Happy birthday Facebook (10yrs)-How it changed charity fundraising
Seeing as I have just signed up today for a 1000km charity bike ride and been updating people on my Deca Ironman in June I thought it would only be topical to make a quick note on the impact of Facebook or ‘FB’ on charity fundraising. After all countless cycling/endurance fundraisers use it everyday to raise massive amounts of money for good causes simply by writing a note on a ‘wall’.
The big changes to fundraising in the last 5 years has been the power of the web. We are not just talking about the death of a donation sheet & the brown envelope going round the office, but even charities have moved on from buying cold call lists & in many ways even street collections. The world or more accurately are attention has moved away from that sort of direct marketing. It’s hard to obtain cold names online because it’s difficult to buy email addresses.
Personal fundraising/charities are using Facebook to build a close relationship with donors and supporters; whether that’s through a short video post, an inspiring picture [we all realise the power of Tumblr, instagram in image sharing] which gets office prisoners interested in the daily avalanche of ‘view & go’ information. Or even a short story on the fundraisers journey.
Getting people to donate money really comes down to 3 things – 1. connection to the cause 2. connection to the fundraisers effort/journey 3. peer support; you must support something because your social group does. Think about last time you went along to a charity auction not because of necessarily the cause but as a result of the group supporting it (and you probably had a bloody good time also). The Facebook makes it easy for a fundraiser to relate even with so many charity events on week-in, week-out.
I don’t want to claim Facebook is another way of ‘selling’ your fundraising effort, it has just changed the way you can broadcast a message to your immediate friends & family – but also allows you to share to a wider network. As charity events get bigger and bolder, Facebook also allows the social media minnows – people that perhaps weren’t the most popular people in school – to compete with the cool kids. Know someone that rowed the Atlantic? Perhaps you didn’t really care for them in college but thought what they were doing was really great and that the least you could do was donate $10? I rest my case.
What we as fundraisers must endeavor to do is not to simply use Facebook because it is easy, cheap, a very powerful way to getting in touch with your ‘entire’ social network (lets face it we all have people we haven’t spoken to in years on there) but rather show – no prove – to people why you are doing a challenge, why you feel so strongly in this cause and maintain that story over an extensive period of time – that’s the least you can do to demonstrate that you really care. The flow of event information is getting easier and easier, and of course with the abundance of handheld devices it is having greater permeability in our lives (been at a iPhone banned party? I highly recommend it). It is now up to all fundraisers to take up this challenge and be more creative in getting their message out.
Putting a link to a donation page on Facebook just doesn’t cut it anymore. Tell a story.