodUnited came into the picture and was able to show us what their individual connection to the cause is.
All of them were personally touched by the cause. The ability to capture a certain amount of information from them, including their emails, is immensely valuable.
What do you see as the most challenging part about Facebook Fundraisers?Thanking fundraisers is a huge, multiperson job. Without GoodUnited’s dedicated team we wouldn’t have been able to do it.
How has GoodUnited helped you face those challenges?
Besides help in thanking people, we wouldn’t have been able to get to even a quarter of the fundraisers we’ve had without GoodUnited.
GoodUnited has been instrumental in helping us constantly refine our messaging strategy so we can communicate with people in a way that’s meaningful for them.
I also love that, as a startup, GoodUnited isn’t afraid of trying new things and taking risks on crazy ideas. They’ve helped us develop new ways to raise more funds and make leads more valuable.
What do they see as the future of Facebook Fundraisers?
After the second year, I felt like the donations would plateau. But last year was an incredible year for us—and this year we’re projected to exceed where we were last year.
When Nick and I attended the Facebook summit in February, we saw all the ways Facebook is planning to revolutionize giving, making it seamless for donors and fundraisers, not to mention developing their giving features on Instagram. It looks like things will only keep growing from here.
This growth will make it harder to keep up with everything. Thankfully, GoodUnited is providing a way to make fundraisers feel appreciated and hopefully keep them engaged going forward.
How important are new donors and fundraisers to the organization?
They’re critical—but what’s equally important is that we create a journey for them and make sure our strategy keeps up with these new leads. We need to make sure we’re introducing them to Komen in a way that makes them feel valued, like they’re making a difference.
How are you acquiring new donors and fundraisers today?
We’re making sure that Facebook Fundraising for Komen is at the top of people’s minds. We have a unique URL to start a Facebook Fundraiser and have been using it to acquire new fundraisers.
Eventually, we want to try ads to encourage people to fundraise. By making the fundraiser experience as good as possible for current fundraisers, we hope a chain reaction will occur in their network, prompting them to create fundraisers for Komen as well.