Facebook Fundraisers: Fad or Forever?

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Posted: Oct 25, 2017

Remember when fundraising for your favorite cause meant convincing your coworkers to buy tubs of cookie dough, going door-to-door with magazine subscriptions, or endless laps around a track for walk-a-thons?

When my youth theatre needed to raise money for a new van, I cajoled my extended family into buying more than 30 rolls of wrapping paper and won the see-through phone of my dreams.

We’ve come a long way from wrapping paper donation drives, though—digital fundraising platforms like Kickstarter, Indiegogo, GoFundMe, and now Facebook are making it easier than ever to reach fundraising goals without leaving your browser.

Recently, you’ve probably seen a lot of Facebook Fundraisers in your feed, especially in response to natural disasters like Hurricane Harvey or flooding in South Asia. If you haven’t tested out the Facebook Fundraising Tools yet, some of you may be wondering how they work and if your nonprofit should be using them. Here’s a quick digest so you can decide whether to run your next fundraising campaign on the platform:

The Nitty-Gritty:

Facebook assesses a 5% fee on funds raised for nonprofits via their Facebook pages. Facebook charges 6.9%+$.30 of the donation for personal fundraisers (like when a board member raises money on behalf of your organization for a birthday).

These fees are on par with other online fundraising fees, and go towards credit card processing fees, vetting organizations, preventing fraud, and other administrative costs.

To participate, you have to use Facebook Payments and be a registered nonprofit.

The Good:

  • Brings fundraising into the everyday for your donors. By raising money on Facebook, donors get used to giving more often, instead of once a year at a gala or a fundraising drive.
  • The experience is easy. Three clicks or fewer—the magic fundraising recipe—means an integrated experience for your donors. (Probably worth mentioning that sending money through Facebook is still in its early stages—some people have indicated that they’re hesitant to hand over financial info, but we’re seeing folks grow more comfortable.)
  • Your supporters can fundraise for you. Proponents of your cause can start their own personal fundraisers on behalf of your organization, creating unexpected windfalls and opportunities for donor engagement outside of your planned fundraising efforts.
  • Facebook handles the back end. Processing payments, collecting information, etc.) is all handled for you, making administration simple.

The Bad:

  • Facebook handles the back end. By controlling the information about donors who give through Facebook, they gain more information on the habits of your donors and offer only some of it to you in their reports (whereas you collect this information if fundraising goes through your own website.)
  • The setup process can be cumbersome for nonprofits. To get a test campaign up and running for my theatre in Seattle, I had to verify my page, submit it for verification against Facebook’s community standards, create a separate Donations account, and supply my bank account number.
  • There’s less room for serendipity. Your donors are interacting with Facebook instead of with you, your website, or your development staff, making it less likely that they’ll stumble upon an awesome new exhibit or program and more likely that they’ll jump back to their newsfeeds.
  • More selective. Because of Facebook’s verification process for nonprofits, it’s harder to crowdfund for potato salad (or maybe that’s a plus?)

The Verdict:

Facebook as a fundraising channel is worth paying attention to and testing (even if you can’t win a technicolor phone at the end of your campaign), but it shouldn’t replace the proven tactics.

Want to test out a Facebook Fundraiser of your own? This handy resource can get your started.

Are you currently using or planning to use Facebook Fundraisers? Send us an example and we’ll share our favorites on our Facebook page.

Twitter: @BlairFeehan
“The show must go up,” Blair likes to say. Up? That’s right—it’s a nod to her love of acrobatics. As a flying trapeze artist, Blair is fearless, pushing the limits of what’s possible. Deeply involved in the arts, she brings the same the mentality to her work. Plus, her experience in theatre as a stage manager prepared her to step right into the role of project manager. Contagiously upbeat and outgoing, Blair is a team player with “all hands on deck.” She loves to multitask, and manages a variety of people, projects, and processes to keep her projects running like well-oiled machines. She has worked with some of Seattle’s biggest theatres, and brings experience in content strategy, nonprofit development, and project management to Pyramid. Originally from the Bay Area, Blair studied theatre at Whitman College and nonprofit management at the University of Washington. She has since called Washington her home. When she isn’t working, you can find Blair in the kitchen whipping up a cardamom cake with honeyed apricots—one of her favorite recipes. She loves catching shows at the Annex Theatre and spending time with friends.