$20 Million From One Facebook Fundraiser

Feeling compelled to act after what they saw on the news of what was happening to undocumented families at the U.S. border, Silicon-valley based couple Dave and Charlotte Willner, started a Facebook Fundraiser hoping to raise $1,500 in support of the Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services (RAICES). RAICES, based in San Antonio, Texas, serves immigrants and refugees in the community by providing immigration-related legal services, advocacy and opportunities for educational and social support.

Within four days, the Willners raised an astounding $6 million, and as of this week, they have raised over $20 million dollars (and still counting!) to support the work of RAICES through the Facebook Funraiser feature. Speaking with reporters, the Willners remarked, “What started out as a hope to help one person get reunited with their family has turned into a movement that will help countless people.”

The Willner’s story is a good reminder for all of us in the nonprofit digital space of several things:

  • While social media channels are most often used as an avenues for storytelling and building networks, they are also incredibly powerful tools that allow users to react to the world around them, make personal connections with like-minded individuals, and take action. We must remember that capacity and leverage it. As the Willners discovered, there were 530,156 people out in the world that felt just as angered and concerned as they did.
  • Trying to make anything go viral is thing of the past. It is now the authentic stories of what is happening in local communities and around the world that is resonating deeply and will drive the most attention and ultimately, engagement. Being relevant and timely with messaging and your mission is important more than ever.
  • As this past year has shown us, there are movements happening everywhere–most of which are the most alive on social media. We’re living in a time where people all over the world are calling for change, looking for outlets for anxieties about the future, and have a strong desire to make a positive impact. Make sure your organization is providing opportunities for actions and clear ways for how supporters can get involved.
  • Nonprofits and mission-based organizations do not always need to be the ones asking for donations. Sometimes your biggest supporters, or unlikely supporters, can be the most genuine avenue to make the ask on your behalf.

It’s also an important reminder that one seemingly small action can have a massive impact. After the success of this one campaign, Facebook has announced new features are being added to the Facebook Fundraiser platform:

  • Facebook will begin allowing users to automatically make recurring monthly donations to nonprofit organizations when they make a donation or use the donate button.
  • Additionally, Pages — entities such as businesses or public figures — will be allowed to donate directly to nonprofit fundraisers.

Interested in setting up a Facebook Fundraiser? We’d love to help! Let’s chat.


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