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Is Facebook fundraising growing or fading fast?

Published by Nick Burne on

Is Facebook’s Birthday giving revolution just a fad?

A question I hear often amongst my fundraising peers is whether Facebook fundraising is growing or already starting to recede. Now, in my opinion, some in the sector would love Facebook fundraising to be a passing fad, because it doesn’t fit the old, established model of fundraising. Others are sceptical about the potential of Facebook fundraising and are waiting to see what happens next.

In this post I want to look a little deeper into whether Facebook fundraising is still climbing or fading fast.

Facebook recently announced that their Giving Tools have raised $2 billion since they were launched in 2015 and Birthday fundraisers have contributed $1 billion to that alone.

“From birthdays and Giving Tuesday to anytime throughout the year, over 45 million people have donated to or created a fundraiser on Facebook — which has more than doubled since last November.”

Every year I track the amount raised through Facebook on Giving Tuesday. In 2018 Giving Tuesday grew 177% on Facebook, raising $125 million up from $45 million in 2017. That is phenomenal growth and I predict it’ll be even bigger this year.

So let’s look deeper at some questions that may help us understand Facebook fundraising growth or decline for a given organisation.

1.   How long has the nonprofit been live with Facebook’s Giving Tools

The biggest revenue impact of Facebook fundraising so far has undoubtedly been birthdays, which has raised $1 billion so far for good causes around the world.

Obviously when a nonprofit first turns on the Facebook Giving Tools, they have many supporters who have not done a birthday fundraiser for them yet. But over a couple of years you would expect there to be a natural decline in the pace of birthday fundraisers being set up for one organisation, as the “low hanging fruit” is harvested.

We have multiple nonprofits, using GivePanel, who are getting more birthday fundraising every month, others that are stagnant and others who are declining.  We’re noticing that there does seem to be a relationship between how long they have been using the tools and how much income they are getting from Birthday fundraising.

2.   Which time periods are being analysed?

Generally speaking, we see that September, December and January are high months for fundraisers on Facebook and August is a low month. That means charities might be “feeling” a decline in February and March, but in annual terms it’s not actually a decline.

Also, we see a massive boost in fundraisers and donation income through Facebook as a halo effect of when a charity runs a big campaign. Sands is a stillbirth and neonatal death charity in the UK who support people affected by baby loss. October is Baby Loss Awareness month and in 2018 Sands took this existing campaign moment in their calendar to encourage supporters to set up a fundraiser in memory of a loved one. Read how they increased their Birthday fundraisers by 400%, through using an existing campaign moment. Think about what upcoming campaigns or moments you could tap into.   

3.   How much is the nonprofit supporting or driving activity on Facebook?

A nonprofit who puts time, effort and energy behind Facebook fundraising may reasonably see it continue to grow. One Norwegian nonprofit who is doing just this is Dråpen i Havet / A Drop in the Ocean. They provide support for refugees and so far, in 2019, they have raised around 45% of their total income through Facebook. Their biggest fundraiser to date raised $154,000.  

There are so many ways that your nonprofit can market fundraisers for free as well as generate more income from existing fundraisers. Don’t just rely on people to do it on their own.

In the tests I have been involved with at GivePanel, we have seen fundraising outreach strategies uplift the average amount raised per fundraiser by 35%! Putting in time and effort can reap big rewards.

4.   Are they using it to support DIY and event fundraising?

There is a lot of growth in DIY and event fundraising on Facebook. Remember that $1 billion of the $2 billion raised on Facebook is NOT attributed to Birthday fundraisers. Peer to peer fundraising appears to be booming, with the Pan-Mass Challenge raising $1.2 million via Facebook this year, according to Forbes.

“When the Pan-Mass Challenge set a new record for the most money raised by a single-event peer-to-peer fundraising campaign last summer, only $51,000 of the more than $59 million raised by its riders came through Facebook. As riders prepare for the 2019 edition of the Pan-Mass Challenge this weekend, they’ve already raised well in excess of $1.2 million on Facebook. By the time the final numbers are tallied later this year, that number will likely be much higher.”

The same article mentions that CureSearch for Children’s Cancer are also reporting fundraising spikes due to Facebook. “Revenues for its ultimate hike program, for instance, are up 35 percent year-to-date — an increase the organization is attributing to integrating Facebook with participants’ fundraising pages.”

Facebook fundraising is definitely still growing

Yes, some nonprofits may have seen birthday fundraising reducing either because of how long they have been doing it or due to seasonality. But overall, with so many charities yet to actually sign up and turn on Facebook’s Giving Tools, new innovations yet to be adopted (Instagram donations, team fundraising etc) and many new features yet to come (hint: I can imagine some exciting future developments around in-memory fundraising coming), I predict that Facebook fundraising will continue to grow and grow.

You have to be “in it to win it”!

Don’t miss Nick’s IFC session on ninja tactics to raise more from Facebook fundraisers and get the data!


Nick Burne

Nick Burne

Nick is Founder & CEO of GivePanel - a new online platform to help nonprofits manage their Facebook Fundraisers. Nick is also Managing Partner at Nick Burne Consulting where he is Lead Digital Strategist for the International Rescue Committee and UNICEF’s international digital fundraising. In 2017 he founded RAISETHRU – a 12-week Facebook Ads Accelerator Programme for charities that has helped clients like Greenpeace, Care and PCUK build scalable digital acquisition programmes.

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