Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Washington Post Rehashes Year-Old Facebook Fundraising News

Facebook Cause app is not getting any love from the Washington Post. The article, dated this morning, makes the same points that have been made for more than a year by social web consultants who know their business. I put together a short slideshow on it myself, just last week, after writing this blog post the previous week.

The Post is quoted...
Trouble is, there is no new information in terms of strategy and understanding the way the medium is working. A little bit of new information came out of the interview.
He said Causes raises almost $40,000 a day across its groups, up from $3,000 a day a year ago. "The biggest successes have been tiny nonprofits who don't have the name recognition of the big guys."

But in the majority of cases, that theory hasn't translated into significant dollars. Fewer than 50 of the 179,000 groups on Causes have raised $10,000, and just two -- the Nature Conservancy and Students for a Free Tibet -- have cracked the $100,000 mark.

This is great information, however, there is some buzz around the stats not being completely acurate. I would love to know if there is a public report out there that gives us access to the raw numbers related to this topic. It sounds like Allison Fine might have something for us later in the day. Either way, at the end of the day, those numbers are nothing new.

Allison Fine put together a great response on her blog. here's an excerpt that will make you want to go read the rest...
There are around 250 thousand causes on the Causes platform. A cause does not have to be associated with a specific nonprofit, and most of these, over 200,00 aren’t. That leaves about 46,000 nonprofits that are connected to a cause. But, of these only 8,000 are using Network for Good, meaning they’ve created an official profile, can use their npo dashboard, and can raise money. Therefore in trying to determine the average size of donations, it is more accurate to use the 8,000 active fundraising efforts for nonprofits rather than the 176,000 used in the Post article. When the universe of causes that includes the Green on Sundays groups is included in the overall cause number, divided by the total amount of dollars given resulting in an itty bitty average gift. This is enormously skewed by the number of inactive causes on FB or the number of causes who never intended to raise money using Causes. So, according to Network for Good’s data, 8,000 causes have actively raised money using Causes for a total of $7.5 million — or an average total of donations to each cause of over $930.

Comments coming out of twitter around this discussion include...

@tactphil...maybe fundraising isn't the point?
@SMacLaughlin...Facebook Causes isn't raising a lot. Really? Duh. Social networking is friend raising not fundraising.
@weinrichc...My $.02: this enhances not replaces other efforts
@iChrisJones...Facebook app does not replace hard work, direct mail., etc... in fundraising(washpost)
@kanter...they just rehashed all the stuff that was written about this last year
@Afine...I'll be using the N4G stats in my blog piece and you'll be able to see them there.
@jeffshuck...(in response to facebook being best used for awareness building)Yes! Agree on both points! My main contention is that too often "awareness" is used after the fact to justify poor fundraising.

The point is, fundraising is hard work. Every aspect of the development cycle is hard work. Technology can build in some efficiencies, but beware building in too many. Automating your communication and solicitation strategy, and giving it over to the cause app (or any automated application)is counter productive to your cultivation and affinity building. In the case of facebook causes, it just comes across (and is ignored)like spam.