Power to the People: How to Use Facebook Fundraisers to Crowdsource Donations

Facebook re-upped its efforts to help nonprofits this month with the announcement of Facebook Fundraisers, a new feature that allows individual Facebook users to raise funds on behalf of a specific organization. This follows in the footsteps of the Donate call-to-action button, Facebook’s way to process donations entirely on-site. What does this mean for your organization? A lot, potentially. Let’s take an early look at Fundraisers, how you can use it to your development advantage, and the steps you can take to get access.


Here’s What You Need to Know

Facebook Fundraisers allow everyday people on Facebook to raise funds on behalf of registered 501(c)(3) charities. What it offers over other crowdfunding platforms and website pages is Facebook’s 1B+ daily active users. Simply put, it takes time, effort and well-targeted paid media to get Facebook users to go anywhere other than Facebook.

In Facebook’s own words, “Fundraisers allow supporters to set up a dedicated page to share their story, tell others about a nonprofit’s mission and rally around a fundraising goal.” The argument for Fundraisers is that fundraisers never have to leave the site or ask their friends and family to go anywhere else. On the contrary, they simply input their credit card details and Facebook takes care of the rest.

Facebook Fundraiser example

Here’s a live example of a Facebook Fundraiser in progress.

What’s the Catch?

For starters, Facebook Fundraisers is currently in beta. At launch, only 100 or so nonprofits will be supported.

And then there is Facebook’s cut of the donations. Starting on August 15th, 2016, Facebook will begin deducting 2% of donations to cover “operating expenses” and another 3% to cover payment processing fees on all funds raised via Fundraisers or donations made through the Donate Button. To be fair, most other crowdsourcing platforms also charge fees. For example, Kickstarter takes 5%, IndieGoGo takes 4% and GoFundMe takes 5% of donations, all excluding payment processing fees.

Finally, it’s worth noting that the data you’ll receive on the donations made through Fundraising is limited to two styles of reports that must be manually exported. Payout reports list out the total funds received from Facebook every two weeks. Transaction reports provide the amount donated, name and email, country, and which fundraiser the donation came from. Depending on the complexity of your existing digital development efforts, this could be a strike against the feature. Insights are limited and the data cannot be automatically fed into 3rd party CRM platforms for retargeting purposes.

It should be noted that YouTube’s Nonprofit Program offers similar native payment options, but opts to cover all processing fees and extra costs. So for YouTube, all proceeds end up going to the organization.

In a webinar about Fundraisers, Facebook for Nonprofit’s Emily Dalton Smith expressed, “our goal is not to make a profit from these charitable giving tools, but instead, to create a platform for good.”

How Can My Organization Get Access to Facebook Fundraisers?

Facebook is inviting any US-based 501(c)(3) nonprofit to sign up for access to Facebook’s nonprofit features, including Fundraisers and Donation Button. Here are the steps your organization must take to get access to Facebook’s Donate Button and Fundraisers:

    1. Request page verification
    1. Submit your page for a community standards review
  1. Create a donations account and submit your financial information

how to get access to Facebook Fundraisers and Facebook's Donate Button

Once you’ve successfully applied to Charitable Giving on Facebook and have access to the Donate button, visit this deep-dive page to select an eligible page and agree to Facebook for Nonprofits’ new terms and conditions. You may be invited to join the beta program or you may be deferred until the feature is more widely available.

Note: If you are currently using Facebook’s Donate Button, you must accept their new terms and conditions by August 14th, or the platform will suspend your organization from collecting donations on Facebook moving forward.

Ideas For Your First Facebook Fundraiser

1. Conduct a seasonal crowdfunding campaign directly on Facebook!

Activate your Facebook fans to fundraise for you. Create and upload a video to your Facebook page that kicks off the campaign on an inspiring note, and gives your fans clear instructions on how to set up their individual Fundraiser.

  • For organizations that have never launched a crowdfunding campaign before and don’t have established platform infrastructure, Facebook Fundraisers is an easy, low-cost way to dip your toes in the water. Simply provide some initial inspiration and instruction–a well-produced Kickstarter-like intro video will go a long way–and some creative assets, and away your biggest supporters will go. In order to maximize the impact, organize this around something tangible, like a major new initiative that needs funding, something physical that needs to be purchased, and an evil-doer that needs to be stopped. Finally, a word to the wise: don’t burn out your audience. Avoid asking them to fundraise for you too many times in one year, or for too long at a time.

2. Run a donation-matching program utilizing your most influential supporters!

Tap supporters who have established a large following on Facebook to participate in a short-term matching drive. Ask them to set up and promote individual Fundraiser pages benefiting the organization, with messaging that if the goal is hit, the influencer will match the total amount (the “matching” will have to be done manually, unless Facebook decides to add this as a feature to Fundraisers in the future).

  • For instance: Grassroots animal rights organization Vegan Outreach’s digital crowdfunding efforts raised over $460,000 in 2016 to help spread their organization’s message. Their most successfully fundraiser, David Carter (The 300lb Vegan), used a matching strategy to come out on top. By using Facebook Fundraisers next time around, they would avoid having to drive to a third-party website. Instead, they could keep their audience on Facebook and potentially expand the reach and total donations of their drive exponentially.

3. Take a page from Kickstarter by using goals and rewards!

Everybody loves incentives. Reward those who go above and beyond in their fundraising efforts–and, inspire them to keep on reaching–by awarding merchandise and experiential rewards once they’ve hit certain dollar amounts.

  • It’s the same thinking that gets someone to invest early in a Kickstarter campaign, just applied to someone who is doing the fundraising for you–someone who is arguably one of the most deserving of rewards. Make them small at first, and more significant for what you deem to be a large “reach goal” for your organization. This could range from a t-shirt that the organization provides to a VIP event invitation. Just make sure to set goals up front and clearly communicate the plan to prospective fundraisers when first launching. Facebook doesn’t currently allow overt donor reward levels, so your supporters will need to make this clear in the Fundraiser description field.

Parting Thoughts

While you may not be able to access Facebook Fundraisers just yet, it’s never too early to plan for the future. If you are lucky enough to be part of the Fundraisers beta, it will pay off to spend some time upfront strategizing over the approach for your inaugural Fundraiser campaign instead of rushing in. We can help you with that!

No matter what, it’s crucial to put your organization’s mission and goals first. A social media-driven crowdfunding campaign might not be the right fit at this time–and that’s okay. Being the first kid on the block to use the latest social media feature isn’t important–it’s your ability to create impact that matters most.


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