Online donations (Facebook’s Causes) still need audience development!

I’ve been wondering what would be a good topic to blog about today, and my mind has been churning about online donations.  I saw an article this morning that prompted me to go with it:

To Nonprofits Seeking Cash, Facebook App Isn’t So Green

Though Popular, ‘Causes’ Ineffective for Fundraising
By Kim Hart and Megan Greenwell, Washington Post Staff Writers, Wednesday, April 22, 2009

The article states how Facebook’s well intentioned Causes still lagged behind traditional methods of fundraising.  However, it does go on to mention that there was an increase in donations from last year, but only about $3,000 more.

The good news is that Facebook Causes allows anyone to become a fundraiser.  As long as the nonprofit is listed in GuideStar/Network for Good’s database, you can become a fund raiser by choosing one of these nonprofits as your beneficiary.  This is a huge deal for any nonprofit!  Anyone that supports your nonprofit organization and is on Facebook can instantly become an online fundraiser for you.

In my opinion, the reason why Facebook Causes has not become an overnight sensation is the fact that audience development is still needed.  The fundraiser needs to develop the relationships with their friends regarding their cause and the nonprofit organization needs to develop relationships with their fundraisers.  Communication is key when conducting a fundraiser, which I feel is lacking with the majority of these Facebook Causes.

For example, in the past year I have joined about 10 different causes that ring true for me.  Yet, only a couple of these causes have emailed me directly or even posted an announcement for a fundraiser goal.  I could use a prompting to go to their Cause page to donate.  No one is prompting me.  A Cause “poke” is needed!  If I get the urge to be generous on a particular day I may go to a cause and donate, but I might be more inclined to view their plea a little more regularly if I had awareness of any fundraising goals that are current.

I repeat, in order for any donation drive to be effective, there still needs to be audience development.  Simply placing a donation link somewhere, even on Facebook, will not have donors flocking to donate to your cause.  The most effective campaigns I have witnessed so far using Facebook’s Causes were driven by very informative individuals that posted several times to get the word out and emailed directly to their friends about their fundraising dreams and goals.  These campaigns have been successful.

One of my Facebook friends is using this new found power as a birthday wish.  She is asking people to donate to her chosen cause as a birthday gift to her.  Facebook Causes begins with an increment of $10 which is a nice gift that can add up!   She is looking to raise $250, and she is well on her way.  She only needs 25 of her friends to donate $10 to reach her goal and less people if the donation is more, fairly good odds considering most people have over one hundred Facebook friends a piece.  Plus, her friends can pass on the request to their friends.  Facebook makes it easy to “pass it on!”

Of course you need to consider the bombardment factor in all of this.  I recommend only alerting if you have a specific fundraiser goal in place. If you need to raise money for a certain goal, by all means, let your group know about it.     Then space these fundraising goals throughout the year so they are fresh and exciting.  This will allow your organization to be “top of mind” without going overboard.

Lastly, the way you communicate your fundraising goal is key.  The more personal approach you can do, the better your chances for getting that donation.  After obtaining a donation, the more personal your follow up is, the better your chances of getting future donations.  A personal email to each of your group members before and after a donation is extemely beneficial.

Back to my soon to be birthday friend, she is the epitome of someone using fantastic audience development skills to reach her fundraising goal. I see a request via her status frequently and since she is a direct friend, her request shows up on my main Facebook causes page.  Cool!  She also has sent one very thoughtful email request directly to her friends.    She thanks each donor personally when a donation is given.

Audience development is about forming relationships with people, individual people.  Once a relationship is established, it is easier to ask for a donation for your cause and it is easier to get others to fundraise for your cause (the real benefit of Facebook Causes).  Apply audience development to all your fundraising efforts, whether you use online or traditional methods, and you will see a difference!

Until next time, may your audiences be happy and loyal ones, and if they are not, feel free to contact me!


Shoshana Fanizza is the founder of Audience Development Specialists. Her mission is to introduce artists and arts organizations to their existing and potential audiences and to help them to form more rewarding relationships.

Audience Development Specialists’ Facebook Page! for up-to-date news and information about audience development!

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Filed under Audience Development, fund raising, Fundraising, Online fund raising, Online fundraising

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