Monday, April 6, 2009

Comprehensive Facebook Fundraising Tips Almost Anyone Can Do

I conducted a little experiment last October that was combined with a passion and fund raising cause that I was challenged with. I obviously set the goals on my experiment too low, as you will read.

Community Hunger Day is a yearly event, started by Central Dallas Ministries to raise awareness about the hunger problem in Dallas and raise funds for their food pantry. On a day in October, each year, CDM challenges people to go without food for a day and donate the money they would have spent on food to their food pantry. CDM, in coordination with several partnering food programs, can feed a family of four, for an entire week, for $28.

CDM, three weeks prior to Community Hunger Day, sent me an invitation to become a fundraiser for this day. I said, "yes," and pledged a goal of $1000 dollars. The experiment part came in when I decided I was going to focus my efforts using only the profile page that I set up on the Community Hunger Day website and facebook. No email channel, no face to face asks, no telephone calls...just facebook and a link to a secure, online donation page. I wish I could should you the microsite and profile page I set up for myself on the site, but the site is under construction and redesign in anticipation for the 2009 day in October

Here is the appeal I crafted.

If you are a professional fundraiser, try these numbers on for size.

List size - 334
Historic Open rate - unknown
Average Donor Profile - Nondonor
Gift rate - 19.5%
Total Gifts - 65
Total Donations - $1850
Average Gift - $28.46 (right at the requested appeal)

Here's the thing, Non Profit officer, what if you could get 100 of me to do the following simple things. That's nothing to sneeze at. That best way for you to leverage facebook could be to AVOID THE CAUSE APP! If you are active on facebook, you know how many causes and invitations you ignore on a weekly basis. It has become spammy. By the way, you, non profit, cannot leverage facebook. You may only leverage the relationships you have, that is (almost) all that matters in the world of social media.

The following things I did while avoiding the spam channels that most facebook users ignore.

1. Create a video appeal that addresses your facebook network specifically. Use the voice that your facebook friends know. Don't "put on" a fundraiser voice. Be yourself, that's who people will give to.

2. Group your list of friends into groups that facebook calls "friend lists." This might take you a little while, but it will help you manage your follow up much better. So do it prior to uploading your video message. If you have over 300 friends, it might feel difficult to sort through the list.
- Export your friend list with this handy app so you can use excel easily group them into commonalities
- group them into friend lists where those friends know each other. When comments start to spread about your asset, it is easier for community to be built in that comment thread when the commenters already know each other.
- friend lists can only contain 20 people, so you might be titling these lists things like "workfriends1", "workfriends2", "collegebuds1", "randomfacebookies1", "highschool1", etc.
- it is OK to leave some space to grow in each friend group, but keep track in your CSV export who is in what group. Facebook doesn't help you manage your group size at all.

3. Upload your video multiple times. You are able to tag as many as 50 of your friends in each video. You can't tag a video asset with a friend list (that would be great!) but you do want to follow the pattern that you set when you established your friend lists and group the 50 that you tag in any video with the same groups of people who know each other. Tagging your friends in the video not only causes the video to appear in their own notifications, but also sends it to the feeds of all their friends.

4. Place a link to your giving page in both the description of the video and in the first comment under the video. The URL in the comment will be hyperlinked text. The URL in the description will not be hyperlinked text, unfortunately. This is an important part of the donor funnel. If your non profit you are raising money for doesn't have a precise giving form or donor destination, consider opening yourself up a chipin widget or something like it. Community Hunger Day had a very slick, custom sponsorship microsite that was built for them by Pursuant.

5. Cultivate others comments by replying to and engaging with each comment.

6. Do a daily, stewardship, thank you and update. Here is what ours looked like.

These thank you videos should be tagged with the donors names. I had one friend who told me that he gave just so he could hear my kids say his name.

7. Half way through your campaign, and just before the end of your campaign, craft messages (video or note) that gives an update of progress. These updates should be created, uploaded and then "shared" with your friends. You don't need to upload multiple updates as you did with your initial video. Instead, you can send the one asset out using this share button several times. You friends lists show up as you begin typing them into the sent line of the share function. Facebook currently has a limit of sharing an asset with 25 friends at a time. This asset will show up in your friends inboxes instead of their notifications.

8. If you are an active facebook user, I am confident that these tips will help you reach your fundraising goals. If you are a passive facebook user I would recommend you spend three months commenting on friends photos, commenting on friends videos, uploading your own quality photos and videos, involving yourself in conversation around your friends notes and status updates. Without effectively developed relationships on the site, it will not be a quality channel for you to make a solicitation. If you are a non user of facebook...that is a discussion for another post.

Disclaimer -- Having used this precise method several times, I have never run into facebook suspending my account. I know of others who have deviated from this distribution plan and have been temporarily suspended. I don't know what triggers a suspension. Anyone who does know the current, specific triggers for suspension, I'd love to know.